CNN Washington AM Note
May 8th, 2013
05:51 AM ET
8 years ago

CNN Washington AM Note


CNN: Women reunite with families; details begin to emerge

The first time most of America heard Amanda Berry's voice was on a frantic 911 call. "I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years," the 27-year-old woman said on the call, which was made on Monday. "And I'm here. I'm free now." A day later, Berry could be heard again. This time talking to relatives, she seemed positive, even upbeat - telling her grandmother Fern Gentry in Tennessee that she's "fine" and that the 6-year-old girl also rescued Monday from a Cleveland home is indeed her own.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Timeline: Three Cleveland girls go missing; no word of them for 10 years

WATCH: VIDEO – Kidnapping survivor Jaycee Dugard was honored by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Tuesday night.

CNN: Attorneys: Holmes plans insanity plea in Aurora shootings

Attorneys for Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes on Tuesday filed their intent to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity on behalf of their client. Judge Carlos Samour Jr. replied in a court order that he will give the defense team an opportunity to show "good cause" to change the plea during a hearing on May 13. Holmes faces charges in the July 20, 2012, shooting spree that took the lives of 12 people and wounded dozens more at the premiere in Aurora of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises." Federal agents have said the 25-year-old former University of Colorado doctoral student planned the attack for months.

Boston Globe: Menino won’t allow bombing suspect’s burial

Mayor Thomas M. Menino will not allow the body of ­Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev to be buried in the city, his spokeswoman said Tuesday, even as authorities in Worcester, where the body languishes in a funeral home, expressed confidence a solution is near. “It would be disrespectful to our residents to accommodate this individual,” said Dot Joyce, Menino’s press secretary.

WATCH: VIDEO – Where to bury Tamerlan Tsarnaev is a contentious issue with no solution in sight. CNN's Paula Newton reports

NYT: In California, Early Push for College Diversity

As the Supreme Court weighs a case that could decide the future of affirmative action in college admissions, California offers one glimpse of a future without it. California was one of the first states to abolish affirmative action, after voters approved Proposition 209 in 1996. Across the University of California system, Latinos fell to 12 percent of newly enrolled state residents in the mid-1990s from more than 15 percent, and blacks declined to 3 percent from 4 percent. At the most competitive campuses, at Berkeley and Los Angeles, the decline was much steeper. Eventually, the numbers rebounded.

WaPo: One hospital charges $8,000 — another, $38,000

Consumers on Wednesday will finally get some answers about one of modern life’s most persistent mysteries: how much medical care actually costs. For the first time, the federal government will release the prices that hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures. Until now, these charges have been closely held by facilities that see a competitive advantage in shielding their fees from competitors. What the numbers reveal is a health-care system with tremendous, seemingly random variation in the costs of services.


CNN: Obama: 'North Korea has failed again'

President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday nuclear aggression from North Korea has further isolated the region and vowed to use all means to deter further provocations. "If Pyongyang thought its recent threats would drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States or somehow garner the North international respect, today is further evidence that North Korea has failed again," Obama said during a joint press conference with the two leaders. "The United States and the Republic of Korea are as united as ever ... North Korea is more isolated than ever." Obama said North Korea's manufactured crises will no long elicit concessions and committed to protecting the United States and its allies.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Dennis Rodman asks Kim Jong Un to let U.S. citizen go

CNN: Biden on Susan Rice: She speaks for the president

Vice President Joe Biden praised U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on the eve of congressional hearings over last year's deadly terror attack against a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya – a controversy in which Rice found herself buried deep only days later. Describing her as one of the “brightest, most accomplished” people he’s ever met, Biden said he’s never seen a U.S. ambassador to the U.N. “who has more ability to promote the interests of the United States of America. Then she speaks…no one wonders whether or not she is speaking for the president,” the vice president said at a gala for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which honored Rice with an award Tuesday night.

CNN: News reports: Twitter's Nicole Wong considered for White House position

The White House is reportedly considering hiring Twitter's Nicole Wong as part of its legal team to focus on privacy issues, though a final decision on the position has not yet been made. Wong started at Twitter just seven months ago as the legal director for Twitter's products team. According to multiple news reports, Wong is a leading contender for the position of senior adviser to Todd Park, the United States chief technology officer. Previously, Wong worked at Google for eight years as a vice president and deputy general counsel. Before that, she was a partner at the law firm Perkins Coie.


CNN: Gay rights on long list of proposed changes to immigration bill

A top Senate Democrat has offered a pair of amendments to an immigration reform bill bolstering rights for same-sex couples, a politically risky move that threatens to shatter Republican support for the sweeping legislation. Vermont Sen. Patrick's Leahy's amendments would recognize same-sex marriages in which one spouse is an American, and also would allow U.S. citizens to sponsor foreign-born same-sex partners for green cards as long as there's proof of a committed relationship. They were among dozens of amendments filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday as the panel prepares to take up the legislation later this week.

