CNN Washington AM Note
June 17th, 2013
05:58 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Washington AM Note


CNN: Federal investigators called in as Colorado firefighters make progress

As hundreds of firefighters began to get the upper hand on a huge blaze near Colorado Springs, Colorado, investigators stepped up their probe into the cause of the most destructive wildfire in the state's history. The 16,000-acre Black Forest Fire, which was 65% contained Sunday, is now considered a crime scene, according to El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who said it will be some time before residents will be allowed to go home permanently.

NYT: Choice of Health Plans to Vary Sharply From State to State

When a typical 40-year-old uninsured woman in Maine goes to the new state exchange to buy health insurance this fall, she may have just two companies to choose from: the one that already sells most individual policies in the state, and a complete unknown — a nonprofit start-up. Her counterpart in California, however, will have a much wider variety of choices: 13 insurers are likely to offer plans, including the state’s largest and best-known carriers. With only a few months remaining before Americans will start buying coverage through the new state insurance exchanges under President Obama’s health care law, it is becoming clear that the millions of people purchasing policies in the exchanges will find that their choices vary sharply, depending on where they live.


CNN: U.S., Russia to square off over Syrian war as death toll tops 92,000

Not long after the United States said it will start arming Syrian rebels, Syria's longtime ally Russia fired back by saying the move supports those "who kill their enemies and eat their organs." The latest dispute sets a riveting backdrop to the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland on Monday, where the Syrian civil war will likely top the agenda among eight of the world's most powerful countries. In one corner, the United States, the United Kingdom and France say rebels need more help in ousting a 42-year dynasty and ending a regime that crushes dissent with lethal force. In the other corner, Russia says its supply of arms to Syrian regime isn't nearly as bad as sending weapons to the rebels.

ALSO SEE: Daily Telegraph: Boris Johnson: Don't arm the Syria maniacs

ALSO SEE: NBC: 'Like a war movie': Painful past of the small town hosting the G8 summit

NYT: Lines Blur in U.S.-Europe Debate on Austerity

As President Obama begins an annual meeting with the leaders of some of the world’s richest nations on Monday in Northern Ireland, the economic-policy gulf that has divided them since the global crash in 2008 has narrowed significantly — just not exactly in ways that the White House would have liked. The Europeans lately have slightly eased their austerity policies, after four years of deep spending cuts and rising taxes that many economists blame for keeping the Continent in recession long after America’s ended. And the Obama administration, after years of pressing Europe to adopt American-style stimulus measures, is now presiding — if reluctantly — over European-style austerity that is measurably slowing its recovery.

WaPo: On Europe trip, Obama will face a continent frustrated by his actions and inaction

President Obama this week will visit a European continent deeply worried about its economy, the worsening conflict in Syria and the uncertain direction of American leadership abroad in the fifth year of his administration. As he arrives Monday in Northern Ireland for his first trip to Europe in two years, Obama will be confronting the diplomatic fallout from his actions and in­action on some of the most urgent concerns of his European counterparts. His long delay in more aggressively supporting Syria’s beleaguered opposition forces — a move that his administration announced in the form of expanded military aid on the eve of his visit here — has frustrated the leaders of France and Germany. The recent disclosure of the National Security Agency’s telephone and Internet surveillance has angered many European politicians, particularly German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he will see on both stops of his three-day visit.

CNN Poll: Obama approval falls amid controversies

President Barack Obama's approval rating dropped eight percentage points over the past month, to 45%, the president's lowest rating in more than a year and a half, according to a new national poll. The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday morning comes as the White House has been reacting to controversies over a massive U.S. government surveillance program, the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of tea party and other conservative groups who applied for tax exempt status, the administration's handling and reaction to last September's attack in Benghazi that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead, and the Justice Department's secret collection of journalists' phone records as part of a government investigation into classified leaks. The poll indicates that for the first time in his presidency, half of the public says they don't believe Obama is honest and trustworthy.


