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: Obama to tackle issues with bipartisan congressional leaders
President Barack Obama will hold a meeting with congressional leaders from both parties on Tuesday, less than a month after Republicans won control of the House of Representatives during midterm elections. The meeting which is expected to last about an hour is expected to address numerous topics, including whether Bush-era tax cuts should be extended beyond the end of this year as well as the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
CNN Money: Senator introduces bill to extend jobless benefits
A Democrat-sponsored bill to extend unemployment benefits by one year was introduced in the Senate Monday, but it is likely to face stiff opposition from Republicans. The bill's sponsor, Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., said in a statement that the proposed legislation would reauthorize benefits for nearly 800,000 out-of-work Americans who are about to exhaust their benefits next week. It would also extend benefits for 2 million more Americans facing the same fate at the end of the year, he said.
Los Angeles Times: Estimate of TARP losses falls to $25 billion
The projected cost of the $700-billion financial bailout fund — initially feared to be a huge hit to taxpayers — continues to drop, with the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimating Monday that losses would amount to just $25 billion. That's a sharp drop from the CBO's last estimate, in August, of a $66-billion loss for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP. Going back to March, the budget office estimated that the program would cost taxpayers $109 billion.
Roll Call: Road Map: Still No Agenda for Lame Duck
Republicans and Democrats appear content to end the 111th Congress the way it started, by following a “change” election with a round of fiercely partisan fighting over an agenda that even many Democrats have little interest in. In fact, the House and Senate returned to Washington, D.C., on Monday for the lame duck with few solid details about what will be on their plates beyond partisanship. House Democrats may stay in through Dec. 17 as the Senate is expected to do. Or Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) may send her troops home at week’s end and call them to the Capitol only after the Senate finishes work on a long-term continuing resolution that keeps the government funded and operating.
CNN: Senate to vote on food safety bill
The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a food safety bill that will give more power to the Food and Drug Administration in an effort to bolster the safety of the nation's food supply. A version of the bill was passed by the House of Representatives in July of 2009 but has languished in the Senate, a fact that has angered some food safety advocates. Non-profit advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest was one of the groups that released a report in September urging Senators to pass the stalled bill.
Politico: Mark Kirk sworn in, blasts Illinois Democrats
Moments after Vice President Joe Biden swore him in as the newest U.S. senator, Republican Mark Kirk declared Monday night that Illinois’ political nightmare was over. “My name is Mark Kirk and I’m here to replace Roland Burris in the United States Senate,” Kirk told a packed room of supporters at a reception in the Russell Senate Building. “Today ends a sad chapter in Illinois history. Our state leaders tried to sell this seat and then they bought a special election to fill it, but the courts, the law and the people of Illinois won.”
Roll Call: Democratic Senators Beseech Murray to Lead DSCC
Sen. Patty Murray was buttonholed on the Senate floor Monday night by Democratic colleagues, many facing re-election in 2012, who urged her to lead Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee next year. According to a Democratic Senate aide, a host of Members approached the Washington state lawmaker Monday night during a floor vote to encourage her to take over the DSCC next year.
CNN: NYC first responder badges arrive in Washington
Police badges belonging to 29 members of the New York Police Department who assisted in rescue efforts at ground zero and later died from September 11-related illnesses arrived in the nation's Capitol on Monday for a weeklong exhibition. The special exhibition is taking place as the Senate prepares to take up the September 11 health bill. The bill, which provides medical benefits and compensation for emergency workers who were first on the scene of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, won approval from the U.S. House in late September.
Miami Herald: Members will have to vote to let Wilson wear hats in U.S. House
Frederica Wilson was known as the Florida state legislator who owned a massive collection of fancy hats. But when the Democrat was elected to the 17th District congressional seat on Nov. 2, representing portions of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, her fashion statement ran afoul of the rules. … Wilson is hoping to have a conversation with the likely new speaker, John Boehner. At issue: whether or not the longtime lawmaker can wear her signature hats on the House floor. The House bars members from wearing hats while the body is in session, but Wilson said she believes the speaker can waive the rule - which dates to the 1800s.
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CNN: NAACP educational summit to look at return of segregation
The nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization wants to sound the alarm on school resegregation, and is hoping a national educational summit will bring attention to what its members consider a huge problem, according to a news release from the NAACP. The organization will meet for three days later this week in North Carolina, where the Department of Justice is planning to investigate policies relating to resegregation, the statement says.
