The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click on the headlines for more.
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CNN: Party leaders set battle lines for November election
With Congress adjourned until after the November elections, the campaign season accelerated Thursday as top Democrats accused Republicans of a strategy of obstruction while the House GOP leader called for an overhaul of how the chamber works. President Barack Obama met with Democratic leaders from both chambers before they left Washington for the election fray back home. Democratic sources said the party's congressional leaders pushed Obama to be more aggressive in helping them campaign in the final weeks before the November 2 vote.
CNN: Boehner pledges overhaul of House spending rules
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, laid out a sweeping reform agenda for Congress Thursday, promising to make spending increases much tougher if he becomes speaker in January. Sticking to the GOP focus on skyrocketing federal deficits, Boehner said that too many congressmen currently "go out and promise their constituents the moon," which ultimately leads to "passing more bills, micromanaging more bureaucracies, and raiding the federal treasury."
CNN: Chambliss staffer removed over anti-gay comment
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, said Thursday he has removed a staff member confirmed as the author of an anti-gay comment on a gay and lesbian blog. "The office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms has concluded its investigation, and I responded to that report immediately with the removal of a member of my staff," Chambliss said in a statement released by his office Thursday. The Chambliss staffer allegedly responded to a blog posting about a Senate vote on a defense bill that included a repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy by writing "ALL F–GOTS MUST DIE" in the blog's comments section.
Politico: News Corp. gave $1 million to pro-GOP group
News Corp., the parent company of Fox News, contributed $1 million this summer to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the business lobby that has been running an aggressive campaign in support of the Republican effort to retake Congress, a source close to the company told POLITICO.It was the second $1 million contribution the company has made this election cycle to a GOP-aligned group. In late June it gave that amount to the Republican Governors Association.
CNN: Poll: Cuomo leads Paladino by 15 points
The first poll of New Yorkers conducted nearly entirely since Republican Rick Lazio dropped his bid for governor indicates that state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat's nominee, leads GOP nominee Carl Paladino 53 to 38 percent among likely voters, with eight percent undecided. According to a Marist College Institute for Public Opinion survey released Thursday, Cuomo is capturing nearly eighty percent of the Democratic vote, just over a quarter of the Republican vote, with Independents divided between the two candidates.
Huffington Post: Linda McMahon: 'We Ought To Review' The Minimum Wage
Linda McMahon, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Connecticut, suggested Thursday that the U.S. ought to take a second look at the federal minimum wage. "The minimum wage now in our country, I think we've set that, so there are a lot of people have benefited from it in our country, but I think we ought to review how much it ought to be, and whether or not we ought to have increases in the minimum wage," McMahon said at a press conference.
CNN: New Hampshire GOP Senate nominee continues to lead
Republican Kelly Ayotte may be even closer to fending off her Democratic opponent in New Hampshire's Senate race, according to a new poll. A WMUR Granite State Poll released Thursday found that 50 percent of likely voters support Ayotte, while 35 percent support Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes. Twelve percent remain undecided.
CNN: Biden returning to guess where? Ohio.
Vice President Biden will be making his fourth trip to Ohio in the past six weeks, as the White House tries to bolster the re-election bid of Gov. Ted Strickland. Strickland campaign communications director Lis Smith confirmed Biden will hit the Youngstown area on Monday for two stops and a fundraiser.
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CNN: Kagan's Supreme Court investiture ceremony to be held Friday
A formal investiture ceremony will take place Friday for Elena Kagan during a special sitting of the Supreme Court. Kagan was sworn in as the 112th justice of the court in August. The 2 p.m. event on Friday is a formal affair where the authority of the office are conferred. The Senate confirmed Kagan 63-37 on August 5 on a mostly party-line vote.
CNN: Congress approves $19 billion for NASA but layoffs loom
Congress has passed a $19 billion bill authorizing NASA to launch an additional shuttle mission and to develop a heavy-lift vehicle. Late Wednesday, the House passed the NASA Reauthorization Act following the Senate's approval, giving NASA the authority to move forward with President Barack Obama's strategy for the agency, including encouraging commercial development of space transportation systems.