CNN: Rubio calls Heritage immigration report not 'legitimate'

A report by the conservative Heritage Foundation criticizing the Senate "Gang of Eight" immigration reform plan for being too costly wasn't an accurate assessment of the bill, one of the Republican lawmakers authoring the measure said Tuesday. The report, released Monday, takes particular issue with the Senate bill's pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already living in the United States, saying such a route to legal status would cost taxpayers trillions. Sen. Marco Rubio, in an interview with CNN en Español's Juan Carlos Lopez, countered that improving the immigration system would actually help bolster America's economy.

Bloomberg: Boehner ‘Probably’ Won’t Back Internet Sales Tax Measure

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said he “probably” won’t support legislation to let states require out-of-state Internet retailers to collect sales taxes, saying it would be too cumbersome to implement. “Moving this bill where you’ve got 50 different sales tax codes, it’s a mess out there,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday in Washington. “You’re going to make it much more difficult for online retailers to be able to comply.” The Senate passed the bill May 6 in a bipartisan vote of 69-27, with support from 21 Republicans. Asked whether he could back the measure, Boehner said, “probably not.”

WaPo: As red ink recedes, pressure fades for budget deal

After four years of trillion-dollar deficits, the red ink is receding rapidly in Washington, easing pressure on policymakers but shattering hopes for a summertime budget deal. Federal tax revenue is up and spending is down thanks to an improving economy, tax increases that took effect in January and the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester. The sunnier outlook means that President Obama will be able to pay the nation’s bills for months without seeking additional borrowing authority from Congress — probably until Oct. 1, according to independent forecasts.

ALSO SEE: CNNMoney: Current deficit plunges 32%

CNN: Former deputy chief of mission in Libya: U.S. military assets told to stand down

In an interview with congressional investigators, a former top diplomat in Libya expressed concern that more could have been done by the military on September 11-12 last year to protect those being attacked at the U.S. compound and annex in Benghazi, Libya. Specifically, Greg Hicks wondered why the military did not send a plane into Libyan airspace as a show of force, and why four U.S. Special Operations soldiers were not permitted to travel to Benghazi on a Libyan plane the morning of September 12. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hear from Hicks and others in a Wednesday hearing on the Benghazi tragedy, which ended in the deaths of four Americans - U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, information officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Benghazi outrage muted at Libya nominee's hearing

WATCH: VIDEO – Congress' hearing on Benghazi Tuesday was tame compared to the fireworks expected Wednesday. Dana Bash reports.


CNN: Sanford completes political comeback in South Carolina race

Mark Sanford is living proof that life is full of second chances. The former Republican governor of South Carolina, whose political career was left for dead along the Appalachian Trail after an extramarital affair, asked for, and Tuesday received, political redemption as he won a special election to fill a vacant House seat that he once occupied. "I want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances but third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth chances, because that is the reality of our shared humanity," Sanford said at his victory celebration after defeating his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch. "I am one imperfect man saved by God's grace."

ALSO SEE: Politico: South Carolina: Democrats learn big money doesn't buy happiness

CNN: Delaware becomes eleventh state to approve same-sex marriage

Delaware became the eleventh state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday after the State Senate approved the measure and the state's governor signed it into law. Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, signed the bill following a 12-9 vote in the State Senate passing the measure. The State House approved the bill in April. While the state had an existing civil unions law, the new measure allows gay and lesbian couples to legally marry. Rhode Island, Iowa, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia all allow same-sex marriage.

CNN: Christie: Weight loss surgery won't play any role in career choices

The weight loss surgery Gov. Chris Christie underwent in February was not a precursor to seeking higher office, the New Jersey Republican asserted Tuesday. Christie, speaking in public for the first time since his surgery was revealed, said the decision instead was based on his commitment to his family. "It's not a career issue for me. It is a long term health issue for me. And that is the basis upon which I made my decision," Christie said, saying that "the steps I've taken are for me, and Mary Pat, and the kids."


CNN: U.S., Russia pledge efforts to launch Syria talks

Warning that Syria could fall into the "abyss," Secretary of State John Kerry says he and his Russian counterpart will push for a meeting between the Syrian government and the opposition to try to find a political solution to the crisis that has engulfed the country in civil war. Speaking at a joint press conference on Tuesday in Moscow, Kerry said he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had agreed "as soon as is practicable, possibly and hopefully, by the end of this month" to seek to convene an international conference. The aim would be to implement last summer's Geneva communique brokered by Russia and the United States outlining how a transitional government could be formed.