New York Times: U.S. School Graduation Rate Is Rising
The nation’s high school graduation rate, which declined in the latter part of the 20th century, may have hit bottom and begun to rise, according to a report to be issued Tuesday by a nonprofit group founded by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. “The United States is turning a corner in meeting the high school dropout epidemic,” General Powell and his wife, Alma J. Powell, wrote in a letter introducing the report. The report cites two statistics. The national graduation rate increased to 75 percent in 2008, from 72 percent in 2001. And the number of high schools that researchers call dropout factories — based on a formula that compares a school’s 12th-grade enrollment with its 9th-grade enrollment three years earlier — declined to about 1,750 in 2008, from about 2,000 such schools in 2002.
Newark Star Ledger: Newark finalizes 167 police layoffs after union refuses Booker's plea to return to negotiating table
After months of verbal jousting and public finger-pointing between union leaders and the Booker administration, 167 Newark police officers turned in their guns and badges, finalizing the department’s largest reduction in force in 32 years. Union president Derrick Hatcher killed any chance of an eleventh-hour deal Monday morning when he rebuked Mayor Cory Booker’s final plea to return to the negotiating table, according to an e-mail obtained by The Star-Ledger.
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CNN: Calling leaks 'damaging,' Bush says Wikileaks will hurt U.S. relations
Former President George W. Bush joined a chorus of U.S. officials calling leaks of sensitive government information "very damaging," telling a forum at Facebook headquarters that Wikileaks' recent release of 250,000 documents may significantly hurt Washington's image abroad. "It's going to be very hard to keep the trust of foreign leaders," the nation's 43rd president said of the documents on issues ranging from Iran to Honduras to Turkey. "If you have a conversation with a foreign leader and it ends up in a newspaper, you don't like it. I didn't like it."
CNN: WikiLeaks documents focus on health of leaders in Iran, North Korea
For U.S. diplomats trying to understand the goings-on in countries with no diplomatic relations with the United States, snippets of information about the health of leaders can be valuable. The latest group of documents released by WikiLeaks included a report from an un-named informant that Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme religious leader, has terminal cancer and is "expected to die in months," while another cable said that the North Korean leader's health is in question. A July 2009 report from U.S. officials in Seoul said that Kim Jong Il's health is failing and that, "South Korean analysts believed that KJI (Kim Jong Il) was unlikely to live more than three to five years, although he seemed to be doing better lately."
CNN: High-level officials to discuss North Korea in Washington meeting
Government ministers from the United States, Japan and South Korea will meet in Washington in early December to discuss North Korea, South Korea's foreign affairs ministry said Tuesday. The ministry did not provide further details about the date of the meeting. The divided Korean peninsula - tense at the best of times - has been near the boiling point since last Tuesday, when four people died in a North Korean artillery barrage that targeted a South Korean island.
Wall Street Journal: Russian Missiles Fuel U.S. Worries
The U.S. believes Russia has moved short-range tactical nuclear warheads to facilities near North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies as recently as this spring, U.S. officials say, adding to questions in Congress about Russian compliance with long-standing pledges ahead of a possible vote on a new arms-control treaty. U.S. officials say the movement of warheads to facilities bordering NATO allies appeared to run counter to pledges made by Moscow starting in 1991 to pull tactical nuclear weapons back from frontier posts and to reduce their numbers. The U.S. has long voiced concerns about Russia's lack of transparency when it comes to its arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, believed to be many times the number possessed by the U.S.
CNN: U.S. came close to al Qaeda's number 2
The United States has come close to taking out al Qaeda's second-in-command on more occasions than have previously been acknowledged, according to current and former U.S. officials. In February 2003, Ayman al-Zawahiri apparently met in Peshawar, Pakistan, with another senior al Qaeda leader whom the CIA was pursuing at the time. But according to the officials, the agency did not have a firm location for Khalid Sheihk Mohammed until it received a tip the following day enabling the Pakistanis to capture Mohammed in another city.
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Bloomberg: Crude Oil Declines on Speculation Chinese Demand May Slow n Rate Increase
Oil dropped from the highest in two weeks on concern that measures to slow China’s economy will damp crude demand in the world’s largest energy user. Futures fell as much as 0.8 percent as Chinese equities declined on speculation the government will raise interest rates to cool economic growth. The Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks the bigger of China’s stock exchanges, slid for a third day. Crude also dropped as a strengthening dollar limited the appeal of commodities.
In Case You Missed It
Hillary Clinton and world leaders react to WikiLeaks release of classified documents. CNN's Jill Dougherty reports.
Documents released by WikiLeaks reveal a lack of trust between the Middle East and Iran. CNN's Brian Todd reports.
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