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: Congressional leaders promise members security review after shooting
House Democrats and Republicans participated in a rare bipartisan conference call Sunday to discuss the condition of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as well as security concerns for members of Congress. Republican and Democratic leaders, the chief of the United States Capitol Police, a doctor from the Office of the Attending Physician of Congress, and the Chief of Staff to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords briefed about 800 lawmakers, their spouses and top aides. "I've been in Congress 22 years and I have never been on a conference call with Democratic and Republican leaders," Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, told CNN. He said he was struck by how genuinely bipartisan and impressive all the congressional leaders were who spoke – from Speaker John Boehner to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
CNN: Obama speaks with Giffords' husband, briefed Sunday morning
President Obama spoke by phone late Saturday to Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically injured in a mass shooting, a senior White House official said. The official told CNN that Obama "expressed his deep concern and full support" for the family in the wake of the tragedy. White House officials had noted on Saturday afternoon that Obama had placed a call to Kelly in the initial hours after the shooting in Tucson. But Obama initially had to leave a message for Kelly, a Navy captain and an astronaut, who was flying from Houston to Tucson to be at his wife's side on Saturday afternoon. Obama reached him later in the evening, according to the senior White House official.
CNN: Boehner condemns 'heinous' acts
House Speaker John Boehner has asked that flags on the House side of the Capitol be flown at half-staff in the wake of the shooting in Arizona, marking the death of Gabe Zimmerman, who was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' director of community outreach. "An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve," Boehner said Sunday. "Such acts of violence have no place in our society."
CNN: Shooting prompts legislation to protect lawmakers, officials
Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pennsylvania, said he will introduce legislation making it a federal crime for a person to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a Member of Congress or federal official. Brady's decision to offer the legislation comes less than 24 hours after a gunman attempted to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, in a shooting that claimed the lives of a federal judge, and a nine year-old girl, among others. "The president is a federal official," Brady said in a telephone interview with CNN. "You can't do it to him; you should not be able to do it to a congressman, senator or federal judge.
CNN: Message from senators: Tone it down
Following the Saturday shootings in Arizona, senators on both sides of the aisle cautioned against inflamed rhetoric in political discourse while previewing actions of Congress in the weeks ahead. On Sunday, Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said violent words and images have become too "pervasive in our discussion of political issues." He specifically referenced the map Sarah Palin released in the lead-up to the Congressional vote on health care that showed crosshairs over contested Democratic districts, but he was careful not to make a direct connection between Palin's words and Saturday's events. …Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said it's time to "cool it, tone it down, treat each other with great respect," even on issues that often divide politicians, like immigration, taxes and health care. He urged those in public life to "do our best not to inflame passions."
Politico: 2 pols say they'll be armed back home
Several lawmakers are already changing their security arrangements in wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), and at least two lawmakers say they’ll now be packing firearms in public when they’re in their home districts. Both Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) told POLITICO they will be carrying their guns in their home districts for protection. Both lawmakers hold a conceal and carry permit, but will not carry their weapons in the District of Columbia.
Roll Call: Bitter Blue Dogs Ready to Cut Deals
Blue Dog Democrats remain deeply frustrated with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s leadership and are signaling they are ready to break ranks and cut deals with Republicans. In an interview with Roll Call last week, the leadership team of the fiscally conservative group talked about its vision for the 112th Congress — and its frustration over how Pelosi ran the 111th. The California Democrat has yet to reach out to the moderate bloc since Democrats lost the majority, nor has she acknowledged any mistakes, they argued. Blue Dogs remain flummoxed over her decision to stay on as the party’s leader after she presided over what they consider to be a series of political blunders that led to Democrats’ historic defeat at the polls on Nov. 2, and most of them refused to vote for Pelosi for Speaker on the floor last week.
CNN: Top Dem goes after Republican agenda
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blasted efforts by Republicans to repeal the health care law passed last year. In a pre-taped interview that aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Reid said the legislation is a "gesture in futility." The Nevada Democrat said calling the bill the "job killing" health care law is almost as senseless as members sleeping in their offices. "They can't be serious. To increase the debt by more than a trillion dollars? They can't be serious to want– have people now that have preexisting disabilities no longer be able to get insurance," Reid said. When asked if the individual mandate would remain intact he responded, "sure."
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CNN: Congresswoman's responses after Arizona shooting called encouraging
Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords can follow simple commands from doctors after being shot through the head at a meeting with constituents, and a longtime adviser said Sunday he is confident she'll survive her wound. "The doctors are pretty clear that we just have to wait and see," Mike McNulty told CNN in an exclusive interview. But he added, "I can only think that God has more important things planned for her in the future." Giffords, a three-term Democrat, was among the 20 people shot at a constituent open house in Tucson on Saturday. Six of them, including a federal judge, were killed, and federal authorities have leveled murder and attempted murder charges at a 22-year-old former community college student who posted online screeds about government mind control.
CNN: Congresswoman's husband: 'There is little we can do but pray'
In his first public statement since the weekend shooting rampage outside an Arizona supermarket, the husband of a wounded U.S. congresswoman thanked supporters and expressed condolences to families of other victims. "Many of you have offered help. There is little that we can do but pray for those who are struggling," wrote astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. "If you are inspired to make a positive gesture, consider two organizations that Gabby has long valued and supported: Tucson's Community Food Bank and the American Red Cross."
