The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
Compiled by Alison Harding
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com
CNN: Democrats struggle to hold critical 60-seat Senate majority
2010 has opened on an unsettling note for Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Connecticut's Chris Dodd and North Dakota's Byron Dorgan - two longtime power players in the chamber - have announced their intention to step down at the end of the year. If history is any guide, the party now faces an uphill struggle to maintain its 60-seat supermajority.
Wall Street Journal: Dodd's Retirement Muddles Financial Overhaul
The planned retirement of Sen. Chris Dodd complicates the overhaul of financial regulation that is one of the Obama administration's top priorities, congressional aides say. … If Mr. Dodd wants to pass the bill by November to bolster his legislative legacy, Capitol Hill aides said, he and the White House will likely have to water down their proposals and broker a deal with Republicans, who oppose the legislation and have little incentive to give Democrats a victory.
CNN: Initial report on failed plane attack coming out Thursday
The initial report ordered by President Obama on the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack will be released Thursday, Obama's spokesman said Wednesday.
CNN: Military revising security procedures after attack on CIA
In the wake of the suicide bombing at Forward Operating Base Chapman, new security guidance has gone out to U.S. bases across Afghanistan, U.S. military officials said.
Christian Science Monitor: Hillary Clinton: Yemen needs more than air strikes and diplomacy
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that troubled countries like Yemen illustrate the need for development aid – as well as diplomacy and air strikes – to fulfill US security interests.
Washington Post: Republicans put new hold on TSA nominee Erroll Southers
The nomination of a former FBI agent to lead the Transportation Security Administration hit a new obstacle Wednesday as several Republican senators expressed "serious reservations" about the nominee and pressed the White House for details of incidents in which he improperly accessed a confidential federal database years ago.
CNN: Sources: Obama, Dems to sidestep GOP on health care
President Obama met Wednesday with House Democratic leaders who face the likelihood of having a final health care bill look much more like the Senate's version than their measure.
The Durango Herald: All eyes focus on Ken Salazar
Colorado Democrats cast their hopes toward Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday as they scrambled to fill the void left by Gov. Bill Ritter's sudden withdrawal from his re-election campaign. … Salazar refused through a spokeswoman to comment about the race.
Boston Globe: Baker’s funding shatters records
In one of the most aggressive political fund-raising pushes in recent memory, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Charles D. Baker has amassed a $1.85 million war chest over roughly five months of campaigning, tapping into a broad range of supporters and establishing himself as a major threat to Governor Deval Patrick’s reelection bid.
Detroit News: Rumors fly over Dem candidates for governor
Scrambling over who might run for governor continued Wednesday in the wake of Lt. Gov. John Cherry's withdrawal, with the House speaker looking to step in, a congressman denying interest and even a former Pistons star floated as a possible candidate.
Washington Times: Steele's side pursuits drive away big donors
Some wealthy contributors are shunning the Republican National Committee and donating instead to the other GOP campaign committees or directly to candidates – in many cases because of discontent with the leadership of Michael S. Steele, the party's national chairman.
Christian Science Monitor: Sarah Palin will headline first-ever Tea Party Convention
Almost 1-1/2 years since she shook up American politics with her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is set to headline another landmark political event: the first-ever Tea Party Convention next month in Nashville, Tenn.
Baltimore Sun: Dixon agrees to resign effective Feb. 4
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon will resign next month, part of a plea deal reached Wednesday that brings a years-long corruption investigation to a close with a guilty plea in a perjury case in addition to last month's jury conviction on an embezzlement count.
For the latest national news: www.CNN.com
CNN: Fighter jets escort plane to after passenger becomes unruly
Two F-15 fighter jets escorted a passenger jet that had been headed for Hawaii back to Portland International Airport in Oregon after a passenger in coach became "uncooperative," an airline official said Wednesday.
