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: Two gang of six members talk deficit reduction
Days before the president unveils a plan to tackle the national deficit, a senatorial odd couple said their bipartisan proposal could present the best chance for managing the nation's money problems. Republican Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia said the pitch from their so-called Gang of Six bipartisan group would come soon, and warned their colleagues and constituents to expect proposed changes to two hotly contested issues – taxes and entitlement programs.
New York Times: Democrats Allow Trims to Favored Programs
After a bruising battle with Republicans over financing the government through the rest of the fiscal year, Democrats spoke proudly of their success in staving off painful cuts to programs near and dear to them, ones that became the centerpiece of their fight against huge cuts sought by Republicans. But as some details of the plan to cut roughly $38 billion in federal spending came trickling out Monday, it was clear that many of those programs, while cut nowhere near as much as Republicans had hoped, were significantly nibbled at.
New York Times: G.O.P. Plan for Medicare Could Shape 2012 Races
Just four months into their new majority, House Republicans face a potentially defining Medicare vote this week that is sure to become a centerpiece of Democratic efforts to recapture the House in 2012 and spill into the presidential and Senate campaigns as well. Republicans acknowledge that the vote is risky, and party strategists have warned House leaders about the dangers, aides said. But Republicans are calculating that the political ground has shifted, making the public, concerned about the mounting national debt, receptive to proposals to rein in costs by reshaping the program.
CNN: Bachmann slams weekend budget agreement
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann took to the stage in the key state of Iowa on Monday, telling the audience that the best strategy for blocking liberal policies is to defund the left. The Republican congresswoman, who is eyeing running for the GOP presidential nomination, told a Pella, Iowa crowd, "What we need to do is expose these policies that we see on the left, expose them, and then number two, defund them."
CNN: Romney takes first official step towards running for president
Mitt Romney Monday took his first formal step towards launching another bid for the White House. The former Massachusetts governor, who was a candidate for 2008 Republican presidential nomination, announced that he was setting up a presidential exploratory committee. "From my vantage point in business and in government, I have become convinced that America has been put on a dangerous course by Washington politicians, and it has become even worse during the last two years. But I am also convinced that with able leadership, America's best days are still ahead," says Romney, in a video to supporters.
CNN: Top New Hampshire GOPer offers Romney praise
The chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party spoke kindly of likely presidential contender Mitt Romney Monday, defending the passage of the health care plan he signed while governor of Massachusetts. "It really was an innovative experiment, he's a very smart man and what he did was he came up with this program geared for the state of Massachusetts, it was never meant to be some model for a national health care program," Jack Kimball said on CNN's "John King, USA" Monday.
Wall Street Journal: Trump Will ‘Probably’ Run as Independent If He Doesn’t Win GOP Nomination
Donald Trump will “probably” run as an independent candidate for U.S. President in 2012 if he does not receive the Republican party’s nomination, he told the Wall Street Journal in a video interview on Monday. “I hate what’s happening to the country,” said Mr. Trump, a real estate tycoon and host of the NBC show “Celebrity Apprentice.” He will not formally make a decision until June, however, when this season of his television show is over. “I can’t run during the airing of that show,” Mr. Trump said, “I’m not allowed to.” But he said he would make an announcement “by June” and his candidacy looks increasingly likely.
CNN: D.C. mayor arrested
Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray was among those arrested Monday while protesting outside the Capitol, according to Gray spokeswoman Linda Wharton-Boyd. The U.S. Capitol Police arrested 41 people outside the Hart Senate Office Building, charging them with unlawful assembly, according to Sgt. Kimberly Schneider. They are currently being processed near Capitol Hill. Gray and other city council members joined protesters asking for freedom to spend District money. The budget deal Congress passed over the weekend bans the District from spending its money to provide abortions for low-income women.
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CNN: U.S. appeals court OKs decision blocking Arizona immigration law
A federal appeals court on Monday affirmed a previous injunction of Arizona's controversial immigration law, another setback for legislation that has drawn sharp opposition from President Barack Obama's administration. In its ruling, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit sided with the U.S. Justice Department and against Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the measure known as SB 1070 into law last year.
CNN: 9th set of human remains thought to be found in serial killer probe
Police found what appears to be a human skull Monday on the outskirts of a bird sanctuary in Long Island, New York, a county police officer said, potentially the ninth set of remains discovered in the probe of a suspected serial killer. Lt. Kevin Smith of the Nassau County Police Department said the skull was found around 3:30 p.m. in Oyster Bay. About four hours earlier, a New York state police officer and his cadaver dog spotted another set of remains about a mile and a half away, and authorities worked to determine whether those remains are human. These discoveries come on the first day that authorities probing the deaths of several young women searched for evidence in and around Nassau County. Since December, eight sets of human remains have been found in Suffolk County, just to the east of Nassau County and roughly five miles from the sites of Monday's discoveries.
