The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
CNN: Leaders meet over spending, tax-cut impasse as clock ticks
In the first sign of progress in days of stalemate over the payroll tax extension and a government funding bill, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell met privately for about an hour in the Capitol Wednesday night.
CNN: White House drops veto threat on defense bill
The White House lifted a veto threat against a giant $662 billion defense authorization bill on Wednesday after legislators made changes in language involving detainees.
CNN: 'Welcome home,' Obama tells troops from Iraq
President Barack Obama on Wednesday welcomed home returning troops from Iraq, hailing their service to help a people they didn't know as an example of what makes America great.
CNN: Gingrich under fire
Newt Gingrich is getting a nasty taste of what’s to come. As the former House speaker stood in a classroom at the University of Iowa and began to detail his vision for a federal brain-science project dedicated to curing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, Occupy Iowa City protesters started shouting.
CNN: Executions, death sentences continue steady declines in 2011
The number of executions and death sentences nationwide continues a steady decline, according to a study released Thursday, matching dwindling public support for capital punishment in general.
CNN: Experts: States will continue to put brakes on cell phone bans
The National Transportation Safety Board's big, bold stroke encouraging all states to prohibit drivers from using cell phones faces a long, tortuous process in the nation's statehouses, experts said Wednesday.
CNN: Occupy 2.0? Church leaders join movement
A group of African-American church leaders announced Wednesday their intention to join ranks with the Occupy movement in the nation's capital, bolstering what some consider a mutual message of condemning income inequality and social injustice.
CNN: Human Rights Watch criticizes Alabama immigration law
Alabama's controversial immigration law is "grounded in discrimination," fosters a culture of fear and denies basic rights to undocumented residents and their families, a human rights organization said in a report released Wednesday.
CNN: Syrian bloodshed unabated despite international pressure
Businesses in several Syrian cities were shuttered Wednesday amid ongoing violence and bloodshed as pressure mounted for an international response to the government crackdown on protesters.
CNN: Secretary-general calls for action on Syria, touts U.N. role in Arab Spring
The United Nations' secretary-general called once again Wednesday for a cessation of violence in Syria and for international action.
CNN: Alleged cyberplot points to Venezuela, Iran, documentary says
It's the type of plot that defense hawks in the United States warn about: a potential cyberattack against the U.S. government orchestrated by none other than Venezuela, Iran and Cuba, with the help of a group of Mexican leftists.
CNN: MF Global: What did Corzine know?
After hours of testimony from ex-MF Global CEO Jon Corzine on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the head of exchange operator CME Group "tossed a bomb," as one senator put it.
CNN: Bernanke worries Europe's woes will spill into U.S.
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke told Republican senators on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that he's concerned about European sovereign debt problems spilling over to the U.S. economy, according to senators.
CNN: Millionaire surtax: The go-to tax
It looks like the millionaire surtax is going down again. Democrats have pushed for weeks to impose a millionaire surtax to help pay for the cost of extending the payroll tax cut. Republicans have said it would be a job-killer.
In Case You Missed It…
CNN's Jason Carroll interviews Florida A&M's president on the alleged hazing controversy involving the school band.
►CNN: Leaders meet over spending, tax-cut impasse as clock ticks
So let’s get it done without any hidden, one-sided tricks
►CNN: White House drops veto threat on defense bill
Getting it right is surely NO BIG THRILL
There is nothing wrong with a bipartisan conclusion
And all should veer away from personal collusion
►CNN: 'Welcome home,' Obama tells troops from Iraq
And at that moment – did you see their faces – our young heroes are back!!
►CNN: Gingrich under fire
He should have ALWAYS been on the “live wire”
And never put on a pedestal of a champ
I remember him way back then – he was an annoying “cramp”
Off to work – HAVE A NICE DAY and I’m being sincere!!
Two more days – then I’m OFF until next Year!!! :-)