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: Texas jury convicts Tom DeLay on money laundering charges
A Texas jury on Wednesday convicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on charges of illegally funneling corporate money to help elect GOP candidates to the Texas Legislature. DeLay was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering, court bailiff Gilbert Soto said. He was accused of funneling $190,000 to help elect Republicans to the state House and Senate in 2002. At the outset of the trial, DeLay predicted the jury would clear him, and he remained unrepentant after learning the verdict. "This is an abuse of power. It's a miscarriage of justice," DeLay told reporters.
CNN: Obama and Hu to confer over Korean crisis
With top U.S. officials continuing to declare that help from China will be key to getting North Korea to ratchet down the crisis caused by Pyongyang's deadly strike on a South Korean military installation, President Obama is planning to call Chinese President Hu Jintao in the next few days to discuss the critical situation, according to senior administration officials. The phone call will come just days after Obama held a bilateral meeting with Hu on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Seoul, where administration officials were quick to tout the fact that it was the seventh face-to-face meeting the two leaders have had since Obama took office.
MSNBC: Palin's Korea mixup
Sarah Palin’s recent media appearances - her TV show, her daughter’s Dancing With the Stars run, and her new book tour - have whipped perennially high media interest in Palin to a froth. That all provides a pretty pleasant position for the former Alaska governor to be sitting in the week that her new book hits stores at the opening of the holiday shopping season. But, as always, the spotlight – and her recent spate of slaps at her critics – has its pitfalls for Palin. That’s what happened in a radio interview with Glenn Beck Wednesday, when Palin briefly mixed up North and South Korea in discussing the boiling tensions in the region. “Obviously we gotta stand with our North Korean allies," she said, after expressing her concern that the White House would fail to react aggressively enough to the situation. Beck quickly corrected the former Alaska governor, who had previously correctly identified North Korea as the aggressor, and the interview moved along.
CNN: Alaska Senate race: Murkowski files motion to counter Miller
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R- Alaska) has filed a motion to intervene in Republican candidate Joe Miller's lawsuit challenging the method by which the state's Division of Elections counted write-in votes in the Nov. 2 general election. Murkowski, who has already claimed victory in the race, also asked for an expedited decision. "Joe's reluctance to accept the will of the voters remains discouraging. We are certain the state courts can act on this baseless lawsuit in a timely manner," Murkowski campaign manager Kevin Sweeney said in a statement.
Roll Call: Coleman to Miller: Give Up on Recount
A veteran of his own extended vote-counting process, former Sen. Norm Coleman believes the Alaska Senate race is over and GOP nominee Joe Miller should end his lawsuit challenging the results. “I understand Joe’s frustration. … I had some of those concerns in Minnesota on a much, much, much closer race,” the Minnesota Republican said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program, set to air Sunday. “I think that race is over. I think the counting’s been done. I’m not sure there’s anything that would change that.”
CNN: Costa wins reelection bid
Incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Costa has won his bid for a fourth term representing California's 20th Congressional District, according to updated vote totals released Wednesday by the California Secretary of State. Costa defeated Republican candidate and farmer Andy Vidak. The win for Democrats holds Republicans to a net gain of 63 seats, with two House races still undecided – California's 11th and New York's 1st Congressional Districts.
CNN: Democrats Accuse GOP Senator of Breaking Pledge on Earmarks. True?
Democratic Party officials are blasting out emails accusing the Senate's second ranking Republican of backtracking on his pledge not to seek earmarks, but a closer look by CNN shows their accusations appear unfounded. At issue – a $200 million project to provide drinking water for an Indian tribe in Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl's home state of Arizona.
Boston Globe: Health law snag may cost hospitals
Partisan tensions on Capitol Hill are delaying efforts to fix an error in the federal health care law that could cost Children’s Hospital Boston and others like it millions of dollars in added drug costs. Correcting the error would require changing just 47 words in the 1,880-page law, a task that a previous Congress might have accomplished in an afternoon. Instead, with Republicans fighting to repeal the health care bill rather than fix it and Democrats loath to acknowledge its flaws, months have passed with no resolution, and prospects for one in the lame-duck session are limited.
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CNN: Pentagon, State Department brace for release of more secrets
U.S. officials, fearful of what military secrets could soon be splayed across the internet, are bracing for the release of more classified documents by the whistleblower group WikiLeaks. The Pentagon expects the documents to be released soon, possibly by the end of the week. The agency is increasing the size of a task force assigned to comb through the records, if released, to assess how damaging they are to U.S. interests.
CNN: 'Critical habitat' set aside in Alaska for polar bears
The setting aside of 187,000 square miles in Alaska as "critical habitat" for polar bears could have an impact on oil and gas drilling, federal and environmental officials said Wednesday. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designated the land along the north coast of Alaska as part of a partial settlement in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups. "This critical habitat designation enables us to work with federal partners to ensure their actions within its boundaries do not harm polar bear populations," Tom Strickland, assistant secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said in a statement. "Polar bears are completely dependent upon Arctic sea-ice habitat for survival."
CNN: Keeping safe in the kitchen: From smoke alarms to goggles
Amid all the shopping and chopping and cooking and baking tonight and tomorrow, followed by more preparation for Black Friday, fire prevention probably isn't at the forefront of most people's minds going into the holiday weekend. But it should be, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, who says the leading cause of all Thanksgiving fires is cooking in the home. An estimated 2,000 fires occur each on Thanksgiving in the United States, resulting in an average of five deaths, 25 injuries and $21 million in property loss each year, said the agency, an entity of the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Kennebec Journal: Hunger gnaws at 200,000 Mainers
Thousands of people across the state will wake up this morning unsure where or how they will get their next meal. Those working the front lines to provide those meals are feeling the pressure. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's food security report released last week found 195,000 Mainers - nearly 15 percent of the state's households - struggle with food insecurity, defined as people who had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for their families.
CNN: Final launch for shuttle Discovery delayed until at least December 17
The final flight of the space shuttle Discovery, which has been delayed several times because of bad weather, gas leaks and electrical glitches, is now tentatively scheduled to take place December 17, according to NASA officials. The announcement came during a Wednesday news conference at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Officials cautioned that the shuttle's departure could be further delayed until January or February, pending the results of an ongoing investigation of what caused cracks in the shuttle's external fuel tank.
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CNN: N. Korea warns of new attacks, S. Korea to boost rules of engagement
North Korea will launch additional attacks on South Korea if it continues "reckless military provocation," North Korean state media said Thursday. Meanwhile, South Korea said Thursday that it will strengthen and supplement its rules of engagement in the Yellow Sea, following Tuesday's shelling by North Korea. Marine forces based in five islands near North Korea and the disputed Northern Limit Line also will be reinforced, a government spokesman said.
CNN: Saudi king has back surgery in New York
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia underwent successful back surgery Wednesday, according to a statement from the Saudi Royal Court. The king traveled to the United States earlier this week for treatment in New York for a herniated spinal disc and a blood clot that was causing him back pain, Saudi state media reported. King Abdullah, 86, had named Crown Prince Sultan to administer the state's affairs in the monarch's absence, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.
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Wall Street Journal: Ford to Add 66 New Dealers in China by Year End
Ford Motor Co. said it plans to add an additional 66 dealers in China in the closing weeks of this year, expanding its dealer network in the country by nearly a fourth as part of an effort to push more aggressively into smaller cities and towns where demand for cars is surging. The late-year push will bring to about a hundred the number of new stores Ford and its local manufacturing and sale joint-venture partner, Changan Automobile Co., added in China in 2010, leaving it with a total of 340, according to a Ford statement seen by The Wall Street Journal.
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