CNN Washington AM Note
July 30th, 2013
05:13 AM ET
1 year ago

CNN Washington AM Note

NATIONAL STORIES:

CNN: Whistle-blower or traitor? Bradley Manning to learn fate
After spending three years in custody, the man accused of the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history will learn Tuesday whether he has been found guilty of aiding the enemy. A verdict from the judge in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning will be announced at 1 p.m. ET Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman for the military district of Washington. If found guilty on the aiding the enemy charge, Manning could be sentenced to life in prison. He has pleaded guilty to nearly a dozen lesser charges that carry a sentence of up to 20 years behind bars. Whether Manning is a whistle-blower or a traitor who betrayed his country has been hotly debated.
WATCH: VIDEO NSA leaker Edward Snowden's father speaks to CNN about his son's actions and chances of receiving a fair trial.

CNN: Massive damage but no deaths in explosion at Central Florida propane plant
When the propane tank cylinders began exploding at the central Florida refilling plant late Monday night, authorities braced for the worst. And for a time, it seemed their fears were well-founded. The loud blasts, one after another, at the Blue Rhino plant in Tavares sent huge plumes of fire into the night sky. "Like bombs are going off," Tavares resident Norma Haygood told CNN affiliate WESH. Seven plant workers went to hospitals.

CNN: Woman charged in vandalism at National Cathedral
Police in the nation's capital arrested a woman Monday in connection with the splattering of paint in two locations inside the National Cathedral, a spokesman at the department said. Tian Jiamel, 58, is charged with defacing property. The arrest came after splashes of paint turned up on other landmarks in the nation's capital, including the Lincoln Memorial.

WSJ: Cities Begin Hiring Again
Cities across the U.S. are starting to hire new teachers, firefighters and police officers as a deep and prolonged slide in local-government employment appears to have bottomed out four years after the recession ended. Monthly jobs data from the Labor Department show local governments, which make up about 65% of the overall government workforce, added workers in seven of the past eight months, the longest such streak in five years. So far this year, 46,000 new jobs have been created on a seasonally adjusted basis. Local-government employment through June stood at 14.08 million, the highest level in more than a year and a half, though still well below a peak of 14.61 million in mid-2008. In previous recoveries, the overall government sector started adding jobs much sooner.

WHITE HOUSE:

CNN: Senate confirms Comey as FBI director
Nearly 40 days after President Barack Obama nominated James Comey as FBI director, the Senate on Monday approved the appointment of the former deputy attorney general who worked in the George W. Bush administration. The vote came after Sen. Rand Paul dropped his opposition to a confirmation vote on Comey, clearing the path for the Senate to vote on the president’s nominee. In the 93-1 vote, Paul was the only senator who voted against the confirmation.

The Hill: White House cautious as Kerry resumes Mideast peace talks
The White House downplayed prospects for new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that began Monday, arguing negotiators face months of hard work to get a deal. This week’s face-to-face meetings in Washington between Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat begin the first effort at restarting negotiations since talks faltered three years ago, during President Obama’s first term.

WSJ: Obama Economic Proposals Face Long Odds in Congress
President Barack Obama's program for boosting the middle class, which he is laying out in a series of speeches through September, faces long odds in a Congress that showed little interest when he proposed similar ideas earlier this year. In addresses that continue Tuesday with an appearance in Tennessee, Mr. Obama says he will put forward new ideas on boosting the economy, but he is also returning to proposals he first advanced in his State of the Union address in February.

Politico: Obama: VRA decision 'small-bore stuff compared to lynching'
The setback from the Supreme Court’s decision striking down elements of the Voting Rights Act is bad, but not as daunting hurdles from past generations, President Barack Obama told a White House gathering of civil rights leaders Monday. “He said, ‘When you think about it, this is small-bore stuff compared to lynching and shootings and killings that happened 50 years ago,’” one participant in the meeting told POLITICO. “He said, ‘Ultimately this is within our power to change.’”

NYT: Wrinkle in Health Law Vexes Lawmakers’ Aides
As President Obama barnstorms the country promoting his health care law, one audience very close to home is growing increasingly anxious about the financial implications of the new coverage: members of Congress and their personal staffs. Under a wrinkle that dates back to enactment of the law, members of Congress and thousands of their aides are required to get their coverage through new state-based markets known as insurance exchanges. But the law does not provide any obvious way for the federal government to continue paying its share of the premiums for the comprehensive coverage.

