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: Key Republican pulls out of debt ceiling talks, negotiations on verge of collapse
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor withdrew from the negotiations Thursday, saying they had reached an impasse with Democrats over tax issues and it was time for President Obama to get involved to broker a deal that would pave the way for a vote to raise the debt ceiling this summer. Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl said that it would be difficult to continue negotiations with only one Republican at the table.
CNNMoney: U.S. to release oil from strategic reserve
The U.S. Department of Energy said Thursday it will release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to alleviate Libyan supply disruptions - driving already sinking prices lower. The release, which will be done over 30 days, represents half of a 60 million barrel supply hike announced by the International Energy Agency, which includes the United States as one of its 28 member nations.
CNN: Afghan withdrawal more 'aggressive' than military proposed
Top military commanders told members of Congress on Thursday that President Barack Obama's scheduled withdrawal of 33,000 "surge" troops from Afghanistan by next summer is more "aggressive" than the Pentagon initially proposed. But Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, made it clear they will carry out the president's orders.
CNN: President Obama backs rights for gay couples in New York fundraiser
President Barack Obama took his act to New York on Thursday as the featured attraction at three back-to-back fundraisers, where he touted his progressive credentials, including support for equal rights for gay couples. …After condemning discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, the president drew rigorous applause when he addressed same-sex couples. "I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every couple in this country," Obama said.
Austin American-Statesman: Mild response for a subdued Perry at Hispanic officials' convention
Gov. Rick Perry stayed on safe ground Thursday during an address to Hispanic government officials, touting Texas as a land where dreams can be achieved but leaving his most controversial initiatives unmentioned. The response from the hundreds gathered at a National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials convention was polite but tepid, a stark contrast from the boisterous Republican audiences to which Perry has delivered fiery speeches in recent weeks.
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CNN: Captured fugitive 'Whitey' Bulger could be taken to Boston Friday
Captured alleged mobster James "Whitey" Bulger may be moved back to Boston Friday to begin facing the numerous charges of murder and other crimes connected to what authorities say were his days as the leader of the Winter Hill Gang. Bulger, who vanished in 1995 into lore and became the inspiration for the 2006 Martin Scorsese film "The Departed," was nabbed by the FBI Wednesday night in southern California.
CNN: Hacker group targets Arizona law enforcement
The hacker group LulzSec has alarmed police in Arizona this week after releasing sensitive information about officers. The group said they posted the information in response to Arizona's controversial immigration law. …"We are targeting AZDPS (Arizona Department of Public Safety) specifically because we are against SB 1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona." The Arizona Highway Patrol Association said the release of the documents is unsafe for officers.
CNN: Two men charged with plan to attack military recruiting station
Two U.S. citizens from Seattle and Los Angeles - described as "would-be terrorists" by the FBI - have been arrested and charged with plotting to kill Americans enlisting in the armed forces in Seattle, federal officials announced Thursday. …When the suspects attempted to recruit a third man, that individual instead went to the police, authorities said. "Because someone stepped forward we were able to disrupt a very deadly attack," said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan.
CNN: Marine reservist charged in 2010 military shootings
Federal authorities on Thursday charged a Marine reservist in connection with 2010 shootings at the Pentagon and the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Although he has been charged with only two shootings so far, the criminal complaint links him to three other shootings at military recruiting stations.
CNN: North Dakota river to surpass record levels
The summer flooding in Minot, North Dakota will enter record territory Friday morning as the Souris River surges toward a peak, days ahead of original forecasts by the National Weather Service. …The waters were rushing into the area faster and in greater amounts than expected, overflowing a lake near the city, officials said, exacerbating the region's flood concerns.
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CNN: Damascus streets contrast sharply with border chaos
The scene inside Syria's capital Thursday contrasted sharply with the scene in recent days on the Turkish side of the border, where some 10,000 refugees have sought shelter and safety as unrest continues to shake the country. CNN journalists entered Damascus Thursday after months of being barred from reporting inside the country. Accompanied on their video shoots by a government "minder," the journalists found life in the Old City appeared, at first glance, relatively normal.
New York Times: Seized Phone Offers Clues to Bin Laden’s Pakistani Links
The cellphone of Osama bin Laden’s trusted courier, which was recovered in the raid that killed both men in Pakistan last month, contained contacts to a militant group that is a longtime asset of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, senior American officials who have been briefed on the findings say. The discovery indicates that Bin Laden used the group, Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, as part of his support network inside the country, the officials and others said.
CNN: Mexico's president defends anti-drug policy
Mexican President Felipe Calderon defended his anti-drug policy on Thursday, saying he regrets that many people have died in its wake, but would not apologize for having sent federal forces into the streets to combat crime. "The irresponsible thing would have been not to act," he said after meeting with Javier Sicilia, a poet and leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity.
CNN: U.N. Security Council to work on Sudanese issues
The U.N. Security Council will take up a draft resolution that would establish an interim peacekeeping force for the disputed border region of Abyei, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told reporters Thursday. The draft resolution calls for the deployment of 4,200 Ethiopian National Defense Force peacekeepers to the region.
BBC: EU leaders pledge to do what is needed to help Greece
European Union leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to help Greece out of its current debt woes and maintain EU financial stability. Greece's government is proposing additional spending cuts worth 28bn euros (£25bn) over five years. If these are passed then Greece will get its next 12bn-euro installment from the current 110bn euro bail-out package from fellow eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.
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Wall Street Journal: Lender Drops Pursuit of Debt
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. has abandoned more than a thousand debt-collection lawsuits across the U.S. that sought to recover soured credit-card loans from borrowers. The nation's second-largest bank by assets, including more than $100 billion in credit-card accounts, wouldn't disclose the number of cases dismissed or the reasons for the move. State judges said the bank has dropped lawsuits targeting borrowers in California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York since April.
Bloomberg: California, New York Start Probe of Google
New York and California are in the early stages of an antitrust investigation of Google Inc., along with Texas and Ohio, said a person with knowledge of the matter who didn’t want to be identified because the probe isn’t public. Officials in Texas and at the European Commission have started investigations into Google’s dominance of the Internet search industry. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in March his office was “evaluating the facts” to determine whether it wanted to conduct a probe.
CNNMoney: Facebook nabs Netflix CEO for board
Facebook nabbed one of the tech world's most admired leaders for a spot on its board: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. "Reed is an entrepreneur and technologist who has led Netflix to transform the way people watch movies and TV," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday in a written statement. "He has built a culture of continuous rapid innovation, something we share and work hard to build every day."
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she's open to talks with the Taliban, but only if they follow the rules. CNN’s Jill Dougherty reports.