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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CNN: Federal judge dismisses challenge to Murkowski's re-election
A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in election victory last month, clearing the way for Murkowski to be sworn in for a second term next week. State officials have scheduled a Thursday morning ceremony to sign the election certification, according to Sharon Leighow, spokeswoman for Gov. Sean Parnell.
Los Angeles Times: Federal programs on hold along with spending bill
Congress' failure to pass a massive spending bill…has left dozens of federal programs in budgetary limbo. Without a secure budget for fiscal year 2011, some agencies have suspended projects long on the books, including a 27-year-old program that helps support food pantries and homeless shelters across the country. A pilot program aimed at helping the elderly stay in their homes also is on hold, and an AIDS drug assistance program will leave thousands on waiting lists.
Wall Street Journal: GOP Shifts on Fannie, Freddie Overhaul
Earlier this year, leading House Republicans proposed to privatize mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or place them in receivership starting in two years. Now, as Republicans prepare to assume control of the House next week, they aren't in as big a rush, cautioning that withdrawing government support in the housing market should be gradual.
CNN: Rangel raising funds for a legal defense trust
Saddled with legal fees and facing possible new allegations, Rep. Charles Rangel said Tuesday he has started raising funds for a trust to pay his legal expenses. Rangel said the fund would allow him to "retain counsel for ongoing activities related to the recently concluded ethics investigation and other ongoing matters."
CNN 2012 Poll: Obama and Palin going in different directions?
As the start of the next presidential campaign nears, a new national poll suggests that President Barack Obama's tax-cut compromise with congressional Republicans did not hurt his standing among Democrats, while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may be dropping in the eyes of Republicans.
CNN Poll: Plurality of Democrats say Cleveland rocks
Democratic voters are weighing in on where they want their party's 2012 national nominating convention to be held, and according to a new poll, there's no runaway favorite among the four finalists. The Republican National Committee earlier this year chose Tampa, Florida as the site of their next convention. The Democratic National Committee is likely to announce their city early next year.
Atlanta Journal Constitution: Is Herman Cain running for president?
He dropped off most voters' radar screens after losing a 2004 bid to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate. But conservative Atlanta radio show host Herman Cain has hardly forgotten about politics. In fact, he may be running for president in 2012. Cain, a Republican, said he is "one step closer" toward announcing a bid for president after the GOP's big sweep of the November midterm elections.
Chicago Sun-Times: Bill Clinton, to stump for Rahm Emanuel, warned by Danny Davis: Stay out of Chicago mayor race
Chicago mayoral hopeful Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) shot a warning on Tuesday morning to former President Bill Clinton, coming to Chicago to stump for rival Rahm Emanuel: Stay out. Davis said that if Clinton did campaign for Emanuel, it would "fracture" and perhaps break his warm relationship with the African American community if he came "to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community."
CNN: Christie responds to vacation amid snow crisis
While New Jersey remains blanketed in snow, Gov. Chris Christie's staff is defending his trip to Disney World with his family that left control of the crisis in the hands of the Senate president. Following local criticism, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak mounted a forceful response to defend the Republican governor. It was Christmas week; his kids were home from school. It was a family vacation," Drewniak said in an e-mail. "The response to the storm has been the same as it would be under any circumstances."
Anchorage Daily News: 14th official delay keeps Palin e-mail requests in limbo
The governor has come and gone, another has assumed the office and then has been elected in his own right, and activist Andree McLeod, four journalists and an author are still waiting for the state to release the public record of Sarah Palin's e-mails. On Nov. 30, one of former Attorney General Dan Sullivan's last official acts before becoming Natural Resources commissioner was to authorize a 14th delay for the governor's office to provide the e-mails. Now, with delays number 15 and 16 pending, there may be an end in sight: May 31, 2011, according to a work plan announced by the governor's office this week.
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Washington Post: Some Va. history texts filled with errors, review finds
In the version of history being taught in some Virginia classrooms, New Orleans began the 1800s as a bustling U.S. harbor (instead of as a Spanish colonial one). The Confederacy included 12 states (instead of 11). And the United States entered World War I in 1916 (instead of in 1917). These are among the dozens of errors historians have found since Virginia officials ordered a review of textbooks by Five Ponds Press, the publisher responsible for a controversial claim that African American soldiers fought for the South in large numbers during the Civil War.
Washington Post: Army edits its history of the deadly battle of Wanat
The Army's official history of the battle of Wanat…largely absolves top commanders of the deaths of nine U.S. soldiers and instead blames the confusing and unpredictable nature of war. …An initial draft of the Wanat history, which was obtained by The Washington Post and other media outlets in the summer of 2009, placed the preponderance of blame for the losses on the higher-level battalion and brigade commanders who oversaw the mission, saying they failed to provide the proper resources to the unit in Wanat. The final history, released in recent weeks, drops many of the earlier conclusions and instead focuses on failures of lower-level commanders.
CNN: Nearly 10,000 flights canceled since holiday blizzard began
Close to 10,000 total flights have been canceled since the beginning of a holiday blizzard that blanketed much of the U.S. northeast with snow and left thousands stranded. Airline representatives from AirTran, American, Continental, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United, U.S. Airways, Spirit and Southwest reported a total of at least 9,726 trips were called off due to weather since Saturday.
