CNN: North Korea says it plans to restart shuttered nuclear reactor
After weeks of hurling threats at the United States and its allies, North Korea announced plans on Tuesday to restart a reactor at its main nuclear complex that it had agreed to shut down more than five years ago. The declaration demonstrates Kim Jong Un's regime's commitment to its nuclear weapons program that the international community has persistently but unsuccessfully tried to get it to abandon. The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the reclusive state's atomic energy department intends to "readjust and restart all the nuclear facilities" at the Yongbyon nuclear complex.
CNN: Few clues in Texas prosecutor killings leave public officials apprehensive
The manhunt for whoever gunned down two local prosecutors faces a steep battle, even with a deluge of local, state and federal authorities scouring for clues. Law enforcement sources say investigators are starting from scratch, with no leads in deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, CNN affiliate WFAA reported. Nor do officials have any further ideas on who killed McLelland's chief felony prosecutor, Mark Hasse, who was shot to death outside the county courthouse in January. But justice officials across the state are on high alert, unsure if or when a similar strike might occur.
CNN: Suspect in prisons chief's death was freed four years early
The man suspected of killing Colorado's prisons chief was still supposed to be behind bars. But because of a clerical error, Evan Ebel was let out of prison in January - four years early. Authorities suspect he went on to kill Tom Clements, who led the state's prison system, last month. They have also said there is a "strong connection" between that killing and the murder of Nathan Leon, a pizza delivery driver who was found dead in suburban Golden, Colorado.
CNN: Connecticut panel crafts gun law overhaul
A bipartisan legislative task force in Connecticut has agreed on a major overhaul of the state's gun laws in the aftermath of December's deadly attack on an elementary school, lawmakers announced Monday. The draft legislation would add more than 100 types of guns to the state's list of banned assault weapons; limit the capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds; ban armor-piercing bullets; require background checks for all weapon sales, including at gun shows; establish safety standards for school buildings; allow mental health training for teachers; and expand mental health research in the state. The General Assembly will take up the legislation when it returns to session Wednesday.
LA Times: Dozens of law grads sue schools over lack of jobs
Michael D. Lieberman decided to enroll at Southwestern Law School after reading that 97% of its graduates were employed within nine months. He graduated in 2009, passed the bar on his first try but could not find a job as a lawyer. He worked for a while as a software tester, then a technical writer, and now serves as a field representative for an elected official. Lieberman, who earned his undergraduate degree at UC San Diego, is one of dozens of law graduates across the country who have joined class-action lawsuits, alleging that law schools lured them in with misleading reports of their graduates' success.
The Hill: Group calls on NCAA to guarantee health coverage for athletes
Following a player's severe injury this past weekend in the NCAA basketball tournament, a liberal advocacy group said Monday that the association should guarantee healthcare coverage for student athletes. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched a new petition drive urging the NCAA to provide "universal" healthcare to injured student athletes.
ALSO SEE: USA Today: Louisville says Kevin Ware will have no medical bills
WSJ: Small-Business Insurance-Shopping Feature Is Delayed
The Obama administration plans to delay a piece of the federal health law designed to help small businesses shop for insurance policies, citing the need for additional time to prepare. The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, is supposed to provide small employers with an insurance marketplace, or exchange, that offers multiple plan options starting in 2014. But the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed that for the first year, businesses that use the 33 state exchanges run fully or in part by the U.S. will be able to offer only one plan to their workers, rather than pick from a range of options. Washington officials said the 17 states running their own exchanges under the law could choose to enact a similar delay for 2014.
CNN: Source: Caroline Kennedy vetted for Japanese ambassador post
Caroline Kennedy has been asked to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Japan and is being vetted for the post, a Democrat familiar with the discussions told CNN on Monday. Kennedy, 55, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, was a top backer of President Barack Obama during both of his presidential campaigns and served as the co-chair of his vice presidential search committee in 2008.
