The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
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CNNMoney: Jobless benefits extension passes Senate test
More than 2.5 million unemployed Americans are one step closer to having their unemployment benefits restored. A bill that would push back the deadline to file for extended unemployment benefits until the end of November passed a key procedural hurdle in the Senate Tuesday. The vote was 60-40, the minimum margin needed to end debate on the measure.
CNN: Obama to sign Wall Street reform bill
President Obama will sign into law Wednesday the Wall Street reform bill - the most-sweeping set of changes to America's financial regulatory system since the 1930s. The legislation will vastly reform the way big financial firms do business.
Washington Post: U.S. financial reform bill also targets 'conflict minerals' from Congo
The financial regulation bill that President Obama will sign into law on Wednesday is supposed to clean up Wall Street. But an obscure passage buried deep in the 2,300-page legislation aims to transform a very different place - eastern Congo, labeled the "rape capital of the world." The passage, tucked into the bill's "Miscellaneous Provisions," will require thousands of U.S. companies to disclose what steps they are taking to ensure that their products, including laptops, cellphones and medical devices, don't contain "conflict minerals" from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Wall Street Journal: U.S. Drills Into BP as Drama Drags On
The Obama administration has tightened its control over BP's checkbook and resources as the oil company responds to the disaster, in a move that has political peril as well as promise.
Investors Business Daily: Gulf States Rally Behind Drilling; Obama Ban May Be Dems' Bane
Louisiana's Cajundome will not be hosting a basketball game, a wrestling match or a music concert on Wednesday. Instead, thousands are expected to clap and cheer for ... oil. The event in Lafayette is called the Rally for Economic Survival, and the thousands, including Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, will urge President Obama to lift his ban on new deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Imposed in May in response to the BP (BP) oil spill, the six-month moratorium is highly unpopular in the region. The White House's strident advocacy — it enacted a second ban after a judge overturned the first — has soured many on the administration. The political impact could linger for years.
The Charleston Gazette: Coal industry sues EPA, Corps of Engineers over permit crackdown
Coal industry lawyers on Tuesday sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to try to slow down the Obama administration's efforts to more strictly regulate mountaintop removal mining. The National Mining Association filed suit in federal court in Washington, D.C., over EPA's more detailed review of mining permit applications and a new set of recommended water quality guidelines for surface coal mining in Appalachia.
Los Angeles Times: Congress' confidence in Obama's war strategy slides
With military progress scarce and doubts remaining about the reliability of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, confidence in the Obama administration's strategy in Afghanistan is deteriorating on Capitol Hill, including among prominent lawmakers who had been firm backers of the plan. Concerns are rising as lawmakers consider a bill for $37 billion in emergency war funding for Afghanistan and Iraq.
CNN: Senate Judiciary Committee approves Kagan nomination
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to become the nation's fourth female Supreme Court justice, setting up a final confirmation vote by the Senate. The committee vote broke down mostly along partisan lines, with one Republican joining the panel's Democrats in sending the nomination to the full Senate on a 13-6 vote.
CNN: Agriculture secretary to review resignation of USDA worker
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said early Wednesday that he will review the case of a former Agriculture Department official who resigned after a video clip surfaced of her discussing a white farmer. Shirley Sherrod - an African American - resigned this week under pressure after the video clip first appeared on a conservative website and later on Fox News. In the video, she seemed to say she withheld services from a white farmer. The video initially brought condemnation from the NAACP, which it later retracted after the context of the clip became clear. The NAACP said in a statement Tuesday that it was "snookered by Fox News" and conservative website publisher Andrew Breitbart.
Politico: Rove-linked group uses secret donors to fund attacks
A new political operation conceived by Republican operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie formed a spinoff group last month that – thanks in part to its ability to promise donors anonymity – has brought in more money in its first month than the parent organization has raised since it started in March.
Chicago Tribune: Blagojevich won't testify
From reality TV shows and late-night chat fests to the sidewalk outside the federal courthouse where a jury will decide his fate, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has spent more than a year telling anyone who would listen that he would testify in his own defense and be vindicated. But in a stunning twist as his time to take the witness stand came, Blagojevich's attorneys told U.S. District Judge James Zagel on Tuesday that the ex-governor would not testify and that they were prepared to rest their case without calling a single witness, sources told the Tribune.
CNN: Barnes wins Democratic gubernatorial nod, avoids runoff
Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes has won his state's Democratic gubernatorial nomination, according to a projection by the Associated Press. But it appears Barnes will have to wait until next month to find out who his Republican opponent will be in November's general election.
CNN: New poll spells trouble for Lincoln
A new poll released Tuesday indicates trouble ahead for incumbent Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln. Lincoln, who was able to survive a tight Democratic primary process against the more liberal Lieutenant Gov. Bill Halter, is now trailing Republican candidate Rep. John Boozman by 19 points in the general election matchup according to a new poll.
