The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click on the headlines for more.
CNN: With Alabama and Mississippi losses, Romney continues to stumble in Bible Belt
Mitt Romney’s losses in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday offered more stark evidence of a huge stumbling in his quest for the GOP nomination and the White House: his difficulty winning in the evangelical-rich Bible Belt.
CNN: Santorum wins hurt Gingrich as GOP race stretches on
Rick Santorum took his re-energized Republican presidential campaign to Puerto Rico on Wednesday after key primary victories in the South that raised questions about conservative rival Newt Gingrich's viability as a candidate and portended a long battle with frontrunner Mitt Romney.
CNN: Late deal prevents partisan fight over judges
A major standoff in the Senate over confirming federal judges fizzled Wednesday when Democratic and Republican leaders reached a last minute compromise. The deal, which gave each side a partial victory, prevented what was likely to be another ugly episode of partisan politics from playing out on the Senate floor.
CNN: Santorum says Puerto Rico must adopt English for statehood
Rick Santorum on Wednesday laid out one caveat he would hold for the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico before it obtained statehood, saying the island would need to make English its principal language before it becomes a state.
CNN: Suspect in Afghan killings flown to Kuwait
The U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 civilians during a weekend rampage has been transferred out of Afghanistan while awaiting charges, the NATO command said late Wednesday. The still-unidentified Army staff sergeant was transferred on the recommendation of advisers to Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, and because "we do not have the proper facility in Afghanistan to detain him for longer than he is being held," said Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.
CNN: Senate passes $109 billion transportation bill
A $109 billion transportation bill won approval Wednesday from the Senate but still faces likely political wrangling in the House. The 74-22 Senate vote showed broad bipartisan support for the two-year measure that extends the federal highway trust fund set to expire at the end of March.
CNN: FAA says new 'safety culture' will stress solutions, not blame
It may seem counterintuitive, but federal aviation officials said Wednesday they will make the skies safer for air travelers not by punishing FAA employees who report making mistakes, but by protecting them from punishment.
CNN: Virginia Tech to review negligence verdict in 2007 shooting rampage
Virginia Tech plans to consider all its options after it reviews a jury verdict that found it was negligent in a 2007 shooting rampage that left 33 people dead, including the gunman, a university spokesman said.
CNN: Obama, Cameron offer united front on Afghanistan, Syria
Citing the challenges in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama and visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday they remained committed to completing the mission successfully by turning over security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.
CNN: Iran's Ahmadinejad grilled by lawmakers
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quizzed by lawmakers Wednesday on domestic and foreign policy issues after being summoned before parliament. It was the first time since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 that the parliament had summoned the country's president to answer questions.
CNN: Carnage continues 1 year later in Syria
Thursday marks a year since Syrians took to the streets, emboldened by the successes of other Arab Spring nations, and began protesting against President Bashar al-Assad. Last March 15, hundreds stormed the streets in the southern city of Daraa, angry about abuses against schoolchildren, in a protest called a "Day of Rage." A year later, the protests have spread as has the misery.
CNN: New arrest in UK phone hacking probe
A 51-year-old man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of intimidation of a witness in connection with an investigation into alleged phone hacking, London's Metropolitan Police said. He is also suspected of encouraging or assisting an offense, the police statement said.
CNN Money: Goldman exec quits, calling firm 'toxic'
A Goldman Sachs executive has resigned in a very public manner - calling the firm "toxic" and disrespectful of its clients in a scathing op-ed piece published in Wednesday's New York Times. "I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it," wrote Greg Smith on his "last day at Goldman Sachs," capping 12 years with Wall Street's gilded firm.
CNN Money: SEC crackdown ends Wild West days of private stock trades
The party's over. After a yearlong investigation into the trading of private-company stock, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges on Wednesday against four firms involved in the shadowy secondary market.
CNN Money: Ex-Google employee says Google+ has ruined the company
Angry rants about the demise of corporate culture aren't reserved only for ex-Goldman Sachs employees. Microsoft-turned-Google engineer James Whittaker - now once again a Microsoft employee - fired off a scathing blast Tuesday on a Microsoft blog about why he left Google.
In case you missed it...
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta got a personal taste of Afghanistan's unpredictable violence during his visit Wednesday.