CNN: Immigration bill shaping up, but fate still uncertain

While the future of immigration reform is still in question, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight, predicted the Senate will pass the bill with 70 votes or more. “I think we're going to have a political breakthrough, that Congress is going to pass immigration reform. I think we're going to get plus 70 votes,” he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I've never been more optimistic about it.” His GOP colleague in the Gang of Eight, Sen. Marco Rubio, doesn't sound quite as confident. The senator from Florida maintains the bill is almost in “perfect shape” but reiterated it needs tweaks to its border security provisions. Meanwhile, a Democratic member of their bipartisan group, Sen. Bob Menendez, said those changes must not undermine one of the bill’s main provisions, which offers a pathway to citizenship.

ALSO SEE: NYT: As U.S. Plugs Border in Arizona, Crossings Shift to South Texas

ALSO SEE: Politico: Marco Rubio’s angling prompts some Gang of Eight angst

USA Today: Deals for industries, immigrants tucked in Senate bill

Foreign retirees could live in the United States for longer periods each year if they agree to make hefty cash investments in real estate. Overseas snowboard instructors could enter the USA under visas now reserved for athletes, and beach resorts could hire more lifeguards and groundskeepers from abroad. The massive immigration overhaul working its way through the Senate is peppered with benefits like these for specific industries and immigrant groups — even as it aims to tackle three core policy objectives: creating a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in this country illegally, strengthening border security and increasing enforcement of laws that guard against the employment of undocumented workers. "This is one of the primary reasons that our immigration laws, like our tax code, are so complicated," said Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations for Numbers USA, which opposes increased immigration. "Congress treats it like a Christmas tree." "Each time a new special interest comes through the door, they just stick on a new ornament for the special interest," she said.

The Hill: Major tests loom for Boehner

By and large, Boehner has dodged controversy since January, when his political stock took major hits as Congress debated the fiscal cliff and Sandy relief. But that respite will soon come to an end. Among the testy issues facing Boehner: Immigration reform, a five-year farm bill, the constitutionality of the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs, a possible government shutdown and increasing the federal debt limit. Boehner has already committed to moving a five-year farm measure, which is set for a vote on the floor this week. But there are sure to be dozens of GOP defections. Meanwhile, revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) data-mining programs that culled phone and Internet records of Americans have caused angst for some in the GOP, who fear overzealous government intrusion.

ALSO SEE: Bloomberg: Sushi Aid in $1 Trillion U.S. Farm Bill Irks Watchdogs

Politico: House GOP sees upside in budget conference delay

For years, House Republicans have clamored for a budget from the Senate. Now that they’ve got one, they’re not sure what to do next. Thus far, they’ve been mostly happy to let senators fight among themselves on whether to go to conference, even while Democrats in both chambers accuse them of obstruction. But inaction may not be such a bad thing for House Republicans. Going to conference to match the House and Senate-passed budgets — or making any movement on the budget right now — could open up a schism in the caucus on spending that for months leadership has managed to keep mostly at bay. Some members see this as an opportunity to make a deal that makes permanent real budget cuts. There’s a contingent that either doesn’t want to make a deal with Senate Democrats or would prefer to wait until the debt ceiling is closer and they presumably have more leverage. And some would just toss the House-passed plan and start over.

WSJ: Fannie, Freddie Future Finds a Focus

Congress is gearing up to tackle an issue that Washington has mostly ignored for nearly five years: What to do with Fannie Mae FNMA -16.85% and Freddie Mac, FMCC -18.24% the bailed-out but now-profitable mortgage companies. In the Senate, Republicans and Democrats have begun work on a bipartisan bill that would replace Fannie and Freddie within five years with a new "public guarantor" as part of a broader framework designed to wean the government back from its outsized role backstopping the nation's $10 trillion mortgage market. The effort is being led by Sens. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D., Va.). So far, two other Republicans—Sens. Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Dean Heller of Nevada—and two other Democrats—Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota—are working on the bill. It hasn't been formally introduced.

