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: House Republicans admit they need to do better job selling Medicare plan after election loss
Despite Democratic claims their upset victory in a special election in western New York was proof of a voter backlash against the GOP plan to overhaul Medicare, House Republicans are sticking by their proposal but admitting they need to do a better job explaining it to voters. The main target of the Democratic attacks, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who authored the GOP Medicare plan, conceded his proposal does give Democrats a political tool to hold up next fall. "If you're willing to lie and demagogue Medicare and scare seniors, then yeah, they have a political weapon," Ryan told CNN.
CNN: Senate rejects budget measure containing Medicare overhaul
The House budget measure had been expected to fail in the Senate due to overwhelming opposition by majority Democrats, plus wavering support for its Medicare overhaul among Republicans. The Senate GOP has recognized the provision's unpopularity with senior citizens enrolled in the government-run health insurance program. Senate Democrats forced Wednesday's vote in order to make Senate Republicans go on record in support of the Medicare overhaul.
CNN: Tempers flare on Senate floor
In a rare public display of political and personal acrimony, freshman Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky squared off Wednesday with the powerful Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Tempers flared on the Senate floor over how many amendments Paul could offer to a measure extending the main anti-terrorism surveillance law enacted after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Key provisions of that law – the Patriot Act – are due to expire Friday, and the dispute between the two senators threatens to cause a brief lapse of the law.
CNN: Filibustered appeals court nominee asks to be withdrawn
Goodwin Liu, a California law professor nominated by President Barack Obama for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asked Thursday for his name to be withdrawn after Senate Republicans had invoked a rarely used filibuster to block a final floor vote. "With no possibility of an up-or-down vote on the horizon, my family and I have decided that it is time for us to regain the ability to make plans for the future," Liu said in a letter to Obama.
ABC News: Gen. Martin Dempsey to Be Obama Administration's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey is the Obama administration's choice to become the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, succeeding Adm. Mike Mullen, who will retire Oct. 1, ABC News has learned. An administration official confirmed the White House's surprise selection of the veteran officer who became the Army's top officer last month. … Dempsey's name had emerged in recent weeks as a top candidate to succeed Mullen as the chances of Marine Gen. James Cartwright seemed to fade.
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CNN: Forecasters urge residents to take cover as storms rip through region
Forecasters warned thousands to take cover as severe storms pummeled parts of Arkansas and Tennessee early Thursday, while communities in neighboring states picked up the pieces after tornadoes cut a path of destruction a day earlier. A line of strong thunderstorms stretches from northern Indiana all the way to Mississippi, National Weather Service radar showed.
CNN: Many searching for loved ones in tornado-ravaged Joplin
Authorities in hard-hit Joplin on Thursday will release a list of people unaccounted for as the community deals with the aftermath of a tornado that tore homes and families apart. At least 125 people were killed and 1,500 remain unaccounted for, authorities said. As the southern Missouri city grapples with the aftermath, residents are hoping to find their loved ones.
Los Angeles Times: Computer errors let violent California prisoners go free
Computer errors prompted California prison officials to mistakenly release an estimated 450 inmates with "a high risk for violence" as unsupervised parolees in a program meant to ease overcrowding, according to the state's inspector general. More than 1,000 additional prisoners presenting a high risk of committing drug crimes, property crimes and other offenses were also let out, officials said.
New York Times: 9 States Get New Chance at Federal Education Aid
Nine states that were also-rans in last year’s Race to the Top school improvement competition will get another chance, the Obama administration announced on Wednesday, though this time $200 million will be up for grabs, compared with $4 billion awarded last year. An additional $500 million will be devoted to a parallel competition among all states to raise the quality of early learning and child care programs and to increase families’ access to them, federal officials said.
CNN: Sheriff's deputy, 2 others arrested in Arizona human trafficking bust
A sheriff's deputy and two detention officers were among 12 people arrested in an operation Tuesday, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. …Deputy Alfredo Navarrette, who had been a member of a unit targeting human smuggling, faces felony charges connected to human smuggling, money laundering and participating in a crime syndicate, Arpaio said. … The two detention officers who were arrested - Sylvia Najera and Marcella Hernandez - are accused of money laundering and having connections with drug-trafficking organizations.
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The Guardian: Libya Apache deployment signals Britain's escalating role in conflict
Ministers will announce the deployment of Apache attack helicopters to Libya, a move seen as a significant escalation of Britain's role in the conflict despite government denials, according to Whitehall sources. The decision will be officially announced on Thursday after a meeting of the cabinet and the national security council chaired by David Cameron, the Guardian understands.
CNN: U.S. warns against travel to Yemen, tells Americans to get out
The United States has warned Americans against travel to Yemen and advised those in the Gulf nation to depart, citing "terrorist activities and civil unrest." In addition, the State Department "has ordered all eligible family members of U.S. government employees as well as certain nonemergency personnel to depart Yemen."
CNN: Egypt to open Gaza border crossing at Rafah
Egypt will permanently open its Rafah border crossing into Gaza beginning Saturday, an Egyptian official reported Wednesday. The move provides Gazans with an open door to the outside world for the first time in four years. …The crossing officially will remain open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Friday and public holidays.
New York Times: Israelis See Netanyahu Trip as Diplomatic Failure
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel returned from Washington on Wednesday to a nearly unanimous assessment among Israelis that despite his forceful defense of Israel’s security interests, hopes were dashed that his visit might advance peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Al Jazeera: 28 dead in Mexican 'drug gangs gun battle'
Twenty-eight people have been killed in a highway gun battle in western Mexico in what authorities say was a clash between two drug gangs. The gunfight started at about 5:00pm near the town of Ruiz (805 kilometres northwest of Mexico City) on Wednesday, the Nayarit state attorney general's office said. … Local media reported that the rival gangs had exchanged hails of gunfire and lobbed grenades at one another for about an hour. Shops in the area hurriedly closed and terrified residents took cover indoors, they said.
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CNNMoney: France's Lagarde seeks IMF's top spot
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde announced her bid Wednesday to become head of the International Monetary Fund, after its former managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned in the wake of charges he tried to rape a hotel maid in New York. …Lagarde, 55, would be the first woman to run the fund since the global financial institution was founded in 1946.
Bloomberg: BofA Targeted as Attorneys General Step Up Pressure in Foreclosure Probe
Bank of America Corp. faces increased pressure from two attorneys general to change its mortgage- servicing and foreclosure practices as states said the bank and four other servicers may face $17 billion in claims. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff accused Bank of America of breaking state law, while Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said the bank failed to fix “well- documented” problems in its mortgage-servicing business, according to letters released by their offices yesterday.
CNNMoney: Java lovers swallow rising coffee costs
Starbucks said Wednesday that it's hiking prices of its packaged coffee by an average of 17% in its U.S. retail stores. The price increase goes into effect July 16, and will mark the first time Starbucks has raised prices of packaged coffee in Starbucks stores since September 2009. ...Both J.M. Smucker, the owner of Folgers, Dunkin' Donuts and Millstone, along with Kraft Foods, owner of Maxwell House Coffee and Yuban, have raised prices of coffee products more than three times in just the past year.
Wall Street Journal: Executives Churn at H-P
A number of key Hewlett-Packard Co. executives are leaving as new chief executive Leo Apotheker reshapes the technology giant and confronts recent financial stumbles. At least 10 executive vice presidents and senior vice presidents have left H-P since Mr. Apotheker joined the company in November, with many of those exits taking place in recent weeks. Such churn isn't unusual at large companies, particularly when a new CEO comes in from the outside. But the changes come at a sensitive time for H-P, whose shares recently hit a 52-week low.
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