CNN Washington AM Note
July 1st, 2013
06:27 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Washington AM Note


CNN: 19 Arizona firefighters killed in one of nation's deadliest blazes
The 19 firefighters were members of an elite squad who get as close to the fire as possible to set up a barrier and stop its forward march. But the inferno blazing across central Arizona proved too much. The entire team was killed Sunday while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix - the deadliest wildland blaze for firefighters in more than 35 years.
WATCH: VIDEO More than a dozen firefighters were killed battling a blaze in Arizona
ALSO SEE: AZ Central: Yarnell Hill Fire: Families watch homes burn


CNNMoney: Student loan rates doubling on Monday
Students preparing to take subsidized government loans will see their interest rates double to 6.8% from current levels, starting Monday, July 1. But hope isn't lost yet. Lawmakers are working hard behind the scenes trying to strike a deal to save the 7 million college students who are slated to take the subsidized federal Stafford loans this year. Senate Democratic leaders are throwing their weight behind a bill that would extend the 3.4% rates for another year, just as Congress did last year.

CNN: Cirque du Soleil performer killed in Las Vegas show
A performer from Cirque du Soleil died in a weekend accident during a show at a Las Vegas casino, authorities said Sunday. The performer, 31-year-old Sarah Guyard, was pronounced dead shortly before midnight Saturday, the Clark County, Nevada, medical examiner's office told CNN. The cause of death had not been determined Sunday afternoon.

CNN: The heat is on in southwestern U.S. – enough to melt sneakers
When it's so oppressively hot that your sneakers melt, there's a run on your ice cream shop, and your July 4th plans are dashed, then there's really not much else you can do but bear it and grin. And that's what residents in the record-setting oven-hot region of the southwest are doing.

CNN: Get caught up: Week 1 of Zimmerman trial
The trial of George Zimmerman heads into its second week this Monday morning. Sixteen months after the shooting that took the life of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a jury of six women began hearing evidence in a Florida courtroom last week.
ALSO SEE: Tampa Bay Times: For Zimmerman witnesses, TV entertainment yielded to shock of real-life drama

NYT: Creativity, Not Just Catch-Up, At Retooled Summer Schools
Just a few years ago, school districts around the country were slashing summer classes as the economic downturn eviscerated their budgets. Now, despite continuing budgetary challenges, districts are re-envisioning summer school as something more than a compulsory exercise where students who need to make up lost credits fight to stay awake inside humid classrooms. According to the National Summer Learning Association, a nonprofit group, 25 of the country’s largest school districts — including Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Oakland, Calif.; Pittsburgh; and Providence, R.I. — have developed summer school programs that move beyond the traditional remedial model.


CNN: Obama pledges $7 billion to upgrade power in Africa
U.S. President Barack Obama pledged $7 billion Sunday to help combat frequent power blackouts in sub-Saharan Africa. Funds from the initiative, dubbed Power Africa, will be distributed over the next five years. Obama made the announcement during his trip to South Africa, the continent's biggest economy.

CNN: Obama challenges students to follow Mandela legacy
U.S. President Barack Obama wrapped up his visit to South Africa on Sunday with a visit to the prison cell where anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela was held and a call to students to help build a new Africa. Speaking at the University of Cape Town, Obama said a rising Africa offers new hope for a continent where more than 60% of the population is under 35. But he said Africa's economic growth and political progress in African states "rests on a fragile foundation," still vulnerable to corruption, repression and inequality.
SEE ALSO: WXPost: Unable to Visit With Mandela, Obama Honors His Legacy

WXPost: Bush AIDS policies shadow Obama in Africa
Obama has been widely applauded for distinguishing himself from Bush’s policies, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. But across this continent, many Africans wish Obama was more like Bush in his social and health policies, particularly in the fight against HIV/AIDS — one of the former president’s signature foreign policy aid programs.

Politico: 5 messaging challenges for Obamacare
The Obama administration and its health-law allies are gearing up this summer to slice through three years of confusion and opposition to Obamacare. They’ve got their work cut out for them. Obamacare won’t have a shot at success unless millions of people sign up for insurance — the healthy as well as the sick. For that to happen, the White House and its allies will need to make the case that coverage is worth it for the estimated 50 million people who haven’t been able to afford or access insurance. Supporters are planning to spend tens of millions of dollars to persuade people to get covered under new health insurance options and explain how to sign up.


CNN: Immigration reform in the House looks uncertain as lawmakers quarrel
Two top lawmakers in the House immigration reform effort battled Sunday over how a compromise could be obtained in the Republican-controlled chamber, after the Democrat-controlled Senate passed sweeping reform legislation last week.

