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 honor German chancellor at state dinner
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a state dinner on Tuesday, a big honor for a U.S. ally who differs at times with the Obama administration. Merkel, 56, dined privately with President Barack Obama at a Georgetown restaurant on Monday night before a day of official business that culminates with the evening of White House pomp and ceremony, including her getting the nation's highest civilian honor.
Der Spiegel: What's Gone Wrong with German-US Relations?
[President Barack] Obama and [Chancellor Angela] Merkel have not established a close personal bond, but that's not the only problem. …Merkel's reputation in Washington has been hurt by Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022, Berlin's abstention in a United Nations Security Council vote on imposing a "no-fly" zone in Libya and the country's economic and financial policies. Looking at things from the opposite perspective, Obama's standing has also taken a hit in German government circles. In the Chancellery, he is viewed as a president who fails to deliver on lofty pronouncements.
CNN: Obama's top economist returning to classroom
President Barack Obama's top economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, is leaving the administration to return to the University of Chicago, the White House announced Monday night. …The announcement came after a series of reports that showed the U.S. economy struggling to maintain headway after the housing bust, banking crisis and recession. Sunday, Goolsbee told CNN's "State of the Union" that despite disappointing employment, manufacturing and housing price figures, the long-term trends remain positive.
CNN: Weiner apologizes for lying, 'terrible mistakes,' refuses to resign
A week after claiming a hacker had posted a lewd photo to his Twitter account, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner on Monday apologized for lying about the incident and admitted carrying on inappropriate relationships with several women he'd met online. Weiner, a New York Democrat, said he is not resigning his seat, nor is he planning on separating from his wife. But he said he took "full responsibility" for his actions - both the relationships and for lying about sending the photo last month of his bulging underwear on his Twitter account.
CNN: Romney: Sarah Palin’s the ‘best thing’ that could happen to me
The 2012 presidential candidate told CNN’s Piers Morgan Monday that he wasn’t offended when former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin appeared in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire on the same day he was set to formally announce his intention to seek the 2012 GOP nomination for president. …“In a lot of respects it’s the best thing that could happen to me,” he said on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.” “Right now, your greatest enemy is overexposure. People get tired of seeing the same person day in and day out.”
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CNN: Thousands evacuated as huge Arizona wildfire swells by 40,000 acres
One of the worst wildfires in Arizona history grew by 40,000 acres Monday, forcing the evacuation of thousands as crews battled heavy winds in trying to prevent the 30-mile line from advancing further, officials said. The "Wallow Fire," as the blaze is known, has scorched 233,522 acres as of Monday evening - up more than 21% from the 192,746 acres reported that morning - said Terri Wildermuth, a spokeswoman for the Incident Management Team that is overseeing firefighting efforts.
Boston Globe: US overrules Patrick on immigration
The US government will force the state of Massachusetts to join a controversial federal program to detect and deport illegal immigrants, despite Governor Deval Patrick’s refusal to endorse it, a senior Homeland Security official said yesterday. Patrick’s rejection of the Secure Communities program yesterday can do little, if anything, to impede the program from expanding statewide by 2013, said the official, who has direct knowledge of the program but spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not have clearance to speak for the agency.
USA Today: States clarify tuition policies for undocumented students
New laws clarifying tuition charges for undocumented immigrants at public colleges are poised to go into effect in three states this summer, bringing to 13 the number of states that allow such students to pay lower, in-state rates and to five the number that forbid it. Maryland will join 11 other states this summer in allowing undocumented immigrants attending public colleges to pay in-state tuition, and Connecticut's governor has said he will sign a similar bill passed last month in that state.
New York Times: In State Parks, the Sharpest Ax Is the Budget’s
As the summer season gets under way, budget-strapped state parks across the country are pursuing creative and sometimes controversial solutions simply to stay open. Many are imposing steep new fees, leaning ever more heavily on volunteers and, in one ominous effort to raise money, even pushing to drill for oil and gas beneath hiking trails and picnic pavilions. The vast majority of states have cut park financing, often significantly, since the economic downturn took full hold in 2008, and some were cutting long before that.
