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 makes stop in Los Angeles, wraps up campaign swing
Despite switching an audience of tech executives for Hollywood moguls, President Barack Obama on Thursday night made the same plea for help in his re-election as he wrapped up a two-day west coast campaign swing in Los Angeles. At the first of two fundraisers on the lot of Sony Studios in Culver City, Obama told an audience of about 100 guests he needed the same commitment from them in 2012 that drove them to support his unlikely candidacy four years earlier. "Lets face it, it was not likely that I was going to end up in the Oval Office," Obama said of his supporters' grassroots efforts in his first campaign.
CNN: Obama: Deficit reduction must keep alive the American dream
Over and over Thursday, President Barack Obama told workers at a renewable energy company that he is like them. He remembers pumping gas when high oil prices ate a hole in his budget, he said. He knows he wouldn't have made it through college without scholarships and loans. And now as president, he promised that he won't let the current debate on deficit reduction deny others the chance for the American dream he has lived.
CNN: Obama interrupted by singing woman at fundraiser
A woman wearing a T-shirt supporting WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning interrupted President Barack Obama at a California fundraiser Thursday by breaking into song. After completing her song, in which others at her table joined as it progressed, the unidentified woman was escorted out by two White House aides as she said: "Free Bradley Manning. I'm leaving. I hope I don't get tortured in jail." Manning, an Army private first class suspected of giving classified documents to WikiLeaks, was transferred to the Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, this week.
CNN: Sen. Ensign says he will resign on May 3
Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, who is under an ethics investigation by the Senate, announced Thursday that he will resign his seat on May 3. Ensign had previously said he would not run for re-election in 2012 following revelations that he had an affair with a female aide who was the wife of another top aide, and that his parents subsequently gave money to the aides' family. "While I stand behind my firm belief that I have not violated any law, rule, or standard of conduct of the Senate, and I have fought to prove this publicly, I will not continue to subject my family, my constituents, or the Senate to any further rounds of investigation, depositions, drawn out proceedings, or especially public hearings," Ensign said in the statement.
New York Times: Democrats Sue to Force U.S. Election Agency to Reveal Political Donations
Unable to stanch the flow of corporate money to Republican causes, Democrats tried a new tack on Thursday by bringing a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission to force the disclosure of tens of millions of dollars in secret donations. The lawsuit seeks to close “a major loophole” that allows private companies and nonprofit groups to operate “under a veil of anonymity” in raising money for political work, said Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat who brought the lawsuit along with lawyers for several liberal groups.
CNN: Huckabee blasts Glenn Beck
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has a bone to pick with Glenn Beck. The current Fox News host isn't pleased that Beck, a departing Fox News host, has called him a progressive, a term which Beck has also previously likened to cancer and the Nazi movement. Beck also compared Huckabee to Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain on his radio show Tuesday, labeling both as progressives, because of Huckabee's vocal support for Michelle Obama's anti-obesity initiatives. "I think Mike Huckabee is the one, if you are somebody who understands progressives are on both sides of the aisle, I think Mike Huckabee is John McCain," he said.
Huffington Post: 9/11 Responders To Be Warned They Will Be Screened By FBI's Terrorism Watch List
A provision in the new 9/11 health bill may be adding insult to injury for people who fell sick after their service in the aftermath of the 2001 Al Qaeda attacks, The Huffington Post has learned. The tens of thousands of cops, firefighters, construction workers and others who survived the worst terrorist assault in U.S. history and risked their lives in its wake will soon be informed that their names must be run through the FBI’s terrorism watch list, according to a letter obtained by HuffPost. Any of the responders who are not compared to the database of suspected terrorists would be barred from getting treatment for the numerous, worsening ailments that the James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Law was passed to address. It’s a requirement that was tacked onto the law during the bitter debates over it last year.
CNN: Louisiana legislature considers 'birther' bill
It's not specifically called a "birther" bill and it doesn't mention President Barack Obama by name, but proposed state legislation in Louisiana appears to be the latest attempt to keep alive arguments over whether Obama can prove he was born in the United States. The proposed Louisiana legislation would require an affidavit to accompany documents, including a birth certificate and a sworn statement that identifies the candidate's place of residence for the preceding 14 years, for someone to quality for the presidential ballot. Similar requirements are set for other offices including Congress.
