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: U.S. hopes for quick end to violence in Egypt protests
President Barack Obama and his administration "strongly condemn the outrageous and deplorable violence that's taken place on the streets of Cairo today" and want it to end quickly, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.
CNN: McCain now calling for Mubarak to step down
Senator John McCain is now calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down and let an interim government take control of Egypt. "The rapidly deteriorating situation in Egypt leads me to the conclusion that President Mubarak needs to step down and relinquish power," said McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Foreign Policy: How the Senate resolution on Egyptian democracy died
Last fall, a bipartisan group of senators led a months-long drive to pass a resolution calling for greater freedom and democracy in Egypt. The resolution died last December due to a fatal mix of divided loyalties, lobbying influence, and secret Senate holds….The resolution's supporters tried several times to bring it up for a Senate vote, once before the August congressional recess, again before the Egyptian parliamentary elections in November, and then again during the post-election lame-duck session. But due to the objections of two key senators and secret holds by two other senators, the resolution never saw the light of day on the Senate floor.
CNN: Senate Democrats block GOP bid to repeal health care law
Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a Republican effort to repeal the health care law passed last year. The party-line vote, with all 47 Republicans in favor and 51 Democrats opposed, meant the procedural motion failed to get the necessary 60 votes to pass. Two Democrats didn't vote.
CNN: Obama signs documents for new nuclear arms treaty with Russia
President Barack Obama signed ratification documents for America's new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia on Wednesday, clearing the way for the two powers to put the landmark accord into effect. …The treaty is designed to slash the stockpile of strategic nuclear weapons in both countries to 1,550 warheads - down from a current cap of 2,200 - and 700 launchers.
CNN: Obama to deliver major speech on personal faith
President Barack Obama plans to give an unusually personal speech about his religious faith on Thursday at a high-profile prayer breakfast in Washington, a White House official said Wednesday.
New York Times: Officials Consider Requiring Insurers to Offer Free Contraceptives
The Obama administration is examining whether the new health care law can be used to require insurance plans to offer contraceptives and other family planning services to women free of charge. Such a requirement could remove cost as a barrier to birth control, a longtime goal of advocates for women’s rights and experts on women’s health. But it is likely to reignite debate over the federal role in health care, especially reproductive health, at a time when Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal the law or dismantle it piece by piece.
Wall Street Journal: House GOP Weighs Medicare Limits
House Republicans are debating whether to propose new limits on the growth of Medicare and other entitlement programs, weighing a gamble that voters are more concerned about trimming the federal deficit than holding on to promised benefits.
Investors Business Daily: Coal-State Democrats Joining GOP Efforts To Curb EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency is getting a harsher light aimed at it from Congress since the last election — and not just from Republicans. The scrutiny is increasingly bipartisan. West Virginia Democrats last week joined a push to strip the EPA of its authority to pull permits after they have been issued. That follows the agency's decision two weeks ago to pull a permit from the state's largest mountaintop coal mine.
Washington Post: Rumsfeld remains largely unapologetic in memoir
Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, that master of the tart zinger, now concedes he went too far with some. …But Rumsfeld still can't resist – in a memoir due out next week – taking a few pops at former secretaries of state Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice as well as at some lawmakers and journalists. He goes so far as to depict former president George W. Bush as presiding over a national security process that was marked by incoherent decision-making and policy drift, most damagingly on the war in Iraq.
Washington Post: Pairing of religious conservatism with fiscal sets Iowa tea partyers apart
Every other week for the past two years, the Westside Conservative Club has met over breakfast at the Machine Shed restaurant to do what tea party groups do: share worries about President Obama, federal spending and government overreach. But unlike in many of those other groups, another kind of discussion regularly occurs here, too – the religious kind.
CNN: 2 senators, 2 House reps to take part in 'First ever' Tea Party town hall
Few groups have the clout to convince senators and members of the House to leave Capitol Hill, for a few hours, to personally address their concerns and gripes. But as the Tea Party movement flexes its political muscle, it appears it has sway with some lawmakers – even as some Americans express reservations about the movement.
