The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click the headlines for more.
CNN: Sources: Agreement reached to prevent shutdown
Congressional negotiators have come to an agreement they believe will prevent a government shutdown, according to several Democratic sources.
CNN: Candidates go for last words in last debate before Iowa caucuses
Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich, who has come under assault from nearly all of his rivals for the GOP nomination, defended himself Thursday against questions about his electability and conservative record.
CNN: Paul's serious challenge in Iowa could rock the GOP race
What if Ron Paul rocked the political establishment, silenced the naysayers and spoiled the party for Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney by winning the Iowa caucuses?
CNN: Gallup poll: Unsteady December for GOP field
Gallup's daily tracking poll shows a tightening GOP presidential field, with Newt Gingrich losing steam nationwide and Mitt Romney regaining some momentum within the last week.
CNN: Muted ceremony marks end of Iraq war
America's contentious and costly war in Iraq officially ended Thursday with an understated ceremony in Baghdad that contrasted sharply with its thundering start almost nine years ago.
CNN: U.S. to fund 46 transportation projects in 33 states, Puerto Rico
All 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., submitted applications to the Department of Transportation for grants to fund DOT projects, but - in a sign of tough economic times coupled with a shortage of federal dollars - not everyone is finding presents under the federal Christmas tree this year.
CNN: States ask courts to halt appeals in immigration law cases
Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina asked judges Thursday to halt proceedings in cases challenging the states' immigration laws.
CNN: Vermont fraternity suspended over rape survey
The University of Vermont's Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity is under investigation after a survey surfaced online asking fraternity brothers whom they would rape.
CNN: In their own words: 8 lives changed by the Iraq War
Joyous homecomings flash on television screens with the return of troops from Iraq. But away from the jubilation, stories of loss, darkness and ambivalence emerge.
CNN: Crashed drone was looking at Iran nuclear sites
The Sentinel drone that crashed in Iran last week was on a surveillance mission of suspected nuclear sites in the country, U.S. military officials tell CNN.
CNN: Inside Kenya's war with Al Shabaab
We had tried for weeks to get access to Kenya's incursion into lawless Somalia. The go finally came from the Kenyan military in a text message late one Saturday night. We're told to be at the Nairobi's military airbase before dawn.
CNN: Experts: Long road ahead as crippled Japanese reactors mark milestone
Japanese authorities are expected to announce Friday that a "cold shutdown" has been achieved at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
CNN Money: Stocks snap three-day losing streak
U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday on upbeat jobs and manufacturing reports, but investors said the market remains nervous about the European debt crisis.
CNN Money: MF Global: Corzine maintains innocence
Former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine returned to Capitol Hill Thursday, where he rejected allegations aired earlier this week that he was aware of fund transfers from customer accounts.
CNN: Fitch downgrades world's top banks
The ratings firm Fitch downgraded a cluster of the world's largest banks Thursday, pointing to trading challenges facing international markets.
In Case You Missed It…
CNN's Chris Lawrence explains what could happen at Bradley Manning's preliminary hearing at Fort Meade.