CNN: U.S. raises concern about nuclear disaster plans
U.S. nuclear power plants keep plans for dealing with a severe accident close at hand, but many of them need updating and nearly half the plants don't include them in regular drills, regulators said Monday. Those findings are part of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's safety review of U.S. reactors launched after the triple meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant in March.
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CNN: Sources: Yemeni president Saleh has collapsed lung, burns over 40%
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh suffered burns on 40% of his body and has a collapsed lung, U.S. government officials briefed on the matter said, as the fate of the embattled leader - and whether he will return to the conflict in Yemen - remains uncertain. Saleh was injured Friday from an attack at a mosque in his presidential compound and is seeking treatment in Saudi Arabia.
CNN: State TV: 120 security forces killed in northern Syria
More than 100 people were killed Monday in and around the northern Syrian city of Jisr Al-Shugur in the third consecutive day of violence there, according to reports from the government and opposition groups. State television cited 120 security forces killed, including 82 in Jisr Al-Shugur. In addition, it said, dozens of civilians were wounded. State television said the security forces were killed in several attacks including an ambush by "armed gangs" in the city, when government buildings were set afire, and in clashes at a security center.
The Guardian: E coli outbreak: EU to hold emergency summit
EU farm ministers will hold emergency talks in Luxembourg after German scientists said there was as yet no evidence from tests to link the E coli bacterium to a farm producing bean sprouts in the northern state of Lower Saxony. Ministers will attempt to agree financial aid for fruit and vegetable producers hit by the E coli outbreak, which has killed 22 people in Europe. The source of the bacterium remains a mystery.
CNN: Iraq liquor store owners fear for their lives amid attacks
Every day that Abu Yaqoub opens his Baghdad liquor store, he believes it may be his last. It's a fear that began months ago for 45-year-old Yaqoub, when insurgents began bombing primarily minority-owned liquor stores in the Iraqi capital after officials rescinded a law banning the sale of alcohol. It's not clear who is attacking the stores, though the reasons invoked by stores owners, authorities and lawmakers are as varied as the problems facing Iraq: from political to social, from religious to secular.
New York Times: U.S. Braces for Withdrawal Along Iraqi Road
Even as the American military winds down its eight-year war in Iraq, commanders are bracing for what they fear could be the most dangerous remaining mission: getting the last troops out safely. …American commanders say one of the gravest threats to the 46,000 troops here is that they could become easy targets for insurgents when they begin their final withdrawal this summer and head for the border along a 160-mile stretch of road cutting through the desert into Kuwait.
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Financial Times: Saudis raise oil production to curb prices
Saudi Arabia has been quietly increasing its crude oil production ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of the Opec oil cartel, in a sign that Riyadh is trying to bring oil prices down to more comfortable levels for consumers in the US, Europe and China. The kingdom boosted production in May by about 200,000 barrels a day and it is on course to increase it by another 200,000-300,000 b/d this month, taking its output above the critical 9m b/d level for the first time since mid-2008.
CNN: What makes Apple's iCloud different from Google and Amazon services
Consumer technology giants are battling to provide the place where you store your files, and Apple is not about to be left out. Capping a slew of software announcements on Monday, Apple unveiled iCloud. The free service lets users synchronize documents, photos and applications between Apple devices over the Internet. …When iCloud drops this fall, Apple will join Amazon.com and Google, two major players that have already begun rolling out storage services.
CNN: Sony seeks to change the subject with launch of Playstation Vita
After weeks of headlines about the outage of its hacker-compromised online gaming system, Sony on Monday looked to change the conversation with Playstation Vita, a machine they say will "revolutionize" handheld game play. …The Vita was unveiled as part of Sony's presentation on the eve of the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, which officially begins Tuesday. …Jack Tretton, president of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, didn't waste time Monday addressing the hacker-caused outage that had the Playstation Network down for the better part of a month for most players. He called it the "elephant in the room" and thanked gamers for staying loyal during the down time.
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