WSJ: How Next Debt-Ceiling Fight Could Play Out
For the first time in three years, Washington is in the midst of a multimonth stretch without facing a fiscal deadline. Business owners and households seem to be enjoying the breather, and the economy is trying to stretch its legs. But consider yourself forewarned—it probably won't last much longer. Sometime this fall, perhaps as soon as September but potentially as late as November, Democrats and Republicans are expected to lock horns again over one of Washington's least pleasant (and that's saying something) topics: whether to raise the government's borrowing limit. These debates can get ugly.

Politico: No recess for tea party on immigration
The tea party has a message for Republican senators who voted Thursday for the immigration bill and congressmen who might: Welcome home. Activists are promising to spend the congressional recess reminding lawmakers who support the Gang of Eight legislation what the base is capable of. Think loud town halls, jammed phone lines and primary challenges down the road — echoes of Obamacare three years ago.

CNN: Citing 'career politician' label, congressman announces retirement
Republican Rep. John Campbell of California announced Thursday he will not seek re-election next year in the state's 45th Congressional District. The five-term congressman, who served in the California state legislature before coming to Capitol Hill, said it was time to start a "new chapter."

Real Clear Politics: Pelosi: Immigration Reform Necessary for GOP "If They Ever Want to Win"
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says immigration reform is the right thing for congressional Republicans "if they ever want to win a presidential race." The wide-ranging immigration bill approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate last week faces tough opposition in the Republican-controlled House. In the Senate, 14 Republicans joined all Democratic senators and independents in the 68-32 vote. In an interview that aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Pelosi linked GOP support for the immigration overhaul with future success of Republicans in political races, particularly for the White House.

WXPost: They said the sequester would be scary. Mostly, they were wrong.
Before “sequestration” took effect, the Obama administration issued specific — and alarming — predictions about what it would bring. There would be one-hour waits at airport security. Four-hour waits at border crossings. Prison guards would be furloughed for 12 days. FBI agents, up to 14. At the Pentagon, the military health program would be unable to pay its bills for service members. The mayhem would extend even into the pantries of the neediest Americans: Around the country, 600,000 low-income women and children would be denied federal food aid. But none of those things happened.


Dallas News: Texas lawmakers resume debate Monday on abortion bill derailed by Wendy Davis filibuster
With the raucous ending to their last special session still fresh on their minds, Texas lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday to resume debate on proposed abortion restrictions that have stirred emotions across the state and nation. Less than a week after a Democratic filibuster killed a far-reaching abortion bill on the Senate floor, the Legislature will answer Gov. Rick Perry’s call to try again to pass the GOP-backed measure over vigorous objections from Democrats and abortion rights groups.
ALSO SEE: NPR: Big Growth Could Shake Up Texas' Old Political Equation

WXPost: Republicans Paint Clinton as Old News for 2016 Presidential Election
The 2016 election may be far off, but one theme is becoming clear: Republican strategists and presidential hopefuls, in ways subtle and overt, are eager to focus a spotlight on Mrs. Clinton’s age. The former secretary of state will be 69 by the next presidential election, a generation removed from most of the possible Republican candidates. Despite her enduring popularity, a formidable fund-raising network and near unanimous support from her party, Mrs. Clinton, Republican leaders believe, is vulnerable to appearing a has-been.

Politico: GOP could pay price for gerrymandering
No one disputes Republicans used the once-a-decade redistricting process to lock in their House majority — almost certainly through 2014 and possibly until the next round of line-drawing in 2020. But the party could pay a steep price for that dominance.

HuffPost: Ohio Abortion Restrictions: Gov. John Kasich Signs New State Budget Containing Anti-Abortion Measures
On Sunday night, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 59, the new $62 billion state budget that includes a $2.7 billion tax cut and increases the sales tax rate from 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent, reported. The budget also included several controversial anti-abortion measures, including one that will force any woman seeking an abortion to undergo a trans-abdominal ultrasound.

HuffPost: Wendy Davis, Texas State Senator, Weighing Future After Abortion Bill Filibuster
State Sen. Wendy Davis, whose filibuster against Texas abortion restrictions gained her national fame, insists Democrats will be competitive in next year's statewide races but hasn't decided whether she'll be part of the slate of candidates for offices currently dominated by Republicans.


