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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CNNMoney: Massive Gmail phishing attack hits top U.S. officials
Hundreds of personal Gmail accounts, including those of some senior U.S. government officials, were hacked as a result of a massive phishing scheme originating from China, Google said Wednesday. …In addition to the U.S. government personnel, other targets included South Korean government officials and federal workers of several other Asian countries, Chinese political activists, military personnel and journalists.
CNN: Obama meets with lawmakers after House rejects debt ceiling increase
According to White House spokesman Jay Carney and Republican participants, the meeting was frank and productive but nonconfrontational. However, Republican sources in the meeting said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the initiator of a budget proposal that includes the Medicare overhaul plan, called on Obama to show more leadership on the issue. The sources said Ryan, R-Wisconsin, urged Obama to stop playing politics with Medicare reforms, saying leaders can either solve problems "or exacerbate them."
CNN: Romney plans to announce White House bid in New Hampshire
Long considered the Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney will announce his candidacy for president on Thursday - officially launching his second bid for the White House. The event will take place at a 300-acre family farm in Stratham, New Hampshire. The farmland represents "the hard work and ingenuity that Romney admires," according to his website.
Bloomberg: Union Enthusiasm for Obama Re-Election Fades, AFL-CIO’s Chief Trumka Says
President Barack Obama faces waning enthusiasm from union members as he prepares for his 2012 re- election bid, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said. …Trumka, head of the largest U.S. labor organization, said union members are frustrated by “wasted energy” in Washington on issues that he said don’t help workers: “hysteria” about the federal deficit, a White House review of regulations and Obama’s support for free-trade agreements.
CNN: Congressman says he did not post lewd photo on Twitter
Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner spoke to CNN's Wolf Blitzer a day after a contentious exchange with reporters in which he refused to directly answer any questions about the picture. On Wednesday he said he had hired a law firm to look into the matter. But he declined to directly answer whether he appeared in the photo. "Photos can be manipulated. Photos can be of one thing and changed to something else. We're going to try to get to the bottom of what happened," he said.
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Los Angeles Times: High-profile panel urges non-criminal approach to world drug policy
A report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, recommends that governments try new ways of legalizing and regulating drugs, especially marijuana, as a way to deny profits to drug cartels. The recommendation was swiftly dismissed by the Obama administration and the government of Mexico, which are allied in a violent 4 1/2 -year-old crackdown on cartels that has killed more than 38,000 people in Mexico.
CNN: Mayor: 'We are in life-saving mode' in western Massachusetts
Rescue workers went house-to-house, building-to-building early Thursday searching for survivors after tornadoes cut a deadly and destructive path through western Massachusetts, officials said. At least four people were killed and 40 injured when at least two tornadoes touched down in portions of Springfield, Mayor Domenic Sarno said.
CNN: New York pulls out of federal immigration program
New York is pulling out of a controversial federal program aimed at catching and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal histories, the state's governor said Wednesday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is suspending the state's participation in the program because of concerns about "its impact on families, immigrant communities and law enforcement in New York." Under the program, known as Secure Communities, law enforcement agencies run the fingerprints of people they arrest against immigration databases, aiming to find illegal immigrants.
CNN: U.S. 'can do better' than Nevada nuclear waste dump, official says
An Energy Department official Wednesday defended the Obama administration's decision to pull the plug on a long-planned Nevada repository for nuclear waste in the face of questions from Congress about whether the move was legal. “The department is acting responsibly in terminating the Yucca Mountain project," Peter Lyons, the assistant energy secretary for nuclear power, told a House subcommittee. "We can and we should do better than the Yucca Mountain project."
New York Times: Education Department Increases Its Regulation of For-Profit Colleges
The Department of Education on Wednesday tightened its regulation of for-profit colleges and other vocational programs that get billions of dollars in federal aid but leave many students with crushing debt and credentials worth little on the job market. Under the new rules, programs would lose their eligibility to dispense federal student aid — and as a practical matter, be shut down — if, over the next four years, their graduates fail to meet new benchmarks for loan repayment and ratio of debt to income.
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CNN: Government forces fighting tribesmen in Yemen's capital
Fighting continued Wednesday into Thursday between government forces and tribesmen in Yemen's capital, as Sanaa residents reported hearing explosions near the presidential palace, a government source said. "The reason the street fighting in Sanaa has gotten a lot more intense in the past several hours is because special forces are now involved," said the source, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the news media.
CNN: Police: Afghan militants attack Pakistani checkpoint, killing 23
More than 200 Afghan militants crossed over and attacked a checkpoint in northwest Pakistan, sparking a firefight that left 23 security forces dead, a police official said Thursday. The firefight in Upper Dir district along the Afghan border erupted Wednesday morning and was going on 24 hours later, said Qazi Jamil, a senior police official in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
CNN: Japanese PM survives a no-confidence vote in parliament
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Thursday. The final tally was 293 against the motion and 152 for it. The opposition Liberal Democratic Party filed the no-confidence motion Wednesday, and needed a total of 240 votes for it to pass in parliament. It cited his handling of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis as a reason for the motion.
CNN: Russia bans fresh European produce, state media report
Russia has announced a ban on fresh vegetable imports from the European Union, state media reported Thursday. Russian customs officials have been instructed to prevent the produce from entering the country, according to Gennady Onishchenko, head of the Russian Federal Agency for Health and Consumer Rights. Supermarkets and food chains in Russia were told to withdraw European vegetables from their produce bins, Onishchenko told state media.
CNN: Mexican police chief, officers charged with helping cartels
en police officers, including a police chief, in central Mexico were arrested this week on charges of protecting the ruthless Zetas drug cartel, officials said. The arrests highlight a constant handicap that police at all levels in Mexico face - corruption that allows the violent drug gangs to carry out their crimes with impunity.
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CNNMoney: Stocks: Worst day of the year for Dow, S&P 500
A triple dose of bad news sent stocks sharply lower Wednesday afternoon, with the Dow and S&P 500 posting their steepest losses in nearly a year. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 280 points, or 2.2%, with all of the blue chip index's 30 components in the red. Caterpillar, Alcoa and Bank of America were the worst performing stocks on the blue-chip index, falling more than 4%.
USA Today: Obama's economic panel applauds GM, Chrysler resurgence
President Obama's top adviser on U.S. manufacturing touted gains made by General Motors and Chrysler since their 2009 restructurings with $80 billion in taxpayer aid, but said it's too early to say when the government's remaining stakes in the two will be sold. on Bloom spoke to White House reporters Wednesday after release of a report by Obama's National Economic Council titled, "The Resurgence of the American Automobile Industry." It says taxpayers likely will lose about $14 billion of the $80 billion.
Wall Street Journal: Big Banks Cash In on Commodities
Wall Street is tapping a real gusher in 2011, as heightened volatility and higher prices of oil and other raw materials boost banks' profits. A group of 10 large banks—including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Barclays PLC—saw their commodities revenues increase by 55% in the first quarter, according to Coalition, a firm that analyzes the performance of investment banks.
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