CNN: Giffords' campaign chairman: 'We just have to wait and see'
Moments after returning from visiting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at the hospital, the congresswoman's six-time campaign chairman said Sunday that he is confident that she will survive, though the extent of her recovery remained unclear. "The doctors are pretty clear that we just have to wait and see," Mike McNulty told CNN in an exclusive interview. The impact on Giffords' family has been huge, he said. Asked how her husband, astronuat Mark Kelly, was faring, McNulty said, "He is a Navy combat fighter and he can take about anything, but this is a terrible experience."
CNN: Shooting suspect scheduled to make first court appearance
The suspect in the weekend shooting at an Arizona political meet-and-greet is scheduled to make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate Monday. Jared Lee Loughner will appear in a Phoenix, Arizona, courtroom at 2 p.m. Monday (4 p.m. ET), prosecutors said. …Federal authorities have charged Loughner with first-degree murder, attempted murder counts and attempting to kill a member of Congress, counts that involve the shootings of federal employees. State prosecutors also could bring charges in the remaining cases.
CNN: Massacre suspect "mentally disturbed," former teacher says
The suspect in the weekend massacre in Arizona was kicked out of an algebra class at a community college in June after repeated interruptions and clearly "needed psychological help," his instructor said Sunday. Jared Lee Loughner was "physically removed" from the Pima Community College course less than a month after it began, its instructor, Ben McGahee told CNN. McGahee said Loughner sometimes shook, blurted things out in class, and appeared to be under the influence of drugs at times. "I was scared of what he could do," McGahee said. "I wasn't scared of him physically, but I was scared of him bringing a weapon to class."
CNN: Oil in Trans Alaska pipeline slows to trickle
Only a fraction of the oil that normally courses through the Trans Alaska pipeline was flowing early Sunday after operators discovered a leak near Prudhoe Bay, a company spokeswoman said. Crews making a routine inspection "found oil in the basement of a booster pump building" around 9 a.m. Saturday, according to Aleyeska Pipeline Service Company spokeswoman Michelle Egan, who said flow has been reduced by 95%.
CNN: Travel affected as winter storm rolls across the South
A major winter storm system was rolling across the southeastern United States Sunday, sending out shocks of snow, freezing rain and sleet, and forcing some airlines to cancel flights. AirTran Airways canceled 14 flights Sunday, most of them heading into Atlanta, in order to have fewer aircraft on the ground there at the time the storm hits, spokesman Christopher White said. Another 270 flights were canceled for Monday, which represents a majority of the Atlanta-bound flights for the airline. There will be a handful of arrivals and departures only, White said.
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CNN: Passenger plane crashes in Iran, killing 72, official says
Seventy-two people died and 33 were injured Sunday night when an IranAir passenger jet en route from Tehran to the northwest city of Orumiyeh crashed as it attempted to make an emergency landing in a snowy field, an official said. In all, 105 people - 93 passengers and 12 crew members - were aboard the Boeing 727, West Azerbaijan's coroner told the semi-official Fars News Agency. Severe weather at the site was making rescue operations difficult, the coroner, told the news agency. All members of the crew were killed, according to the semi-official Mehr News Agency.
CNN: First day of voting goes off well
Tens of thousands of people across Southern Sudan went to the polls Sunday in a historic referendum that an international election observer said appeared to have been well-handled. "There were very, very large numbers from the early hours of this morning all day long," said David Carroll, director of the Democracy Program at the Carter Center, in a telephone interview from Juba. "They were waiting patiently, they were in a happy, celebratory mood. They went through the process in an orderly way, largely. We saw a very meaningful, important process that the southern Sudanese are engaging in with a lot of passion." By the time polls opened at 8 a.m., many Sudanese had already been standing on line for hours to cast their ballots on whether the south should declare independence or remain part of a unified Sudan.
CNN: Gates in Beijing to build on US-China military relationship
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates held talks with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on Monday, on the first stop of his weeklong trip to Asia. It is Gates' second visit to the country since he assumed the post in December 2006. The trip is intended to deepen the military relationship between the United States and China - a relationship that suffered a setback last year when Beijing objected to Washington's sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan.
CNN: Report: Iran frees American woman, saying she lied about being spy
Iran has deported an American woman after an investigation showed she lied about being a U.S. spy and carrying espionage devices, Iranian media reported Sunday. "This woman claimed to have spying devices in her teeth and surrendered herself to the Iranian border guards," an "informed source" told the semi-official Fars News Agency. "But further investigations revealed that she had psychological problems and her claims about being a spy and carrying spying devices were not true." The woman, identified as Hall Talayan, was deported "after her psychological problems were proved," Fars reported.
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Financial Times: Inflation fears put investors on the defensive
Inflationary pressures are building around the world, posing a dilemma for investors and prompting an increase in demand for bonds that offer protection against rising prices. From the developed economies of the US and Europe to emerging markets in China, Brazil and beyond, rising food and energy prices have triggered increases in inflation over the past six months. Markets are also pricing in further rises over the next few years with some warning that inflation could be the world’s next economic pressure point. Alan Wilde, head of fixed-income and currency at Baring Asset Management, said: “Inflation is likely to be a theme this year. Prices are going up everywhere and this could lead to some problems in the world economy and markets.”
In Case You Missed It
Following Saturday's mass shooting in Arizona, two senators weigh in on the state of political discourse in America.
Fmr. FBI Asst. Director Thomas Fuentes and Fmr. Senate Sgt. at Arms William Pickle on the work of protecting lawmakers.
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