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 pushes GOP on taxes in debt ceiling talks
President Barack Obama called on lawmakers Wednesday to overcome the "selfish" norms of politics and "do their job" in order to strike a deal on raising the federal government's current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by the start of August. …The president blasted congressional Republicans for refusing to consider raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans as part of any deal.
CNN: Federal appeals court rules health care reform bill is constitutional
The political and legal future of the sweeping health care reform bill received a big boost Wednesday after a federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled in favor of the Obama administration and Congress, concluding a key provision in the landmark legislation was constitutional. …The opinion is the first of three rulings that will emerge from federal appeals courts around the country in the coming weeks over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
CNN: Al Qaeda still greatest danger, U.S. adviser says
A new U.S. counterterrorism strategy released Wednesday focuses on the ability of al Qaeda and its network to inspire people in the United States to attack the homeland, said John Brennan, White House counterterrorism adviser. Speaking at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Brennan said, "Indeed, this is the first counterterrorism strategy that designates the homeland as a primary area of emphasis in our counterterrorism efforts."
New York Times: Senate Votes to Streamline the Confirmation Process
The Senate took the rare step of relinquishing power on Wednesday, easily passing a measure that would exempt about 170 executive branch appointees from confirmation in an effort to streamline a process that has increasingly tied up the Senate and become punishing for those tapped for administration jobs.
Washington Post: Democrat: Weak U.S. laws hurt gun-trafficking fight in Mexico
The ranking Democrat on the House committee investigating the controversial federal gun-trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious accused its Republican chairman on Wednesday of stifling discussion of whether U.S. gun laws have contributed to the violence in Mexico.
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CNN: Officials hopeful as Los Alamos fires rage; lab closed
While firefighters haven't gotten the upper hand in a stubborn wildfire burning near Los Alamos, New Mexico, a sense of accomplishment was evident as the battle headed into Thursday. "We're in the best shape since this thing started," said Fire Chief Doug Tucker, who told reporters that Wednesday was make-it-or-break-it day.
CNN: Rhode Island legislature passes civil union bill
Less than a week after New York became the nation's sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage, Rhode Island state lawmakers on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that permits civil unions between gay and lesbian couples. …Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, is expected to sign the bill into law, according to his spokesman, Michael Trainor.
New York Times: U.S. Drops Deportation Proceedings Against Immigrant in Same-Sex Marriage
In a decision that could have far-reaching effects on immigration cases involving same-sex couples, federal officials have canceled the deportation of a Venezuelan man in New Jersey who is married to an American man, the couple’s lawyer said Wednesday. The announcement comes as immigration officials put into effect new, more flexible guidelines governing the deferral and cancellation of deportations, particularly for immigrants with no serious criminal records.
CNNMoney: Minnesota braces for a government shutdown
Though Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders continue to meet, they have not reached an agreement on a budget for fiscal 2012, which starts Friday. Without a last-minute deal, many state services will be suspended. Highway rest stops will close during the holiday weekend, as will the state zoo. Road construction projects will cease, as will licensing for teachers and businesses. Funding for services such as job training and homelessness support will be cut off.
CNN: Milwaukee schools to lay off 354 teachers
In a budget-cutting move likely to be echoed around the country, Milwaukee Public Schools said Wednesday it will lay off 519 staff members - including 354 teachers - because of $84 million in state cuts and the system's efforts to control costs. Superintendent Gregory Thornton also said schools will likely see larger class sizes and the continued use of older textbooks.
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CNN: ISAF: Haqqani network leader suspected in Kabul hotel attack killed
A top Haqqani network leader suspected of providing support for Tuesday's deadly attack at a Kabul hotel was killed in an airstrike in southeast Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force said Thursday. Ismail Jan, who is the deputy to the senior Haqqani commander, and several fighters were killed in a precision airstrike Wednesday in Paktiya province.
CNN: Pakistan calls for U.S. to leave airbase used for drone attacks
Pakistan's defense minister called Wednesday for the United States to leave the airbase used to launch drone attacks against Taliban and al Qaeda targets on the border with Afghanistan, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported. …Asked about the remarks, a U.S. official said the comments "are news to us" and that U.S. counterterrorism operations in Pakistan were continuing.
CNN: Yemeni VP admits security situation is deteriorating
The Yemeni government has lost control over five provinces, and security in the country is deteriorating, the nation's acting president told CNN in an exclusive interview Wednesday. In his first interview with a Western TV network, Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansoor Hadi detailed how U.S. drones are using voice recognition to target al Qaeda leaders and help the government win back control.
Al Jazeera: France confirms Libya arms drops
The French military has confirmed that it airdropped weapons early this month to civilians fighting in rebel-held areas in the western part of Libya. Colonel Thierry Burkhard, a spokesperson for the French general staff, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the military had dropped assault rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers to groups of unarmed civilians it deemed to be at risk.
CNN: Greece parliament to vote on how to implement austerity package
A key vote is due in Greece's parliament Thursday on how to implement a five-year austerity package that lawmakers approved a day earlier. On Wednesday, the parliament okayed the package demanded by international lenders - a move that should clear the way for an emergency loan to Athens.
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CNNMoney: Fed gives banks a break on card swipe fees
Banks and credit card issuers got a break Wednesday from the Federal Reserve. The agency passed a cap on the fees that the biggest banks charge retailers when customers use debit cards, and it turned out to be more generous than some banks and card issuers had anticipated. The Fed approved a 21-cent limit on so-called swipe fees – about half of the current average swipe fee of 44 cents.
CNNMoney: Amazon drops California associates to avoid sales tax
Amazon said Thursday it is terminating its relationship with thousands of California associates because of a new law that would require the online mega-retailer to collect sales taxes if it has affiliates in the state. Governor Jerry Brown signed the measure into law on Thursday as part of the state's plan to reduce its budget gap. It is expected to add $200 million to the Golden State's coffers.
CNNMoney: News Corp. sells Myspace to Specific Media
Myspace has a new owner: Digital ad network Specific Media said Wednesday that it has acquired the ailing social network from News Corp. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but multiple news reports put it at around $35 million - far less than the $580 million News Corp. paid for Myspace in 2005.
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