The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com
CNN: Obama administration, Congress brace for new political reality
A new political reality hits Washington next week, with the first split Congress since 2004 raising questions about whether the bipartisan cooperation of the recently concluded lame-duck session can continue. Conventional wisdom says the shift from one party controlling both chambers, as Democrats have done since 2006, to the GOP taking over the House and holding a stronger minority stake in the Senate means increased partisan impasse over the next two years.
CNN: Miller won't contest Murkowski certification; pursues federal suit
Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller said late Sunday he is dropping his opposition to incumbent Lisa Murkowski being certified as winner in the Alaska Senate race, but will continue with a federal lawsuit.
CNN: Gibbs: Gitmo isn't closing now
A year has passed since the Obama administration said the Guantanamo Bay military prison would close, but White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday that the facility won't go away in the near future. In an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Gibbs said that even though the site is a recruiting tool for Islamic terrorists, legal and legislative issues have contributed to the delay in its closing.
New York Times: Medicaid Bonuses to Reward for Insuring Children
The Obama administration plans to announce Monday that it will make $206 million in bonus Medicaid payments to 15 states — with more than a fourth of the total going to Alabama — for signing up children who are eligible for public health insurance but had previously failed to enroll. The payments, which were established when Congress and President Obama reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2009, are aimed at one of the most persistent frustrations in government health care: the inability to enroll an estimated 4.7 million children who would be eligible for subsidized coverage if their families could be found and alerted.
Los Angeles Times: Immigration overhaul effort seems dead
When Republican lawmakers take over the House and gain strength in the Senate after the new year, a decade long drive to overhaul the immigration system and legalize some of the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants seems all but certain to come to a halt.
Politico: As RNC conservatives launch Dump Steele effort, race returns to fore
A group of conservatives on the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) governing board have launched an “Anybody but Steele” campaign and are gathering pledges from other committee members that they won’t back the beleaguered party chairman, POLITICO has learned. Members of the Republican National Conservative Caucus (RNCC) held a conference call and sent emails last week in attempt to build support for what they’re calling a “Resolution of Commitment.”
CNN: Clinton to stump for Rahm
Former President Bill Clinton will endorse and campaign with Chicago Democratic mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel in January, according to Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the campaign. Emanuel served in the Clinton White House for five years before serving as an Illinois congressman and President Obama's chief of staff, a post he left earlier this year to run for mayor.
Chicago Tribune: Chicago seen as likely 2012 Obama HQ
The White House says President Barack Obama has not made a decision on where to locate his re-election headquarters for 2012, but observers expect the campaign to return to its 2008 base: Chicago. Such a decision would buck recent history. Every two-term president in the last 30 years — George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan — set up re-election campaign offices near the White House or in suburban Virginia.
CNN: Obama mixes work and pleasure on vacation
Between a visit to the gym, attending church and a round of golf, President Barack Obama took time away from his Hawaiian vacation Sunday to place a phone call to Saudi Arabia's king and participate in an interagency coordination call and briefing on holiday threats. Chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan led the call with the president and various agency heads involved with national security. According to a White House statement, they discussed the United States' "continued efforts to stay vigilant throughout the holiday season, and to coordinate with our foreign partners."
Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Requests increase for Obama birth proof
People who do not believe President Barack Obama was born in Honolulu in 1961 have stepped up their requests for proof of his birth this month, in the hopes that the new gubernatorial administration will offer more information. The state Department of Health says it has received 27 requests for information about Obama's birth certificate this month, compared with 16 in November. There were 16 requests alone in the first half of this week, although most came from a single person.
Detroit Free Press: Conyers pays $5,682 to reimburse taxpayers for car son drove
U.S. Rep. John Conyers said Wednesday he has reimbursed the U.S. Treasury $5,682 to cover any period in which his son could have driven a Cadillac Escalade leased at taxpayer expense. The Free Press reported last month that John Conyers III had driven the 2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, registered to his father's congressional office, at least twice. …While House members can use funds from their office allowances to lease vehicles, personal use is restricted. Conyers has a $1,251.66 monthly lease that, according to House records, appears to have begun in May.
