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: Egypt has options
President Barack Obama said Sunday that the future of Egypt is in the hands of its people, and that their options consist of more than the current situation or the Muslim Brotherhood. In an interview that aired before the Super Bowl, Obama stressed that the opposition Islamist umbrella group is only one faction in Egypt. "They don't have majority support in Egypt, but they are well organized and there are strains of their ideology that are anti-U.S.," Obama told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. "(But) there are a whole bunch of secular folks in Egypt, there are a whole bunch of educators and civil society in Egypt that want to come to the fore as well."
CNN: Albright: 'The Mubarak era is over'
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the United States cannot "micromanage the process" with Egypt, but that the Obama administration needs to make its goals clear. "What we have to do… is make clear that the process itself is important and arriving at a Democratic solution is important, which is in fact inclusive, Democratic, peaceful and rapid," Albright said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." Albright, who served under former President Bill Clinton, said the Egyptian government, protesters and opposition groups are looking for a "mechanism to have a transition." She said the question is how to develop institutions that can ensure a peaceful shift of power without allowing extremist groups to take hold of the country.”
Los Angeles Times: U.S. mends frosty relations with Al Jazeera
The Obama administration is courting the pan-Arab television network Al Jazeera in an attempt to improve a history of testy relations with one of the most influential news outlets in the Middle East. The new policy of engagement has been apparent in recent weeks as a State Department media outreach office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has sought to place Arabic-speaking diplomats on Al Jazeera to lay out Washington's talking points about the protests roiling the region. State Department officials, including chief spokesman Philip J. Crowley and Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, have gone on Al Jazeera more than a dozen times in the last month. Another recent guest was Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
CNNMoney: 'Scores' of cuts in Obama budget
President Obama's upcoming budget will propose cuts to "scores" of federal spending programs, according to the administration's budget chief. Writing in the New York Times on Sunday, White House budget director Jacob Lew named three domestic programs he said were examples of the "tough calls" Obama is making. Obama is set to submit his fiscal 2012 budget proposal to Congress a week from Monday, kicking off a months-long debate and negotiation with Congress over how to tame federal deficits. The 2011 deficit is expected to hit $1.5 trillion and mark the third consecutive year of trillion dollar gaps.
CNN: Reagan ally delivers political message
Former President Ronald Reagan's chief of staff, James Baker, delivered a message to the politicians of today, urging them to work together. "Ronald Reagan was a master at reaching across the aisle for solutions to our nation's problems," Baker said Sunday on the 100th anniversary of the late president's birth. "We must re-learn that as citizens of a democracy, it is okay to voice our disagreements, but at the end of the day we have to come together to solve problems rather than cynically rely on them for partisan advantage."
CNN: Bush trip to Switzerland canceled amid threatened legal action
Former President George W. Bush's trip to Switzerland was canceled after human rights activists threatened legal action over allegations the former president approved the torture of terrorism suspects. The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights said it is prepared to file a complaint against Bush with the support of 50 NGOs, according to a statement from the group. CCR said Bush's presence on Swiss territory is required for a prosecutor to take action. Bush was scheduled to speak in Geneva on February 12th at a dinner to honor the United Israel Appeal. CCR said the trip was canceled to "avoid our case."
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Sports Illustrated: Packers sack Steelers, bring Lombardi Trophy home again
The ghosts of football past cast long shadows in Green Bay. But Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers emerged from them Sunday night with a career-making MVP performance against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers, leading the Packers to a 31-25 victory in a glitzy Super Bowl XLV battle. "It's a dream come true," Rodgers said. "It's what I dreamt about as a little kid watching Joe Montana and Steve Young, and we just won the Super Bowl." It is the fourth Super Bowl victory for the Packers and a record 13th NFL title for a club that joined the league in 1921. Green Bay did something few teams have done in the past 45 years: stop the Steelers in America's premier sporting showcase. Pittsburgh still owns a record six Super Bowl victories, now against two losses.
Newark Star-Ledger: N.J. senators, Amtrak official to announce new commuter train tunnel project across the Hudson
Amtrak’s top executive and New Jersey’s two U.S. senators Monday are expected to announce an alternative to the Hudson River commuter-train tunnel that was killed by Gov. Chris Christie in October. The "Gateway" tunnel proposed by Amtrak would largely follow the same footprint as the canceled nine-mile Access to the Region’s Core tunnel from Secaucus to New York City, but connect to new tracks in an expanded New York Penn Station instead of dead-ending deep under West 34th Street, representatives for U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez said tonight. Detractors referred to ARC as the "tunnel to Macy’s basement" for its proximity to the landmark department store and supposed lack of connectivity to other transit hubs in Manhattan.
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CNN: Egyptian VP vows changes to appease protesters
Egypt's vice president, Omar Suleiman, met with representatives of key opposition groups Sunday and offered concessions - including some that, if enacted, could bring dramatic change to the country. Among the ideas agreed to by the two sides at the meeting, according to a report on state-run television, was a future end to the military emergency law that has been in place since President Hosni Mubarak came to power in 1981. The two sides also discussed steps to ensure free media and communication and plans to form a series of committees that would oversee changes aimed at bringing about a representative government.
CNN: As diplomatic solution sought, journalists still harassed
As some opposition groups met with the Egyptian government in an effort to find a diplomatic solution to its political crisis, reports continued to surface of security forces detaining journalists and human rights activists. On Sunday, an Al-Jazeera English correspondent was detained by the military on Sunday, though Egyptian leaders insisted that journalists and others were free to carry out their work in Egypt. He was released later that night, Al-Jazeera said. Al-Jazeera English's Cairo-based correspondent, Ayman Mohyeldin, was detained from early Sunday afternoon until night, network producer Tristan Redman told CNN. Another correspondent, Sherine Tadros, was held at a military checkpoint near the television station, but released within the hour, he said.
CNN: Karzai: Security transfer to Afghan control will start in March
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that a critical phase in the transfer of security authority from international to domestic forces would begin March 21, a precursor to a planned full handover three years hence. Karzai made the announcement during a speech at the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of diplomatic and military leaders from Western and other nations. "We are determined to demonstrate Afghan leadership and ownership of the transition process," he said.
CNN: Trial of U.S. hikers enters a second day
The trial of three U.S. hikers charged with espionage is expected to continue Monday in Iran, according to the office of the lawyer representing them. Iran accuses Americans Shane Bauer, 28, Josh Fattal, 28, and Sarah Shourd, 32, of spying and trespassing. They were detained July 31, 2009, after they allegedly strayed across an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region.
CNN: Final results on Southern Sudan referendum expected Monday
The final results of a Southern Sudan referendum will be announced Monday, organizers said, bringing the largest nation in Africa closer to breaking into two. An overwhelming majority of Southern Sudanese - nearly 99% - voted to split from the north, preliminary results show. Sudan's north and south have been at war for two decades in a conflict that left 2 million people dead. The referendum on whether to declare independence from the government based in the north is part of a peace agreement six years ago that helped end the conflict. The war pitted a government dominated by Arab Muslims in northern Sudan against black Christians or animists in the south.
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CNN: AOL agrees to purchase Huffington Post for $315 million
AOL has agreed to purchase The Huffington Post for $315 million, the two entities announced in a joint news release Monday. "As part of the transaction, Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post's co-founder and editor-in-chief, will be named president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, which will include all Huffington Post and AOL content," the statement said. The new group will have a combined 117 million unique visitors a month in the United States and 270 million around the world, according to the release, which cited December 2010 data from the marketing research company comScore.
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