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: Officials: President Obama seeks $3 to $4 trillion in cuts
President Barack Obama is seeking $3 to $4 trillion in deficit cuts over the next decade, a move that would require putting Social Security, Medicare, defense spending and tax reform on the table as part of a balanced approach to cuts, Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations told CNN. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not say what types of cuts would have to be considered under such a proposal. In the past, one Social Security adjustment debt negotiators have discussed is cost-of-living.
CNN: Appeals court suspends enforcement of 'don't ask, don't tell' policy
A federal appeals court Wednesday issued an order blocking the U.S. military from enforcing its "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians serving in the military. U.S. officials have been moving ahead with dismantling the policy but had objected to having the courts force the government to officially repeal it at this time.
CNNMoney: Obama talks jobs via Twitter
Sitting at the White House with Twitter Co-founder Jack Dorsey, Obama took questions from 18 Twitter users, or so-called tweeps, and responded via a live webcast online. Twitter user DrewHampshire asked Obama, "What mistakes have you made in handling this recession and what would you do differently?" Obama responded by defending stimulus measures. …But Obama also said that if he had a do-over, he would have also enacted better housing programs and explained more clearly to the public that the recovery would take a long time.
CNN: 2012 battles fought in 140 characters or less
[O]n Wednesday, President Obama became the first president to tweet when he answered questions on jobs and the economy via a Twitter townhall. … Also on Wednesday, an Internet-based Tea Party group – TeaParty.net – announced it will hold a presidential debate with Republican candidates wholly on Twitter.
San Francisco Chronicle: ATF implicates FBI in Mexico gun-trafficking probe
The embattled head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has told congressional investigators that some Mexican drug cartel figures targeted by his agency in a gun-trafficking investigation were paid informants for the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration.
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CNN: Former Atlanta superintendent fires back in cheating scandal
The embattled former superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools on Wednesday denied she knew of any widespread falsification by educators of student test results. Beverly Hall, superintendent of the district when the scandal surfaced, lashed back at a scathing state report that concluded she "either knew or should have known cheating and other misconduct were occurring in the APS system."
USA Today: Safety group wants more data on cellphone bans
The Governors Highway Safety Association urges states to hold off on banning the practice until more research is done to gauge the effectiveness of such laws. …The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said last year it found no reduction in crashes after handheld cellphones were banned in California, Connecticut, New York and Washington, D.C.
New York Times: U.S. and Mexico Sign Trucking Deal
Mexican truckers will be able to carry goods deep into the United States, and vice versa, under a deal signed Wednesday in Mexico City to keep a 17-year-old promise. As part of the deal, Mexico will eliminate tariffs on $2.3 billion of American goods and agricultural products as soon as the first Mexican truck obtains a permit and is allowed to enter the United States. As a preliminary step, the tariffs will be reduced 50 percent by the end of this week.
CNN: Feds order ExxonMobil to improve safety at ruptured Montana pipeline
Federal authorities have ordered ExxonMobil to make safety improvements to a ruptured pipeline in Montana that caused 750 to 1,000 barrels of crude oil to gush into the Yellowstone River last week. The cause of the pipeline break is still under investigation, authorities said.
CNN: Jury selection begins for soldier accused in Afghan shootings
Jury selection begins Thursday for an Army sergeant charged in what military authorities say was a conspiracy by a group of soldiers to kill Afghan civilians for sport and then cover it up. Sgt. Darren Jones is one of 12 soldiers, all members of the Washington-based 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, accused in a case that strained U.S. relations with Afghanistan after details emerged that some of the soldiers allegedly posed with dead Afghans and collected souvenirs from the killings.
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CNN: Libyan rebels launch assault close to Tripoli
Rebels marched toward Tripoli Wednesday, capturing a town southwest of the capital from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces, a rebel fighter told CNN. The rebels ran over Al-Qawalish, a town of about 4,000 residents 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Tripoli, a stronghold for Gadhafi since the start of the uprising in February.
CNN: At least 16 dead after protests in the Syrian city of Hama
At least 16 people have been killed over the last two days in and around the Syrian town of Hama, which a human rights group described Wednesday as the "latest city to fall victim to President Bashar al-Assad's security forces." Human Rights Watch reported that the crackdown by security forces and pro-government armed groups known as "shabiha" began after a huge peaceful demonstration Friday.
Washington Post: Pakistan’s nuclear-bomb maker says North Korea paid bribes for know-how
The founder of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb program asserts that the government of North Korea bribed top military officials in Islamabad to obtain access to sensitive nuclear technology in the late 1990s. Abdul Qadeer Khan has made available documents that he says support his claim that he personally transferred more than $3 million in payments by North Korea to senior officers in the Pakistani military, which he says subsequently approved his sharing of technical know-how and equipment with North Korean scientists.
CNN: Murdoch calls allegations against his paper 'deplorable'
Media baron Rupert Murdoch broke his silence on a scandal swirling around his flagship British tabloid newspaper Wednesday, calling allegations that journalists illegally hacked into the voice mails of murder and terrorism victims "deplorable and unacceptable." Graham Foulkes, whose son was killed in a 2005 London terrorist attack, said Wednesday his phone number and home address were found in the files of a private investigator working for the News of the World, a Sunday tabloid.
CNN: Vance unmoved by call for his recusal from Strauss-Kahn case
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. will not recuse himself from prosecuting the case against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for the attempted rape of a hotel housekeeper, his spokeswoman said Wednesday. …The announcement came in response to the call earlier in the day from an attorney for the housekeeper.
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CNNMoney: The banks' billion-dollar idea
Banks have found a new revenue stream - and this time, it doesn't involve hitting you up with a new fee. Many of the nation's leading banks are using information about their customers' shopping habits - how much they spend, where they shop, what they buy - to make money. Based on that data, retailers are offering targeted discounts via the banks through text messages, email and online bank statements.
Wall Street Journal: Antitrust Chief to Step Down
Christine Varney, the assistant attorney general who spearheaded the Obama administration's drive to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement, plans to step down next month to join the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. Her departure, after two years in the post, deprives the administration of an antitrust chief widely viewed as tough and politically savvy when the Justice Department is conducting several high-profile merger reviews, including AT&T Inc.'s $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG.
CNN: Facebook readies a blitz of new products
Facebook is readying a slew of new products to debut soon, said Zuckerberg, the company's CEO, at a news conference here on Wednesday. …The starting gun for this stage of frequent product updates sounded at Wednesday's event, which served as a launch pad for new messaging tools. People will be able to make video calls on Facebook's site, thanks to a partnership with Skype, and create impromptu chat rooms.
In Case You Missed It…
U.S. warns airlines about a new terror threat – surgically implanted bombs. CNN's Brian Todd reports.
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