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: Democratic leaders ostracize Weiner
Democratic leaders in Congress turned their backs Tuesday on embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner a day after the New York Democrat admitted to improper sexually-tinged communications with women and lying about it. "I wish there was some way I could defend him, but I can't," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told reporters. Asked what he would say if Weiner sought advice, Reid smiled and responded: "I'd tell him to call someone else."
Washington Post: Afghan nation-building programs not sustainable, report says
The hugely expensive U.S. attempt at nation-building in Afghanistan has had only limited success and may not survive an American withdrawal, according to the findings of a two-year congressional investigation to be released Wednesday. The report calls on the administration to rethink urgently its assistance programs as President Obama prepares to begin drawing down the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan this summer.
Financial Times: Obama fears Greece default
Barack Obama, the US president, weighed into Europe's debate about whether to restructure Greek debt on Tuesday saying it would be "disastrous" for the US if the crisis led to "an uncontrolled spiral and default in Europe". …Mr Obama was speaking at the White House alongside Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, who is under intense pressure at home to ensure that private sector creditors contribute to a second rescue of Greece.
CNNMoney: Pawlenty: If you can Google it, cut it
Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty laid out an economic vision for America on Tuesday that would cut taxes and dramatically reduce the size and scope of government operations. Among his more novel ideas: If you can find it on Google, the government shouldn't be doing it. "We can start by applying what I call 'The Google Test.' If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn't need to be doing it," Pawlenty said.
CNN: Effort to extend FBI director Mueller's term heads to Senate committee
President Barack Obama's request for FBI Director Robert Mueller to stay on for another two years takes an important step Wednesday, when the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on what could be a precedent-setting job extension. Mueller's term ends September 4, exactly a decade after he took the job as director of the FBI. Under current law, an FBI director may serve no more than 10 years, but Obama wants the law changed to allow Mueller to serve a total of 12 years.
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CNN: Records: Arizona blaze now second-largest in state's history
A fast-moving wildfire that has sent thousands fleeing in eastern Arizona is the second-largest blaze in the history of the state, records show. The so-called Wallow Fire sweeping through Apache National Forest has burned approximately 389,000 acres, Incident commander Joe Reinarz told reporters Tuesday. That surpasses the 2005 Cave Creek wildfire previously ranked the second-largest blaze in Arizona history.
CNN: Audit: Sexual assault incidents within VA system underreported
Sexual assault incidents within the Veterans Affairs system are not being reported up the chain, a new government audit released Tuesday found. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, reported that of nearly 300 sexual assault incidents reported to VA Police from January 2007 through July 2010, "many" were not reported to VA leadership officials and the VA Inspector General's Office. …The 284 cases of sexual assault included rape, inappropriate touching, forceful medical examinations, forced or inappropriate oral sex, and other types of sexual assault incidents.
CNNMoney: Blue Shield of California pays back $180 million
Blue Shield of California, one of the largest insurers in the state, says it has enacted a new rule that will allow it to pay back its customers $180 million in excess profit. The new rule limits its annual income to 2% of revenue and requires any profit in excess of that to be returned to customers and the community. …The company had come under attack earlier this year after it said it planned to raise some of its premiums by 59%. But now, with the new rule in effect, policyholders have some real money coming back to them.
CNN: California prison remedy would send low-level offenders to counties
California wants to shift low-level state offenders to county jails as a way to reduce overcrowding, as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court, under an unfunded plan that would require legislative and voter approval, the state's top corrections official said Tuesday. State officials filed the plan, which would reduce the state's 143,000 inmate population by 33,000, with federal courts Tuesday.
CNN: Police deny damaging cell phone of witness to Florida shooting
Miami Beach authorities are disputing an allegation by a witness to a fatal police shooting in Florida that his cell phone was "smashed" by officers because he filmed their actions. The police department denied Narces Benoit's claim that his phone was crushed by an officer last week after he recorded a video of the fatal shooting. In Benoit's video, gunfire breaks out, and officers are seen firing on a car. The fatal shooting of an erratic driver on Memorial Day has made headlines nationwide after Benoit's video and others became public.