Jerusalem Post: Livni to meet Kerry amid rumors of settlement freeze

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is scheduled to meet with United States Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome on Wednesday, amidst rumors that Israel had frozen tenders for some West Bank settlement construction projects as a gesture to the Palestinians to help restart negotiations. It’s their second such meeting in less than a week. Livni along with the Prime Ministers Office’s special envoy Yitzhak Molcho, met with Kerry in Washington last Thursday. Kerry is also scheduled to meet with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh while in Rome.

ALSO SEE: CNN Analysis: Kerry ready to dirty hands in diplomatic deal-making

WSJ: Pentagon Plans for the Worst in Syria

The Pentagon is stepping up plans to deal with a dangerous regional spillover from Syria's possible collapse—a scenario it had recently seen as remote—drawing up proposals including a Jordanian buffer zone for refugees secured by Arab troops, said U.S. officials familiar with the discussion. The plans seek to minimize direct U.S. involvement, but they reflect a reassessment of the Pentagon's hands-off approach. The shift comes after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's trip last month to the Middle East, during which Arab leaders appealed for the U.S. to focus on the danger of Syria's disintegration into warring sectarian fiefdoms. "The Syria message was loud and strong," said a senior diplomat briefed on Mr. Hagel's trip. "Everybody's scared. And nobody knows what the hell we are going to do there."

CNN: Survey indicates troubling trend in military sexual assaults

The number of service members anonymously reporting a sexual assault grew by more than 30% in the past two years, according to a Pentagon report released Tuesday. The Defense Department estimated that more than 26,000 troops experienced an episode of "unwanted sexual contact," a huge jump from the 19,300 figure in the 2010 report. "Sexual assault is a despicable crime and one of the most serious challenges facing this department," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at a briefing on the survey. "It's a threat to the safety and the welfare of our people and to the health, reputation and trust of this institution."

ALSO SEE: CNN: After officer charged in sex assault, military faces questions

CNN: Controversial officer passed over for CIA spy chief post

The undercover officer temporarily running the CIA's spy division who had ties to the agency's controversial interrogation program will not get the job permanently. CIA Director John Brennan said on Tuesday the first female to lead the National Clandestine Service will be replaced by a man, a nearly 30-year veteran who served covertly overseas, including a stint as station chief in Pakistan. The identities of these undercover officials were not made public.


NYT: U.S. Weighs Wider Wiretap Laws to Cover Online Activity

The Obama administration, resolving years of internal debate, is on the verge of backing a Federal Bureau of Investigation plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services, according to officials familiar with the deliberations. The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, has argued that the bureau’s ability to carry out court-approved eavesdropping on suspects is “going dark” as communications technology evolves, and since 2010 has pushed for a legal mandate requiring companies like Facebook and Google to build into their instant-messaging and other such systems a capacity to comply with wiretap orders. That proposal, however, bogged down amid concerns by other agencies, like the Commerce Department, about quashing Silicon Valley innovation.

NBC: Gun violence in US has fallen dramatically over past 20 years, Justice Dept. report finds

Gun violence in America has fallen dramatically over the past two decades, and the number of murders committed with a firearm is down too, though guns are still by far the leading type of crime weapon, according to a new report from the Justice Department. As for where crime guns came from, the study notes that less than two percent of convicted inmates reported buying their weapons at gun shows or flea markets. The highest number, 40 percent, said the guns came from a family member or a friend. About 37 percent said the weapons were stolen or obtained from an illegal source. The rest say the guns were bought at a retail store or pawn shop. Murders committed with a gun dropped 39 percent to 11,101 in 2011, from a high of 18,253 in 1993, according to the report.

WSJ: Vatican, U.S. in Anti-Money-Laundering Deal

The Vatican took another step toward making its finances more transparent Tuesday, signing a deal with U.S. regulators under which each side will share information about financial transactions with the aim of rooting out money laundering and other illicit dealings. The deal announced by the Vatican marks the latest move by the world's smallest state in response to international pressure to better police the Holy See's finances, which for decades were considered opaque. The efforts began in earnest in 2010 in the wake of an investigation by Italian prosecutors into whether the Vatican bank had violated Italy's money-laundering laws—an allegation the Vatican denies.

CNN: Couple gets most of $1 million reward in Christopher Dorner case

The couple who called police after being held hostage in Big Bear, California, by rogue ex-Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner will get a majority of the $1 million reward for information that led authorities to him. Karen Reynolds and her husband, Jim, called 911 on February 12 to report that Dorner had tied them up and stolen their car. They will receive 80% of the reward, put up by the city of Los Angeles with help from other jurisdictions, groups, and private donors.


