Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 1, 2012

Obama and Romney clash over bin Laden, British lawmakers scold Murdoch, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. ANNIVERSARY OF BIN LADEN'S DEATH TRIGGERS CAMPAIGN SHOWDOWNPresident Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, are stepping up an increasingly heated political battle over the death of Osama bin Laden. After the Obama re-election campaign released a video suggesting Romney wouldn't have made the tough call to launch the risky raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan, Romney said "of course" he would have made the same decision as Obama. "Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order," said Romney, who arrives in New York City Tuesday to help former Mayor Rudy Giuliani mark Wednesday's anniversary of the death of the al Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind. [Christian Science Monitor]………………………………………………………………………………2. BRITISH LAWMAKERS BLAST MURDOCHA powerful British parliamentary committee blasted global publishing tycoon Rupert Murdoch, saying he showed "willful blindness" to illegal phone-hacking at News of the World, a now-defunct British tabloid that his company News Corp., owned, and was not a "fit and proper person" to run a massive international company. The lawmakers' report also could further embarrass Prime Minister David Cameron by exposing details of his government's cozy relationship with Murdoch. [Reuters]………………………………………………………………………………

3. SYRIAN VIOLENCE ESCALATES WITH BOMBINGSSyrian government forces hit a farming village with mortar shells on Tuesday, a day after a string of suicide bombings near a military compound and a hotel killed at least nine people in the country's northwestern region. The attacks marked the latest signs that a U.N.-brokered ceasefire deal is unraveling. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the wave of "terrorist bomb attacks," which have raised fears that the conflict is attracting Islamist jihadists to Syria. Ban said there have been security improvements in areas monitored by U.N. observers, but he was "gravely concerned" about violence elsewhere. [Associated Press, Reuters] ………………………………………………………………………………

4. LE PEN TO ABSTAIN FROM FRENCH RUN-OFF VOTEMarine Le Pen, leader of France's far-right National Front, said Tuesday that she would cast a blank vote in Sunday's presidential run-off between the country's conservative president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande. Le Pen finished third in the first round of voting, and Sarkozy and Hollande have been fighting for her supporters ever since. Hollande, a critic of budget-slashing austerity measures to resolve France's debt crisis, will square off against Sarkozy on Wednesday in the duo's only debate ahead of Sunday's vote. Hollande is considered the frontrunner. [BBC News]………………………………………………………………………………

5. ASYLUM NEGOTIATION TEST U.S.-CHINA RELATIONSTense negotiations are continuing in China over the fate of Chen Guangcheng, a blind dissident who escaped house arrest last week and reportedly found refuge in the U.S embassy. President Obama on Monday carefully urged China to improve its human rights record without mentioning Chen, who exposed the practice of forced abortions under the country's one-child policy. The negotiations over an asylum deal are testing U.S.-China relations ahead of high-level talks between the two countries in Beijing later this week. [New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………

6. REPUBLICANS EYE AYOTTE FOR VP SLOTSpeculation over Mitt Romney's pick for a running mate has suddenly focused on Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), after the popular senator joined the presumptive GOP presidential nominee on the campaign trail in her home state on Monday. Ayotte is a GOP rising star, and she might help Romney win over female voters. But, like Romney, she's a "white, Northeastern Republican," so some say she wouldn't add geographic or ethnic diversity to the ticket. [The Hill]………………………………………………………………………………

7. ACTIVISTS WANT SAUDIS BANNED FROM OLYMPICSWith preparations underway for this summer's London Olympics, an online movement is underway to have Saudi Arabia banned from the Games. Activists are targeting the country because of its suppression of women's rights. The kingdom has never sent a female athlete to the Olympics, and Human Rights Watch has urged the International Olympic Committee to turn away the Saudi delegation unless it includes women. [Discovery News]………………………………………………………………………………

8. U.S. ON ALERT AHEAD OF BIN LADEN ANNIVERSARYOfficials in the U.S. and overseas are ramping up security at airports ahead of the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Some fear terrorists could try to use "body bombs" to attack airplanes. In New York City, police are planning a security surge for all transportation hubs. [ABC News]………………………………………………………………………………

9. VIRAL MARKETING BEGINS FOR DARK KNIGHT RISESWarner Bros. has launched a campaign to drum up viral buzz for The Dark Knight Rises, the new Batman film scheduled to be released in July. The studio is offering a glimpse of a new trailer, but to see it fans must "help" the Gotham City Police Department "find" Batman by tracking hundreds of pieces of graffiti around the world, and tagging each location via social media to unlock the clip a frame at a time. [Movieline]………………………………………………………………………………

10. AUSTRALIAN BILLIONAIRE TO BUILD TITANIC IIClive Palmer, an Australian billionaire, announced Monday that he's building a high-tech replica of the Titanic. "It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic," he said, "but... will have state-of-the-art 21st-century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems." Palmer says the ship, which will have room for 1,680 passengers, will make its maiden voyage in 2016, cruising from England to New York, as the original ship was doing when it sank 100 years ago, killing more than 1,500 people. [Associated Press]

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