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Key Issues


Before retirement, Senator Baucus targets tax overhaul.  A day after announcing he will retire from Congress in 2014, Democrat Max Baucus said he will spend much of his remaining time as a senator stepping up his bid to revamp the complex U.S. tax code.  To speed up the process, Baucus said he is eyeing expiration of the federal government's borrowing authority - coming in late July or early August - as a vehicle for this project, he said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Starbucks, under fire in UK, seeks U.S. tax breaks.  Coffee chain Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O), which has faced criticism for its low tax rate in Britain, has sought new tax breaks in the United States in comments to a congressional committee.  (Reuters)

Shifting Retail Landscape Tilts Support For Online Sales Tax.  The U.S. Senate seems ready to let states collect sales tax from more online retailers. Support for the measure has increased as businesses have converged their online and offline sales. "We're looking for consistency" in how taxes are collected, says the owner of a St. Louis pet store chain.  (NPR)

Internet sales tax embraced by no-tax Republicans.  You don't see this very often: a majority of Senate Republicans voting to make people who buy stuff on the Internet pay state and local sales taxes.  Anti-tax guru Grover Norquist isn't happy about it and the conservative Heritage Foundation is questioning the senators' conservative credentials. But the issue of taxing Internet sales is getting strong support from Republicans and Democrats alike.  (AP)


House Democrats get immigration briefing.  It’s the first time that the secretive negotiators had formally informed the rest of the House Democratic Caucus on their efforts.  (Politico Pro)

Nirupama Rao discusses immigration reform with US senator Menendez.  India's ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao has flagged the concerns of the Indian companies on the proposed immigration reforms in her meeting with a top American senator here.  (Times of India)

Immigration reform blowback from Boston.  When something bad happens, blame immigration. It is just too easy politically to conjure up images of foreigners coming here — legally or illegally — as the cause of our problems.  (Washington Times)

Cybersecurity & Privacy

U.S. gives big, secret push to Internet surveillance.  Justice Department agreed to issue "2511 letters" immunizing AT&T and other companies participating in a cybersecurity program from criminal prosecution under the Wiretap Act, according to new documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.  (CNET)

Congress set to tackle email privacy.  Both the House and Senate are slated to debate updates to email privacy legislation on Thursday.  (The Hill)

Updating an E-Mail Law From the Last Century.  An overhauling by Congress would require that search warrants be obtained for all personal e-mails and other electronic content held by a third-party service provider.  (NYT)

As Its Influence Grows, Twitter Becomes A Hacking Target.  The Associated Press, NPR and the BBC have all had their Twitter accounts hijacked in recent weeks. Hacks of high-profile accounts have real-world consequences, and the security at Twitter is coming under increased scrutiny.  (NPR)

Sen. Rockefeller rips 'repulsive' online tracking.  Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) accused the advertising industry on Wednesday of purposefully delaying negotiations to develop a feature that would allow consumers to block online tracking.  (The Hill)

Global Trade

Baucus Calls For Introduction Of TPA Bill By June, Renewal Of TAA This Year.  Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) today (April 24) announced that he wants to see a bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill introduced by June and also wants Congress to renew the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program this year. He did so at a hearing focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.  (Inside US Trade)

Chinese factories to face strong headwinds from enlarged TPP.  The TPP could give Japanese companies an incentive to invest the cheap money available at home in production facilities in new member states in the region, where labor costs are significantly lower than in China. This, analysts said, could pose a strong challenge to Chinese manufacturers, especially those at the lower end of the market.  (China Daily)

US senators target supply management, pharma IP in TPP meeting.  As the U.S. pushes ahead with their ambitious goal of concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2013, American senators are continuing to target Canada’s prohibitive dairy tariffs, and push for pharmaceutical patent protection that goes beyond what Europe has demanded in trade talks with Canada.  (iPolitics – Canada) 

Huawei 'not interested' in US anymore, shifts focus to Europe.  Chinese telecom equipment maker is moving its focus from U.S. to Europe, seeing a stronger business case for the continent which it sees as a way to increase its presence in developing markets.  (ZDNet)

Environment & Sustainability

Google, Cisco share first place on Greenpeace's 2013 Cool IT list.  Despite some big gains, most high-tech companies still lag on clean power adoption and political advocacy for clean energy policies.  (


EU antitrust regulators seek rivals' views on Google concessions.  Google's rivals have a month to examine the concessions proposed by the Internet search engine to end an antitrust investigation, EU regulators said on Thursday, in a move that could force the company to improve its offer.  (Reuters)

Tech Business

Verizon eyes $100 billion bid for Vodafone's Wireless stake.  Verizon Communications has hired advisers to prepare a possible $100 billion cash and stock bid to take full control of Verizon Wireless from its partner Vodafone, two people familiar with the matter said.  (Reuters)

Amazon plans set-top device similar to Apple TV, according to report. will release a set-top TV box later this year that will stream video over the Internet, challenging Apple's Apple TV device and a similar gadget sold by start-up Roku.  (San Jose Mercury News)

The future of TV, according to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.  TV is fundamentally changing from a linear delivery model to a world in which apps compete with each other, and Netflix is spending billions to be part of that future.  (

ITI Member News

IBM Chief: Raise Your Game.  IBM's CEO Virginia Rometty delivered a rare companywide reprimand in the wake of a poor earnings report last week, saying the sprawling technology company needed to move faster and respond more quickly to customers.  (WSJ)

Autodesk Chief Has Eye on Acquisitions.  Autodesk Chief Executive Carl Bass discusses startup valuations in Silicon Valley, how he sees through the hype to pick companies to buy, and the future of design.  (WSJ)

Qualcomm's earnings outlook points to competition in Asia.  Leading mobile chipmaker Qualcomm forecast earnings below expectations on Wednesday as competition in smartphones intensifies and shifts toward Asia, and its stock fell sharply.  (Reuters)

Apple Readies First Bond Offering.  Apple's plans to borrow for the first time could be as well received as its smartphones. Investors are desperate to take cash off the sidelines, even on high-quality securities that will yield relatively little.  (WSJ)

Intel in talks with Thailand to provide low-cost 3G.  Chip giant urges Thailand to offer a low-cost prepaid mobile 3G service to low-income citizens to close the digital divide and create greater economic growth.  (ZDNet)

Today on the Hill

House:  The House convenes at noon ET today and is scheduled to vote on a bipartisan measure that would privatize the nation’s helium reserves through direct sales and periodic auctions.  Learn about the issue on the ITI blog.

Senate:  The Senate goes to work at 9:30 a.m. ET.  Later this morning, the Senate will recess for a senators-only briefing.  Then members will continue debate on legislation to allow states to require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax on items sold to their residents.  Final passage could come today.

1600 Penn.

At 10 a.m. CDT, President Obama will deliver remarks at the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication ceremony.  Then, at 2:15 p.m. CDT, the president will deliver remarks at Baylor University at the memorial service for those lost and injured in the deadly explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Tex.