WSJ: Tough Place to Fill Job Openings: U.S. Senate

Both political parties are encountering a surprising problem as they prepare for next year's battle to control the U.S. Senate: Some of their top choices are turning down invitations to run for seats in a body with a reputation that has been tarnished by bickering and gridlock. In states as disparate as Iowa, Michigan, Georgia and Nebraska, men and women considered top-tier candidates are declining to jump into races. In Iowa, for example, the state's lieutenant governor, agriculture secretary, secretary of state and two prominent congressmen all declined to seek the Republican nomination for a seat in a body that was once considered the pinnacle of a political career.


Politico: Immigration: Governors speed ahead where Hillary Clinton stumbled

Several governors with potential 2016 ambitions are speeding ahead with plans to give driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, nearly six years after the issue tripped up Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes. Democratic Govs. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Peter Shumlin of Vermont and John Hickenlooper of Colorado, and Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada have all signed legislation granting driving privileges to at least some undocumented immigrants, part of a wave of seven states adopting similar laws so far this year. In an eighth state, Florida, lawmakers passed a bill by overwhelming margins only to see Republican Gov. Rick Scott veto it. As of Jan. 1, only four states — Washington, California, Utah and New Mexico — had such laws in place.

CNN: Jeb Bush notes a 'split ballot' on his presidential future

Former first lady Barbara Bush famously said in April that she wasn't a fan of the idea of another Bush running for president, answering a question about her son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and his potential 2016 aspirations. But how does his father, former President George H.W. Bush, feel about the idea? Jeb Bush says there's a "split ballot amongst the Bush senior family" over the issue. "Pretty sure that's the case," Bush said with laughter in an interview that aired Sunday on ABC's "This Week." While Jeb Bush has been widely considered as a potential contender in the next presidential cycle, the former governor has done little to stoke speculation that he's actively plotting a move.

Politico: Joe Manchin takes on NRA in new TV spot

Sen. Joe Manchin, co-author of a plan to expand background checks on gun sales, is launching a TV ad to defend himself from attacks by the powerful National Rifle Association. Manchin will begin running the TV ad later this week, although details on how much the West Virginia Democrat will spend on the ad buy and its content were still being finalized on Sunday. Manchin will pay for the ad out of his reelection campaign. “The ad will at least match the NRA’s buy,” said Jonathan Kott, a Manchin aide. “We’ll be shooting [the ad Monday] in West Virginia and we expect to go up this week.”


CNN: New report: Britain spied on G-20 delegates in 2009

Britain's electronic intelligence agency monitored delegates' phones and tried to capture their passwords during an economic summit held there in 2009, the Guardian newspaper reported Sunday. The targets included British allies such as Turkey and South Africa, the newspaper reported. The Guardian cited documents provided by Edward Snowden, the American computer analyst now spilling secrets of the U.S. intelligence community. The latest report was published on the eve of another economic summit hosted by the British government - the Group of Eight economic summit in Northern Ireland. According to the newspaper, the documents show that the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ used "ground-breaking intelligence capabilities" to intercept calls made by members of the larger G-20 conference delegations at meetings in London. Analysts received round-the-clock summaries of calls that were being made, and GCHQ set up Internet cafes for delegates in hopes of intercepting e-mails and capturing keystrokes, the Guardian reported.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Details on NSA-thwarted plots coming, lawmaker says

ALSO SEE: The Guardian: G20 summit: NSA targeted Russian president Medvedev in London 

CNNMoney: 10,000 Apple accounts subject to data requests

U.S. law enforcement officials made thousands of requests for data about Apple users over the last seven months, the company said Monday. Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) said it had received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests, covering between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices, from federal, state and local authorities. Some of the requests were related to national security matters, but most were made by police investigating crimes, searching for missing persons or trying to prevent suicide, according to the company. Apple's revelation follows the leaking by American computer analyst Edward Snowden of details of a U.S. government system for monitoring millions of emails, photos, search histories and other data from major telecommunications and technology firms.

CNN: WH: Obama not violating privacy; Snowden's whereabouts unknown

President Barack Obama does not feel that he has violated the privacy of any American, his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, confirmed Sunday. Asked directly if Obama feels that way regarding the government's controversial surveillance programs, McDonough said simply, "He does not." During his interview on CBS' "Face the Nation," McDonough added the president plans to "talk about this in the days ahead."

