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 travel to Tucson Wednesday in wake of weekend rampage
President Barack Obama will travel to Arizona on Wednesday in the wake of the weekend shooting there that left six people dead and 14 wounded, including a member of Congress, two senior administration officials told CNN Monday. The president will likely attend a memorial service and visit with victims' families in Tucson, the sources said. He has already spoken to many of the family members by phone.
CNN: Cleaver: Toxic rhetoric is celebrated in Washington
Some Democrats are not so subtly using the tragedy in Arizona to point fingers at Republicans for stoking inflammatory political rhetoric, but Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver says there is blame on both sides. "We have Democrats saying dumb things every single day, and Republicans as well," said Cleaver. Cleaver, the new Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is also a Methodist minister and delivered a short prayer on the steps of the Capitol Monday for hundreds gathered for a moment of silence to mark the Arizona tragedy.
CNN: Accused gunman had no party affiliation
Accused Arizona gunman Jared Lee Loughner was not registered to any political party, and in fact hand wrote "independent" on two separate voter forms, county officials said Monday. Pima County, Arizona, Registrar of Voters Chris Roads said Loughner registered to vote on September 26, 2006. Voters are not required to list a political party, but are instructed to write at least the first three letters of any party they want to be affiliated with. The state of Arizona recognizes dozens of affiliations.
CNN: Judge: Tom DeLay to serve 3 years in prison
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will serve three years in prison on his November conviction on money laundering and conspiracy charges, a Texas judge ruled Monday. Judge Pat Priest sentenced DeLay to three years on the conspiracy charge and five years on the money-laundering charge. But the judge will allow DeLay to serve 10 years probation with community service on the laundering charge in lieu of the prison sentence, and the two sentences will be served concurrently.
CNN: Biden arrives in Afghanistan on unannounced visit
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived Monday night in Kabul on an unannounced visit to meet with top U.S. and Afghan personnel ahead of July's planned start of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, a White House official said. Biden, whose plane landed at Kabul International Airport at 7:24 p.m., was met on the tarmac by U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Gen. David Petraeus and three Afghan officials, including First Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim.
CNN: American overseeing reconstruction of Afghanistan steps aside
With the U.S. bill for Afghanistan reconstruction at $56 billion and counting, the watchdog for that spending took himself out of the game Monday, amidst intense pressure and congressional criticism. Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields said he would leave his post as SIGAR - Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction - in three weeks, effective February 4. The White House issued a statement praising Fields for 40 years of public service. "As he moves on to new challenges, he can do so confident in the knowledge that the President and the American people owe him a debt of gratitude for his courage, leadership, and selfless service to our nation.," the White House statement said.
CNNMoney: California budget: Jerry Brown's $12 billion in painful cuts
California Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled Monday a draconian budget plan that would slash $12.5 billion in spending and extend $12 billion in tax hikes. The cuts would fall heavily on the state's neediest residents and on state workers. Some public employees would lose up to 10% of their take-home pay and the state's Medicaid and welfare programs would see a $3.2 billion drop in funding. Brown, who assumed office a week ago, has to contend with a $25.4 billion shortfall over the next 18 months. California's fiscal year starts July 1.
Dallas News: Perry says cuts are likely to be 'across the board'
Gov. Rick Perry dismissed the gloom-and-doom predictions of crippling budget cuts and said Monday that the state can survive its huge shortfall without new taxes. As the Legislature convenes today facing a $15 billion hole – or about a 20 percent cut in current state spending – Perry told The Dallas Morning News in an interview that reductions probably "will be across the board," including health care, services for the mentally ill, higher education, prisons and public safety.
CNN: Deputy mayor: Snow emergency should have been declared in New York
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration faced its first public oversight hearing Monday as a part of a probe into what went wrong during last month's blizzard, with administration officials saying they should have declared a snow emergency. City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn called the response "unacceptable," as New Yorkers braced for another winter storm that forecasters say could dump six to 12 inches of snow beginning Tuesday night. She said the holiday blizzard "brought New York to its knees in a way we have never seen before," asking administrators why a state of emergency was never called.
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CNN: Giffords stabilizes as suspect appears in court
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona remained in critical but stable condition in a Tucson hospital Monday as her alleged would-be assassin made his first appearance in court. The alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, briefly appeared in a Phoenix courtroom to formally hear the charges against him. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. A preliminary hearing was set for January 24.