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CNN: African leaders meet with Gbagbo to deal with Ivory Coast crisis
Three African presidents met with their defiant counterpart in Ivory Coast Tuesday in an effort to defuse the country's political crisis. No details of the meeting in Abidjan, the administrative center of the conflict-torn country, were immediately available. But incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo's ministers had already signaled that the man who believed he had won Ivory Coast's presidential election had no intention of stepping down.
New York Times: Insurgents Set Aside Rivalries on Afghan Border
Rival militant organizations on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border have increasingly been teaming up in deadly raids, in what military and intelligence officials say is the insurgents’ latest attempt to regain the initiative after months of withering attacks from American and allied forces.
CNN: Clooney, UN, Google team up to monitor Sudan border using satellite
A satellite surveillance project spearheaded by actor George Clooney's organization will monitor violence in Sudan during a January vote that could split the country into two. The program will use satellite images to access the situation on the ground for any signs of conflict, monitor hotspots in real time, and post the findings online, organizers said.
CNN: Officials: At least 4 killed in Iraq suicide attack
At least four police officers were killed Wednesday when two suicide bombers, wearing explosives-packed vests, attacked a police battalion in western Mosul, officials said. The attackers detonated their vests in the room of Lt. Col. Shamel Ahmed Aughla, who headed the battalion, officials in Baghdad and Mosul said.
Wall Street Journal: India Joins U.S. Effort to Stifle Iran Trade
India has tightened the web of sanctions around Iran by barring Indian companies from a range of deals transacted through a key trade-finance clearinghouse. India is Iran's biggest trading partner in business done through the Asian Clearing Union, originally set up by the United Nations in 1974 to help facilitate trade in South Asia and headquartered in Tehran.
BBC News: South Korea calls for new six-party talks with North
South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak has called for new six-party talks with North Korea. Mr Lee said there was no choice but to try to dismantle North Korea's nuclear programme through diplomacy. His comments follow a year of high tension, including exchanges of fire between North and South.
Washington Post: Russia rebuffs Western criticism of oil tycoon's trial
Russia has warned the West to mind its business, accusing it of attempting to influence the trial of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and calling condemnation of the guilty verdict against him "unacceptable." In a statement released Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry described as groundless the West's criticism of the decision by a Moscow court in the politically fraught second trial of Russia's onetime richest man on charges of embezzlement and money laundering.
Der Spiegel: German Airports Mull Passenger Profiling
German airports are considering assigning passengers to risk categories based on their age and ethnicity, and checking them accordingly, under a proposal by the designated head of the country's airports federation. Critics say the move would foment racism, breach anti-discrimination laws and fail to boost security.
Daily Telegraph: Mahmoud Abbas to lay first stone of new Palestinian embassy in Brazil
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to lay the symbolic first stone of an embassy in Brazil this week, following Brasilia's decision to recognise a Palestinian state. …Brazil angered Israel and the United States earlier this month when it declared it was recognising a sovereign Palestinian state within the borders before the 1967 Six Day War.
CNN: Guards face charges in Mexican jail break
A judge will bring at least 41 guards to trial following a mass jail break from a prison in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico's Attorney General's office posted on its website Tuesday. The men and women will face charges for their alleged role in the escape of 153 inmates from the Executions of Sanctions Center on December 17.
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CNNMoney: Home price plunge is widespread
Home prices took a shockingly steep plunge on a monthly basis, an indication that the housing market could be on the verge of - if it's not already in - a double-dip slump. Prices in 20 key cities fell 1.3% in October from a month earlier, an annualized decline of 15%, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday. Prices were down 0.8% from 12 months earlier.
Wall Street Journal: China Squeezes Foreigners for Share of Global Riches
Foreign companies have been teaming up with Chinese ones for years to gain access to the giant Chinese market. Now some of the world's biggest companies are taking a risky but potentially rewarding second step—folding pieces of their world-wide operations into partnerships with Chinese companies to do business around the globe.
Bloomberg: China Cuts Export Quotas for Rare Earths by 35% in First Round of Permits
China cut its export quotas for rare earths by 35 percent in the first round of permits for 2011, threatening to extend a global shortage of the minerals needed for smartphones, hybrid cars and guided missiles.
CNN: Two lawsuits target Apple, app makers over privacy concerns
Although Apple gadgets sat under many a Christmas tree this year, the computer company is receiving some unwanted holiday-season attention. Two separate class-action lawsuits filed last week in federal court allege that Apple and as many as eight makers of popular applications for the iPhone facilitated the sharing of private information about their customers to advertisers.
Los Angeles Times: Apple, mobile devices and social media will be cybercrime targets in 2011, McAfee says
McAfee is forecasting that social media platforms, mobile devices and Apple products will be the focus of cybercriminals in 2011. The Santa Clara-based tech security company said location-based services such as Foursquare, as well as popular social media sites like Twitter and URL-shortening websites, will be targeted by online thieves and hackers in its annual McAfee Threat Predictions report released Tuesday.
CNNMoney: $50 billion so you can watch YouTube
Wireless carriers are spending $50 billion a year to improve their networks to deal with rising data demands from smartphones and tablets. Here's a look at what they're spending that on.
In Case You Missed It
It seems the Obama administration will be dealing with two nuclear "bad boys" in 2011. CNN's Jill Dougherty reports.
CNN's Jessica Yellin talks to Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce about his controversial immigration proposal.
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