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 Democrats want shared burden from deficit reduction deal
The president met for more than an hour behind closed doors with House Democrats to discuss ongoing deficit reduction negotiations and the looming deadline to raise the federal government's debt ceiling. …While both sides say the negotiations have made progress, they remain far apart on key issues such as tax reform and how to reduce the rising costs of entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
New York Times: Moody’s Warns of Downgrade for U.S. Credit
Moody’s Investors Service warned Thursday that it might downgrade the United States government’s sterling credit rating if Congress did not increase the nation’s debt limit “in coming weeks,” putting a spur to the sputtering talks between party leaders and the White House on a plan to restore fiscal stability. The warning, from one of the agencies whose assessments of creditworthiness help determine interest rates, amounted to a stern reminder from Wall Street to Washington that global financial markets are watching the budget battle closely and that a standoff or brinkmanship could have economic consequences.
CNN: Leading candidates set to meet in first New Hampshire debate
After months of criss-crossing the country and trying to woo potential supporters in early voting states, seven Republicans hoping to capture their party's presidential nomination will meet this month for the first New Hampshire debate of the 2012 election. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will participate in the June 13 debate on the campus of Saint Anselm College.
Washington Post: Republicans hope to spark political revival among evangelicals for 2012 race
Is it possible to revive the evangelical political movement into the potent voting bloc it once was? The answer to that question may help determine who wins the GOP presidential nomination next year, as well as whether it will be possible to defeat Barack Obama come November 2012. The proposition will get one of its first tests this weekend. Nearly every one of the declared and all-but-declared Republican candidates will take the stage at a “conference and strategy session” in Washington for a new group that bills itself as a 21st-century version of the Christian Coalition.
CNN: Edwards' lawyer in N. Carolina amid signs case is coming to juncture
John Edwards' lawyer Greg Craig was in North Carolina on Friday amid signs that the former senator and 2008 presidential candidate likely either will be indicted or he and the Justice Department will agree on a plea deal, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.
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CNN: Massachusetts governor: Tornadoes caused 'extraordinary' destruction
State officials pledged to help western Massachusetts residents rebuild Thursday, a day after at least two tornadoes tore through the region. "There was an extraordinary amount of destruction caused by these tornadoes, and yet it is remarkable that we've had four confirmed fatalities ... and not more," Gov. Deval Patrick told reporters. Officials said about 200 people in western and central Massachusetts went to hospitals with injuries sustained in the storms, which struck shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday in and around Springfield, about 90 miles west of Boston.
Washington Post: U.S. farmers, processors not required to test for deadly E. coli strain
The bacterium that has killed more than a dozen Europeans, sickened nearly 2,000 more and raised international alarms would be legal if it were found on meat or poultry in the United States. If the bacterium were to contaminate fruits or vegetables grown here, there would be no way to prevent an outbreak, because farmers and processors are not required to test for the pathogen before the food heads to supermarkets.
CNN: Rights groups file lawsuit against Georgia immigration law
Several immigrant and civil rights organizations filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday against a new Georgia law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. …The law, commonly known as HB 87, allows police to ask about immigration status when questioning suspects in certain criminal investigations. It also allows the imposition of prison sentences for people who knowingly transport illegal immigrants during the commission of a crime and asserts that workers convicted of using fake identification to get jobs could be sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $250,000.
Chicago Tribune: Prosecutors paint Blagojevich as slippery and evasive
The federal prosecutor finally got his shot at the allegedly corrupt former governor of Illinois, and from the first moment, he pounced. "Mr. Blagojevich, you are a convicted liar, correct?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar asked sternly, staring toward the witness stand Thursday at Rod Blagojevich. "Yes," answered Blagojevich, drowning out an objection from one of his own lawyers. Things only came unhinged from there.
Arizona Republic: Yuma shootings: 5 people killed; gunman dead
A 73-year-old divorced man went on an hours-long shooting rampage Thursday in Yuma County, killing five people and gravely wounding a sixth before taking his own life. Before the onslaught ended, a prominent lawyer was murdered in his office, several schools were closed, and every court in the county was locked down as investigators followed a trail of corpses to at least five locations. Police and sheriff's officials declined to identify victims but said all were connected to the crime spree that apparently stemmed from a rancorous divorce.
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CNN: Witness: Alleged Libyan rape victim appears bruised after deportation
A witness who met with Eman al-Obeidy after she was forced back to Libya from Qatar said the alleged rape victim appeared battered and bruised. Nasha Dawaji, a U.S.-based Libyan pro-freedom activist, said she was with three key members of the National Transitional Council, the rebels' government, when they first learned that al-Obeidy was forced from Doha and arrived in Benghazi on Thursday. Al-Obeidy had a black eye, like she had been punched, Dawaji said. She also had bruises on her legs and scratches on her arms.
CNN: Fresh battles reported in Yemen's capital
Government troops fought fresh battles with opposition fighters in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, early Friday as the country's embattled president tried to put down a tribal revolt. Troops backed by tanks were nearing the home of tribal leader Sadeq Al-Ahmar, whose followers have been battling troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh for nearly two weeks, witnesses reported. The nearby headquarters of Yemen's national airline was ablaze, with surrounding houses catching fire as well, witnesses said.
The Guardian: Making peace with the Taliban? UN pressed to lift Afghan sanctions
Britain and the United States are pressing for United Nations sanctions against 18 former senior Taliban figures to be lifted later this month in the strongest indication yet that the western powers are looking for a negotiated peace with the Taliban. Candidates include the controversial former head of the regime's religious police, Mohammed Qalamuddin, whose officers were responsible for some of the worst atrocities under the Taliban regime.
CNN: Mladic to appear at war crimes tribunal
Bosnian Serb genocide suspect Ratko Mladic will make his first appearance at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague on Friday morning, the court said. After more than 15 years in hiding before his arrest last week, Mladic will go before the court at 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET), according to Serge Brammertz, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Foreign Policy: Where the River Ends
The mighty Yangtze's water level has been dropping for years as new towns crop up along its banks and older settlements, such as Chongqing, grow into vast megacities, with factories and farmers siphoning off their take, often in unregulated serve-themselves fashion. …But most troubling, whether related to climate change or not, is that this year's rainfall in the provinces that water the upper Yangtze has been a trickle - as much as 40 percent below the annual average for January to April. China is facing its worst drought in half a century.
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CNNMoney: Group claims fresh hack of 1 million Sony accounts
A group calling itself "Lulz Security" announced a fresh attack on Thursday, posting online snippets of data it says came from a breach earlier this week of more than 1 million user accounts on Sony's website. Lulz began posting messages to Twitter on Thursday about its "Sownage" campaign, and around 4:30 p.m. ET it posted links to download what it claimed was a giant cache of Sony user data. The documents posted include names, passwords, e-mail addresses, home addresses and dates of birth for thousands of people.
CNNMoney: Groupon files to raise $750 million in IPO
Groupon filed on Thursday to raise as much as $750 million in an initial public offering, revealing a short history filled with skyrocketing sales and steep losses. The highly anticipated filing offers the first public look at the finances of one of the tech scene's hottest startups. Founded in 2008, the Chicago company had revenue of $713 million in 2010, up from $30 million in 2009.
Bloomberg: Goldman Said to Get Subpoena From Manhattan Prosecutor Over Senate Report
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the fifth- biggest U.S. bank by assets, was subpoenaed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for information on the firm’s activities leading into the credit crisis, two people familiar with the matter said. The subpoena relates to the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on Wall Street’s role in the collapse of the financial markets, which accused New York- based Goldman Sachs of misleading buyers of mortgage-linked investments, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the inquiry isn’t public.
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