CNN: Mourners to hold 'community healing' Mass after Arizona shooting
Mourners will gather at a memorial Mass Tuesday for victims of the weekend shooting outside an Arizona supermarket that killed 6 people and wounded 14 others. The Mass will be held at 7 p.m. (9 p.m. ET) at St. Odiilia Church in Tucson, Arizona - where 9-year-old shooting victim Christina Green had her First Communion a year ago. "Right now it is important as a community to pull together and to reach out in care and concern to all who have been affected by this tragedy," Bishop Gerald Kicanas wrote Monday in a letter to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson.
New Orleans Times-Picayune: 17th Street Canal homeowners sue to stop floodwall project
Homeowners along the New Orleans side of the 17th Street Canal have filed a civil suit in an attempt to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from beginning construction on a project that will strengthen floodwalls along the canal.In their lawsuit, the homeowners say the project, which involves mixing soil and cement deep underground along the levee line, will be disruptive and could damage their homes and yards. They're also concerned about noise from equipment that could approach 90 decibels, about as loud as a motorcycle.
CNN: Southeast to stay stuck another day as storms move northeast
Most of the wintry precipitation had moved on by Monday night, but much of the South is likely to see white stuff on the ground until the weekend as an Arctic low slides in, bringing low temperatures in the teens and highs barely out of the 20s. And a snow storm surging over the Plains and into the Ohio Valley promises to merge with the Southeast storm Tuesday night and slam into the Mid-Atlantic Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. The storm brought treacherous travel conditions across the Southeast Monday, with schools and government offices shut down from Arkansas to the Atlantic.
Sports Illustrated: Auburn beats Oregon for BCS title
Wes Byrum, who has been making game-winning kicks for Auburn since 2007, had two simple thoughts Monday night as he lined up a field goal shorter than an extra point. Just make the kick. Just put it through. "Fortunately," Byrum said, "that was a nice short one." No, it was a huge one. Byrum's 19-yarder as time expired lifted Auburn to a 22-19 win against Oregon and the second national title in school history. The Tigers, picked in the preseason near the bottom of the Top 25, ended a controversial, thrilling campaign with orange and blue confetti raining on them at University of Phoenix Stadium.
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CNN: 8 drown in flash floods in Australia
The number of people missing after flash floods swept cars off roads in the eastern Australian city of Toowoomba rose to more than 70 on Monday, with eight people confirmed dead, police in the state of Queensland reported. The latest flooding hit Toowoomba, about 125 kilometers (80 miles) west of the state capital Brisbane and considerably south of other areas hit by recent floods.
CNN: At least 19 killed in riots in Tunisia, government official says
Nineteen demonstrators protesting high unemployment and poor living conditions have been killed during the past two days in riots that broke out in two Tunisian cities near its border with Algeria, a government official said Monday. The incidents occurred in the cities of Thala and Kasserine, said Minister of Information Samir Abidi. All of the dead were demonstrators; more than 30 police were injured, he said. Amnesty International said at least 23 people died in protests over the weekend, and it had received reports of more deaths on Monday.
Washington Post: After massive aid, Haitians feel stuck in poverty
One of the largest and most costly humanitarian aid efforts in history saved many lives in the aftermath of last January's earthquake but has done little to ease the suffering of ordinary Haitians since then. As U.S. officials, donor nations and international aid contractors applaud their efforts – all the latrines, tents and immunizations – the recipients of this unprecedented assistance are weary at the lack of visible progress and doubtful that the billions of dollars promised will make their lives better. "We have just enough to survive but not enough to live," said Dieusin St. Vil, a tailor whose ancient sewing machines lie crushed in the rubble.
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CNNMoney: Ford to hire 7,000 workers
Ford Motor announced Monday it will add 7,000 new hourly and salaried jobs in the United States by the end of 2012. The announcement, made on the opening day of the Detroit auto show, said Ford (F, Fortune 500) is adding nearly 4,000 hourly jobs at several of its U.S. plants this year, including 1,800 at the Louisville Assembly Plant, where it plans to start building the new design of the Ford Escape crossover SUV later in the year. And the company plans to add another 2,500 factory jobs next year.
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