The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
CNN: Conservatives see tough challenges on road to White House
Republicans looking to take back the White House in November face a challenging political environment, a trio of conservative political observers said Thursday at an annual gathering of conservative activists.
CNN: Contraception controversy consumes D.C., campaign
Congressional Democrats and Republicans escalated their rhetorical war Thursday over a pending federal rule requiring religiously affiliated employers to provide full contraception coverage to women - one day after hints emerged of a possible compromise between the White House and conservative religious critics.
CNN: 10 states freed from some 'No Child Left Behind' requirements
Ten states are being granted waivers to free them from some requirements of the No Child Left Behind education reform law, with President Barack Obama explaining Thursday that the move aims to "combine greater freedom with greater accountability."
CNN: Pelosi takes on Colbert
Nancy Pelosi, the stately, serious former House speaker released a video satire Thursday going after comedian Stephen Colbert for his super PAC.
CNN: Driver whisks 6 students off N.C. bus before it bursts into flames
After noticing smoke seeping inside, a North Carolina bus driver rushed six elementary school children off her vehicle moments before it burst into flames.
CNN: First new nuclear reactors OK'd in over 30 years
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved licenses to build two new nuclear reactors Thursday, the first authorized in over 30 years.
CNN: Mississippi pardons challenged at court hearing
Judges on Mississippi's Supreme Court on Thursday heard challenges to the scores of controversial pardons issued by former Gov. Haley Barbour on his way out of office, peppering lawyers with questions but making no immediate ruling.
CNN: Mortgage deal could bring billions in relief
In the largest deal to date aimed at addressing the housing meltdown, federal and state officials on Thursday announced a $26 billion foreclosure settlement with five of the largest home lenders.
CNN: One activist’s chronicle of daily hell in Syria
After days of reported attacks by Syrian government forces, residents in the besieged city of Homs are in fear for their lives as bodies litter in the streets. Activists claim that President Bashar al-Assad's government has been unrelenting in its violence, something the government denies.
CNN: Venezuelan President Chavez dismisses challengers, but one is showing strength
When an opposition candidate challenged Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to a debate last month, his reply was "aguila no caza mosca" - "the eagle doesn't hunt the fly."
CNN: Greek leaders ready to back austerity deal
A dispute over pension cuts stalled talks last night between leaders of Greece's fractious national unity government on tough new austerity measures, one of the last hurdles to be cleared before eurozone officials can sign off on a €130B ($172B) bailout and save Athens from a messy default. However, officials said they were still confident of reaching a deal by the morning.
CNN: Why China didn't back U.N. plan for Syria
China will sometimes say "no" and the world should get used to it. That message came through last weekend when China, one of five permanent U.N. Security Council members, joined Russia in blocking action on Syria.
CNN Money: Mortgage deal: What the critics say
The $26 billion mortgage settlement had a lot of support - as evidenced by the 49 out of 50 state attorneys general that signed on to it.
CNN Money: Stocks: Investors take Greek deal in stride
Investors have been betting on a Greek austerity deal all week, and now that it's finally here, they're breathing a sigh of relief. U.S. stocks closed modestly higher Thursday following a morning of choppy trading.
CNN Money: Tesla unveils its Model X SUV with 'falcon wings'
Tesla Motors on Thursday unveiled a new SUV that the automaker plans to put into production by 2014.
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The FBI releases its file on Apple visionary Steve Jobs. CNN's Lisa Sylvester has more.