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    Shares of Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) are higher by 1% to $151.10 in mid-afternoon trading on Monday, following reports that the cable provider and Comcast (CMCSA) are going to meet this week with officials from the DOJ in order to work out issues that could result in regulators trying to halt the companies' planned merger.

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    Read the rare stories from Africa to make the news in the U.S. or Europe, and you could be forgiven for thinking of the entire continent as a world of unremitting darkness, riven by violence, dominated by corrupt and greedy dictators and ravaged by biblical famines and plagues.

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    BlackRock Inc (BLK), one of the world's largest asset managers, agreed to pay $12 million to resolve U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that a unit failed to disclose a conflict of interest created by the outside business activity of a top portfolio manager.

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    The European Union will launch a legal attack on Russian gas giant Gazprom this week, ramping up tensions with Moscow, when antitrust agents will accuse it of overcharging buyers in eastern Europe, EU sources told Reuters on Monday.

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    The likely Republican presidential contenders had a lot to say at their conference in New Hampshire over the weekend, but the most surprising comments might have been on campaign finance. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), among others, thinks that money in politics is a problem."We've got to figure out a way to fix this mess, because basically 50 people are running the whole show," Graham told Reuters.Graham is one of several prospective GOP candidates to advocate for campaign finance reform, as Matea Gold reports in The Washington Post. Campaign finance is also one of the first issues that Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken a position on. It's interesting, and maybe encouraging, to see agreement between a prominent Republican lawmaker and on one of the main planks of the presumptive Democratic nominee's platform.Yet Graham's comment makes sense politically. Graham hasn't declared himself a candidate, but if he does, he'll have to find a way to distinguish himself from his competitors. Complaining about the influence of a few dozen major donors is a compelling way to show that he's on the side of ordinary Republican voters. Polling suggests a majority of Republican voters are concerned about money in politics.And some elements of the rank and file might already worry that their preferred candidates will be unable to compete with the money raised by a figure like Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) recently felt compelled to reassure voters that his campaign would be able to raise money successfully as well.Welcome to Wonkbook. To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism or ideas to Wonkbook at Washpost dot com. Follow Wonkblog on Twitter and Facebook.What's in Wonkbook: 1) GOP conference in New Hampshire 2) Opinions, including Krugman and El-Erian on Greece 3) If you don't pay child support, should you go to jail? and more1. Top story: GOP contenders meet in New Hampshire Declared and potential GOP presidential candidates address voters in Nashua, N.H. "The biggest gathering yet of Republican presidential hopefuls this past weekend sharpened divisions in the broad field of candidates over the path to return the GOP to the White House, making the 2016 primary race a moment for the party to define its national identity. ... The party’s debate over the best general-election approach, like many policy debates within the GOP, tends to pit activists seeking a conservative champion against a political establishment and donor class focused on electoral strategy." Beth Reinhard and Reid J. Epstein in The Wall Street Journal.They aimed to show their sympathy for the economic worries of the middle class. "With the jobless rate at 5.5 percent, the 18 Republican White House hopefuls who gathered this weekend in the key early primary state of New Hampshire faced the challenge of arguing the country needs new economic stewardship... Rubio, who announced his run for the White House earlier this month, went the furthest in trying to reach voters who aren't benefiting from the recovery. He talked of the importance of vocational training programs and suggested that college isn’t the right path for all students, especially given the enormous debt load than many end up carrying." James Oliphant and Andy Sullivan for Reuters.Bush proposed raising the retirement age for Social Security. "'I think we need to raise the retirement age, not for the people that already nearing — receiving Social Security that are already on it [sic], but raise it gradually over a long period of time for people that are just entering the system,' Bush said Friday during a speech in New Hampshire. Bush's comments on Friday follow New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) laying out a detailed proposal for cutting Social Security spending and raising the retirement age from 67 to 69. Bush didn't specify what he would like to raise the retirement age to during his speech on Friday." Daniel Strauss at Talking Points Memo.YORK: How did the candidates do with voters? "Marco Rubio is clearly enjoying a moment. He is relaxed and funny in front of crowds, flying high after a well-received campaign announcement. In addition, Rubio appears to be winning growing support among some GOP establishment figures and opinion makers... Chris Christie is poised to re-emerge after a number of early death pronouncements. ... Jeb Bush is a solid candidate running a solid campaign, but he is still stuck explaining why he is his own man and why another Bush should be running for president. ... Ted Cruz is still Ted Cruz. A solid part of the Republican base likes him a lot, but it's unclear how he would grow beyond that group." The Washington Examiner.COHN: Don't forget about Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas. "Mr. Huckabee may not be receiving much attention, but he is as important as any of the other second-tier candidates in the race, like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul. He has demonstrated appeal to a crucial bloc of Republican primary voters: the religious right. If he runs, he will be one of the most significant figures in the primary season, with the ability to deny a crucial segment of voters or even states to another candidate. Whether he will run is perhaps the biggest outstanding question about the Republican primary field." The New York Times.2. Top opinionsELIZABETH STOKER BRUENIG: Hillary Rodham Clinton won't talk about class. "Her campaign is ostensibly