WaPo: Protest group plans July 4 march on Washington with loaded rifles

An Iraq war veteran and Internet talk show host is trying to gather thousands of protesters to march into the District on Independence Day with loaded rifles on their backs. But if Adam Kokesh follows through with his July 4 plans — 2,500 people have signed up for the cause — he and his makeshift band will be met on the Arlington Memorial Bridge by two police forces packing guns of their own. Kokesh, 31, and D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier say they want to work together to ensure a peaceful airing of grievances. But the chief says only one side can have guns: hers. And she’ll have backup from the U.S. Park Police, which will also position officers at the District line.

Hartford Courant: State Announces Initiative To Improve Mental Health Reporting To NICS

Before Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded 17 more at Virginia Tech in 2007, he was able to purchase firearms because his mental health history had not been reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Now, using federal grant money made available in response to that school massacre, Connecticut is creating a database of individuals who are disqualified from owning a gun for mental health reasons, part of a nationwide effort to strengthen the federal background check system by improving state reporting.

Des Moines Register: 13 potential GOP U.S. Senate hopefuls

A plethora of possible Republican U.S. Senate candidates are surfacing now that Iowa GOP heavyweight Steve King has declared he’s not running for the seat in 2014. Some of the names might end up being a line on a crowded primary ballot and not much more, Republican campaign operatives say, while others could be formidable candidates with a path to victory if they can raise enough money and connect with enough Iowans. The GOP has been struggling to find a strong candidate to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, a veteran Democrat who is retiring at the end of 2014.

Columbus Dispatch: State rep files paperwork to oppose Portman in 2016

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan, D-Youngstown, at a 2011 Statehouse hearing on Senate Bill 5 Following on his promise last month to challenge U.S. Sen. Rob Portman in 2016, Democratic state Rep. Robert F. Hagan filed campaign paperwork yesterday allowing him to raise money for the statewide race.  Hagan, D-Youngstown, announced the formation of his Senate campaign on his Facebook page. …Hagan, 64, first declared he would take on the Republican Portman last month after the senator voted against expanding background checks for gun purposes.

Chicago Tribune: Jackson Jr. could face new troubles over financial disclosure

Already looking at a possible prison term, former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. could face new trouble over his apparent failure to file a financial disclosure report that is required when lawmakers leave the House. Meantime, his campaign has been warned by the Federal Election Commission about missing recent deadlines for public reports. Jackson will be sentenced July 1 for misusing more than $750,000 in campaign cash to buy luxury goods and other items. He resigned Nov. 21 and later pleaded guilty to a felony.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Michele Bachmann is in talks to settle Iowa lawsuit

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann is engaged in settlement negotiations in a lawsuit alleging that senior members of her presidential campaign stole a proprietary e-mail list of home-school families from the computer of an Iowa campaign staffer, according to sources close to the case. The Minnesota Republican reportedly traveled to Des Moines Monday to meet with attorneys for Barb Heki, an Iowa woman who sued the campaign last year alleging the theft of the list, which eventually was used to contact Iowa home-schoolers.


CNN: Turkish PM calls Israel's Syria strikes 'unacceptable'

Turkey's prime minister, a staunch critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, on Tuesday called Israel's recent airstrikes in Syria "unacceptable." Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the statement in the capital, Ankara, during a Justice and Development Party group meeting in parliament. "The air attack by Israel on Damascus is unacceptable. No rationale, no reason can excuse this operation. These attacks are a bargaining chip, an opportunity delivered on a silver platter to the hands of Assad, to the illegitimate Syrian regime," he said. The heightened tensions come amid questions about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria and international debate over how to respond to the country's bloody civil war, in which more than 70,000 people have died in more than two years of fighting.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Reports: Internet down in Syria

Reuters: Assad's forces capture strategic town in southern Syria

The Syrian army captured a strategic southern town from rebel fighters on Wednesday after a ferocious two-month bombardment, in an advance likely to result in President Bashar al-Assad's forces regaining control of an international transit route, opposition sources said. The fall of Khirbet Ghazaleh, situated in the Hauran Plain on the highway to Jordan, came after a Jordanian-backed Syrian opposition military council failed to supply weapons to the town's defenders. This raised resentment among opposition fighters over what they saw as a lack of Jordanian support for their efforts to defeat Assad's forces in the region, according to rebel commanders and activists in the area.