Chicago Tribune: State panel vote paves way for sale of Thomson Correctional Center to federal government
A panel of state lawmakers recommended closing a little-used prison in northwest Illinois on Wednesday, giving Gov. Pat Quinn political cover to sell the facility to the Obama administration to house terrorism suspects now held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
CNN: Suspect in Holocaust Museum shooting dies
James von Brunn, who was accused of killing a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in June, died Wednesday morning at a hospital in North Carolina, his attorney said.
CNN: Homeland Security seeks volunteers for flights, embassies
U.S. anti-terrorism officials are pushing to get more air marshals on American jetliners and beef up efforts to screen visa applicants overseas after some stinging criticism from President Obama.
For the latest international news: http://edition.cnn.com
CNN: Honduran military leaders face arrests
Honduran prosecutors issued arrest warrants for the country's six top military commanders for abuse of power in connection with the coup that ousted President Jose Manuel Zelaya last year.
CNN: Al Qaeda claims responsibility for CIA attack
Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in Afghanistan last month that killed seven CIA employees and contractors and a Jordanian military officer, according to a statement posted on Islamist Web sites.
New York Times: Fighting Trend, China Is Luring Scientists Home
Determined to reverse the drain of top talent that accompanied its opening to the outside world over the past three decades, [China’s leaders] are using their now ample financial resources — and a dollop of national pride — to entice scientists and scholars home.
BBC News: Aid groups warn of Sudan civil war risk
Ten international aid groups say a 2005 peace deal in Sudan is on the verge of collapse and that the world must act now to prevent renewed conflict. The agencies blamed a "lethal cocktail" of rising violence, chronic poverty and political tensions.
Der Spiegel: A Clash of Civilizations in Nigeria
Muslims and Christians are both growing more radical in Nigeria, home of the would-be underwear bomber. Almost nowhere else in the world does the rivalry between religions lead to bloody conflict quite so often.
Bloomberg: Brown’s Re-Election Bid Damaged as Leadership Challenge Fizzles
A challenge to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour Party leadership yesterday exposed divisions in his government and pessimism among allies over his re-election prospects, pollsters and analysts said.
Wall Street Journal: Japan Taps Successor to Ailing Finance Chief
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Wednesday tapped as finance minister a colorful, charismatic politician who advocates more spending, a weaker yen, and a less-powerful bureaucracy to lift the economy. The move may lift the government's flagging popularity but spook investors who are jittery about Japan's swelling public debt.
For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com
CNNMoney: GM CEO predicts profit in 2010
General Motors' new CEO Ed Whitacre said he believes the company will return to profitability in 2010.
Financial Times: Citi hit by legal action in bankers’ pay row
Citigroup is embroiled in a legal row with a former senior executive whose multi-million dollar severance package was frozen last year at the height of the political storm over bankers’ pay, according to people close to the situation.
Wall Street Journal: China Raises Key Interbank Rate
China's central bank unexpectedly raised a key interbank market interest rate Thursday for the first time in nearly five months, signaling a change in its policy focus toward pre-empting inflation risks in the new year.
Business Week: How Much Are Twitter's Tweets Really Worth?
Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) are paying Twitter $25 million to crawl the short posts, or tweets, that users send out on the micro-blogging service. It sounds like big money. Enough for Twitter to turn a small profit in 2009, say two people familiar with the company's finances.
Forbes: China Accused Of Stealing Code, Again
It's akin to a battle between David and Goliath. A small California software maker is suing China's government, two technology companies there and seven computer manufacturers for $2.2 billion, claiming a controversial Internet filtering program sold in China contains some of its copyrighted code.
CNN: Microsoft opens CES without much-hyped tablet, highlights past successes
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer opened up the largest consumer technology trade show in the world with a tone that was both reflective and energized, but without living up to much if any of the anticipation that preceded the speech.
In Case You Missed It
CNN's Jim Acosta takes a look at President Obama's top official on terrorism, John Brennan.
CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Mark Preston discuss the possible fallout from two Senate Democrats opting to retire.
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