The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
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CNN: GOP presidential contenders take aim at Obama in CNN debate
Seven Republican presidential contenders faced off Monday in one of the first debates of the primary season, offering policy ideas and criticism of President Barack Obama to try to separate themselves from the competition almost 17 months before the 2012 election. …Some of the contenders made news in the debate, with conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota announcing she filed her papers Monday and would soon declare her formal candidacy for president.
CNN: Petraeus in Washington with Afghanistan troop drawdown recommendation
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the war in Afghanistan, has arrived in Washington for a one-two national security punch that is certain to leave ripples over the next several days. Petraeus is making final preparations in advance of his June 23 hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee to be confirmed as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. But before he takes on that role, Petraeus has a piece of important business to finish: handing his personal recommendations to the Pentagon and White House about beginning next month a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
CNN: Obama has political reasons for a quick visit to Puerto Rico
President Barack Obama makes a rare presidential visit to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, spending about five hours there on a trip aimed as much at Puerto Ricans on the mainland as those on the island. The roughly 4 million residents of the U.S. Caribbean territory are American citizens but can't vote for president, while the almost 5 million Puerto Ricans living in the 50 U.S. states have full voting rights, and Obama needs strong support in 2012 from what traditionally has been a largely Democratic constituency.
CNN: Weiner takes leave of absence; Obama suggests he should resign
Rep. Anthony Weiner took a two-week leave of absence from the U.S. House on Monday to consider calls by Democratic leaders - and a strong hint from President Barack Obama - that he should resign over a "sexting" scandal and his subsequent lies about it. "Obviously, what he did was highly inappropriate," Obama said in [an interview with NBC], scheduled for broadcast Tuesday. He added, "Ultimately, there's gonna be a decision for him and his constituents. I can tell you that if it was me, I would resign."
CNN: Senate website under review after hacker gains access to server
The Senate sergeant at arms has ordered a review of all websites associated with the chamber after an intruder hacked into the server that supports Senate.gov over the weekend. …Despite the intrusion, no user account information was compromised, [Sergeant at Arms Martina] Bradford said, noting that whoever hacked into the server "was only able to read and determine the directory structure of the files placed on Senate.gov." The server accessed contained only files intended for public consumption, she said.
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CNN: Arizona wildfire spreads into New Mexico, hundreds more evacuated
The second-largest fire in Arizona history blazed across the border to New Mexico, burning thousands of acres of forest inside Carlsbad Caverns National Park, officials said. Hundreds of visitors were evacuated as crews tackled the 3,000-acre wildfire inside the park. Firefighters have stopped the northward advance of the fire in Arizona, redirecting their focus to its eastern flank and its movement into New Mexico, according to authorities.
CNN: Report: Many weapons used by Mexican drug gangs originate in U.S.
A trio of Democratic U.S. senators called for tougher firearms laws and regulations after releasing a report that showed a large number of weapons used by Mexico drug gangs originating north of the border. More than 70% of 29,284 firearms submitted to the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for tracing by the Mexican government during 2009 and 2010 originated in the United States, according to the report.
CNN: 2 Missouri River levees break near Iowa-Missouri border
Two Missouri River levees broke Monday along the swollen Missouri River near the Iowa-Missouri border, a local official and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said. The first breach, which was some 300 feet wide and growing, was a "full breach," the Army Corps of Engineers said in a statement. The break was in Atchison County, Missouri, just south of Hamburg, Iowa, it said.
CNN: Verdict expected on whether to nix gay judge's ruling on Proposition 8
A San Francisco federal court judge could decide by Tuesday on whether former Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling on California's Proposition 8 should be invalidated. Walker, who ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, later revealed he is gay. During a hearing on Monday, Chief District Court Judge James Ware said he hoped to reach a verdict in the next 24 hours on whether Walker's ruling should be vacated due of the former judge's non-disclosure that he is gay.
New York Times: Adoptions Rise by Same-Sex Couples, Despite Legal Barriers
Growing numbers of gay couples across the country are adopting, according to census data, despite an uneven legal landscape that can leave their children without the rights and protections extended to children of heterosexual parents. Same-sex couples are explicitly prohibited from adopting in only two states — Utah and Mississippi — but they face significant legal hurdles in about half of all other states, particularly because they cannot legally marry in those states.
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Washington Post: CIA to operate drones over Yemen
The CIA is expected to begin operating armed drone aircraft over Yemen, expanding the hunt for al-Qaeda operatives in a country where counter-terrorism efforts have been disrupted by political chaos, U.S. officials said. …Because it operates under different legal authorities than the military, the CIA may have greater latitude to carry out strikes if the political climate shifts in Yemen and cooperation with American forces is diminished or cut off.
CNN: Rebels report advances in Libya's western mountains
As Washington urged African countries to reject the government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, rebels reported progress Monday against government forces in western mountain cities. After a siege of nearly two months, rebels have freed the city of Al-Rayyana, northeast of Zintan, said Talha Al-Jiwali, a rebel fighter. Nine rebels were killed, and 35 were wounded, he said.
CNNMoney: China inflation picks up to 5.5%
China's rapid pace of inflation picked up again in May, even as the government has stepped up its efforts to tame rising prices. China's inflation rate rose slightly to 5.5% in May - up from an increase of 5.3% in April, according to China's National Bureau of Statistics. …Inflation in China could be bad news for American consumers since it drives up the costs for items imported to the United States.
Financial Times: Greek rating now worst in the world
Greece was downgraded close to default on Monday, sending yields on its 10-year bonds near to fresh euro-era highs and stoking fears over the eurozone debt crisis. Standard & Poor's cut Greece's long-term sovereign credit rating by three notches to triple C, a sign the rating agency thinks it will be forced to downgrade Athens to default - or D - as private creditors are likely to be involved in the country's next bail-out. Greece is now the lowest-rated sovereign in the world, below Ecuador, Jamaica, Pakistan and Grenada.
CNN: IMF to consider Lagarde, Carstens for top job
The International Monetary Fund whittled the candidate pool for its top post Monday, saying it would consider just two contenders, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and Mexican Central Bank chief Agustin Carstens. The post of IMF chief has historically been reserved for a Western European candidate. “The Executive Board will meet with the candidates in Washington, D.C., and, thereafter, meet to discuss the strengths of the candidates and make a selection," the IMF said in a statement, which made no mention of other candidates.
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New York Times: Thieves Found Citigroup Site an Easy Entry
Using the Citigroup customer Web site as a gateway to bypass traditional safeguards and impersonate actual credit card holders, a team of sophisticated thieves cracked into the bank’s vast reservoir of personal financial data, until they were detected in a routine check in early May. That allowed them to capture the names, account numbers, e-mail addresses and transaction histories of more than 200,000 Citi customers, security experts said, revealing for the first time details of one of the most brazen bank hacking attacks in recent years.
CNN: U.S. airlines made billions in fees in 2010
U.S. airlines accumulated nearly $5.7 billion in fees in 2010, according to a financial report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Airlines collected $3.4 billion from baggage fees and $2.3 billion in reservation change fees, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics report. Other fees paid by passengers are included in larger categories with other types of revenue for the report.
CNN: Almost 4000 Air Canada workers go on strike
Following weeks of negotiations, 3,800 Air Canada customer service and sales employees went on strike early Tuesday morning. The sticking point was pensions, said Jerry Dias of the Canadian Auto Workers, the strikers' union. Air Canada "refused to remove major concessionary demands on the existing pension plan," the union said in a statement. Air Canada emphasized that previously scheduled flights would continue as planned.
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