CAPITOL HILL:

CNN: Senate set to vote on Egypt aid
The turmoil in Egypt is poised to land on the U.S. Senate floor this week. Sources in both parties confirm to CNN that Democratic leaders have tentatively green-lighted a vote on whether to cut off $1.5 billion in aid to Cairo. The proposal from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, is not new. A similar measure of his received just 10 votes last fall. This week's version is not expected to pass either, but a Democratic senate leadership aide said Monday they expect it to get more support than last time, following the military takeover in Egypt.

CNN: Despite fast food protests, Congress in no rush on minimum wage
Fast food workers striking for higher wages in seven cities Monday are bound to be disappointed. On their last week before vacation, Congress isn't likely to raise the minimum wage. They're not even close to critical mass on that issue. With other issues on their plate - immigration reform, the farm bill and that whole business about funding the government - it is not one of the things lawmakers are spending a lot of time talking about. There aren't any votes scheduled any time soon and it hasn't yet had a hearing in the House of Representatives this year. But there does seem to be a confluence of minimum wage story lines, in addition to the fast food walkout, across the nation recently.

WX Post: Transportation crusade goes mobile
Stuck in traffic, boiling mad and ready to let Congress hear about it? There’s an app for that. Available Tuesday, a new mobile device app will let you tell your member of the House and your senators whenever you see evidence that the roads, bridges and transit systems you use are falling apart.

Reuters: Republicans weigh short-term U.S. budget measure
With time running out for the Congress to agree on next year's budget, some Republicans are pushing for a short-term fix that would delay the confrontation over a government shutdown until November. If lawmakers agree on a short-term plan to fund the government for a few weeks past the current October 1 deadline, it would mean that the fight over government funding for next year would coincide with a potentially more consequential clash over raising the federal borrowing limit. House Republican aides said a growing number of party lawmakers want to try to buy more time to agree on funding levels for government agencies and programs, though no decisions have been made.
SEE ALSO: Politico: Max Baucus tax reform push at risk

HuffPost: House GOP Defunds ACORN Yet Again, Even Though ACORN Does Not Exist
The House GOP quietly blocked funding for ACORN last week, even though the anti-poverty organization has long since been both defunded and disbanded. The legislative assault on ACORN, which shut down in 2010, was included in a Department of Defense appropriations bill that cleared the House on Thursday. Although the bill passed by a broad, bipartisan margin of 315-97, it garnered attention for an amendment proposed by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) that would have stopped the government from collecting masses of phone call metadata without reasonable suspicion. Amash's amendment failed, but language to bar ACORN from receiving any money made the final cut.

Politico: Menu for House GOP: Immigration à la carte
The House is still fumbling around on how its members will tackle immigration reform. But two key House committees have at least laid out a menu of some options for the full chamber to consider when it begins voting on immigration bills this fall. Reflecting GOP wishes for a piecemeal strategy, each bill passed one at a time and, except for one, no Democrats voted in favor of them.
SEE ALSO: NYT: Big-Name G.O.P. Donors Urge Members of Congress to Back Immigration Overhaul

POLITICAL:

CNN: Spitzer says Weiner should not be mayor
Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer confirmed Monday that he will not be voting for Anthony Weiner in the New York mayoral race. Spitzer, a fellow former disgraced politician who also is attempting to make a political comeback, was short with his answers Monday in a television interview, but revealed that Weiner will not be getting his support in the upcoming Democratic primary.

CNN: North Carolina governor signs abortion bill into law
As was expected, Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law Monday a controversial, restrictive abortion bill. The state's Senate and House of Representatives, both controlled by the Republican Party, passed the legislation earlier this month. The bill will place requirements on clinics that family planning advocates say would make it hard for them to stay in business. Among the requirements is the presence of a doctor when an abortion is being performed.

LA Times: Filner's attorney asks City Council to pay mayor's legal bills
Mayor Bob Filner's attorney asked that the City Council pay his legal bills as he fights allegations of sexual harassment. The request came to the San Diego city attorney on Monday and will be considered in closed session by the council on Tuesday. Seven of the nine council members have urged Filner to resign. Several have said that the city should not be forced to pay his legal fees because his alleged misconduct was not part of his official duties.