based on meeting the needs of the people she calls 'everyday Americans,' a sturdy, meaningless replacement for that tired catchall: 'middle class.' ... Elites stand to benefit from the illusory unity and stability of a broad middle, because that false sense of equality helps extinguish class-based agitation in politics. ... Making huge swathes of working people believe they belong with the middle class convinces them that they are already well enough off to be fine without class-based agitation, and also distances them from those with whom they genuinely share class concerns." The New Republic.YGLESIAS: Clinton's hiring of Gary Gensler suggests she's ready for a fight with the banks. "Gensler is a former banker at Goldman Sachs (GS) who became an unlikely hero of the financial reform movement during his stint as chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. ... Gensler made a lot of enemies in the mainstream of the Obama economic team. Part of what reformers liked about him was that he was willing to fight with other stakeholders in the administration and wasn't afraid to dish about those fights to reform-minded journalists. To the White House and the Treasury Department, this was doubly infuriating. To Gensler's fans, the low esteem in which he was held by his colleagues made him that much more heroic." Vox.IRWIN: Americans aren't interested in class conflict. "Since the 1970s, middle-class incomes have been stagnant in inflation-adjusted terms, while the wealthy have done very well; inequality of wealth and income has risen. Over that same period, though, Americans’ views on whether the government should work to redistribute income — to tax the rich, for example, and funnel the proceeds to the poor and working class — have, depending on which survey answers you look at, either been little changed, or shifted toward greater skepticism about redistribution. ... New research offers a bit more evidence on what may be occurring. ... Our views on proper tax levels and redistribution may be shaped by seemingly extraneous factors, like whether we believe the rich are already used to being rich, and whether we are already getting government benefits." The New York Times.EL-ERIAN: Dogma and poor diplomacy have led Greece to the brink. "A ghastly set of circumstances is coming together to form an inevitable reality — that of Greece being ejected from the euro zone (a forced 'Grexit'), which wouldn't be caused by a conscious decisions, but would be the result of a huge accident ('Graccident'). ... The walk away from Greek financial assets has turned into a jog that could be on the verge of turning into a run. ... While this is by no means the first dramatic moment of brinkmanship in the Greek crisis, the disagreements this time are much deeper and consequential. Dogma, morality and blind spots are playing a much greater role, obscuring economic and financial realities. Also, negotiations have been undermined by months of a public blame game, with accusations and counter-accusations (including some unusually personal ones)." Bloomberg View.: Investors are getting their money out of Greece faster than ever. Bloomberg View.KRUGMAN: The largest obstacle to a deal with Greece is a lack of trust. "Greece does not, in fact, face a solid bloc of implacable creditors who would rather see default and exit from the euro than let a leftist government succeed, that there’s more good will on the other side of the table than many Greeks suppose. But you can understand why Greeks see things that way. ... Exiting the euro would be extremely costly and disruptive in Greece, and would pose huge political and financial risks for the rest of Europe. It’s therefore something to be avoided if there's a halfway decent alternative. And there is, or should be. ... The last thing Europe needs is for fraying tempers to bring on yet another catastrophe, this one completely gratuitous." The New York Times.3. In case you missed itComcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWX) might not be allowed to merge. "Staff attorneys at the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division are nearing a recommendation to block Comcast Corp.’s bid to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC), according to people familiar with the matter. Attorneys who are investigating Comcast’s $45.2 billion proposal to create a nationwide cable giant are leaning against the merger out of concern that consumers would be harmed and could submit their review as soon as next week, said the people. ... Officials at the antitrust division and the Federal Communications Commission, which is also reviewing the deal, aren’t negotiating with Comcast (CMCSA) about conditions to the merger that would resolve concerns, such as selling parts of its business or changing practices, said two people familiar with the situation." David McLaughlin and Todd Shields for Bloomberg.Clinton suggested a few of her policy goals in her first week on the trail. "Even without offering policy specifics, the Democratic front-runner sketched out a broad vision and ventured into new territory, particularly when she advocated adopting campaign finance reform to fix a 'dysfunctional political system' and getting rid of regulations that inhibit the growth of small businesses. Clinton defended two pillars of Obama’s domestic agenda, the call for comprehensive immigration reform and the health-care law. But on the Affordable Care Act, her embrace was more flexible than dogmatic. Clinton said that she wanted to “keep what works” but that she was open to changes, including the Republican idea of allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines." Philip Rucker in The Washington Post.Like many Americans, Walter Scott risked time in jail for his failure to pay child support. "On April 4, he was pulled over for a broken taillight, fled on foot and, after a scuffle with a police officer, was fatally shot in the back. ... Walter Scott’s death has focused attention not just on police violence, but also on the use of jail to pressure parents to pay child support, a policy employed by many states today. Though the threat of jail is considered an effective incentive for people who are able but unwilling to pay, many critics assert that punitive policies are trapping poor men in a cycle of debt, unemployment and imprisonment. The problem begins with child support orders that, at the outset, can exceed parents’ ability to pay." Frances Robles and Shaila Dewan in The New York Times.UPCOMING EVENT: Washington Post Live presents “Executive Actions — Reimagining Industries in a Changing Economy,” April 24 at George Washington University. Register to attend an intimate conversation with five CEOs, including MGM Resorts’ James Murren; Richard Plepler of Home Box Office, Inc.; Desiree Rogers of Johnson Publishing Company; Eric Spiegel of Siemens USA and John Viehmeyer of KPMG, Global and USA.




