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: Gingrich delivers show-stopper at beginning of South Carolina debate
The four remaining GOP candidates played to their individual strengths on Thursday and tried to leave a lasting impression in a final, boisterous debate two days before South Carolina's pivotal primary.
CNN: Santorum hails delayed Iowa victory as 'huge upset'
Rick Santorum finished the Iowa Republican caucuses 34 votes ahead of Mitt Romney, but results from several precincts are missing and the full actual results may never be known, according to a final certified tally released Thursday by the Iowa GOP.
CNN: Perry drops out, endorses Gingrich
Texas Gov. Rick Perry suspended his struggling presidential campaign Thursday and threw his support to Newt Gingrich, a development that could alter the dynamics of the Republican race just two days before the tightening South Carolina primary.
CNN: What doomed Rick Perry's campaign
Rick Perry stands alone among the GOP contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination in the way his campaign began and ended.
CNN: Ex-cop fights life sentence in bizarre murder case
Inside the fortress-like walls of the Eastern New York Correctional Facility, Richard DiGuglielmo Jr. is plagued by a question that has haunted him for more than 15 years: "What would you do if someone were swinging a baseball bat at your father's head?"
CNN: Anonymous strikes back after feds shut piracy hub Megaupload
"Hacktivist" collective Anonymous on Thursday took credit for taking down U.S. Department of Justice, FBI and entertainment company websites, following arrests in one of the federal government's largest anti-piracy crackdowns.
CNN: Google says social network has 90M users
Google's infant social network experienced a recent growth spurt. Google+ has more than 90 million registered users, Google CEO Larry Page said during the company's earnings presentation on Thursday. That more than doubles the 40 million that Google reported in October.
CNN: Freestyle ski champ dies week after injury
A Canadian freestyle skier who was seriously injured during practice in Utah last week has died, her family said Thursday in a statement released by her publicist.
CNN: Child slavery and chocolate: All too easy to find
Chocolate’s billion-dollar industry starts with workers like Abdul. He squats with a gang of a dozen harvesters on an Ivory Coast farm. Abdul holds the yellow cocoa pod lengthwise and gives it two quick cracks, snapping it open to reveal milky white cocoa beans. He dumps the beans on a growing pile.
CNN: Decision looms on ending Concordia rescue operations
Italian authorities are considering when to call off the search for survivors aboard the wreck of the cruise liner Costa Concordia, the coast guard said Thursday, as rescuers used explosives to blow new holes in the ship in search of victims.
CNN: Central America's bloody drug problem
Flanked by police officers with assault rifles, and riding down a highway in the back of a police pickup, police commissioner Julian Hernandez explains the difficult task of fighting crime.
CNN: World Cup beer battle brewing between Brazil and FIFA
FIFA and World Cup host nation Brazil are on a collision course over whether alcohol should be served in stadiums during the 2014 finals. Legislation passed by the Brazilian government in 2003 prohibits the sale of all alcohol in football arenas.
CNN Money: At $400 billion, Apple is worth more than Greece
Apple's value on the stock market briefly rose to $400 billion on Thursday, a record high for what was already the world's most valuable technology company.
CNN Money: Big banks boost stocks
U.S. stocks advanced for a third straight session Thursday, rising to fresh six-month highs, thanks to solid gains in financial shares.
CNN Money: Google shares tank as profit comes up short
A search for Google on Thursday afternoon will return some pretty ugly results. Shares of the search giant tanked 10% Thursday in after-hours trading, after reported quarterly profit and sales that rose from year-ago results but badly missed Wall Street's forecasts.
In Case You Missed It…
John King says that it was his decision to ask Gingrich about his ex-wife's allegation; David Gergen weighs in on the issue.