Politico: Changing Colorado 6th could be 2014’s tightest race
With the trifecta of big money, deep investment from both parties and a split electorate with a sizable swing vote, the race between Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and Democrat Andrew Romanoff in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District stands to be the state’s — and potentially the nation’s — toughest House battle of 2014. Rather than coming down to local issues, strategists say the Coffman-Romanoff fight will be a simple question of numbers: Which party will succeed in driving up turnout? In this way, Colorado’s 6th District is set to become a proxy war for the national Democratic and Republican parties.

NYT: A Bet on Clinton: If They Network, She Will Run
A new group dedicated to paving the way for a Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 has already recruited dozens of the Democratic Party’s elite donors and bundlers, effectively kicking off the presidential money hunt more than three years before Election Day.

NATIONAL SECURITY:

CNN: A flicker of hope as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks set for Monday
For the first time in three years, Israelis and Palestinians will come to the negotiating table in Washington on Monday night. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated praise for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday morning. The talks will be "a difficult process," but he added that the consequences of not trying could be worse. Kerry said the goal is to seek "reasonable compromises" on "tough, complicated, emotional" and symbolic issues, then he announced former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, as U.S. envoy to the talks.
SEE ALSO: Associated Press: Familiar cast as US launches new Mideast peace bid

CNN: First on CNN: More on NSA surveillance programs to be declassified
The U.S. intelligence community plans to declassify additional information about surveillance programs of the National Security Administration, possibly as soon as Tuesday, CNN has learned. A senior U.S. official tells CNN the information includes "white papers" on surveillance programs but also previously undisclosed information about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

CNN: Pentagon rethinking cut to "danger pay" for troops in Mideast
The Pentagon is reconsidering whether to end "imminent danger pay" for troops in several regions of the Middle East and Persian Gulf in the wake of increasing violence there in recent weeks, according to a Defense Department official. The Pentagon had been considering the move, which would save about $120 million each year, the official told CNN. He declined to be identified because there is no final decision on the matter.

Reuters: U.S. Army won't bar contractors linked to Afghan insurgents –watchdog
The U.S. Army has refused to bar 43 individuals or companies from getting U.S. contracts in Afghanistan despite information that they support the Taliban or other enemies of U.S. forces, a government watchdog said on Tuesday. John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said he was concerned by the Army's refusal to follow his office's recommendations to prevent alleged supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda from getting or keeping U.S. government contracts.
SEE ALSO: Bloomberg: Al-Qaeda Backers Found With U.S. Contracts in Afghanistan

WSJ: Kerry Sets Stage for Pakistan Reset
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to travel to Pakistan this week in his first visit since the country's new government came to power, in what officials cautiously characterized as warming in one of the U.S.'s thorniest foreign relationships. Mr. Kerry's trip, the highest-level engagement between Washington and Islamabad since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's election in May, comes as the U.S. prepares to withdraw combat troops from neighboring Afghanistan. It provides an opportunity, U.S. and Pakistani officials said, to recast a relationship that in the past decade has been defined by massive U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Washington's global antiterror campaign.

NYT: Despite Gains, Leader of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Says Troops Must Stay
Afghan forces are now leading the fight here. They managed an air assault last week, for example, and they may be winning the respect of the Afghan people. But the bottom line for Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. is simple: Afghanistan still needs the United States and will for years to come. The problem for General Dunford, the commander of American and allied forces here, is that most Americans no longer seem to believe that the United States needs the war in Afghanistan.

TRANSPORTATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:

CNN: FBI crackdown nabs pimps, rescues children
They are mostly teenage girls, often from broken homes where no one misses them. Their world is one of drugs and abuse - emotional and physical - in which they are forced to sell their bodies. In announcing the FBI's latest crackdown on child prostitution, officials Monday described a dark underside of society that has grown through Internet sites that provide pimps easy access to johns in hotels, motels, at truck stops and just about anywhere else. The nationwide operation over the weekend resulted in 150 arrests, with 105 children between the ages of 13 and 17 rescued, according to Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. Overall, the three-day undercover Operation Cross Country took place in 76 cities and involved 230 law enforcement units, Hosko told a news conference.

CNN: Defense witness testifies Whitey Bulger didn't strike him as much of an informant
After 30 days and 63 prosecution witnesses - including extortion victims, shooting victims, federal law enforcement agents, former drug dealers, and families of alleged murder victims - defense attorneys began making their case Monday for James "Whitey" Bulger, allegedly Boston's most feared underworld crime boss. Their first witness, a former FBI agent, testified that he was sent to clean up the "leaks" at the FBI in Boston in 1981, and that one of his assignments, given by the special agent in charge, was to evaluate Bulger as an informant and perform a "suitability study." After an evaluation, he recommended "terminating" Bulger as an informant.

Bloomberg: N.Y. Judge Sues City, Claims Pressure to Levy Big Fines
A New York City administrative law judge accused the city’s consumer affairs department in a lawsuit of pressuring her to impose maximum fines against businesses in cases where she didn’t think they were warranted. Judge Michele Mirro, who started at the department in 1990, alleged that officials engaged in a pattern of pressuring judges into finding against businesses accused of code violations and assessing top fines, according to a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

WSJ: FAA Urges Landing Aids at San Francisco Airport
The Federal Aviation Administration is urging all pilots of foreign airlines to use landing aids as they approach San Francisco International Airport, amid a recent increase in aborted landings by foreign pilots there, including this month's crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214. The FAA said its air-traffic controllers in San Francisco would assign foreign pilots approaches that use a satellite-based system to guide the plane in automatically, requiring minimal help from the pilots.

WX Post: Growing use of FBI screens raises concerns about accuracy, racial bias
Employers are increasingly turning to the FBI’s criminal databases to screen job applicants, sparking concerns about the accuracy of the agency’s information and the potential for racial discrimination. Many of the FBI’s records list only arrests and not the outcomes of those cases, such as convictions. Consumer groups say that missing information often results in job applicants who are wrongfully rejected. A lawsuit filed against the Commerce Department by minorities alleges that the use of incomplete databases means that African Americans and Hispanics are denied work in disproportionate numbers.

REGIONAL HEADLINES:

WX Post: D.C. records its first legal pot deal in at least 75 years
The 15-year struggle to legalize medical marijuana in the District ended like this: A 51-year-old Northwest resident entered a North Capitol Street rowhouse Monday evening and emerged 90 minutes later with slightly less than a half-ounce of street-legal, high-grade, D.C.-grown cannabis.

NYT: A City Invokes Seizure Laws to Save Homes
The power of eminent domain has traditionally worked against homeowners, who can be forced to sell their property to make way for a new highway or shopping mall. But now the working-class city of Richmond, Calif., hopes to use the same legal tool to help people stay right where they are. Scarcely touched by the nation’s housing recovery and tired of waiting for federal help, Richmond is about to become the first city in the nation to try eminent domain as a way to stop foreclosures.

New Jersey Star-Ledger: Christie allots $1.6M to law requiring newborns to be screened for diseases
Gov. Chris Christie has committed $1.6 million to fund Emma's Law, the 2012 legislation requiring newborns in New Jersey to be screened for lysosomal storage disorders, which can cause developmental delays, movement disorders and pulmonary and cardiac problems. Testing will also begin for Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, which prevents newborns from fighting infections and is fatal if not detected.

New Orleans Times-Picayune: State Treasurer John Kennedy 'seriously' considering running for governor
State Treasurer John Kennedy says he's "very, very seriously" considering running for governor when Bobby Jindal's second term ends in 2015. He said he has no timeline for when he will make his final decision. "I want a governor who cares more about Louisiana's future than his own," Kennedy told the Baton Rouge Press Club during a talk on the state's new Office of Debt Recovery on Monday. "I want a governor that will govern this state with knowledge and wisdom, not ambition."

INTERNATIONAL:

CNN: Worry mounts in Egypt as protesters dig in heels
Tensions are running high in Egypt nearly a month after the July 3 ouster of Mohamed Morsy, the country's first democratically elected president. Anxiety is thick in Egypt amid government preparations to evict pro-Morsy demonstrators. Protesters demanding Morsy's return to power are camped out in an east Cairo neighborhood, saying they won't leave until Morsy is restored to power. Meanwhile, those whose protests led to Morsy's ouster - secularists and liberals - find themselves aligned, at least in part, with the military-backed government.
SEE ALSO:
NPR: Egyptian Crisis Slows Flow Through Gaza's Smuggling Tunnels
Associated Press: Personality cult built around Egypt's top general

CNN: New mystery at Richard III burial site: A coffin inside a coffin
First came the dramatic discovery of the long-lost remains of King Richard III. Now, there's the mystery of the coffin within the coffin. Archaeologists working at the site in central England where Richard III's body was found underneath a parking lot are currently puzzling over a sealed lead coffin containing the remains of a yet-to-be-identified person. The lead coffin was found encased in a larger stone coffin.

WSJ: Bank of Italy Inspecting Top Lenders' Books
The Bank of Italy is quietly inspecting the finances of some of the country's top lenders, which could push some Italian banks to sell assets or take other major steps, according to a central-bank document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The central bank's examinations, which were previously undisclosed, come against a backdrop of increasing worry among regulators, investors and bank executives about the health of some of the country's lenders amid a rise in souring loans.

Foreign Policy: Peace Dividend
Remember when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict made front pages every day and the United States fought wars to secure oil and gas in the Middle East? Back then, the region's political problems were of primary economic importance to Americans. But now, as the prospect of energy independence dawns, to whom does the Middle East really matter?

BBC: Militants attack prison in NW Pakistan
Taliban militants have launched an assault on a prison in Pakistan, with an official saying more than 240 prisoners escaped. The attack on the jail in the north-western town of Dera Ismail Khan began with several explosions at around midnight on Monday. Gunmen then opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns, police chief Sohail Khalid said. The prison houses hundreds of Taliban and militants from banned groups. Some of the attackers were dressed in police uniform.

BUSINESS:

Reuters: U.S. says JP Morgan manipulated market; settlement seen
The U.S. power regulator outlined its case of market manipulation against JPMorgan Chase & Co on Monday as industry sources said a final settlement on the issue should come on Tuesday. Traders used improper bidding tactics in California and the Midwest to boost profits, officials said in a statement that brought to light some details of an extensive investigation. Reports of that probe have circulated for months and a deal with the regulator could put an end to a distraction for JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon.

Bloomberg: ICar Dream Downsizes to Dashboards as Apple Takes on Foes
While Steve Jobs regretted not making an iCar, Apple Inc. for years was ambivalent about the auto industry. Now it’s vying for dashboard space held by Microsoft Corp., BlackBerry Ltd. and Pandora Media Inc. By year end carbuyers will be able to choose from several vehicles that incorporate Apple’s iPhone functions, using Siri voice controls for navigation, texting, e-mails and music. Displacing competitors in the car may be more difficult than in desktop computing or mobile phones, as the technology giant grapples with challenges including extreme temperatures, noisy cabins and long product cycles.

USA Today: Twitter hiring for possibility of IPO
Twitter's IPO prospect, one of the industry's most widely watched, appears closer to reality. The micro-blogging service has posted a job opening for a financial reporting manager. The person would be responsible for filing the company's preliminary prospectus, or S-1 document, outlining its IPO plans.

BusinessWeek: Saks Gets a Retail Parent With Problems of Its Own
For a struggling Saks, selling to Hudson’s Bay for $2.4 billion must feel like getting wrapped in a warm, striped blanket. But it’s about to get a parent that has its own problems, too. For years—343 to be exact—the Canadian store largely coasted off the relative lack of retail competition north of the border. Only recently, as rivals such as Target and Nordstrom move into Canada, has Hudson’s Bay invested in upgrading its stores and brand.

CNBC: Fed intrigue, not policy, has market attention for now
As the Fed's two-day meeting kicks off Tuesday, markets are more intrigued about who will take Ben Bernanke's seat than the Fed's policy statement. The Fed is widely expected to begin reducing its $85 billion bond purchases in September, if the economy shows consistent improvement. The markets have been expecting a quiet meeting this Tuesday and Wednesday because the Fed needs to see more economic data before deciding to start winding down QE, or its quantitative easing program. But what was not expected was the outbreak of widespread public speculation about who will run the Fed in January, when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's term is up.


Filed under: Washington AM Note
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Marie MD

    al Qaida was able to gather information about the US. What would that be called? TRAITOR?
    Does the Army still have firing squads?

    July 30, 2013 06:23 am at 6:23 am |