ALSO SEE: CNN: Cheney defends NSA, calls Obama's credibility 'nonexistent'

WSJ: West to Press Iran on Nukes

The Obama administration and its European allies—surprised and encouraged by Hassan Rohani's election as Iran's next president—intend to aggressively push to resume negotiations with Tehran on its nuclear program by August to test his new government's positions, U.S. and European diplomats say. Mr. Rohani, 64 years old and a centrist figure on the Iranian political stage, on Saturday trounced a host of more conservative candidates to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a president who famously staked out confrontational positions with the West. Mr. Rohani campaigned on ending Iran's international isolation and reinvigorating its economy. The diplomacy between Iran and global powers aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear work has been frozen since April. American and European officials said Sunday they believed Iran's overall nuclear policy will remain tightly controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The 73-year-old cleric has refused to authorize any concessions during the past four years of international talks that have involved Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations.

ALSO SEE: Amanpour: New Day for Iran and the United States?

ALSO SEE: Jerusalem Post: 'Rohani wants to renew direct talks with world powers'

BBC: US lawyer to be Guantanamo Bay closure envoy

A Washington lawyer is set to become the diplomatic envoy charged with overseeing the closure of the US military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay. Clifford Sloan will reopen the Office of Guantanamo Closure, which was shut in January when his predecessor was reassigned by the Obama administration. Mr Sloan is a close confidant of the Secretary of State, John Kerry. President Barack Obama vowed last month to renew efforts to shut the prison, amid a hunger strike by detainees. He said it was "contrary to who we are" and harmful to US interests.

CNN: Chen Guangcheng: NYU is forcing me out

Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese activist whose dramatic escape from house arrest last year provoked a diplomatic firestorm between Washington and Beijing, said he is being forced to leave New York University over fears his presence there is affecting the university's relationship with China. In a statement released Monday, Chen said that New York University had asked him and his family to leave before the end of June. "In fact, as early as last August and September, the Chinese Communists had already begun to apply great, unrelenting pressure on New York University," Chen said. "So much so that after we had been in the United States just three to four months, NYU was already starting to discuss our departure with us."


WaPo: State photo-ID databases become troves for police

The faces of more than 120 million people are in searchable photo databases that state officials assembled to prevent driver’s-license fraud but that increasingly are used by police to identify suspects, accomplices and even innocent bystanders in a wide range of criminal investigations. The facial databases have grown rapidly in recent years and generally operate with few legal safeguards beyond the requirement that searches are conducted for “law enforcement purposes.” Amid rising concern about the National Security Agency’s high-tech surveillance aimed at foreigners, it is these state-level facial-recognition programs that more typically involve American citizens. But law enforcement use of such facial searches is blurring the traditional boundaries between criminal and non-criminal databases, putting images of people never arrested in what amount to perpetual digital lineups. The most advanced systems allow police to run searches from laptop computers in their patrol cars and offer access to the FBI and other federal authorities.

Roll Call: Texas Members May Face Remap Redux

When the Supreme Court takes on a key part of a voting rights law later this month, Texas Democrats will be watching more closely than anyone on Capitol Hill. The high court’s ruling could affect whether, and how, the congressional boundaries in the state will be revised — yet again. In the coming days, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Republicans in the state Legislature are set to pass into law the interim map used last cycle. In 2012, a federal court in San Antonio ordered officials to use this interim map because the one that state lawmakers originally drew failed to pass muster with federal officials. But in the next few weeks, the Supreme Court may decide whether that kind of approval is even necessary.

ALSO SEE: CNN: A summary of major upcoming Supreme Court decisions

WATCH: VIDEO – The Supreme Court is prepared to issue major rulings on race, voting rights and same-sex marriage.

CNET: Google plans to wipe child porn from the Web

Photos and videos of child pornography on the Web have multiplied at an alarming rate over the past few years. In 2011, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said it received 17.3 million images and videos of suspected child abuse, which is four times more than 2007. Google has announced that it wants to help curb this proliferation of child pornography. In fact, the Web giant plans to take it even a step further - it wants to completely eradicate child porn from the Internet. "Behind these images are real, vulnerable kids who are sexually victimized and victimized further through the distribution of their images," Google Giving director Jacquelline Fuller wrote in a blog post on Saturday. "It is critical that we take action as a community - as concerned parents, guardians, teachers and companies - to help combat this problem." Google's plan is to build a database of child porn images that can be shared with other tech companies, law enforcement, and charities around the world. The database will let these groups swap information, collaborate, and remove the images from the Web.