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CNN: Syrian ambassador to France denies having resigned
Syria's ambassador to France, Lamia Shakkour, denied Tuesday that she has resigned her post, declaring late in the day that she would remain in her job until President Bashar al-Assad no longer wants her to remain in it. …Shakkour's status had been in doubt since the afternoon, when the television network France 24 broadcast a telephone interview from a woman it identified as Shakkour. During the interview, the woman said she was resigning because of violence in Syria.
CNN: U.N. High Commissioner rebukes Israel, Syria in protester deaths
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday expressed concerns over Israeli forces' use of live ammunition against protesters along the cease-fire line between the occupied Golan Heights and Syria, as well as reports that Syrian authorities encouraged the civilians to protest in an area where landmines had been planted. …The incident occurred as protesters called for an end to the occupation of the Golan Heights, as they marked the anniversary of the 1967 War during which Israel occupied the area.
Al Jazeera: Yemenis protest after talks rejected
Yemen's government has rejected an offer from the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), the country's umbrella opposition group, for talks about a political transition. A high-ranking government source said no dialogue can take place until Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, returns to Yemen following medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. The response spurred on thousands of protesters to gather in front of the residence of Abdu-Rabbu Mansour , the vice-president, on Tuesday, demanding the acting leader form a transitional council.
Wall Street Journal: Mexico Tourism Feels Chill of Ongoing Drug Violence
Owners of leading tour operators, including American Express Co., have seen sharp declines in American visitors since the first of the year. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. recently told analysts the drug wars had "decimated leisure travel" at its Mexican resorts. Three top cruise lines say they've canceled service to Mazatlán, a resort hub that's also become the site of a drug cartel turf war. "It's very hard for me to think that I'm going to convince someone who lives in Des Moines to take their first international trip to Mexico now," says Trip Barrett, Starwood's vice president of brand management in Latin America.
CNN: Peru's president-elect calls for unity
After a divisive political campaign, Peru's president-elect said Tuesday that he plans to build a government based on dialogue. "We are opening the doors to everyone. ... We are going to converse with all the political forces," President-elect Ollanta Humala told CNN en Español. Word of the left-wing ex-army officer's victory sent shock waves through Peruvian markets Monday. The nation's general stock index plummeted more than 12.5% before regulators shut trading, marking the largest one-day drop in history.
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CNNMoney: Bernanke: Job market 'far from normal'
The economy lost some momentum recently, Ben Bernanke acknowledged Tuesday, but the Federal Reserve chairman is still optimistic that the recovery will pick up again in the second half of the year. In a speech on Tuesday, Bernanke twice called the job market "far from normal" and conceded, "the economy is still producing at levels well below its potential." But he also said the factors behind recent weakness are likely to fade in coming months.
CNN: Nintendo unveils the Wii U system
The company on Tuesday showed off a prototype gaming system called Wii U, which consists of a smartphone-like remote control that lets gamers play on two screens at the same time. ... The Wii U controller includes all the technical innards of a smartphone - accelerometers, a gyroscope, cameras and a microphone - which make the controller act in some fundamentally new ways when compared to the remotes that control other console gaming systems.
Wall Street Journal: More Target Than Tar-zhay?
The chain that made it trendy to shop for low-priced designer clothing and mod lamps while picking up detergent and toothpaste has been struggling to gain back its pre-recession sales strength. When Target holds its annual meeting Wednesday in Pittsburgh, executives will likely blame a year of lackluster results on the fragile economic recovery. But some retail analysts and experts think Target may be suffering from other problems beyond the uneven economic recovery. Adrianne Shapira, retail analyst at Goldman Sachs, said Target has confused its shoppers by emphasizing food and low prices at the expense of its cool image.
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