Washington Post: Kennedy's exit from Congress leaves a family void
The Kennedys have held congressional seats, the presidency and the public's imagination for more than 60 years. That era ends when Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island vacates his U.S. House seat next month, leaving a city council post in California as Camelot's sole remaining political holding. The son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy said he has no qualms about walking away from politics. His departure marks the first time in 63 years there won't be a Kennedy serving in elected office in Washington.
For the latest national news: www.CNN.com
The Hill: Napolitano: Invasive scans, pat-downs unlikely to change
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Sunday that controversial new airport security procedures are likely to remain in place since they have been effective. Some airline passengers and lawmakers have objected to the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policy, which includes full-body scans and pat-downs. Asked on CNN's "State of the Union" if anything is going to change with the pat-down program, Napolitano said, "Not for the foreseeable future."
Washington Post: Cargo that flies over the United States doesn't get screened to federal standards
As the Obama administration works to harden domestic defenses against terrorism, some experts point to a potential vulnerability from thousands of flights that pass over the United States each week. Although the United States regulates overflights, the cargo aboard them is not screened to federal standards and passenger lists are not matched to names on the terrorist watch list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration.
CNN: More air travelers grounded amid snow storm in New York, New England
Airlines and travelers will continue grappling with the effects of delayed and canceled flights Monday as a storm system along the East Coast showed no mercy for passengers traveling over the holiday weekend.
For the latest international news: http://edition.cnn.com
CNN: Pakistani officials: Suspected drone strike kills 6
A suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region killed six alleged militants Monday, intelligence officials told CNN. It was the latest in a series of aerial assaults targeted at insurgents in North Waziristan, one of seven districts in Pakistan's volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
CNN: Pakistan official: Female suicide bomber was behind deadly blast
A young, female suicide bomber was behind a blast in Pakistan that killed at least 46 people and injured 105 others at a food distribution point, an official said Sunday. Zakir Hussain Afridi, the top government official in Bajaur Agency, Pakistan, said that the preliminary investigation into the explosion shows that a girl between the ages of 16 and 18 blew herself up. The determination was made from remains of the bomber that were recovered.
Los Angeles Times: Afghanistan denounces deadly NATO-led raid
The government of President Hamid Karzai on Sunday denounced a NATO-led night raid on a compound in Kabul that killed two men, accusing Western forces of violating agreements governing security in the Afghan capital.
New York Times: Taliban Fighters Appear Quieted in Afghanistan
The deadliest group of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan has not conducted a complex large-scale attack in the capital city of Kabul for seven months, its momentum stymied as elite American-led commandos have escalated raids against the militants’ bomb makers and logisticians. But in a testament to the resiliency of the fighters, the so-called Haqqani network, and a nod to the fragility of the allied gains, the White House is not trumpeting this assessment. Instead, it is tucked into a classified portion of the Obama administration’s year-end review of its Afghanistan war strategy, and senior American officials speak of it in cautious terms, as if not wanting to jinx the positive trend.
CNN: 9 charged in terror case to appear in London courtroom
Nine men arrested a week ago across England have been charged with terrorism offenses and conspiracy to cause explosions, West Midlands police said Monday.The men are charged with "unlawfully and maliciously" conspiring to cause an explosion or explosions "likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the United Kingdom," according to a police statement. They are also accused of conducting research, agreeing on potential targets and testing incendiary material.
BBC News: UN condemns 'deplorable' Nigeria violence
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the "deplorable acts of violence" that left 38 people dead in Nigeria over Christmas. Mr. Ban conveyed condolences to the families of the victims and backed the government's vow to bring the perpetrators to justice. The victims died in bomb blasts and an attack on churches in central Nigeria. The area is a flashpoint between the mainly Muslim north and largely Christian south.