CNN: Did Minnesota man command Nazi unit?

The founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center wants the Justice Department to investigate allegations that a Minnesota man commanded a Nazi unit accused of war crimes in World War II. Rabbi Marvin Hier sent a formal letter to the department Friday saying he wants an immediate inquiry to find out whether 94-year-old Michael Karkoc should be brought to justice. The Associated Press reported Friday that Karkoc lied to American immigration officials in 1949 in order to gain entry to the United States and that he has been living in Minnesota since shortly after the war. Karkoc told U.S. authorities he was a carpenter and performed no military service during the war, even though records show he was a commander of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion, according to an investigation by the Associated Press.


Chicago Tribune: Bloody weekend violence leaves 7 dead, 46 shot

As she headed out the door Sunday morning, Adrianne Wilberton put on a brave face. It was time to tell one of her sons the news, and she didn’t want him hearing it from anyone else. But her composure unraveled as she walked toward the car, a barrage of neighbors hugging her on the way out of her apartment. By the time she reached the front lawn, the mother of six was in tears. “Our son is dead! Oh Jesus!” the 57-year-old screamed, referring to her other son, Cortez, who was killed earlier that morning on Chicago’s West Side. “Oh my God! Oh my God! We were just talking.” At least 33 people were shot — six of them fatally — Saturday afternoon through Father's Day Sunday, stretching from 94th Street and Loomis Avenue on the South Side up to about North Avenue and North Pulaski Road on the Northwest Side, according to authorities. The youngest person who was killed during one of the bloodiest weekends in Chicago this year was 16.

NYT: Bloomberg Plan Aims to Require Food Composting

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has tried to curb soda consumption, ban smoking in parks and encourage bike riding, is taking on a new cause: requiring New Yorkers to separate their food scraps for composting. Dozens of smaller cities, including San Francisco and Seattle, have adopted rules that mandate recycling of food waste from homes, but sanitation officials in New York had long considered the city too dense and vertically structured for such a policy to succeed. Recent pilot programs in the city, though, have shown an unexpectedly high level of participation, officials said. As a result, the Bloomberg administration is rolling out an ambitious plan to begin collecting food scraps across the city, according to Caswell F. Holloway IV, a deputy mayor.

WaPo: Mansion spending records indicate improper billing by Virginia governor and his family

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen, have used taxpayer money for a range of small personal items they should have paid for themselves under state policy, according to spending records. The McDonnells have billed the state for body wash, sunscreen, dog vitamins and a digestive system “detox cleanse,” the records show. They also have used state employees to run personal errands for their adult children. …About six months into the governor’s term, the official who oversees mansion spending told the McDonnells that they should not have charged taxpayers for a number of expenses, including deodorant, shoe repairs and dry-cleaning their children’s clothing. The official asked the McDonnells to pay the state back more than $300, which they did, and also gave them a refresher on what the state will and won’t provide for occupants of the governor’s mansion. But since that time, state records show that the McDonnells have continued to let taxpayers pick up the tab for numerous personal items, including vitamins, nasal spray and sleep-inducing elixirs.

Boston Globe: Bomb threats, hoaxes have public and police on edge

Adam Crane, a 24-year-old truck driver recently discharged from the Army, allegedly set off small pipe bombs in his backyard and at the Burlington reservoir, once blowing up a watermelon. His lawyer calls Crane an “immature kid who allegedly did something stupid.” But police aren’t taking him so lightly. They have charged Crane, who has no criminal record, with throwing an explosive device, which carries a minimum sentence of 2½ years. On June 11, a Woburn District Court judge ordered him held in jail for 90 days pending trial. Police reaction to cases like Crane’s underscores authorities’ high degree of sensitivity after the April 15 Marathon attacks, in which two pressure cooker bombs killed three people and injured more than 260. State Police point to recent incidents that suggest copycat threats. In Saugus, a pressure cooker was left between two cars in a mall parking lot, and in Topsfield an unstable man purportedly told police the pressure cooker in his closet was a bomb. Neither of the kitchen appliances was an explosive device, but State Police say such incidents have caused chaos and fear, putting authorities and the public on edge. One official said troopers are “running ragged” responding to bomb threats, hoax devices, and calls about an unattended backpack or suitcase.