CNN: Europe furious, 'shocked' by report of U.S. spying
European officials reacted with fury Sunday to a report that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on EU offices. The European Union warned that if the report is accurate, it will have tremendous repercussions.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Father proposes deal for Snowden's voluntary return
Bloomberg: Snowden’s Leaks Cloud U.S. Plan to Curb Chinese Hacking

CNN: John Kerry leaves Mideast with optimism but no date for talks
Secretary of State John Kerry ended four days of shuttle diplomacy Sunday without an agreement to revive Mideast peace talks but said significant progress had been made and that he would return to the region soon. "We started out with very wide gaps and we have narrowed those considerably," he said at a news conference before leaving for Asia. "I believe that with a little more work, the start of final status negotiations could be within reach." Kerry held more than 20 hours of meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking with each of the leaders three times separately over four days. He said both asked him to return to the region in the next few weeks to finish work on a formula to restart peace talks, which have been stalled since 2010.

WXPost: Misinformation on classified NSA programs includes statements by senior U.S. officials
Amid the cascading disclosures about National Security Agency surveillance programs, the top lawyer in the U.S. intelligence community opened his remarks at a rare public appearance last week with a lament about how much of the information being spilled was wrong. “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on,” said Robert Litt, citing a line often attributed to Mark Twain. “Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of misinformation that’s come out about these programs.” The remark by Litt, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, was aimed at news organizations.

WSJ: Assange Plans Unlikely Run for Australia Senate
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has spent the past several years bucking the establishment. Now, he has a new plan—join it. The controversial free-speech advocate is plotting an unlikely tilt at Australia's Senate, in a bid that is buoyed by his new WikiLeaks Party, which enjoys close to 2,000 members, as well as a strong showing, compared with other upstart parties, in a recent poll. To say his bid faces challenges would be an understatement

CNN: Governments issue warnings against travel to Egypt
The U.S. State Department and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have urged citizens to cancel travel plans to or within Egypt, amid ongoing protests and renewed violence in the country. Demonstrators have clashed with police and rival demonstrators in Bani Suef, south of Cairo, Asuit and Alexandria following the first anniversary of President Mohamed Morsy's assumption of office. Protests have taken place in those cities as well as Cairo, Suez, Sharqia, El Monofia and Gharbiya, the state-run Ahram news agency said. The demonstrations are "likely to continue in the near future," the U.S. travel warning said.
SEE ALSO: CNN: U.S. student killed in Egypt was enthralled with region

NYT: Taking Outsize Role in Syria, Qatar Funnels Arms to Rebels
Since the beginning of the year, according to four American and Middle Eastern officials with knowledge of intelligence reports on the weapons, Qatar has used a shadowy arms network to move at least two shipments of shoulder-fired missiles, one of them a batch of Chinese-made FN-6s, to Syrian rebels who have used them against Mr. Assad’s air force. Deployment of the missiles comes at a time when American officials expect that President Obama’s decision to begin a limited effort to arm the Syrian rebels might be interpreted by Qatar, along with other Arab countries supporting the rebels, as a green light to drastically expand arms shipments.


CNN: BART strike could paralyze San Francisco commute
Public transit in San Francisco came to a screeching halt Monday morning as Bay Area Rapid Transit unions went on strike. The unions went on strike at midnight (3 a.m. ET) Monday after union officials and the San Francisco public transit authority failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. "The unions regret that we have to take this action," said Antonette Bryant, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555
ALSO SEE: San Francisco Chronicle: BART workers on strike – no service Monday

WXPost: Riders give Metro overall favorable marks
Even with poorly lit stations, chronically broken escalators, frequently late buses and near daily train delays, a large majority of Washington area residents continue to have favorable views of Metro, according to a new Washington Post poll. But riders have growing doubts about the value and reliability of the 37-year-old system, and transit advocates say such concerns could undermine Metro’s efforts to rally support for its plan to modernize the transit system. An increasing number of people say the subway is becoming too pricey to ride. More people say they are not using Metro because trains are too crowded and more people report that rides take too long. And the system overall is viewed as less reliable than several years ago, as disruptions on Metro’s five rail lines have become routine.

Boston Herald: Whitey Bulger’s mail from jail; Alleged letters up for sale by dealer
In letters purportedly written by accused crime lord James “Whitey” Bulger to a man in South Boston, Bulger gave fatherly advice, waxed nostalgic about his days in Alcatraz and insisted that he offered to plead guilty to all charges — including 19 murders — if the feds would only free his ladylove Catherine Greig.


Delaware News Online: Delaware Legislative session sprints to a halt in Dover
Sunday’s marathon meeting that began at 5 p.m. and ended after 1 a.m. concluded a six-month legislative session that touched on a variety of issues. Same-sex marriage, approved by the General Assembly and signed by Markell in May, takes effect today.

