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 visit Alabama as South reels in tornado aftermath; 300 killed
President Barack Obama plans to visit Alabama on Friday, the hardest-hit of six states ravaged by a series of storms and tornadoes that killed 300 people and left entire neighborhoods in ruins.
CNN: Senate Republicans to force vote on Obama's budget
A day after Senate Democrats announced they would force a vote on an House-passed Republican budget for next year that makes dramatic changes to Medicare – in order to test if Senate Republicans really support it – Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said he would force a vote on President Obama's competing budget proposal to see if Democrats actually back the president's plan. Republicans Thursday said they think an embarrassingly high number of Democrats won't.
CNN: For Boehner, budget cuts tougher when it comes to Ohio jobs
The battle-tested heavyweights of American wars - 65-ton giant M1A2 Abrams tanks - are brought to this corner of Ohio to be rebuilt, rewired and reassembled. They roll out of the huge joint Army and General Dynamics plant better than new. …They are 500 miles from Washington but the plant workers find themselves too close for comfort to the debate over federal spending and military cutbacks. The Army wants to shut down the tank plant for several years to save money.
CNN: Obama appears to rule out acting on his own on immigration
President Barack Obama on Thursday appeared to rule out acting on his own to implement some provisions of an immigration reform bill that failed to win congressional approval last year. …Some immigration reform advocates have argued that Obama could issue an executive order or take other unilateral steps to bring changes intended to help children of illegal immigrants eventually gain U.S. citizenship.
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CNN: Shaken, dazed residents recount tornado horrors
Leveled buildings, fallen trees and massive piles of rubble stretched across wide swaths of the South after destructive tornadoes and severe storms tore through the region. By early Friday, the death toll from the wave of powerful storms that struck Wednesday and early Thursday was 300 people in six states. In the city of Tuscaloosa alone, at least 38 people lost their lives.
CNNMoney: GDP: Economic recovery stumbles
Economic growth slowed to a crawl in the first three months of the year as a spike in gasoline, higher overall inflation and continued weakness in the housing market all took a toll on the recovery.
CNN: Space Shuttle Endeavour gears up for final flight
When the Space Shuttle Endeavour blasts into space for the final time Friday, the launch will be particularly emotional for the commander onboard. Back on the ground, Cmdr. Mark Kelly's wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will watch the shuttle's ascent.
ABC News: 247 On U.S. Terror Watch List Bought Guns In 2010
More than 200 individuals who were on the federal terrorism watch list passed background checks and were allowed to buy guns in 2010, according to a new government review.
CNN: FBI warns U.S. businesses of new Chinese cybercrime scheme
FBI cybersleuths have informed U.S. businesses that millions of dollars have been fraudulently wired from business accounts in U.S. banks to banks in a remote coastal region of China near the Russian border.
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CNN: Wedding day dawns for Prince William and Kate
Much of the world will grind to a noisy, flag-waving halt Friday morning as Britain's Prince William, second-in-line to the throne, marries his college sweetheart Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey.
CNN: Libyan government shelling of Misrata residential area said to resume
Government shelling of the seaside town of Misrata resumed Thursday afternoon, with heavy artillery and mortars targeting residential areas, killing 10 people, a member of the medical committee of the Misrata Council told CNN.
CNN: Rome prepares for beatification of John Paul II
More than one million people are expected in Rome this weekend for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, the biggest event in Vatican City since his death six years ago. Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful will gather in St. Peter's Square to witness the ceremony, the penultimate step towards John Paul II's sainthood.
CNN: Thai military: Deadly fighting resumes at Thai-Cambodian border
Fighting raged on along the turbulent Thai-Cambodian border Friday, one day after a military source said local commanders from both sides had agreed to a cease-fire. Thai military spokesman Col. Sansern Kawekumnerd said Friday that another Thai soldier died and four soldiers were injured in the fighting.
CNN: Arrests made in Afghan jailbreak
The head of a Kandahar prison where a mass escape occurred this week was among 20 people arrested Thursday on suspicion of assisting the jailbreak, a senior prison official told CNN. …Guards as well as officials on duty during the night of the escape were arrested.
CNN: Kim Jong Il offers unconditional dialogue with South Korea
Returning from a trip to Pyongyang, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il ready for a summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at any time. The dramatic declaration puts Lee on the spot: Seoul is currently declining official dialogue with North Korea until it takes responsibility for two fatal incidents last year.
CNN: U.S. challenges China's 'serious backsliding' on human rights
Talks between China and the United States about human rights issues, including missing Chinese activists, ended Thursday with little progress and many unanswered questions, a U.S. diplomat said.
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CNNMoney: Exxon hits back at gas price anger
In an attempt to deflect rising anger among American drivers and political leaders, Exxon Mobil said Thursday that it makes relatively little money on gasoline, even as it reported a nearly $11 billion quarterly profit. "We understand that it's simply too irresistible for many politicians in times of high oil prices and high earnings - they feel they have to demonize our industry," said a statement from Exxon vice president Ken Cohen.
CNNMoney: Chrysler set to repay bailout loans
The automaker said it will repay the $5.8 billion it owes in loans to U.S. taxpayers, and the $1.7 billion it owes to the Canadians at some point this quarter, once it finalizes financing from banks and institutional investors.
CNNMoney: Wal-Mart brings guns back
Wal-Mart said Thursday that it is bringing guns back to many of its U.S. stores in an effort to lift slumping sales. …Wal-Mart currently sells rifles, shotguns and ammunition in about 1,300 stores in the United States. … The retailer doesn't sell handguns in any of its stores, other than in Alaska.
CNNMoney: RIM cuts profit forecast on weak BlackBerry sales
Research in Motion on Thursday slashed its earnings forecast for the current quarter, citing sluggish BlackBerry sales. … That's an ominous sign for a device maker that's fighting hard to stay on top in a market it once dominated.
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