Charlotte Observer: N.C. GOP rolls back era of Democratic laws

A slew of programs, laws and initiatives started by Democratic governors and Democratic legislatures are now in jeopardy as the first unified Republican government in Raleigh in more than a century takes charge. Generations of programs involving education, the environment, health care, election laws and economic development are being eliminated or gutted in the budgets proposed by either Gov. Pat McCrory, the Senate or the House. Not all the proposed changes will make it through the legislative gauntlet. But in a few cases, programs are already gone.


CNN: Turkish unions call strike after weekend of street clashes

Turkish trade unions are aiming to put fresh pressure on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday by holding a nationwide strike after a weekend of violent unrest in major cities. Describing Erdogan's government as "despotic," two main union blocs say they plan to march to Istanbul's Taksim Square, which has been at the heart of more than two weeks of protests. It is the second time unions have called a strike to support the protest movement. Police and anti-government demonstrators had faced off once again around Taksim Square on Sunday, a day after authorities had cleared the adjacent Gezi Park by force.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Clashes, chaos erupt at Ankara gathering for slain protester

AFP: Saudi Arabia wants missiles for Syrian rebels: report

Saudi Arabia plans to supply the Syrian opposition with anti-aircraft missiles to counter President Bashar al-Assad's air force, German news weekly Der Spiegel reported Sunday. The article, citing a classified report received by the German foreign intelligence service and the German government last week, said Riyadh was looking at sending European-made Mistral-class MANPADS, or man-portable air-defence systems. Der Spiegel noted the shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles can target low-flying aircraft including helicopters and had given mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan a decisive edge against Soviet troops in the 1980s. Saudi Arabia is a key supporter of the Syrian rebels and has long advocated providing them with better weaponry.

The Daily Star: Hezbollah, Hamas play down rift after talks

Hezbollah and Hamas downplayed over the weekend reports of a rift between the two resistance movements over the crisis in Syria, after a round of apparent reconciliation talks that called for an end to sectarian rhetoric in the region. Hamas officials stressed that their relationship with Hezbollah remained strong despite their differences over Syria, where the U.N. estimates that over 93,000 people have died since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. “The relationship between Hamas and Hezbollah is solid and strong, and our offices are in our safe refuge in the heart of Dahiyeh,” a Hamas official, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Daily Star. “Hezbollah has its own political view and we also have our own different view on the events in Syria.” Hamas officials vacated their offices in Syria and sided with the rebels after the start of the uprising, citing regime violence. The official’s comments coincided with a meeting held Saturday between Hezbollah and Hamas officials, including former Hezbollah MP Hasan Huballah and Ali Barakeh, the Hamas representative in Lebanon.

CNN: State news: North Korea proposes high-level talks with U.S.

North Korea has proposed high-level talks with the United States to "ease tensions in the Korean Peninsula," its state news agency reported early Sunday. The topics that "can be sincerely discussed" include easing military tensions, changing a truce treaty to a peace treaty, and nuclear matters, according to a statement from the North's National Defense Commission, as reported by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. It left some details - like where and when the talks might be held - up to Washington, and insisted U.S. officials should not lay out any preconditions for talks. "(The United States should) not lose the opportunity that is laid out and should actively agree with our resolute step and good intention," the commission said. A spokeswoman for the National Security Council said the United States has always been willing to talk.

