The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
CNN: Impasse over payroll tax cut continues
All kinds of ideas are flying around Capitol Hill about how to extend the payroll tax cut set to expire at the end of the year, but a long-standing battle over tax increases and divisions among congressional Republicans have prevented any from gaining traction so far.
CNN: CNN Poll: Gingrich front-runner in 3 or first 4 states to vote
Newt Gingrich tops the field of Republican presidential candidates by double digits in three of the four states to first hold contests in the race for the GOP nomination, according to new surveys in those states.
CNN: Perry hits Obama for war on faith, despite a ghost of ‘holiday season’ past
Rick Perry doubled down on his religion-based attack of President Barack Obama Wednesday, saying the president was preventing students from celebrating Christmas in schools. But just last year, Perry issued a holiday statement as governor of Texas that omits any mention of the Christian holiday.
CNN: Ron Paul doesn’t budge on Israel
GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul held his ground Wednesday against views that he is anti-Israel as he sought to explain his exclusion from a major gathering of conservative Jewish advocates his fellow GOP hopefuls addressed.
CNN: Blagojevich gets 14 years in prison for corruption
A federal judge sentenced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to 14 years in prison for corruption Wednesday.
CNN: Suspect in girl's slaying worked at apartment complex
The suspect in the slaying of a 7-year-old Georgia girl worked in the apartment complex where she lived, investigators said Wednesday.
CNN: Alabama AG makes revision suggestions for immigration law
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has sent to state legislative leaders a series of suggested changes to the state's controversial anti-illegal immigration law.
CNN: After release on DWI charge, FAA administrator made test flight
A day and a half after he was arrested on a drunk-driving charge, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt co-piloted a government jet to North Carolina as part of a proficiency flight, Federal Aviation Administration officials confirmed Wednesday.
CNN: Al-Assad denies responsibility for Syria crackdown
In a rare interview with an American television network, Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad denied he is responsible for the violence engulfing his country and distanced himself from the behavior of his armed forces.
CNN: Gadhafi son tried to go secretly to Mexico, official says
Saadi Gadhafi, a son of the deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, secretly tried to travel to Mexico using false documents, Mexico's interior minister said Wednesday.
CNN: Gorbachev calls for new Russian elections
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, called Wednesday for new parliamentary elections in Russia over concerns about vote fraud.
CNN: Amnesty International asks U.S to stop sending arms, tear gas to Egypt
Amnesty International is demanding the United States stop allowing the export of arms and riot-control material to Egypt, where security forces have cracked down on protests.
CNN Money: Corzine to testify before Congress about MF Global
After weeks of speculation about how more than a billion dollars in customer money went missing at MF Global, former CEO Jon Corzine will give his side of the story on Capitol Hill Thursday.
CNN Money: Stocks gain as Europe nears moment of truth
U.S. stocks ended mostly higher Wednesday as investors bet that European leaders will produce a meaningful solution to the debt crisis at a highly anticipated summit this week.
CNN Money: LivingSocial raising $400 million
LivingSocial is raising upwards of $400 million in new funding, according to a new regulatory filing. No new investors were disclosed for the deal, which Bloomberg reports is being done at a $6 billion valuation.
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Sara Sidner reports on a magazine cover with racy photos of a Pakistani actress that has sparked controversy.