Baltimore Sun: Gas tax, tolls go up Monday
Come Monday, driving around Maryland will cost more — both at the gas pump and the toll plaza. Marylanders will see a 3.5 cent rise in the state's gas tax — the first such increase in two decades — as well as toll rates that jump as much as 50 percent. The changes that take effect July 1 concern some residents.

West Virginia Gazette-Mail: Starting Monday, West Virginia's food tax is gone
Starting Monday West Virginians will no longer pay any sales tax on groceries. The change is the culmination of a process that began in 2005, as the food tax has been incrementally reduced from 6 percent down to 1 percent on its way to being completely phased out. The elimination of the tax applies only to food that is to be prepared at home. Prepared foods, food from vending machines and soft drinks will still be taxed. The tax on food has been 1 percent for the last year.

LATimes: Eric Garcetti is sworn in as 42nd mayor of Los Angeles
The party is on in Grand Park now that Eric Garcetti has taken the oath of office as the first elected Jewish mayor of Los Angeles. At 42, he is also the youngest in more than a century. With musical groups about to perform on the park stage and food trucks lining the sidewalks, the free festivities will continue until 10 p.m.


CNN: Family of Nelson Mandela: His health is in God's hands now
The former wife of Nelson Mandela visited him Sunday in the hospital where the ailing anti-apartheid icon is clinging to life, the South African Press Association reported. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who was married to the former South African president from 1958 to 1996, described what it's like to see her former husband of 38 years struggle to live in an exclusive interview with UK network ITV News. "It is extremely painful to see him going through what he's going through now. But it's God's wish," Winnie Mandela told ITV. Nelson Mandela, 94, remains in critical but stable condition at a Pretoria hospital where he has been battling a recurring lung infection since June 8.
WATCH: VIDEO ITN's Mark Austin talks with Nelson Mandela's former wife Winnie and their daughter Zindzi about his medical struggles.

CNN: Make that 28: Croatia becomes newest EU member
Croatia formally became the newest member of the European Union on Monday, marking an end to a 10-year campaign for a Balkan state that emerged from the ruins of a bloody civil war. The celebrations began as the clock struck midnight Sunday. Fireworks lit the sky in the capital Zagreb, a choir sang "Ode to Joy" and thousands clinked champagne glasses and erupted in cheers. "Welcome to your union, welcome to our union," EU President Herman Van Rompuy told the crowd.
WATCH: VIDEO CNN's Nina dos Santos reports on how Croatians feel about the country entry into the European Union.

CNN: Protesters to Egypt's Morsy: You have one day to step down
Egyptians who helped overthrow a 29-year dictatorship in a widely-hailed revolution have now given the country's first democratically elected president one day to step down from office. In a statement posted Monday on its official facebook page, Tamarod (the "rebel" campaign") demanded that if President Mohamed Morsy doesn't leave office by Tuesday, the group will begin a civil disobedience movement, call for nationwide protests and march on the presidential palace where Morsy's administration is running affairs. If the last few days have been any indication, Tamarod's deadline will most likely be ignored.

CNN: Day of violence leaves at least 45 dead in Pakistan
Two separate bomb blasts in different parts of Pakistan on Sunday killed a total of at least 45 people and wounded more than 100 others, authorities said. The attacks are the latest in a series of violent acts that have struck Pakistan in recent weeks, underscoring the daunting challenges faced by security forces and the new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Associated Press: Hong Kong to hold big annual democracy protest
Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers are expected to take to the streets in a protest demanding their widely disliked Beijing-backed leader resign. Tensions between Hong Kong and the mainland are rising 16 years after the city ceased to be a British colony and came back under Beijing's control. Those marching Monday will express their unhappiness about leader Leung Chun-ying, who has been beset by one controversy after another since taking office a year ago. He was not elected, instead picked by a committee of pro-Beijing elites.

WSJ: As U.S. Pulls Out, Feuds Split Afghanistan's Ruling Family
If the election takes place as scheduled in April, Mr. Karzai is widely expected to try steering into office a trusted ally, possibly his brother Qayum Karzai, who is preparing a presidential bid. As a backup plan, some of the president's supporters recently began a campaign to extend his term, in the name of the national interest. Many opposition leaders, including powerful warlords who backed Mr. Karzai in previous elections, are pledging to thwart such plans. The Karzai clan worked closely together to secure Mr. Karzai's re-election in 2009. Any such concerted effort this time, however, is hobbled by increasingly bitter infighting within the extended family. The fighting among the Karzais has become so public that it now dominates the political life of Kandahar, the sprawling metropolis that is both the clan's power base and the cradle of the Taliban.