CNN: Report: S. Korean, Chinese defense ministers to meet next year
The South Korean defense minister will meet his Chinese counterpart next year amid growing tensions between the Koreas, Seoul state media said Sunday. "Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin will meet with his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie in Beijing during February," a defense ministry official told the Yonhap news agency. "Working-level officials will meet in January to set the agenda for the meeting." Yonhap said the leaders will discuss "North Korea's military provocations and other regional security" problems.
Los Angeles Times: North Korean soldiers boast of Yeonpyeong Island attack
North Korean soldiers bragged on state-run television about their heroics during the attack on South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island last month that killed four people. Marking the 19th anniversary last week of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's appointment as supreme military commander, four soldiers who appeared to have taken part in the shelling are seen describing the Nov. 23 attack. "We cheered and congratulated our victory as we saw pillars of fire lighting up from our bombardments," Kim Chul Nam says.
CNN: 8 American tourists killed in Egypt bus crash
Eight American tourists - six women and two men - were killed in a traffic accident Sunday while on a tour bus in Aswan, Egypt, the country's interior ministry said. An additional 19 American tourists and two Egyptians - the bus driver and a tour guide - were injured. A total of 116 American tourists were traveling in three tour buses. The interior ministry said the middle bus - carrying 37 of the tourists - crashed into a parked dump truck loaded with sand.
CNN: State media: Russian court finds Khodorkovsky guilty
A judge in Moscow has found former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner guilty of corruption charges, state-run RIA-Novosti and Interfax news agencies said Monday. The trial, which began in March 2009, was the second for the two men. Khodorkovsky and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, were charged with embezzlement and laundering of stolen property.
For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com
CNNMoney: China again hikes interest rate in inflation fight
China's central bank has raised its interest rate for the second time in just over two months as the nation fights to keep inflation in check. The People's Bank of China said on its website that it is raising the benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point beginning Sunday. The move increased the one-year lending rate to 5.81% and one-year deposit rate to 2.75%.
Bloomberg: Euro Pain Turns to 23% Gain for Europeans Through S&P Rally
For all the losses facing Europeans this year, investors from the region who bought U.S. stocks as the euro weakened are getting the best returns in a decade. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 23 percent this year when translated to euros, the most since the currency was formed in 1999 and almost double the 13 percent gain for Americans, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Buying the Nikkei 225 Stock Average in Tokyo produced a 20 percent increase for Europeans, compared with a 2.5 percent loss when priced in yen, the data show.
Wall Street Journal: Bailed-Out Banks Slip Toward Failure
Nearly 100 U.S. banks that got bailout funds from the federal government show signs they are in jeopardy of failing.The total, based on an analysis of third-quarter financial results by The Wall Street Journal, is up from 86 in the second quarter, reflecting eroding capital levels, a pileup of bad loans and warnings from regulators. The 98 banks in shaky condition got more than $4.2 billion in infusions from the Treasury Department under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
San Jose Mercury News: Shocking cell phone bills in agency's crosshairs
It's been dubbed cell phone "bill shock," and it's clear why: A woman returning from Haiti after the earthquake disaster is greeted with nearly $35,000 in text messaging charges. An Orange County man is socked with a $3,300 bill after checking e-mail on his smartphone during a cruise celebrating his wife's recovery from breast cancer. …Those anecdotes are extreme, but according to the Federal Communications Commission, one in six cell phone users has endured "bill shock" of some magnitude. And the bill is often a whopper when it happens: $100 or more for two-thirds of those who complained to the FCC in the first half of this year, and upward of $1,000 for 20 percent of that group.
The Guardian: Julian Assange to use £1m book deals for legal fight
The founder of the WikiLeaks website, Julian Assange, has said he expects to earn more than £1m from book deals. Assange, who achieved global notoriety after his whistleblower website began releasing more than a quarter of a million diplomatic cables, said he would use the money for legal costs. The 39-year-old is fighting extradition to Sweden, where two women have accused him of sexual misconduct. He denies the allegations.
In Case You Missed It
Sen. Barbara Mikulski talks about her place in the history of the United States Congress.
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