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CNN: Japan nuclear agency raises threat level
Japanese authorities Tuesday "provisionally" declared the country's nuclear accident a level-7 event on the international scale for nuclear disasters - the highest level - putting it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency announced the new level Tuesday morning. It had previously been at 5. Regulators have determined the amount of radioactive iodine released by the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was at least 15 times the volume needed to reach the top of the International Nuclear Event Scale, the agency said. That figure is still about 10 percent of the amount released at Chernobyl, they said.
CNN: More quakes rattle northeastern Japan
A fresh round of tremors, including one with a magnitude of 6.3, shook northern Japan on Tuesday afternoon, the Japan Meteorological Agency reported. The quake was centered in Fukushima Prefecture, near Japan's Pacific coast and about 64 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Workers retreated to earthquake-resistant shelters during the event, but there was no loss of power at the plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Company told CNN. It followed a magnitude-6.4 quake Tuesday morning that killed at least six people when it triggered a landslide in Iwaki, north of Tokyo.
CNN: Gadhafi military hurt, but prospect of stalemate looms, official says
After weeks of U.S. and NATO bombardment, about one-third of Moammar Gadhafi's ground armor has been destroyed, as well as most of the fixed air defense sites and aircraft, but a stalemate between government and rebel forces is emerging and could last for some time, according to a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of the latest military assessments. The official agreed to speak Monday only on background because of the sensitive nature of the information. The official said the latest U.S. and NATO view is that both sides essentially remain in their fixed positions - the rebels near Ajdabiya and the pro-government forces near al-Brega.
CNN: Ivory Coast president urges calm after Gbagbo is arrested
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara called for calm Monday after forces stormed the president's residence and arrested Laurent Gbagbo, whose refusal to accept the results of a presidential election last year plunged the West African nation into civil war. "Finally, we have reached the dawn of a new era of hope," Ouattara said in a televised address. "We had hoped this transfer had been different, but we have to focus on today." He urged his countrymen to lay down their weapons and said he has asked the justice minister to start legal proceedings against Gbagbo, his wife and his colleagues. Gbagbo is being held at the Golf Hotel, the headquarters of both Ouattara and the United Nations.
CNN: Death toll now 12 in Belarus bombing
The death toll now stands at 12 in the rush-hour blast that rocked a subway station in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, an act described by officials as an act of terror, Russian state news said on Tuesday, citing the Belarus security service. Officials said the toll rose in the Monday explosion after one of the victims died in a hospital early on Tuesday, RIA Novosti reported. More than 120 people also were injured when a bomb planted under a bench exploded while a train stood at the Oktyabrskaya metro station, the agency reported.
CNN: Official: 'Frank discussion' between US, Pakistan intelligence chiefs
The strained U.S.-Pakistan relationship dominated what one official called a "frank discussion" Monday between CIA Director Leon Panetta and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) head Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha in Washington. The two intelligence services have been at odds over a number of issues including the CIA's use of unmanned drones to attack suspected terrorists in the tribal areas of Pakistan, the extent of the Pakistani government's counterterrorism efforts, the publication of the name of the CIA station chief in Islamabad and the incident involving Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who fatally shot two men in Lahore.
CNN: Military: Two U.S. troops believed killed by drone in Afghanistan
The deaths of two U.S. service members in southern Afghanistan last week is being investigated as a possible friendly-fire incident, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force told CNN. The U.S. military has informed relatives it is possible the men were inadvertently killed Wednesday by a missile fired from a U.S. military drone outside Sangin in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, according to spokesman Capt. Ryan Donald.
Washington Post: A half-century on, Russian space flight pioneer Yuri Gagarin stands tall
Yuri Gagarin got a good power-washing Monday atop his high pedestal overlooking Leninsky Prospekt. The city wants him looking his best on his big day, Tuesday, April 12, the 50th anniversary of the first human space flight.Even as the crew of scrubbers went to work on a raw, damp day, red carnations were already strewn reverently around the life-size model of the Vostok spacecraft that sits below him at street level. There will be many more flowers by Tuesday. Gagarin is a hero beyond compare in Russia — a Soviet pioneer who transcends ideology, a national keepsake who stands for the sunniest moment of the 20th century.
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CNNMoney: Fed's No. 2: Don't blame us for oil spike
The Federal Reserve's efforts to pump money into the U.S. economy are not to blame for the rise in oil and other commodity prices, according to the No. 2 official at the central bank. Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen, in a speech to the Economic Club of New York Monday, said that rapid growth in demand by emerging economies such as China are driving up prices. And she argued that the Fed should not need to pull back on its stimulus efforts in order to rein in prices. Yellen said the Fed's current program of buying up to $600 billion in additional long-term Treasuries and keeping its key interest rate near 0% "continues to be appropriate because unemployment remains elevated."
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