WATCH: VIDEO – The Obama administration is reportedly vetting Caroline Kennedy for the position of U.S. ambassador to Japan
CNN: White House: 480 furlough notices sent at budget office
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced Monday that nearly 500 furlough notices have gone out to administration employees in reaction to the forced government spending cuts known as sequestration. "The White House is one of eleven components of the Executive Office of the President which is indeed, as we have said, subject to the sequester," Carney said. "Within the Executive Office of the President, several offices have sent furlough notices to their staff, including to 480 employees of the Office of Management and Budget."
CNN: So far, forced spending cuts not as bad as advertised
Forced government spending cuts, known in Washington jargon as sequestration, took effect a month ago amid doomsday predictions of freed criminals, weakened borders and a crippled military. President Barack Obama and other federal officials warned that the harshest impacts would hit in April, with worker furloughs and program cuts rippling through the economy to stunt growth during a sluggish recovery. But as April dawned Monday, little evidence of widespread damage had emerged, leaving the president vulnerable to accusations that he hyped the impact for political purposes in the unending battle with Republicans over taxes and spending.
Salt Lake Tribune: Chaffetz tours border with Mexico ahead of immigration debate
Rep. Jason Chaffetz is making a return trip to the border this week, just days before negotiators in Congress are expected to unveil immigration reform plans. Starting Tuesday, he’ll spend three days in southern Arizona comparing the operations of the U.S. Border Patrol in Yuma and Nogales. "As the immigration debate heats up, one of the key metrics is securing the border, and I think everybody on both sides of the aisle agreed that was pivotal," he told The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday. "The most important thing for me is to talk to the people who are actually out there doing it." Chaffetz, R-Utah, leads an oversight subcommittee focused on national security, and he’s planning hearings on border security in May.
WATCH: VIDEO – CNN's Dana Bash looks at the immigration reform effort underway in the Senate, and why it's happening now
WaPo: Firearms advocates target gun-control measures
Gun-control measures that seemed destined to become law after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., are in jeopardy amid a fierce lobbying campaign by firearms advocates. Despite months of negotiations, key senators have been unable to find a workable plan for near-universal background checks on gun purchases — an idea that polls show nine in 10 Americans support. Another provision that garnered bipartisan support — making gun trafficking a federal crime — could be gutted if Republican lawmakers accept new language being circulated by the National Rifle Association.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Guns on campus: NRA to announce school safety measures Tuesday
Roll Call: Senate's Effort to Trim Back Could Be Cut Short
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer isn’t the first official in his position to seriously explore privatizing the government-subsidized Senate Hair Care shop. He is, however, the first who might be able to bring it to fruition — though not without some resistance. The storied Capitol Hill institution in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building that once provided free haircuts and shaves to senators, colloquially referred to as the barbershop, has been losing thousands of dollars a year for decades. Despite such losses, veteran senators and staunch defenders have over the years fought attempts to hand off the reins to a private vendor, including efforts championed by two of Gainer’s predecessors, Howard Liebengood in the early 1980s and Gregory Casey in the mid-1990s. But now Gainer has the leverage of sequestration, which makes any plan that would save the legislative branch some money one to be taken seriously.
Politico: Justin Amash: The House's new Ron Paul
When it comes to the House of Representatives, Justin Amash is the new Ron Paul. The Michigan congressman, only 32, sees himself as a leader of “the second generation” of Paulites in the lower chamber. Sen. Rand Paul moved quickly to present himself as his dad’s heir to libertarian faithful in recent months, but many in the movement see Amash as even purer than the younger Paul, and he’s gotten rave reviews for explaining all his votes on Facebook.
CNN: Runoff is second test in shamed governor's political comeback
Call it the next hurdle in Mark Sanford's political redemption tour. The former South Carolina governor, whose political career was sidetracked thanks to a well-publicized affair, faces a Republican primary run-off for his old congressional seat on Tuesday. And Sanford's past infidelity is front and center in battle for the state's first congressional district, which he represented from 1995 to 2001 before being elected the Palmetto State's governor for two terms.