CNN: RNC names new chief of staff
The Republican National Committee will tap longtime GOP operative Jeff Larson to serve as chief of staff on Thursday, CNN has learned. Larson, 52, was CEO of the Republican National Convention's host committee in 2008. The Minnesota native is a former RNC Regional Political Director and worked for former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
USA Today: RNC chairman asks Florida to stick with 2012 primary plan
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus urged Florida lawmakers today not to push for an early presidential primary in 2012.Under RNC rules, four states - Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada - have dibs on holding the first presidential contests next February.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Claire McCaskill: I wanted the Democratic convention in St. Louis
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill on Wednesday dismissed a report from The New York Times that suggests she lobbied her party against holding the Democratic National Convention in St. Louis because it could hurt her re-election chances.The Times reported that while McCaskill publicly pressed for the convention to come to St. Louis, 'she raised several concerns to the White House, according to party officials familiar with the selection process."
Washington Post: Crashing the party: Republican strategist turned gay rights activist ponders a White House run
The candidate can't find his lane. The road is a crunchy carpet of snow. The candidate drifts too far to the right. The rumble strip rattles his car. The candidate drifts too far to the left. …The candidate — the man behind the wheel, the man who can't find his lane — is a guy named Fred. He's exploring the possibility of running for president of the United States. He is doing this as an openly gay Republican who's never held elective office, using money he amassed as a conservative consultant who helped torpedo Michael Dukakis with the Willie Horton ads in 1988 and worked for the tobacco industry to stave off smoking bans in California in the '90s. Fred Karger, 61, is a nice guy.
Des Moines Register: Romney: 2012 campaign would “take me to Iowa.”
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Wednesday he would campaign for the Iowa caucuses, should he seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. The comment, made during an appearance on a nationally syndicated radio program, helped answer a question that has circulated in the national political press about whether Romney would wage an Iowa campaign in a second bid for the GOP nomination.
CNN: Moseley Braun urged to leave Chicago mayor’s race after 'strung out on crack' comment
One of Chicago mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun's opponents is urging her to withdraw from the contest citing what she terms her "volatility" and "insensitivity." This comes after the two women exchanged fiery words on Sunday – with the former senator accusing her opponent of previously being "strung out on crack." Moseley Braun later apologized for the remarks.
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CNN: Ex-official: FBI hunting for 3 men who may have links to 9/11 attacks
The FBI is hunting for three mysterious Qatari men who might have ties to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a former law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation said.
CNN: EPA to set limits on chemicals in drinking water
The Environmental Protection Agency will set a limit on the amount of the chemical perchlorate, as well as other "toxic contaminants," in drinking water, it announced Wednesday.
USA Today: Immigration report: No rush across border to give birth
When announcing a plan for state legislation, a group led by Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe claimed "hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens are crossing U.S. borders to give birth and exploit their child" to obtain citizenship. Critics of those legislative efforts are pointing to a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center that found a vast majority of illegal immigrants who had children in the USA in 2010 had entered the country several years earlier.
CNN: Bitter cold, power outages follow in wake of massive winter storm
While snow from a massive winter storm system continued to fall Wednesday night in parts of the Northeast, millions in the Midwest were left to dig themselves out, brave dangerously frigid temperatures and cope with sporadic power outages. An Arctic cold front followed the storm that dumped nearly 2 feet of snow in some locales, complicating cleanup efforts and spurring freeze warnings that spanned much of the nation's midsection.
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CNN: Day of uncertainty begins with gunfire in Egypt
In a way, the events of the past week may have been a prelude to what could happen in Egypt on Thursday. The military, which has until now said it would not use force on peaceful demonstrators, has urged anti-government protesters to return home. And supporters of embattled President Hosni Mubarak, who had been largely silent since the unrest began, came out in full force Wednesday, in one case wielding whips and thundering through the crowd on horses and camels. … Egypt's health minister said on state TV that the number of injuries at Tahrir Square had reached 829 - including 200 within one hour on Thursday morning. And two doctors at the scene said they saw at least five bodies on Thursday morning and several more with critical injuries.
