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: House vote on Republican debt plan set for Thursday
A pivotal vote on House Speaker John Boehner's debt plan is scheduled for Thursday in the House of Representatives, a day after competing plans from Democrats and Republicans were subjected to a fresh round of criticism. …"Get your ass in line," Boehner told his fellow Republicans in the face of divisive infighting over his latest proposal, two GOP sources who attended a Wednesday morning meeting told CNN on condition of not being identified.
CNN: Debt deadlock: Behind the scenes
There is a growing sense among Democratic and Republican Senate leadership aides that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will be able to get enough votes to get his deficit reduction and debt ceiling increase bill passed. And if that happens, says a Senate GOP leadership aide, "the psychology changes overnight."
CNNMoney: The trillion dollar mystery
House Speaker John Boehner says his bill has $1.2 trillion in discretionary spending cuts over ten years. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says his bill has about the same level of such cuts. …Here's the problem: Nobody knows which federal programs are on the chopping block. The bills for the most part avoid targeting specific programs for cuts. Instead, they set spending caps that would limit growth over a ten-year period.
Wall Street Journal: Markets Swoon on Debt Fear
Financial investors grew increasingly worried Wednesday about lawmakers' failure to reach accord on raising the debt ceiling, pushing U.S. stocks to their worst one-day drop in two months and weakening the demand for Treasury securities. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 198.75 points, or 1.6%, to 12302.55.
CNN: McCain refers to 'tea party hobbits,' blasts Bachmann-backed idea
In a Senate floor speech laced with sarcasm and stings, the Arizona Republican aimed especially harsh fire at the tea party Wednesday. …McCain – 2008's Republican presidential nominee – also blasted as "bizarre" an idea supported by current GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, though McCain did not mention her by name.
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USA Today: States nervously watch debt-ceiling impasse
The U.S. government's stalemate over raising the debt limit is taking a growing toll on states as Tuesday's deadline draws near, with some canceling bond sales and identifying roadwork and other expenditures that could be delayed. …A failure by Congress to raise the $14.3 trillion federal debt limit would lower the nation's credit rating and raise borrowing costs for states as well as 7,000 cities, counties, universities and non-profits.
CNN: Justice to brief 9/11 families on hacking probe
Families of victims of the 9/11 attacks will meet with top Justice Department officials in late August to discuss whether any of their relatives' phone messages were hacked by employees of News Corp., likely participants said Wednesday.
Washington Post: Colors lowered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Except for the camera shutters clacking, you could have heard a surgical pin drop as the Army furled its seven unit colors and encased them in cloth bags at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Wednesday. …Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 102 years old and showing its age, is closing and being merged with the expansive National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.
Austin American-Statesman: 2010-2011 drought likely to be among costliest on record for Texas farmers, ranchers
The current drought is likely to be the costliest in a 12-month span, said David Anderson, a livestock economist with the Texas A&M University's Agrilife Extension Service. In May, Agrilife reported losses statewide at $1.2 billion. Anderson said an August report will likely tally the cost at three to four times that.
CNN: Senate gives Mueller 2 more years at FBI
The Senate voted swiftly and unanimously Wednesday to keep FBI Director Robert Mueller in office for another two years, extending a term that had been set to expire August 2. In keeping with Mueller's low-key preferences, FBI officials planned no statement. It was not clear if he would be sworn in for the extended term.
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CNN: Diplomatic hopes for Libyan peace appear to fade
Britain's decision to expel Moammar Gadhafi's diplomats from London ensures that the bloody test of wills in Libya will grind on for weeks, if not months to come. Barely 15 days ago, there was optimism from regime insiders here in Tripoli that a deal was in the works to resolve the five-month conflict. …Developments over the last two weeks appear to have killed those hopes.
CNN: New al Qaeda leader slams Syrian president, praises protesters
The new head of al Qaeda describes Syria's president as "the leader of criminal gangs, the protector of traitors," and applauds anti-government protesters seeking to topple him, in a video that appeared on extremist websites this week. Ayman al-Zawahiri's message is believed to be his first since he was named leader of the terror network. CNN could not independently verify its authenticity.
CNN: Historic rains kill at least 39 in South Korea
Massive downpours in South Korea - the heaviest rains in a century - are blamed for 39 deaths, the country's Central Disaster Relief Agency reported Thursday. Heavy rain was still falling Thursday morning across parts of the country. It was raining in some areas around Seoul at a rate of two inches an hour (50 millimeters an hour) and was expected to continue Thursday.
CNN: Chinese premier appears at scene of deadly train accident
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in the eastern city of Wenzhou Thursday, where the crash of a high-speed train had taken the lives of 39 people over the weekend, state media reported. …The premier made his appearance at the crash site on the same day the Shanghai railway bureau said that design flaws in railway signal equipment led to Saturday's fatal high-speed train in Zhejiang Province, Xinhua reported.
Al Jazeera: UN begins food aid airlift to Somalia
The World Food Programme airlifted tonnes of emergency supplies to Mogadishu to feed thousands of malnourished children in drought-stricken Somalia, officials said. A plane carrying 10 tonnes of peanut butter-based nutritional paste flew from neighbouring Kenya to the Somali capital on Wednesday, David Orr, a WFP official who was on the flight, said.
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CNNMoney: Exxon and Microsoft bonds: The real safe haven
Credit rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Moody's have warned that they might downgrade the U.S. if the debt ceiling is not raised by the August 2 deadline. But experts say that even if the United States loses its AAA rating, that won't lead to immediate downgrades of U.S. companies.
CNNMoney: Wall Street runs on Dunkin: Shares pop in IPO
Dunkin' Brands made its debut as a public company Wednesday, with investors showing strong demand for the doughnut maker's initial public offering. Shares of the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins started trading at $25 each, up 31% from the list price.
Washington Post: Automakers, Obama administration agree on fuel efficiency standards through 2025
The Obama administration and major auto manufacturers have reached a deal to raise fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks between 2017 and 2025, resolving a contentious negotiation over how to cut vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions. …While the proposal falls short of the 62-mpg standard that environmental and public health groups had lobbied for, it represents a significant step in federal curbs on tailpipe pollution.
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The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing which killed the mayor of Kandahar. CNN's David Ariosto reports.