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    By Ted Mann, Emily Glazer and Dana Mattioli. General Electric Co. (GE) is in talks to sell its biggest lending operation-- a $74 billion unit that makes loans to midsize U.S. businesses-- as the conglomerate moves quickly to dismantle what was one of the country's largest banks, people familiar with the matter said. The company is in talks to sell all or part of the business to Wells Fargo& Co., the people said.

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    - General Electric Co (GE) is in early-stage talks with Wells Fargo (WFC) about selling the bank its entire $74 billion U.S. commercial lending and leasing portfolio, according to a source familiar with the situation. The source asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential.

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    Encana Corp (ECA), Canada's largest natural gas producer, is considering selling its natural gas properties in its Haynesville Shale basin acreage in Louisiana, Bloomberg reported, citing sources. The company has been focusing on boosting oil and natural gas liquids production in Texas and Canada under Chief Executive Doug Suttles.

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    If it's Thursday, it must be Grexit. Greece is already widely predicted to default on a €747 million repayment to the IMF as early as May 12, causing its cost of borrowing to soar and a very un-Greek chorus of northern Europeans to warn of tragic consequences for us all. But five days before that deadline another even more momentous decision looms.

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    Liberty Global (LBTYA) is finally dipping a toe into mobile. That means one of the last holdouts is succumbing to the lure of convergence. The cable conglomerate's Belgium subsidiary Telenet Group on Monday agreed to acquire the nation's third largest wireless operator BASE Company from Royal KPN.

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    Cirque du Soleil said Monday that its founder has agreed to sell his controlling stake in the Canadian circus company to an investor group led by U.S. private-equity firm TPG. Founder Guy Laliberté will maintain an unspecified stake in the business and act as creative adviser to the company, which will maintain its headquarters in Montreal, Cirque du Soleil said. Two other Quebec-based investors, pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and businessman Mitch...

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    Baker Hughes (BHI) shares are climbing 3.24% to $69.15 in trading on Monday ahead of the release of the oilfield industry service provider's first quarter earnings results tomorrow before the market open, and after its proposed merger partner, Halliburton , beat analysts first quarter expectations today despite slumping oil sector prices.Baker Hughes (BHI) is expected to earn 45 cents per share on revenue ...

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    Shares of Groupon (GRPN)  grew 0.7% Monday, closing at $7.25 a share, after the online coupon company announced it will sell a 42% in Ticket Monster in addition to a new share repurchase program. Groupon (GRPN) will sell a controlling 46% stake of its South Korean e-commerce business Ticket Monster to a partnership formed by investment firm KKR  and Anchor Equity Partners for $360 million.

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    Acquisitive Denver cable company Liberty Global  on Monday agreed to buy Belgian phone company Base but also hinted that its interest in acquiring European wireless providers may be waning. Liberty said it would pay €1.325 billion for Base, the Belgian unit of Dutch Royal KPN.

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    * EU antitrust agent to accuse Gazprom of overcharging. * Google also recently accused, of abusing market power. * Vestager acts despite political ramifications-analyst. By Foo Yun Chee and Barbara Lewis.

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    * Ministry to revoke licences unless ownership changes. * LetterOne given six months to sell assets. By Karolin Schaps. Britain ordered Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman to sell his North Sea gas fields within six months, an intervention that ratchets up the pressure on one of Russia's most influential tycoons two weeks before a UK election.