WSJ: Peacekeepers From U.N. Are Seized in Golan Heights

A Syrian rebel group abducted four Filipino United Nations peacekeepers in the Golan Heights on Tuesday, amid rising tensions in the area stemming from the war in Syria. It was the second time in two months that unarmed U.N. military observers have been taken captive by the group, which calls itself the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. In early March, the group seized 21 Filipino peacekeepers before releasing them after four days.

NYT: China Cuts Ties With Key North Korean Bank

The state-controlled Bank of China said on Tuesday that it had ended all dealings with a key North Korean bank in what appeared to be the strongest public Chinese response yet to North Korea’s willingness to brush aside warnings from Beijing and push ahead with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Chinese analysts said the Bank of China’s move carried clear diplomatic significance at a time when the Obama administration has been urging China to limit its longtime support for the North Korean government.

ALSO SEE: BBC: UN names North Korea human rights investigators

CNN: Pakistani prime minister candidate fractures spine after dramatic fall

Famed politician and Pakistani cricket star Imran Khan suffered spinal fractures and a head injury after a dramatic fall on the campaign trail, officials said. Khan is one of two frontrunners for Pakistani prime minister. He was injured Tuesday just four days before the country's historic election - Pakistan's first democratic transition of power.

NYT: Bodies Pour In as Nigeria Rounds Up Islamists

A fresh load of battered corpses arrived, 29 of them in a routine delivery by the Nigerian military to the hospital morgue here. Unexpectedly, three bodies started moving. “They were not properly shot,” recalled a security official here. “I had to call the J.T.F.” — the military’s joint task force — “and they gunned them down.” It was a rare oversight. Large numbers of bodies, sometimes more than 60 in a day, are being brought by the Nigerian military to the state hospital, according to government, health and security officials, hospital workers and human rights groups — the product of the military’s brutal war against radical Islamists rooted in this northern city.

The Guardian: Queen's speech to feature new curbs on migrants from EU

David Cameron will today make his most concerted effort yet to prevent a stampede of his core vote to Ukip by unveiling measures to stem the flow of EU migrants to Britain, including imposing fines on private landlords if they do not check the immigration status of their tenants. Landlords will face fines of thousands of pounds under proposals due to be unveiled in the Queen's speech today. The political centrepiece of Cameron's third Queen's speech will be a promise to restrict EU migrants' access to jobseeker's allowance to six months, issue new guidance to local authorities to give priority to local people in social housing, and place new responsibilities on EU member states to pay if their citizens use the NHS.

Miami Herald: Colombia’s capital banks on marijuana cure for hard drug addicts 

Marijuana has long been accused of being a gateway to deadlier vices. But could cannabis be a swinging door that might also lead people away from hard drugs? That’s what this capital city is trying to find out. In coming weeks, Bogotá is embarking on a controversial public health project where it will begin supplying marijuana to 300 addicts of bazuco — a cheap cocaine derivative that generates crack-like highs and is as addictive as heroin.

CNN: 23 dead in Mexico tanker blast

A speeding tanker truck carrying gas crashed and exploded in a huge fireball along a highway near Mexico City Tuesday, killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens more, officials said. "There was a flash, then a noise, and the ground began to shake," said Dulce Gonzalez, who lives in the neighborhood where the tanker plowed into homes early Tuesday morning. Flames engulfed cars and houses near the explosion, video from CNN affiliate Foro TV showed.


WSJ: Americans Are Borrowing Again but Still Less Than Before Freeze

America's credit crunch is easing. For the past six years, consumers and businesses have struggled to borrow money, but slowly, things are getting easier. Large U.S. companies are taking advantage of low interest rates to borrow record amounts of capital in bond markets. Banks are opening the spigots for commercial and industrial firms, and loans grew at an 11% annualized rate in the first quarter of this year, the sixth double-digit percentage increase in seven quarters, Federal Reserve data show.

USA Today: Another company backed by DOE loans shuts down

A Michigan maker of vans for the disabled that received a $50-million Energy Department loan has quietly ceased operation and laid off its staff. Vehicle Production Group, or VPG, stopped operations after finances dipped below the minimum threshold required by the government as a condition of the loan, says its former CEO, John Walsh. Though about 100 staff were laid off and its offices shuttered, it has not filed for bankruptcy reorganization.

Financial Times: Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevêdo wins WTO leadership battle

Brazil’s Roberto Azevêdo has emerged as the new director-general of the World Trade Organisation after seeing off Herminio Blanco of Mexico, the favoured candidate of the US and EU, according to officials familiar with the contest. Both Latin American rivals coveted the WTO position as a means to elevate their countries’ influence and cement their status as rising powers. The competition to succeed Pascal Lamy, the Frenchman who has presided over the WTO since 2005, had also been seen by some as a proxy for wider trade battles between the developed and developing worlds.

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