CNN: Japanese business sentiment turns positive
A weaker yen and solid domestic demand has brightened the mood at Japanese manufacturers, six months into Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's big effort to jolt the world's third-largest economy out of deflation. The Bank of Japan's quarterly Tankan report, released on Monday, showed that the key measure of business confidence among large manufacturers rose to plus 4 from minus 8 in March, the first time it has turned positive since September 2011.

CNBC: China: From Driver to Drag on Global Growth
The continued decline in China's manufacturing activity, reflected in twin manufacturing surveys released on Monday, highlights the risk the world's second largest economy now poses to global growth, experts told CNBC. China's official purchasing managers index (PMI) slipped to 50.1 in June from 50.8 in May, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. The final reading of HSBC PMI, meanwhile, fell to a nine-month low of 48.2, below the flash estimate of 48.3 and down from 49.2 in the previous month.
ALSO SEE: ABC: Oil Falls Toward $96 as China Factories Slow

WSJ: Insurers Warned on Links to Iran
New York's finance regulator is setting his sights on the world's reinsurance firms, alleging some of them may be involved in practices that won't comply with pending U.S. laws against doing business with Iran. A yearlong probe by Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York's Department of Financial Services, has uncovered evidence that at least three non-U.S. firms insured shipments to Iran, according to people with knowledge of the investigation. As a result of the probe, Mr. Lawsky last week wrote to 20 non-U.S. reinsurance companies requesting detailed information on their dealings with entities or people connected to Iran, according to a copy of the letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

USA Today: First-time buyers losing out as home sales rise
U.S. home prices have risen for 14 straight months, but one set of buyers has been increasingly on the sidelines: first-time home buyers. In May, first-time buyers accounted for 28% of existing-home purchases, down from 34% a year before and 36% two years ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. The declining share of first timers means that many have missed out on low interest rates — which recently moved up from near-record lows — and home prices that have risen sharply from their bottom.

WSJ: Health-Insurance Costs Set for a Jolt
Healthy consumers could see insurance rates double or even triple when they look for individual coverage under the federal health law later this year, while the premiums paid by sicker people are set to become more affordable, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of coverage to be sold on the law's new exchanges. The exchanges, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's health-care law, look likely to offer few if any of the cut-rate policies that healthy people can now buy, according to the Journal's analysis.

LA Times: The NSA is watching. So are Google and Facebook
Self-confessed leaker Edward Snowden's disclosures about domestic spying by the NSA have sparked a broad debate about whether the government is using sophisticated surveillance and data-mining techniques on its own citizens without sufficient oversight. But information gathered and exploited by Internet giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook — and traded by lesser-known data brokers such as Datalogix and Acxiom — can be more revealing than what the NSA can legally collect on most Americans. Few consumers understand what data are being shared, with whom, or how the information is being used.

Filed under: Washington AM Note
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Climate is changing and temperatures are getting hot, hotter, hottest, better change your attitude and work on it.

    July 1, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  2. Minnie Mouse

    If all your after is interest on student loans then why double the interest on the student loans. These are the loans that most generally are paid back in full plus interest, unless someone was to be come disabled to where they just can't repay. What are the people paying, who receive pell grants? Absolutely nothing! You need to be having everyone who receives any funds that they are not paying back at all, at least pay interest or even taxes on it for that matter. Shift the burden upon everyone else who's not paying anything. College is so expensive already as it is. It doesn't make matters any better by raising the interest rates, when there are other alternatives to collect funds.

    I just gave you one alternative and it's a good one because free is not free. Think of all the time that is spent into working up a pell grant loan ect.... and then the cost to print the checks, mail ect...Someone has to be paying something and it's the receivers of the loans!

    July 1, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  3. king

    all these repubs and their governors that are trying everything in the book to kill obamacare is ridiculous. i wonder if any of these repubs have any kind of empathy for the american people, afterall this bill was originally a republican healthcare bill, pushed by their president candidate in Massachusetts. why are they fighting like hell to kill this bill including threatening private sport enterprise if they tell the truth and promote this bill, do they want a country with their citizens left on the side of the street with no one to help them, furthermore the law is the biggest job creator by far in this country, and at the same time bringing down the massive budget deficit. lesson folks the obamacare law is the only job that should not be sent to china. and we need to regulate any company that the repubs are encouraging to do so when they shout companies are free to do what they want to make more money, especially in china.

    July 1, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |