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 push Arab economic development in speech
Obama will announce several programs intended to increase U.S. and international investment, create jobs and spur economic growth in the two countries, the officials said. The goal is for Tunisia and Egypt to serve as models for a region undergoing change, so that other countries have incentive to undertake similar reforms, according to the officials.
CNN: Websites air audio purportedly recorded by Osama bin Laden
Radical Islamic websites Wednesday posted an Arab Spring audio message purportedly recorded by Osama bin Laden shortly before he was killed. …The audio begins with a prayer and remarks reportedly made by bin Laden about anti-government protests and uprisings earlier this year in several African and Middle East countries. CNN, which translated the audio, could not confirm its authenticity.
CNN: Panetta warns staff against leaks on Osama bin Laden raid
CIA Director Leon Panetta, concerned by leaks about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, sent a letter to CIA employees on Wednesday warning them to protect classified information. …In Panetta's letter, obtained by CNN, he says the operation, "has led to an unprecedented amount of very sensitive - in fact, classified - information making its way into the press."
CNN: Republican senators press president on War Powers deadline
As the U.S. military campaign in Libya approaches the 60-day mark this Friday, six Republican senators wrote President Obama asking if he will comply with the War Powers Act, which says Congress must authorize action that lasts more than 60 days.
CNN: Doctors to discuss next step in Giffords' recovery
Doctors have scheduled a Thursday morning news briefing to discuss the next step in U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' rehabilitation. The Arizona Democrat had a cranioplasty procedure a day earlier and was "recovering well," officials at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston said.
Roll Call: Democrats Scale Back 2012 Map
A Democratic official familiar with the still-forming re-election campaign told Roll Call that the focus will be on holding the 2008 pickups of Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina, winning over Latino voters in the West and flooding the traditional swing states of Ohio and Florida with resources. The Democrats feel good about winning New Mexico and Nevada, especially given the population growth among Hispanics.
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CNN: Record flooding to linger in Mississippi city
The flood-swollen Mississippi River held at historic levels at Vicksburg early Thursday - a status it's not expected to relinquish for days. Hitting its expected peak of 57.1 feet hours ahead of the original forecast, the National Weather Service predicts the crest will hold through at least Saturday morning.
Wall Street Journal: Texas to Teach More Students With Less Money
School budgets are being cut across the country, but in Texas, which gained more residents than any other state during the past decade, school systems such as Little Elm Independent School District face the additional challenge of shedding costs while classrooms are bulging. … The district is canceling prekindergarten for 3-year-olds—though keeping it for 4-year-olds—and cutting about 80 positions out of 827 in total; the layoffs include 30 teachers, a speech pathologist, a computer aide and 11 special-education aides.
New York Times: Private Prisons Found to Offer Little in Savings
The conviction that private prisons save money helped drive more than 30 states to turn to them for housing inmates. But Arizona shows that popular wisdom might be wrong: Data there suggest that privately operated prisons can cost more to operate than state-run prisons — even though they often steer clear of the sickest, costliest inmates. The state’s experience has particular relevance now, as many politicians have promised to ease budget problems by trimming state agencies.
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CNN: IMF chief says he is stepping down to focus on defense
In a brief letter to the IMF executive board late Wednesday, Dominique Strauss-Kahn proclaimed his innocence. He said he was stepping down to "protect this institution which I have served with honor and devotion, and especially - especially - I want to devote all my strength, all my time and all my energy to proving my innocence." …The resignation came as his attorneys are preparing to appeal Thursday to New York's Supreme Court to release their client on bail.
New York Times: A Favorite Emerges for Helm of I.M.F.
If she gets the post, [French finance minister Christine] Lagarde would be the first woman to run the I.M.F. — or any large international financial institution, for that matter. But [former I.M.F. chief economist Kenneth S.] Rogoff indicated gender was only part of her appeal. “She is enormously impressive, politically astute and a strong personality,” he said. “At finance meetings all over the world, she is treated practically like a rock star.”
CNN: Japan's economy falters, country in recession
Japan's economy, sputtering since the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, has fallen into recession, according to government figures released Thursday. The country's gross domestic product fell by an annualized rate of 3.7% in the first quarter of the calendar year, according to the government, a much steeper fall than Japanese economists had predicted.
CNN: Libya frees 4 journalists; Tunisia complains about Libyan rockets
Four journalists are free weeks after they were captured by the Libyan military and then sentenced to jail for a year, a Libyan government spokesman said Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Tunisian government condemned Libya's alleged continuous firing of rockets at the border town of Dhiba, a Tunisian foreign ministry source told the Tunisian News Agency.
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USA Today: Starbucks teams with Lady Gaga
The world's biggest coffee shop chain and the woman who Forbes magazine on Wednesday named the world's most powerful celebrity, will announce that they are joining for a PR lovefest that will make Lady Gaga an over-the-top digital and promotional presence in Starbucks U.S. stores through June 3.
Wall Street Journal: Citi CEO Gets a Big Retention Deal
Citigroup awarded Chief Executive Vikram Pandit a multimillion-dollar package to keep him at the helm for at least four more years, a vote of confidence in an executive who almost was ousted in the financial crisis. Mr. Pandit will receive a multiyear, $10 million stock grant, plus new options valued at an estimated $6.7 million and profit sharing, to encourage him to stay through 2015.
CNNMoney: LinkedIn set for $350 million IPO
Business social network LinkedIn priced its initial public offering at $45 a share late Wednesday - the high end of its range. That share price values LinkedIn at $4.25 billion - and would net the company more than $350 million, making it one of the largest tech IPOs since Google in 2004. LinkedIn will begin trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "LNKD."
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