Kansas City Star: Kansas 3rd Congressional seat on ‘must have’ list of both major parties
Republicans hoping to seize control of the House of Representatives — and Democrats trying to hold onto it — have put the Kansas 3rd Congressional District at the top of their “must have” lists this fall. The unexpected retirement of Rep. Dennis Moore, a Democrat, has left an open seat Republicans are eager to reclaim. The GOP held the seat for decades before Moore’s election.
The State: Greene on ‘crooked candidates’ list
Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alvin Greene was named to a top-10 list of “crooked candidates” by a Washington-based ethics watchdog. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington cited Greene’s failure to file required campaign finance documents, as well as “major questions about the legitimacy of Mr. Greene’s campaign.” Greene joins one other Democrat, an independent and eight Republican candidates on CREW’s list — including three candidates running for the same U.S. Senate seat in Florida.
Houston Chronicle: Texas Hispanic GOP boosters lack money, not optimism
The Hispanic Republicans of Texas political action committee formally launched Tuesday with slick television commercials, but not the money to air them, and admitted that a tense atmosphere over race and immigration politics hamper the group's efforts.
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Washington Post: The secrets next door
The brick warehouse is not just a warehouse. Drive through the gate and around back, and there, hidden away, is someone's personal security detail: a fleet of black SUVs that have been armored up to withstand explosions and gunfire. Along the main street, the signs in the median aren't advertising homes for sale; they're inviting employees with top-secret security clearances to a job fair at Cafe Joe, which is anything but a typical lunch spot. …All of these places exist just outside Washington in what amounts to the capital of an alternative geography of the United States, one defined by the concentration of top-secret government organizations and the companies that do work for them.
Wall Street Journal: Shahzad Used Inferior Bomb to Avoid Detection
Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad used inferior explosives to avoid detection, New York's police commissioner said Tuesday, helping to explain why an international bomb plot ended up a dud. Commissioner Ray Kelly, speaking to the Center for National Policy, a Washington think tank, discussed his department's concerns about the changing threats of terrorism.
New York Times: States Embrace National Standards for Schools
Less than two months after the nation’s governors and state school chiefs released their final recommendations for national education standards, 27 states have adopted them and about a dozen more are expected to do so in the next two weeks. Their support has surprised many in education circles, given states’ long tradition of insisting on retaining local control over curriculum.
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CNN: Senators meet with British leader on Lockerbie convict's release
Four U.S. senators who met Tuesday with Prime Minister David Cameron said the British leader could still call for an independent investigation of last year's release by Scotland of a Libyan man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people. The senators from New York and New Jersey said Cameron spent 45 minutes discussing the matter with them in a meeting that was added to his schedule the night before.
Newsweek: David Cameron Flies Commercial
It’s true. The freshly elected British prime minister flew to Washington “slumming it in business class,” as one stunned member of his press corps reported. It was a noticeable break of tradition for a British P.M. who—like most government heads—usually travels on his own plane. …The reason, says Cameron, is the U.K.’s fragile economy, which has forced sweeping cuts to many government programs. This year the British economy has borrowed about 11 percent of GDP, almost as much as Greece, which has faced soaring and crippling debt over the past year.
The Guardian: Plan to begin Afghan security handover this year dropped
Plans to begin handing control of provinces in Afghanistan to Afghan security forces by the end of this year have been quietly dropped amid fears among European countries that General David Petraeus, the new US commander in the country, is less committed to a speedy transfer of power. The change of tack, revealed in the final communique from today's historic international conference in Kabul, reflects Petraeus's concerns that security conditions in Afghanistan are too weak for a transition of power to begin as quickly as originally planned, a Nato official told the Guardian.
Wall Street Journal: U.S. Forces Step Up Pakistan Presence
U.S. Special Operations Forces have begun venturing out with Pakistani forces on aid projects, deepening the American role in the effort to defeat Islamist militants in Pakistani territory that has been off limits to U.S. ground troops. The expansion of U.S. cooperation is significant given Pakistan's deep aversion to allowing foreign military forces on its territory.
CNN: Clinton, Gates criticize North Korea during visit to South
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited South Korea on Wednesday, part of a rare meeting with members of the key Asian ally. The high-level U.S. delegation arrived in Seoul this week to show support for South Korea over the sinking of its war ship.
New York Times: Report Says U.S. Fails to Assess Drug Aid to Mexico
Despite claims by the United States and Mexico that drug traffickers are feeling the effects of the countries’ joint offensive, a review by the Government Accountability Office has found that millions of dollars have been spent without enough regard for whether the money is doing any good.
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CNNMoney: Booming Mac sales drive Apple's best-ever quarter
Record Macintosh and lighting-fast iPad sales made Apple's latest quarter its best ever, the company said Tuesday. Sales for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company rose to a record $15.7 billion, 61% higher than Apple's sales in this quarter last year. Net income rose to $3.25 billion, up 78% from a year ago.
CNNMoney: Report: Tony Hayward preparing to resign from BP
BP's beleaguered chief executive, Tony Hayward, is preparing to step down from his position within the next 10 weeks, the Times of London reported Tuesday, citing "sources" close to the company.
In Case You Missed It
Andrew Breitbart discusses his controversial decision to post a video that has sparked a national debate about racism.
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