CNN: Clinton warns of 'uncharted territory' in wake of Egypt unrest
In the midst of mass uprisings and historic change in the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a gathering of U.S. diplomats Wednesday that "we are all in uncharted territory." Pointing to a range of challenges, from congressional pressure to cut the State Department budget and foreign aid, to WikiLeaks disclosures of diplomatic cables, Clinton said "we have a tough road ahead."
CNN: Protests start in Yemen, despite concession from president
What seemed like hundreds of anti-government protesters gathered near Sanaa University in Yemen's capital early Thursday morning, a clear indication that many in the country were not satisfied with President Ali Abdullah Saleh's recent announcement that he would not seek re-election. Protesters of all ages chanted and held signs with messages against poverty and the government. Some proclaimed that Saleh needed to step down.
New York Times: Young Sudanese Start Protest Movement
The messages starting going up on Facebook about two weeks ago, to any Sudanese who cared. In the past week, in an unusual show of boldness, thousands of young Sudanese, many responding to the Facebook call, have braved beatings and arrests to protest against their government. The parallels to Egypt and Tunisia are obvious — Sudan is a notoriously repressive Arab country, ruled by the same strongman for more than 21 years, historically and culturally close to its big brother just down the Nile, Egypt. And it was already seething with economic and political discontent even before demonstrators started taking to the streets of Cairo.
Daily Telegraph: WikiLeaks: Chinese weapons fall into hands of insurgents
Chinese-made weapons have fallen into the hands of insurgents fighting Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan because of China’s failure to enforce export controls on arms to Iran, the leaked cables show.
CNN: Judge: U.S. diplomat to be held for eight more days in Pakistan
A Pakistani judge has ordered that a U.S. consular employee accused of killing two Pakistanis can be held for eight more days, a court official said Thursday. Raymond Davis will remain in the custody of Pakistani authorities in the latest ruling related to the killing of two Pakistani boys late January.
The Guardian: Silvio Berlusconi to face charges as early as next week, prosecutors say
Prosecutors investigating Silvio Berlusconi said today that they were expecting to recommend the Italian prime minister be charged with abusing his position to cover up allegations that he had paid an underage prostitute.
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CNNMoney: Treasury close to profit on TARP bank loans
Just $2 billion more. That's all the Treasury Department needs before it can say it's turning a profit on the Troubled Asset Relief Fund loans paid out to banks. On Wednesday, Treasury announced that Fifth Third Bancorp of Cincinnati had fully repaid its outstanding $3.4 billion loan. That means banks have paid the government $243 billion of the original $245 billion in TARP loans.
Wall Street Journal: States Widen Currency-Trade Probes
State prosecutors are getting help from an organized group of whistle-blowers in a widening investigation into whether banks overcharged public pension funds by tens of millions of dollars for foreign-exchange transactions.The whistle-blowers, who are using Delaware shell companies to remain anonymous, are helping with investigations into the issue by attorneys general in California and Virginia, according to court documents and people familiar with the matter.
CNNMoney: IPad newspaper The Daily launches its first edition
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and a gaggle of tech and media chroniclers gathered Wednesday at the Guggenheim Museum in New York for a first look at the debut edition of The Daily, News Corp.'s experimental iPad "newspaper."
CNN: Study: Obama's electric car goal hits roadblock
President Barack Obama's goal of putting 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015 could run into a huge roadblock - the American consumer. According to a report released Wednesday by researchers at Indiana University, automakers are unlikely to manufacture enough cars to reach the president's goal because of a potential lack of buyer demand.
In Case You Missed It
CNN's Jill Dougherty gives some analysis on U.S.-Egyptian relations.
Journalists under attack in Cairo
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