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CNN: Suspect in attempted bombing at MLK Day parade accused of hate crime
A superseding indictment in the attempted bombing of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Washington state accuses a man of a hate crime, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday. Kevin Harpham, 36, of Colville, Washington, last month pleaded not guilty in federal court to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and for possessing an unregistered explosive device. The new indictment has two additional charges, including an allegation he planted the improvised explosive device "because of actual or perceived race, color, and national origin" of march participants, the department said in a statement.
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CNN: Explosions, planes heard in Tripoli; rebels seize border crossing
Large explosions and the sound of jets over Tripoli Thursday night indicated NATO has likely increased the intensity of its air strikes on Moammar Gadhafi's key command and control military sites. CNN's Fred Pleitgen, reporting from Libya, heard at least three major explosions. The alliance has issued a new warning to Libyan civilians to stay away from military areas, foreshadowing plans for attacks on targets seen as strategically significant in stopping the government's attacks against civilians, a NATO military official said Thursday.
CNN: Gates: U.S. to use Predator drones in Libya
President Barack Obama has approved the use of armed Predator drones in Libya, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday. Gates suggested that the unmanned Predator missions may have already begun. He said he believed that the first flights were launched Thursday but were called back due to poor weather. "The president has said that where we have some unique capabilities, he is willing to use those," Gates said. "And I think that today may in fact have been their first mission."
CNN: Japan budgets nearly $49 billion for post-disaster reconstruction
Japan's cabinet on Friday approved a $49 billion budget to help in the reconstruction of areas decimated by last month's earthquake and tsunami. The Disaster Relief Fund will pay for removal of rubble and debris, temporary housing, rebuilding of roads, farms, airports and schools, and loans to small- and medium-sized businesses. Seeking to turn the nation's focus to the arduous task of rebuilding, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan last week invoked the imagery of his country's recovery from World War II. "We must renew the determination that we had in the post-World War II reconstruction period, and we must tackle the task of reconstruction after this earthquake," he said.
CNN: Mexican mass grave yields 26 bodies
Authorities in the Mexican north-central state of Durango have confirmed the discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave. According to the Durango State's Attorney's Office, the bodies were found in a residential area in the capital city of the same name. Officials say the bodies found late Wednesday were already badly decomposed and so far they haven't been able to identify the victims. The bodies were found in a lot apparently belonging to an auto shop located in the residential area known as "Las Fuentes." According to local media reports, four other bodies were found on April 11, but the Durango State Attorney's Office did not immediately confirm that information.
CNN: Violence postpones gubernatorial elections in 2 Nigeria states
Concerned about ongoing violence, Nigerian election officials Thursday delayed gubernatorial elections in two states. Voters in Kaduna and Bauchi states will now go to the polls on April 28, said Attahiru M. Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission. Elections will continue April 26 in other states. "This is to allow for further cooling of tempers and for the security situation in those states to improve," Jega said. The development came after Goodluck Jonathan, who was declared the winner in the recent presidential election, warned perpetrators of postelection violence that "enough is enough. He said the unrest in a series of elections brings back memories of events leading up to a 1960s civil war in the nation.
CNN: Suspected drone strike kills 21 in Pakistan
A suspected U.S. drone strike in the Pakistani tribal region killed 21 suspected militants on Friday, intelligence officials said. The strike comes days after Pakistan condemned suspected U.S. drone attacks and could fuel the heated debated about the issue. It's also the second drone strike since the March 17 attack that killed 44 people - mostly civilians, two Pakistani sources said. Such strikes, especially those with civilian casualties, have inflamed tensions between Pakistan and the United States.
CNN: Gambling club bomb kills 15, wounds 40 in Pakistan
At least 15 people were killed and 40 others wounded when a bomb exploded in a gambling club in Karachi, Pakistan, officials said Thursday. Raja Umar Khitab, a senior police official in Karachi, said the bomb was placed under a table at the club and consisted of at least 2 kg (about 4.5 pounds) of explosive material. The blast made a crater at the site, he added.