CNN: Pakistan condemns anti-polio volunteers' killings

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the Sunday killings of two polio vaccination volunteers in the country's northwest, calling their slayings "cowardly and inhuman." The workers were shot to death while visiting homes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in northwestern Pakistan, police said. Islamic militants have targeted anti-polio campaigns since U.S. intelligence used a fake vaccination program to aid its hunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic, with 58 cases reported in 2012, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. In a statement issued by his office, Zardari said the volunteers died in service of a "noble cause" and called for tighter security for the effort.

WSJ: Czech Premier to Resign on Monday

The Czech premier said Sunday he would step down after a bribery and abuse-of-power investigation led to the arrest of his top aide last week, setting the stage for extended political uncertainty in this post-communist Central European country. Prime Minister Petr Necas pledged to resign, effective Monday. He hasn't been accused of wrongdoing and insisted he wouldn't leave office. But as details of the police probe emerged, pressure mounted on Mr. Necas, who had positioned himself as an anticorruption crusader. "I am aware of my political responsibility," Mr. Necas said after a meeting of his center-right Civic Democratic Party and its allies on Sunday. "I don't want to be blocking my own party and this government."

CNN: Anger in China over attack on students in France

A violent attack on a group of Chinese students in a small town in southwest France has prompted anger and condemnation in China. During the assault Friday night in the town of Hostens, south of Bordeaux, one of the students suffered a serious injury after a glass bottle was thrown in her face, French authorities said. In France to study the making of wine, the six students were at home when they were attacked by three local residents who were "visibly in an inebriated state," French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement Saturday. He condemned the attack "with great severity," describing it as "xenophobic." Two of the suspected attackers have been questioned and taken into custody, he said.

CNN: Russian president: I did not steal Super Bowl ring

Russia's president is fighting back: No, he did not steal a Super Bowl ring. And no, he's not rocking the diamond-encrusted prize on his finger, either. President Vladimir Putin's spokesman denied that the leader kept a Super Bowl ring that New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft wanted back. Both sides agree that the ring, with its 124 diamonds, changed hands during Kraft's visit to St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005. The New York Post reported on remarks made by Kraft, 72, at a New York awards gala Thursday. "I took out the ring and showed it to (Putin). And he put it on and he goes, 'I can kill someone with this ring,'" Kraft said, according to the New York Post. "I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out."


Daily Telegraph: Fitch says China credit bubble unprecedented in modern world history

The agency said the scale of credit was so extreme that the country would find it very hard to grow its way out of the excesses as in past episodes, implying tougher times ahead. "The credit-driven growth model is clearly falling apart. This could feed into a massive over-capacity problem, and potentially into a Japanese-style deflation," said Charlene Chu, the agency's senior director in Beijing. "There is no transparency in the shadow banking system, and systemic risk is rising. We have no idea who the borrowers are, who the lenders are, and what the quality of assets is, and this undermines signalling," she told The Daily Telegraph.

ALSO SEE: NYT: Faltering Economy in China Dims Job Prospects for Graduates

WSJ: Economists Wary as Fed's Next Forecast Looms

In every year of the economic recovery the Federal Reserve has overestimated how fast the economy would grow. Many economists believe it is doing so again. The Wall Street Journal's monthly survey of private-sector economists shows that forecasters on average expect the economy to grow 2.3% this year and 2.8% next year. The Fed is more optimistic. Its latest growth projections, made in March, average closer to 2.6% for 2013 and closer to 3.2% for 2014. At the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday, the Fed will release its updated projections of growth, inflation and unemployment.


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  1. king

    the repubs are diverting the American people with all these fake scandals that has no facts. their is no proof of anyone committing any violation of law in the government, yet they shout from the top of their voice about scandals, i thought scandals were about law violations. if they dont like all these scandals they need to change the laws. name one of these laws that the president have violated, and i dont want to hear about insinuations, i want to hear about facts. furthermore the repubs have abandoned their job jobs jobs mantra, the day they took over the congress back in 2010. they have been shouting kill the government and cut cut cut. look what is going on in Europe, they've been doing this repubs austerity policies and have been nose diving ever since. the repubs have been trying to get rid of Bernanke because they didn't like his stimulus programs, Obama liked it so he rehired him as fed chairman. now the corporate repubs are making more money than anytime in history.

    June 17, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |