CNN: Deception, threats and abuse: Captives' hellish life inside Castro's home
From the outside, the home at 2207 Seymour Avenue looked like most any other in Cleveland's Westside neighborhood. From the inside, it looked like hell. There were the restraints - duct tape, plastic zip ties, metal chains fastened to a basement pole and bedroom walls - to ensure that Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus wouldn't leave. But, despite Ariel Castro's efforts, they did.
WATCH: VIDEO CNN: Ariel Castro's final act
CNN: Bulger's attorneys release photos designed to show his softer side
Trying to show a softer, lighter side of accused killer and crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger, his defense lawyers have released photos that they say they would expect to show the jury should Bulger decide to testify. In response to a CNN question, his lawyers acknowledged, "yes," they have prepared Bulger, 83, to take the stand as they would any other witness.
CNN: Transit workers threaten to shut down Bay Area commute again
Transit workers in California's Bay Area warned Thursday that they will go on strike Sunday at midnight local time if no progress is made in contract negotiations. A previous strike over the same negotiation deadlock paralyzed the San Francisco regional transportation system for four days in July. Bay Area Rapid Transit management said there was no good reason for the strike.
Reuters: U.S. bankruptcy court to shed light on Detroit case timeline
A court hearing on Friday may provide a roadmap for how Detroit's historic bankruptcy filing will unfold as the judge overseeing the case could set a speedy schedule, appoint a mediator and rule on other matters. The hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court is a key step toward Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's effort to see the city emerge from the largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy filing in history by September 2014. But Detroit must first prove it qualifies to file for bankruptcy and then file a reorganization plan.
Reuters: Small manufacturers bet on Detroit brand despite bankruptcy
The Detroit News: Retiree representation at issue in Detroit bankruptcy hearing
CNN: Obama admin. pushes back on Obamacare rumors
On Thursday the White House officially launched a new website to educate business owners on how the Affordable Care Act is likely to affect their bottom line. The new site, part of the administration's existing inter-agency effort called BusinessUSA, aims to be a one-stop-shop to dispel misinformation surrounding new requirements that employers offer health insurance to their workers, a senior Obama administration official said.
SEE ALSO: WX Post: Groups go door-to-door to encourage enrollment in Obamacare
Associated Press: Surveillance critics face Obama in Oval Office
Struggling to salvage a massive surveillance program, President Barack Obama faced congressional critics of the National Security Agency's collection of Americans' telephone records Thursday as snowballing concerns made new limitations on the intelligence effort appear increasingly likely. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden joined lawmakers on both sides of the issue for an Oval Office meeting designed to stem the bleeding of public support and show Obama was serious about engaging.
Reuters: Analysis: McCain's deals and 'wacko-bird' barbs are priceless for Obama
Republican U.S. Senator John McCain accidentally walked in on President Barack Obama this week when he was addressing a Democrats-only meeting of senators. "Come on in, John," Obama shouted. A red-faced McCain turned around and headed out to chuckles and then applause from the Democrats. "My mistake," McCain said. To the far-right in the Republican Party, there is no mistake about it. In a party that generally brooks no compromise with Obama, McCain is the compromiser-in-chief. He's negotiating with the White House.
WSJ: Obama Calls for Review of Rules After Texas Blast
President Barack Obama ordered federal agencies on Thursday to review chemical safety rules following a deadly fertilizer depot explosion in April in West, Texas. In an executive order, Mr. Obama directed federal agencies to develop proposals within 90 days for the safer handling and storage of ammonium nitrate, the substance that exploded, killing 15 people and injuring several hundred others in West, a town between Austin and Dallas. He ordered federal agencies to examine whether other potential chemical hazards should be subject to more federal oversight. The order further directs the federal government to better identify and inspect high-risk chemical facilities and to share information about chemical plants with local and state emergency responders.
CNN: CNN analysis: Congress in D.C. far less than it used to be
The artificially chilled halls of the U.S. Capitol this week are a sort of an out-of-body experience. Thoughts of the month-long August break from Washington permeate nearly every encounter and phone call. It is as if lawmakers have been strapped to their desks for months. But a CNN analysis shows Congress has spent less time on Capitol Hill so far this year than in any of the previous five years.
CNN: Senate Republicans block spending bill, another sign of trouble in the fall
In yet another sign that Congress is headed for a clash in the fall over government spending, Senate Republicans Thursday blocked a transportation and housing bill, arguing it would break budget spending caps. It was a significant defeat for Democrats and a win for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who persuaded several Republicans who had previously voted to support the higher spending level to change their positions and vote to block the bill.
Politico: Capitol Hill's Obamacare crisis solved
Lawmakers and staff can breathe easy — their health care tab is not going to soar next year. The Office of Personnel Management, under heavy pressure from Capitol Hill, will issue a ruling that says the government can continue to make a contribution to the health care premiums of members of Congress and their aides, according to several Hill sources. A White House official confirmed the deal and said the proposed regulations will be issued next week.
CBS: Why isn't Congress stressed over its low approval rating?
This 113th Congress is on track to become the least productive in history, so what better way for them to mark that than by taking off the rest of the summer without finding a way to fund the government come September. If you're keeping score at home, Congress' approval rating is now 17 percent. If you ever wondered why members don't find this embarrassing, there are several reasons.
CNN: Senator to introduce resolution denouncing anti-LGBT law in Russia
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, plans to introduce a resolution in the Senate to oppose a new law in Russia that bans the public discussion of same-sex rights and relationships. The nonbinding resolution calls for Russia to guarantee that athletes and spectators "will not experience anti-LGBT discrimination" when the country hosts the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, according to Merkley's spokesperson, Jamal Raad.
WSJ: Freshmen GOP Lawmakers Revel in Maverick Power
The defiant posture of Mr. Massie and a dozen or more like-minded conservatives has changed the agenda in Washington. In a capital where partisan power is nearly evenly balanced, he and a small but committed group of new House activists have discovered that they have the ability to block not just Democrats but their own party's leaders—and they are willing to use it. Republicans hold just a 17-vote majority in the House, which means such a relatively small but cohesive bloc can derail just about any measure that doesn't draw Democratic support. That already happened when Mr. Boehner was unable to bring the conservatives into line on a big farm bill, compelling unhappy Republican leaders to make wholesale changes in the legislation. Trouble also lies ahead on a proposed immigration overhaul, as well as efforts to fund the government and extend the U.S. borrowing authority this fall.
SEE ALSO: WX Post: Congressional Republicans split along lines of seniority, tactics
CNN: Hillary Clinton to receive Michael Kors award
The fashion world will rally behind Hillary Clinton once again this year. Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and designer Michael Kors will present an award to the former secretary of state for outstanding community service. Clinton will receive the recognition-which is named after Kors-at a ceremony in October that benefits God's Love We Deliver, a nonprofit in New York that provides food and nutrition counseling to people with severe illness.
BuzzFeed: Republicans Take Up Cause Of Religious Liberty — And Ditch Family Values
In speeches, interviews, and op-eds, savvy culture warriors have abandoned the fervent rhetoric of the 80’s and 90’s that used to cast conservatives as champions of virtue, enemies of vice, and saviors of American society: That battle, many conservatives conceded to BuzzFeed, is lost. Instead, their new message centers on ensuring that the rights of religious institutions and believers aren’t trampled under a stampede of secularism. According to a range of interviews with Republican politicians and activists, the rationale driving this strategic shift is defined by a mix of genuine anxiety over big government encroaching on religion and recognition that moral policing has lost its political savor.
Politico: For senators, fundraising never stops
Senate incumbents running for reelection in 2014 are building up their war chests faster and larger than before. The 27 incumbents looking to hold their seats have together already raised about $125 million by the end of June – likely indicating that 2014 will be the most expensive midterm election to date, according to a POLITICO review of Federal Election Commission reports.
CNN: Security worries trigger embassy closings
The State Department will close a number of US embassies and consulates this Sunday, Aug. 4, due to "more than the usual chatter" about a potential terrorist threat. A Senior US official said while the threat does not have a great deal of specificity about time and location, but it is being taken 'very seriously." US 'interests" including military installations could also see additional security and protection measures. This official, and a second official as well, noted the date comes as tensions are rising with the approach of both the holy days at the end of Ramadan and the one year anniversary of the September 11th attack on the US compound in Benghazi.
CNN: Snowden out of airport, still in Moscow
After living in a Moscow airport since June, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden began his temporary asylum Thursday by staying with Americans in the Russian capital whom he met online, his attorney said. "He made a lot of friends here - and great for him that those Americans who live here and found about his situation and were in touch with him," his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said. Sought by American authorities, Snowden is putting high emphasis on his security now that he can roam freely in Russia, according to his lawyer.