ALSO SEE: The State: Sanford, Bostic spar again in runoff forum
CNN: Hillary Clinton set for reemergence on public stage
She spent most of the past twenty years as one of the nation's most public faces, and after two months out of the spotlight Hillary Clinton is set to re-emerge. The former first lady, senator and secretary of state will make one of her first public appearances after leaving the State Department Tuesday evening at a ceremony honoring, among others, a former colleague: Melanne Verveer, who acted as Clinton's chief of staff during her years as first lady. The event – the Vital Voices Global Awards ceremony at Washington's Kennedy Center – is one Clinton has attended in years past, and grew out of the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative that Clinton founded in 1997.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Clinton to attend high-profile political events
CNN: Why didn't Ashley Judd run for Senate? Sabotage, adviser says
It would have been one of the most interesting races of the 2014 midterm cycle: Actress Ashley Judd challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky for the seat he has held for nearly three decades. But Judd decided not to launch a campaign for the Democratic nomination, and her top adviser explained why on Monday: sabotage. "Really the establishment on both sides turned against Judd," Jonathan Miller said on CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront, clearing the way for another Democratic candidate.
Roll Call: West Virginia: NRCC Makes TV Buys Against Rahall
The National Republican Congressional Committee will begin airing advertisements Wednesday targeting Democratic Rep. Nick J. Rahall II. The small buy is intended to show that the committee is readying to take on Rahall’s district — regardless of whether he seeks re-election in 2014. Rahall is considering a bid for retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s seat. The NRCC will spend $12,000 to air the spot from April 3 to 9.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune: ‘Man of mystery’ is behind Michele Bachmann campaign cases
Peter Waldron’s journey from a jail cell in Uganda to the inner circle of Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign in Iowa did not follow a straight line. An evangelical missionary with a penchant for secrets — he was caught with an assault rifle in Africa and accused of being a spy — Waldron popped up in Des Moines in early 2011 to participate in the GOP primaries. He thought he’d be working for insurgent Republican Herman Cain. Instead, he met a tough-talking, born-again congresswoman from Minnesota whom he regarded as a kindred maverick spirit. …Waldron, 65, is now the man behind a pair of inquiries by the Federal Election Commission and the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, raising allegations of campaign finance violations that have given the four-term congresswoman more bad publicity than anything lobbed her way by the political left.
Politico: Stephen Colbert hosting fundraisers for his sister
Comedian Stephen Colbert is hosting two expensive fundraisers on behalf of his sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Tickets to the both events run as high as $10,000 and include both an exclusive private reception and a general reception, according to invites obtained by POLITICO. An event in Washington featuring the Comedy Central host is scheduled for April 15, while Colbert and former investment banker Sallie Krawcheck will host a New York City event April 23; that event will be at Krawcheck’s home.
BuzzFeed: Juan Williams' Son To Run GOP Outreach To African Americans, Youth
A significant part of the Republican Party's future rests on the shoulders of Raffi Williams, the 24 year-old son of Fox News' Juan Williams. Not long after RNC chair Reince Priebus admitted his party has been unable to appeal to the youth and minorities, Raffi Williams got the job of selling the GOP to youth outlets and the African American press as a Deputy Press Secretary. He admits making young and black voters consider voting Republican is a tall order. But Williams told BuzzFeed a visible African American media outreach program can reap political rewards for the GOP beyond the black vote.
CNN: Casey endorses same-sex marriage, an issue of 'conscience'
Sen. Bob Casey, a socially conservative Democrat and Pennsylvania's senior senator, announced his support for same-sex marriage Monday saying he had been influenced in part by "letters written to me by LGBT Pennsylvanians and their families. After much deliberation and after reviewing the legal, public policy, and civil rights questions presented, I support marriage equality for same-sex couples and believe that DOMA should be repealed," he said in a statement.