New York Times: Foreclosures Slow as Document Flaws Emerge
The foreclosure machinery that has forced millions of Americans out of their homes is beginning to seize up as some lenders and their lawyers are accused of cutting corners in their pursuit of rapid home repossessions. Evictions are expected to slow sharply, housing analysts said, as state and national law enforcement officials shine a light on questionable foreclosure methods revealed by two of the country’s biggest home lenders in the last two weeks.
Arizona Republic: Illegal immigrants deported to Mexico by plane hits a high
A record 23,384 illegal Mexican immigrants voluntarily accepted flights back to their homeland from Arizona this summer under a repatriation program created by the United States and Mexico. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported that the number of volunteers in 2010 was more than double the previous year and easily surpassed every annual total since the Mexican Interior Repatriation Program started in 2004.
Detroit News: Assistant AG suspended over gay-bashing blog
Attorney General Mike Cox changed his stance Thursday, suspending Andrew Shirvell after the assistant attorney general attracted national attention for a controversial blog that ridicules and denounces a University of Michigan student leader for his gay advocacy, religious beliefs and character. The suspension came a day after Cox told CNN he didn't intend to fire Shirvell, citing civil service rules that protect government employees from being "fired willy-nilly" for exercising their rights of free speech.
CNN: Rain from tropical depression batters East Coast
Parts of the Eastern Seaboard were battered by rain from a weakening tropical depression on Thursday, with more flood-causing precipitation expected as the storm moves north. Rain from the tropical depression, which was downgraded from Tropical Storm Nicole on Wednesday, has left city streets under water, stranded vehicles, sent scores of people to shelters and caused major delays at airports along the East Coast.
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CNN: Ecuador's president defiant after hospital rescue
A defiant Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa returned safely to the presidential palace late Thursday after spending hours held by police inside a hospital room outside Quito. Minutes earlier, members of the Ecuadorian army - wearing gas masks - rescued him, a reporter for Ecuadorian Television reported.
ABC News: Dozens of NATO Oil Tankers Attacked in Pakistan
Suspected militants in southern Pakistan set ablaze at least 27 tankers carrying fuel for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan on Friday, police said.The attack followed the Pakistani government's decision to shut a vital border crossing in apparent protest of a NATO incursion that killed three of its soldiers, and further underscored the risks posed to Western forces who rely heavily on land routes in Pakistan to supply their troops.
CNN: Pakistan's Musharraf launches new political party
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, once one of the United States' strongest allies in the fight against terrorism, launches a new political party Friday as he ramps up for what looks like another run at the top job. Musharraf, 67, will launch the "All Pakistan Muslim League" Monday morning in London.
CNN: Yemen dispatches forces to the south after governor's ambush
Yemen has dispatched paramilitary forces to a southern province following an ambush on the local governor by suspected al Qaeda militants, a government official said Thursday. The forces are preparing for a second offensive on Shabwa province "very soon," said the Yemeni official who did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
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CNN: Latest unemployed: Stimulus-subsidized workers
Tens of thousands of low-income workers lost their jobs Thursday as a stimulus-subsidized employment program came to an end. About a quarter of a million people in 37 states were placed in short-term jobs thanks to a $5 billion boost to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. States used about $1 billion to provide subsidized employment, with the remaining funds going to cash grants, food programs, housing assistance and other aid.
Washington Post: Report gives stimulus package high marks
The massive economic stimulus package President Obama pushed through Congress last year is coming in on time and under budget – and with strikingly few claims of fraud or abuse – according to a White House report to be released Friday. Coming barely a month before November's midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress, the report challenges public perceptions of the stimulus aid as slow-moving and wasteful – an image that has fueled voter anger with the dominant party.
New York Times: TARP Bailout to Cost Less Than Once Anticipated
Even as voters rage and candidates put up ads against government bailouts, the reviled mother of them all — the $700 billion lifeline to banks, insurance and auto companies — will expire after Sunday at a fraction of that cost, and could conceivably earn taxpayers a profit.
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