Slatest PM: Obama's Sequester Warning

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 19 2013 4:53 PM

Slatest PM: The "Meat Cleaver" Edition

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President Obama greets emergency responders after speaking in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus February 19, 2013

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

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Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Vacation's Over (For Some): New York Times: "President Obama, back from his three-day golf getaway, on Tuesday made use of his bully pulpit, while Congress remains out all week, to turn up the pressure for a bipartisan agreement to avoid indiscriminate across-the-board budget cuts that will otherwise hit March 1. Speaking in a White House auditorium surrounded by blue-uniformed emergency responders to illustrate some of the jobs threatened if the cuts were to take effect, Mr. Obama warned that military readiness and vital domestic services would be hurt 'if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place.' ... Some Republicans in Congress have proposed alternative savings that would spare any cuts in military spending but not in domestic accounts. Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats are calling for a mix of spending cuts and additional tax revenues by closing some tax breaks for wealthy investors and corporations."

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Allen To Call It Quits: Washington Post: "Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the longest-serving leader of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, asked President Obama on Tuesday morning to accept his retirement from the military because his wife is seriously ill, a move that nullifies his nomination to be the supreme allied commander in Europe. ... The decision deprives Obama of a four-star general with whom he had built a close wartime relationship and forces the White House to find a new candidate for the military’s most prestigious overseas assignment. ... Allen, who relinquished command of the war nine days ago, said his decision was not influenced by a Pentagon investigation into e-mail messages he exchanged with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, who was involved in the scandal that prompted David H. Petraeus to resign as CIA director last year. Allen was cleared of wrongdoing last month, after investigators combed through the messages."

SCOTUS To Revisit Campaign Donation Limits: Roll Call: "In a move with significant campaign finance implications, the Supreme Court has agreed to consider a challenge to the aggregate limit on how much an individual may donate to political players each election cycle. In McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Republican National Committee has joined an Alabama man in challenging the limits that block an individual from giving more than $46,200 to candidates as a whole and more than $70,800 collectively to parties and political action committees in any two-year election cycle."

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

The Nation's Latest Mass Shooting: Reuters: "A gunman on a shooting rampage in southern California killed three people on Tuesday in an attack at a home and three carjackings, before killing himself with a shotgun as officers closed in, police said. The rolling spate of violence, which saw at least one execution-style killing, spanned several miles across a number of communities in suburban Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles, including in the cities of Tustin and Santa Ana. The violence again heightened nerves in southern California, just a week after a massive manhunt for a fugitive former Los Angeles policeman wanted in a series of shootings targeting officers and their families ended in a fiery standoff in the mountains above Los Angeles."

Pistorius Disputes Murder Charge: New York Times: "Facing a charge of premeditated murder in the death of his girlfriend, Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee track star and one of the world’s best-known athletes, denied on Tuesday that he had intended to take her life when he opened fire at a closed bathroom door at his home last week, saying he did not know that she was on the other side."

Diamond Heist: Wall Street Journal: "Heavily armed robbers broke into the national airport here and stole more than 120 packages of diamonds from a Swiss-bound flight Monday night, in one of Europe's most brazen and valuable tarmac holdups in a decade, Belgian prosecutors said Tuesday. Shortly before 8 p.m. Monday, two black vehicles with blue lights resembling police transport pulled up to a Helvetic Airways Fokker 100 jet plane, operating for Swiss International Air Lines, that had just been loaded, according to Belgian prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch and other people familiar with the events. Eight masked men with machine guns held the ground staff, crew and passengers at gunpoint as they forced security workers to open the plane's cargo door. The men selectively removed at least 120 packets of diamonds, Ms. Van Wymersch said. The vehicles then sped away. No shots were fired and nobody was hurt in the theft, she said."

Drug Deaths Continue To Climb: Associated Press: "Drug overdose deaths rose for the 11th straight year, federal data show, and most of them were accidents involving addictive painkillers despite growing attention to risks from these medicines. In 2010, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths nationwide, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medication, mostly prescription drugs, was involved in nearly 60 percent of overdose deaths that year, overshadowing deaths from illicit narcotics. ... As in previous recent years, opioid drugs—which include OxyContin and Vicodin—were the biggest problem, contributing to 3 out of 4 medication overdose deaths."

Wall Street Reaches Five-Year Highs: CNBC: "Stocks finished modestly higher across the board Tuesday, with the Dow and S&P 500 logging fresh five-year highs, lifted by optimism for more M&A deals and after positive economic data from Europe."

Apple, Like Facebook, Was Hacked: Reuters: "Apple Inc computers were attacked by the same hackers who targeted Facebook Inc, but no data appeared to have been stolen, the company said on Tuesday in an unprecedented admission of a widespread cyber-security breach. Facebook revealed on Friday that unidentified hackers traced to China had staged a sophisticated attack by infiltrating its employees' laptops, but no user information was compromised. Apple, which is working with law enforcement to track down the hackers, told Reuters that only a small number of its employees' Macintosh computers were breached, but 'there was no evidence that any data left Apple.'"

So Long, Hotmail: ABC News: "Microsoft announced today that its new webmail service, Outlook.com, is coming out of beta testing and is now ready for primetime. The service, which was announced last July, now has 60 million users and will now replace Hotmail.com, Microsoft's older webmail system. Microsoft's Hotmail, which was originally MSN Hotmail, has been online since 1997. Hotmail users will still keep their Hotmail.com email addresses and their contacts and emails will all be moved over, they will just now get a new user interface and all the new features of Outlook.com. Microsoft expects the upgrades for Hotmail users to be complete by this summer."

A Nervous Three Hours: Associated Press: "The International Space Station regained contact with NASA controllers in Houston after nearly three hours of accidental quiet, the space agency says. Officials say the six crew members and station are fine and had no problem during the brief outage. NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said something went wrong around 9:45 a.m. EST Tuesday during a computer software update on the station. The outpost abruptly lost all communication, voice and command from Houston. Communication was restored less than three hours later, Byerly said."

And Twins!: CBS New: "One lucky Houston mother is adding four new boys to her family. The quadruplets aren't just any typical multiple birth children: They're two sets of identical twins. The odds of that happening is one in 70 million deliveries. Tressa Montalvo is now the proud mom of Ace (weighing 3 lbs., 10 oz.), Blaine (3 lbs., 15 oz.), Cash (2 lbs., 15 oz.), and Dylan (3 lbs., 6 oz.) The baby boys were born on Feb. 14, 2013 at The Women's Hospital of Texas in Houston. Identical twins Ace and Blaine came out first at 8:51 a.m. Cash and Dylan followed on minute after."

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