CNN: U.S. Navy warship moving closer to North Korea
The U.S. Navy is moving a warship and a sea-based radar platform closer to the North Korean coast in order to monitor that country's military moves, including possible new missile launches, a Defense Department official said Monday. The decisions to move at least one ship and the oil rig-like SBX-1 are the first of what may be other naval deployments, CNN has learned. They follow weeks of belligerent rhetoric from North Korea, including threats to use nuclear weapons.
Daily Telegraph: Dispatch: South Korean workers who defy threat of war to commute to North
Seijin Roh, a mild-mannered South Korean seamstress, may have the most precarious commute in the world. Each Monday morning for the past four years, the 55-year-old has woken up just after 4am, washed and dressed, and driven into North Korea. ..If North Korea were to attack the South – and last week Pyongyang again declared the two countries to be in "a state of war" – Mrs Roh would be instantly taken hostage. But this Monday morning, she was making her usual commute, along with a few hundred others, in perhaps the most reassuring sign that war is not imminent on the Korean peninsula.
ALSO SEE: CNN: North Korean defectors return rhetorical fire
Bloomberg: China Backs North Korea Economic Zone Amid Kim Nuclear Threat
China expressed support for developing a shared economic zone in a North Korean border city amid Kim Jong Un’s threats to build nuclear weapons and attack South Korea and the U.S. Chen Jian, a vice commerce minister, said at a briefing in Beijing today that he’s “optimistic” about the zone in Rason. “Various work in the Rason zone is proceeding smoothly,” Chen said to reporters. “I haven’t heard anything that it has slowed down.”
The comments signal China will maintain economic ties with North Korea while supporting tighter United Nations sanctions in the aftermath of North Korea’s February underground detonation of a nuclear device. A Chinese official last year promoted a Rason area as “North Korea’s Shenzhen,” referring to the southern city that led China’s rise to becoming the world’s biggest exporter.
WSJ: Iran Cools Nuclear Work as Vote Looms
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has decided to keep Iran's nuclear program within limits demanded by Israel for now, according to senior U.S., European and Israeli officials, in a move they believe is designed to avert an international crisis during an Iranian election year. With a vote set for June, Mr. Khamenei is eager to place a leader more aligned with his positions than current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, without sparking a repeat of the nationwide unrest that followed a 2009 vote, these officials said.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
WSJ: Visa Demand Jumps
For the first time since the financial crisis, U.S. employers are expected within days to reach a limit on the yearly allotment of applications for coveted skilled-worker visas, a sign of the strengthening economy that means some employers will rely on a lottery to fill key positions. U.S. companies each year can sponsor a total of 65,000 foreigners with at least a bachelor's degree for a so-called H-1B visa, many of which go to programmers and other specialized workers. The program allocates an additional 20,000 visas each year to foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. Government and company officials predict employers by Friday will exhaust the quota for this year's application season, which opened Monday for jobs starting in October or later.
Bloomberg: Facebook’s Sandberg May Be Deposed in Antitrust Case
Facebook Inc. (FB) Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is scheduled to be questioned in a lawsuit alleging that seven technology companies broke antitrust laws by agreeing to not recruit from each other. U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in San Jose, California, yesterday issued a ruling allowing a deposition to take place around April 23. Google Inc. (GOOG), Intuit Inc. (INTU) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) are defendants in the case. Neither Facebook nor Sandberg, who was formerly an executive at Google, are defendants.
USA Today: Good news for cable cord-cutters in Aereo win
Cutting the cable-TV cord just got a little easier for some consumers. In a blow to major TV broadcasters, a federal appeals court ruled Monday that start-up Aereo can continue to stream live local TV through its website and app. The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, affirms an earlier ruling that Aereo doesn't violate broadcasters' copyrights in airing programs over the Internet from its farm of mini-antennas in Brooklyn.
WSJ: A Test of Drug War Teamwork
Federal officials celebrated in March when Mexico extradited César Alfredo Meza-García to the U.S. to face charges that he runs a drug-smuggling cell for a Tijuana cartel. The extradition, one of the first under recently elected Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, suggests Mexico might continue its record of extraditing scores of cartel operatives to the U.S., federal officials and border experts say. But the real test, these people say, is whether Mexico hands over a bigger catch: José Sánchez-Villalobos, whom U.S. prosecutors describe as the "chief financial officer" for the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel. Last year, a federal grand jury in San Diego indicted Mr. Sánchez-Villalobos on 13 counts, including conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and construction and finance of a tunnel, stemming from his alleged backing of two of the largest, most sophisticated drug-smuggling tunnels on the Southwest border, according to court documents. U.S. officials asked Mexico to send him to San Diego to face prosecution; nearly a year later, they are still awaiting an answer.
San Jose Mercury News: Silicon Valley Congressional battle takes shape: Ro Khanna to challenge Mike Honda, using Obama campaign operatives
Not only will former Obama administration official Ro Khanna challenge Rep. Mike Honda in 2014 for a seat serving a big chunk of Silicon Valley - he'll also use some of the president's prime campaign staffers to do it. Khanna will announce his candidacy Tuesday. The race offers the Bay Area - long known for glacial turnover among entrenched House Democrats - its second consecutive high-profile dogfight picked by a young upstart. This time, there's the added dimension of two Asian-American Democrats facing off in the continental United States' first Asian-American majority district.
Chicago Tribune: Emanuel touts drop in 1st quarter killings
After a rough 2012 defending their actions as homicides soared past 500 killings, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Garry McCarthy had what they billed as good news to share Monday — violence in the first quarter of 2013 fell sharply from a year earlier. But the two found themselves somewhat on the defensive after disturbances downtown over the weekend by large groups of teens captured national attention and reignited concerns about mayhem along or near the city's tony Magnificent Mile as warmer weather appears on the horizon. The latest contrast shows once again how difficult it can be for Emanuel and his team to get ahead of Chicago's seemingly pervasive violence — an issue of incredible complexities that despite short-term success can quickly be eclipsed by a high-profile murder of a teenage girl or a scary robbery on a popular CTA train line.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Two Democrats plan to run against Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline
As Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline sorts out plans for his political future, two Democrats are gearing up to block him from returning to the House in 2014. Sona Mehring, a political newcomer who founded the CaringBridge website, which connects the ailing with their loved ones, said Monday that she plans to run in Kline’s Second District. So does Mike Obermueller, a former state lawmaker who ran against Kline last year. Although Kline has filed a re-election campaign, which allows the Republican to raise money for a 2014 run, he also has left open the possibility that he may run for U.S. Senate or governor next year.
LA Times: Stockton bankruptcy can move forward, judge rules
A federal judge ruled Monday that Stockton is eligible for bankruptcy protection, over the objection of creditors who argued the city could come up with more money. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein said Stockton can move forward with a plan to reorganize debt. He twice stated that the creditors had acted in bad faith and had refused to pay their share of the costs for negotiations.
Syracuse Post Standard: Navy awards Lockheed Martin $57 million contract to upgrade ships' electronic warfare systems
The U.S. Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a $57 million contract to upgrade the fleet’s electronic warfare defenses against anti-ship missile threats. Production on the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program will be performed at the company’s facility at Electronics Park in Salina, which houses a new electronic warfare system test facility. Rashi Ratan, a spokeswoman for the company, said the contract will not result in any new jobs in Salina. Under the contract, Lockheed Martin will upgrade the electronic warfare system found on all U.S. aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and other warships with key capabilities to determine if the electronic sensors of potential foes are stalking the ships, the company said Monday.
CNN: Opposition: March deadliest month in Syrian civil war
The brutal civil war in Syria claimed more than 6,000 lives in March alone - making it the deadliest month since the conflict began a little more than two years ago, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Monday. The group said 6,005 people were killed in Syria last month. That's more than all the deaths that occurred in the first nine months of the war.
CNN: 4 al Qaeda leaders executed in Iraq; parliament wants to discuss security
Iraqi authorities executed four al-Qaeda senior leaders after they were convicted of terrorism, the nation's Ministry of Justice reported Monday. Manaf Abdul-Raheem Abdul-Hameed al-Rawi, the leader of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq in Baghdad, was among the four who were executed by hanging Monday morning. The executions came on a day when a suicide bomber drove an oil tanker into a police station in central Tikrit, killing at least nine people and wounding 20, an official with Iraq's interior ministry said.
BBC: Mali crisis: EU troops begin training mission
An EU mission to train Malian soldiers is due to begin as part of efforts to help the West African country counter an Islamist insurgency. The first of four Malian battalions will train under European instructors at the Koulikoro base some 60km (37 miles) from the capital, Bamako. A French-led intervention that began in January has regained the main cities of northern Mali from Islamist groups. However, fighting continues in the north.
NYT: Japan Shifting Further Away From Pacifism
The Japanese soldiers in camouflage face paint and full combat gear were dropped by American helicopters onto this treeless, hilly island, and moved quickly to recapture it from an imaginary invader. To secure their victory, they called on a nearby United States warship to pound the “enemy” with gunfire that exploded in deafening thunderclaps. Perhaps the most notable feature of the war games in February, called Iron Fist, was the baldness of their unspoken warning. There is only one country that Japan fears would stage an assault on one of its islands: China. Iron Fist is one of the latest signs that Japan’s anxiety about China’s insistent claims over disputed islands as well as North Korea’s escalating nuclear threats are pushing Japanese leaders to shift further away from the nation’s postwar pacifism.
Financial Times: Cameron snubbed over Brussels review
Angela Merkel, German chancellor, and François Hollande, French president, have snubbed the UK coalition’s much-heralded review of the relationship between Brussels and member states. The Foreign Office invited Berlin and Paris to take part in its so-called “balance of competences” study, which is examining whether powers should flow back from Brussels. But after high-level discussions between the French and German governments, they have decided not to assist the British review. The exercise, launched in July, has been blackballed by most other member states as well, although Sweden and Italy are among those that have responded.
CNN: Indian court lifts travel ban on Italian ambassador after marines' return
The Indian Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted its foreign travel ban on the Italian ambassador following Rome's recent decision to send two marines back to New Delhi where they face trial over the killing of two fishermen last year, a lawyer said. The court barred Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving India last month because of Rome's refusal at the time to return the two marines, who had been allowed to go home temporarily to vote in national elections.
CNN: Tourist raped on minibus in Rio, police say
A female foreign tourist was kidnapped, raped and robbed on a minibus in Rio de Janeiro, police said, highlighting security concerns in the Brazilian city that will host matches in the 2014 World Cup and will put on the Summer Olympics two years later. A male foreign tourist on the minibus was also held captive and robbed, according to Rio police. Police said they would not release the identities or nationalities of the victims, but the U.S. Embassy said Monday that one of the two is an American citizen, and a U.S. State Department official on Monday said the woman raped was a U.S. citizen.
Financial Times: US banks weigh EU bonus cap options
Foreign banks in the City of London are stepping up tactics to mitigate the impact of incoming EU bonus caps. Bankers said US institutions were considering whether it still made sense to base Europe, Middle East and Africa (Emea) business in London, suggesting that Dubai or another Gulf financial centre could benefit instead. “We are not thinking of transferring people from London to Dubai tomorrow,” said one US banker. “But future growth in Africa could be led out of the Middle East or South Africa.”
WaPo: European industry flocks to U.S. to take advantage of cheaper gas
The sprawling chemical plant in this city along the Rhine River has been a jewel of Germany’s manufacturing-led economy for more than a century. But the plunging price of natural gas in the United States has European companies setting sail across the Atlantic to stay competitive. German chemicals giant BASF, which operates the plant here, has announced plans for wide-ranging expansion in the United States, where natural gas prices have fallen to a quarter of those in Europe, largely because of American innovations in unlocking shale gas. Among those most affected are energy-intensive industries such as steel and chemicals, because they use natural gas as a raw material and power source. With Europe lagging in energy production, manufacturers on the continent warn that a chain reaction could shift more and more investment to U.S. shores.