CNN: Exclusive: Dozens of CIA operatives on the ground during Benghazi attack
CNN has uncovered exclusive new information about what is allegedly happening at the CIA, in the wake of the deadly Benghazi terror attack. Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault by armed militants last September 11 in eastern Libya. Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret. CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency's Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.
SEE ALSO: CNN: Issa demands more Benghazi documents from State
CNN: Kerry says Pakistan drone strikes to end 'very soon'
Following talks with the Pakistani government, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is making progress in the war on terror, and hopes to end the use of drone strikes "very soon." The secretary of state told a Pakistani television station that President Barack Obama has a "very real timeline" for ending the strikes. He did not provide specifics on the timeline.
WSJ: Pentagon Conducts Overhaul of War Plans
The U.S. military is conducting a sweeping overhaul of its war plans for potential conflicts from the Middle East to the Pacific, as commanders adapt to a future of dwindling numbers of ground troops. Plans that had presumed the availability of large U.S. forces for invasions and occupations are being redrafted to incorporate strategies such as quick-reaction ground units, air power and Navy ships, according to officials. A big part of the new plans will be options for the use of cyberweapons, which can disable enemies' offensive and defensive capabilities.
TRANSPORTATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
CNN: Tenet's secret for Mueller
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller is known for his poker-faced demeanor, rarely betraying emotion as he led some of the most sensitive government investigations. George Tenet, his friend and the former Central Intelligence Agency director, on Thursday offered a rare peek at Mueller battling to keep a straight face during public hearings. Mueller is leaving his post Sept. 4 after 12 years, and the Justice Department held a farewell ceremony to honor him. Tenet, speaking in the Justice Department's great hall, described his efforts to make Mueller loosen up at congressional hearings.
Associated Press: AP Interview: USPS eyes alcohol deliveries
Special delivery from the post office — beer, wine and spirits, if Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has his way. In an interview with The Associated Press, Donahoe said Thursday delivery of alcoholic beverages is on his wish list as the agency considers ways to raise revenue and save money after losing $16 billion last year. He also said he endorses ending most door-to-door and Saturday mail deliveries as a way to help stabilize the service's finances. Donahoe said delivering alcohol has the potential to raise as much as $50 million a year. He mentioned how customers might want to, for example, mail bottles of wine home when they tour vineyards.
USA Today: Judge: ATF stings may be targeting minorities
Controversial federal sting operations that lure in suspects with the promise of a huge payoff for robbing a fake drug stash house may be unfairly targeting racial minorities, the chief federal judge in Chicago said this week. U.S. District Court Judge Ruben Castillo said in an order filed late Wednesday that there is "a strong showing of potential bias" in the robbery stings, which are run by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He noted that, since 2011, federal agents have used such stings to lock up at least 26 people in the Chicago area and that all of them were either black or Hispanic.
WSJ: FBI Taps Hacker Tactics to Spy on Suspects
Law-enforcement officials in the U.S. are expanding the use of tools routinely used by computer hackers to gather information on suspects, bringing the criminal wiretap into the cyber age. Federal agencies have largely kept quiet about these capabilities, but court documents and interviews with people involved in the programs provide new details about the hacking tools, including spyware delivered to computers and phones through email or Web links—techniques more commonly associated with attacks by criminals.
WX Post: Nation’s busiest death penalty state running out of lethal drug; no replacement found yet
The nation’s most active death penalty state is running out of its execution drug. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Thursday that its remaining supply of pentobarbital expires in September and that no alternatives have been found. It wasn’t immediately clear whether two executions scheduled for next month would be delayed. The state has already executed 11 death-row inmates this year, and at least seven more have execution dates in coming months.
Dallas Morning News: Prices under wraps as Texas health coverage marketplace takes shape
People without health insurance are required to buy it by 2014 or face tax penalties. The health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act will start open enrollment for people to shop for health insurance on Oct. 1. In October, a federal health insurance market is coming to Texas under the auspices of Obamacare. If you don’t have health coverage, you need to check it out. What’s it going to cost?
New Orleans Times-Picayune: $15 million of ice meant for Hurricane Isaac victims went elsewhere or was allowed to melt, report says
More than $15 million worth of ice purchased for Hurricane Isaac victims in Louisiana was allowed to melt or was given away by the state to private entities, according to a report released by the state office of inspector general on Thursday. The mishandling of the incident means 10-pound bags of ice, originally $2.10 each, ended up costing more than $28 apiece, including transportation costs.
Richmond Times-Dispatch: Sales tax holiday starts today
Students and families gearing up for the start of school will get a break from sales taxes starting today, courtesy of Virginia. The state is waiving its 5.3 percent sales tax — it is 6 percent in Northern Virginia and in Hampton Roads — on some items students need as they head back to the classroom. The tax holiday ends Sunday. During the three-day holiday, consumers won’t pay sales tax on specific school supplies priced up to $20 per item and on clothing and footwear up to $100 per item.
The Tennessean: Metro schools juggle unexpected students
Metro Nashville parents could be heard in several schoolyards Thursday morning asking one another why their kids begin school with one half day and then take a day off before returning. It’s because hundreds of students show up unannounced, and school officials need time to readjust teacher and classroom assignments, said Joe Bass, school system spokesman. Many students also show up without immunizations required by state law and must be turned away until they get them, he added.
CNN: Pro-Morsy group in Egypt calls for million-man march
A group supporting deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy have called for a million-man march from 33 different mosques Friday following noon prayers under the banner of "Egypt against the coup," according to a statement released Thursday by the Anti-Coup Prodemocracy Alliance. They also called on "all free people in all countries of the world to demonstrate peacefully" in support of their marches, according to the statement.
CNN: Thai king leaves hospital after four years
To rousing cheers of "Long live their majesties," Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej left a Bangkok hospital Thursday afternoon after a nearly four-year stay. The king, 85 and the world's longest-reigning monarch, entered Siriraj Hospital in September 2009 for treatment for a lung inflammation, according to local media reports.
Associated Press: Japan's Aso refuses to resign over Nazi comment
Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso refused Friday to resign or apologize over remarks suggesting Japan should follow the Nazi example of how to change the country's constitution stealthily and without public debate. Following protests by neighboring countries and human rights activists, he "retracted" the comments on Thursday but refused to go further.
Voice of America: UN Sets Up DRC Security Zone
U.N. forces have established a security zone in two eastern Congolese cities to rid the area of what they call "unauthorized weapons." U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Thursday that the goal of the zone is to provide better protection to the more than one million civilians living in the city of Goma and nearby Sake, including internally placed persons.
BBC: Taiwan vote on nuclear plant referendum sparks brawl
A fight has broken out in Taiwan's parliament ahead of a vote on a referendum on a nuclear plant. Several Taiwanese lawmakers exchanged punches and threw cups and bottles of water at each other on Friday. The parliament is set to vote on whether to hold a referendum on completing construction of the plant, which is located close to Taipei. Nuclear power is controversial in Taiwan, where safety fears remain in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster.
Reuters: U.S. hiring data expected to show modest progress
U.S. employers likely hired enough workers in July to push the jobless rate to a near four-year low, which could bolster expectations the Federal Reserve will start drawing down its huge economic stimulus program later this year. The number of jobs outside the farming sector could increase by 184,000, with the unemployment rate ticking down a tenth of a point to 7.5 percent, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
SEE ALSO: CNBC: Jobs data should show pickup in manufacturing
CNNMoney: Bank of America may face new round of financial crisis charges
Bank of America has a whole new set of legal headaches. The firm revealed in its quarterly report Thursday that staff at the Department of Justice have said they plan to file civil charges against Bank of America in relation to "one or two" of its jumbo prime mortgage securitizations.
CNNMoney: Car sales continue strong run
Automakers reported another big jump in sales from year-earlier levels in July, although the pace of sales slowed slightly from June. General Motors, Ford Motor, Chrysler Group and Toyota Motor, the nation's four largest automakers, all posted double-digit percentage gains in sales to post their best July totals since before the 2007 recession. GM and Toyota sales were both up at least 16%, while Ford and Chrysler posted 11% gains.
Financial Times: Asian mobile chat apps challenge western dominance
With a population of 600 million people, a burgeoning middle class and fast-rising smartphone sales, Southeast Asia has become the front line in a battle for mobile phone users that is threatening the traditional dominance of mobile phone network operators, global internet companies such as Facebook and Google and now-struggling handset maker BlackBerry.
BusinessWeek: Time Warner Cable's Risky Push Past the 'Triple Play'
Remember those triple-play bundles, the cable-industry promotion offering a discounted price for a package of phone, Internet, and TV services? Perhaps you saw it discussed once or twice in ads and e-mail spam over the years? That style of discounting could fade across the industry, spurred by Time Warner Cable’s decision this past winter to back off its marketing of triple-play packages in favor of boosting customer profitability rather than chasing new customers.