CNN: Landslide claims at least 10 lives in southern Philippines
At least 10 people were dead and an unknown number missing after a landslide swept through a small village in the southern Philippines early Friday, police said. Mud and rocks crashed into Kingking village in the Pantukan municipality of Compostela province around 2:30 a.m., said police officer Ramil Bardinas. The rescue operations are still ongoing," Bardinas said. "As per reports from the Police Station Pantukan, there are still an undetermined number of persons who may have been buried alive in the incident."
CNN: 4 Thai soldiers wounded in clashes with Cambodian troops
Four Thai soldiers were injured Friday in a new round of clashes with Cambodian troops in a disputed border region, a Thai military spokesman said. The fighting broke out near two temples in the Phanom Dong Rak of southeastern Thailand's Surin province, Thai army spokesman Col. Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said. Authorities were evacuating people living in a nearby village, the MCOT news agency reported. Sunsern said the cause of Friday's clashes "is not yet known."
Wall Street Journal: Iraq Troop Talks Falter
Senior U.S. and Iraqi military officials have been in negotiations about keeping some 10,000 American troops in Iraq beyond the scheduled withdrawal of all U.S. forces at year's end, according to officials familiar with the talks. But the discussions face political obstacles in both countries, and have faltered in recent weeks because of Iraqi worries that a continued U.S. military presence could fuel sectarian tension and lead to protests similar to those sweeping other Arab countries, U.S. officials say. A separate drawdown deadline is looming in Afghanistan, where President Barack Obama wants to see a substantial U.S. troop reduction starting in July. Some U.S. commanders have cautioned against making reductions too quickly.
Jerusalem Post: France: EU may recognize Palestinian statehood
France said Thursday that European nations were considering unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. “Recognition of the state of Palestine is one of the options which France is considering, with its European partners, in a bid to relaunch the peace process,” AFP quoted French Ambassador Gerard Araud as telling a UN Security Council debate on the Middle East. By contrast, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, reiterated her opposition to a proposed UN declaration of Palestinian statehood. “We do not support any unilateral effort by the Palestinians to go to the United Nations to try to obtain some authorization or approval vote with respect to statehood,” she told PBS’s Charlie Rose in an interview late on Wednesday night. “We think we can only achieve the two-state solution that we strongly advocate through negotiation.”
CNN: China's Premier Wen: 'Speak the truth'
In a round-table meeting with government advisers and researchers of a government-run think tank on April 14, Premier Wen Jiabao enjoined them to listen to people's voices and relay these truthfully to top leaders. Wen's call to speak the truth comes at a time when the Chinese authorities are rounding up dissenters and muzzling whistle-blowers. A contradiction? Analysts say Wen's statement is designed to counter public skepticism and to warn officials against lying or pandering to higher ups. Others suggest it may just be part of Beijing's crisis management.
CNN: U.S. and China to hold human rights talks amid crackdown
China and the United States will hold two days of talks on human rights in Beijing next week, the State Department said Friday. Michael Posner, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, will lead the American delegation to China on Wednesday. The meetings follow a crackdown on Chinese dissidents in recent months.
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CNNMoney: Dow ends week at nearly 3- year high
U.S. stocks advanced for a third straight session Thursday, with the Dow closing at almost a 3-year high following a slew of strong earnings. But disappointing readings on regional manufacturing and the labor market kept a lid on the gains, reminding investors that the economy is still fragile. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) added 52 points, or 0.5%, to end at 12,505.99, its highest level since June 2008. The gains were led by a nearly 4% surge in shares of Travelers (TRV, Fortune 500), while IBM's (IBM, Fortune 500) and Alcoa's (AA, Fortune 500) stocks rose about 2%.
CNN: High gasoline prices prompt Justice Department to eye energy industry
Prodded by growing public frustration over sharply rising gasoline prices, the Justice Department on Thursday announced the formation of a team - the "Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group - tasked with the goal of ensuring consumers are not victims of price gouging. Gas prices exceeding $4 per gallon or higher are "tough" for most Americans, President Barack Obama told an audience in Reno, Nevada. "We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of American consumers for their own short-term gain." "This gas issue is serious," the president said. "It hurts."
In Case You Missed It
CNN's Randi Kaye speaks with Louisiana state Sen. A.G. Crowe about a "birther" bill he co-authored.
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