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: Jeb Bush endorses Romney, calls on party to unite
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose endorsement has been highly-sought during the 2012 GOP primary contests, announced Wednesday he was backing presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In a statement, Bush congratulated Romney on his win in Illinois's primary, held Tuesday, and said it was "time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney."
CNN: Obama Goes After Solar Opponents in Nevada
President Barack Obama kicked off a two-day energy tour on Wednesday with a stop here at the largest photovoltaic – producing voltage from energy sources such as light – solar facility in the United States, Copper Mountain Solar 1. Speaking just 30 miles south of the Las Vegas strip, Obama reaffirmed his administration's commitment to an "all of the above" approach to domestic energy production, and called the solar sector an "industry on the rise."
CNN: Romney's big day marred by Etch A Sketch remark
Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's senior campaign adviser, was asked in a CNN interview Wednesday morning whether the former Massachusetts governor had been forced to adopt conservative positions in the rugged race that could hurt his standing with moderates in November's general election. "I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes," Fehrnstrom responded. "It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again." Rival candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich seized on the comment as indicative of their longstanding criticism that Romney shifts his positions on issues to suit his political needs.
CNN: Standoff in Congress threatens highway construction funding
With less than two weeks before federal money runs out for transportation projects across the country, a partisan showdown is developing between Senate Democrats and House Republicans over passing a new bill. The standoff, based on sharply differing views about the overall expense of the bill and how to pay for it, jeopardizes thousands of road and bridge construction projects.
CNN: Health care debate shifts to Medicare panel
In the bitter political debate over health care reform two years ago, one of the most contentious issues was a proposed advisory board that would recommend how to achieve needed but as-yet-unreachable Medicare savings. Now the House will consider repealing the advisory board provision this week in an election-year move that rekindles the fiery emotions of the health care fight back in 2009 and 2010.
CNN: Man arrested for alleged threats to former President Bush, Mitt Romney
A man was arrested by the Secret Service in New Orleans on Wednesday for allegedly making threats against former President George W. Bush and presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said William Thomas Driscoll, 66, was taken into custody on the charge of making threats against a former president or a candidate protected by the service.
CNN: Broken toilets strand United passengers in Alaska
If there's a contest for worst travel experience of the year, United Airlines Flight 857 might be in the running. The plane departed San Francisco on Sunday for a 13-hour trip to Shanghai. But most of the 262 passengers didn't get to China until Tuesday evening - three days late - after an unplanned and prolonged layover in Anchorage, Alaska.
CNN: NFL suspends New Orleans Saints coaches, GM for 'bounties' on opponents
In sweeping discipline that one analyst called "historic," New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended without pay for the entire 2012 season and former Saints defensive coach Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely in a series of NFL punishments Wednesday for the team's bounty program targeting opponents.
CNN: Police siege of suspect in French killings stretches into second day
Mohammed Merah, 23, suspected in seven recent killings, remained holed up Thursday in an apartment in the southern French city of Toulouse, more than 24 hours after hundreds of officers lay siege. Police continued to demand the surrender of the self-proclaimed jihadist.
CNN: Al Qaeda leader calls for Afghans to rise up against Western troops
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri calls on Afghans to rise up against Western troops - especially American forces - in their country and back the Taliban, according to a recent audio message posted on jihadist web forums Wednesday.
CNN: Renegade soldiers announce power seizure in Mali
Renegade Malian soldiers declared Thursday they have seized power in the nation amid fury over the government's handling of a growing insurgency in the north. Forces have taken over the nation, suspended the constitution and dissolved all public institutions until further notice, said Amadou Konare, a spokesman for the soldiers.
CNN: Myanmar invites U.S. and EU to observe April elections
Myanmar has invited the United States and the European Union to send representatives to observe elections in April, according to officials in the region. Surin Pitsuwan, the secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said in a post Wednesday on his official Twitter account that Myanmar's deputy minister for foreign affairs had told him that all members of the association's regional forum were invited to observe the elections.
CNN Money: Obama tax plan would hit the rich
Wealthy taxpayers would see a big jump in their tax bills under President Obama's latest budget proposal, according to a new independent analysis. In fact, those in the top 1% of income would see an average tax increase of nearly $109,000 in 2015, according to the Tax Policy Center.
CNN Money: Why Comcast won't become a wireless carrier
Longing for an alternative to the U.S. wireless industry's Final Four? Don't hold your breath. Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, says it tire-kicked the market and couldn't make the numbers work. "We could not find a viable business model to become the fifth national wireless competitor," said David Cohen, chief counsel to Comcast's CEO.
CNN Money: Green Mountain surges on new Starbucks deal
It's not an end to the coffee wars between Starbucks and Green Mountain Coffee. But it may be a détente. The companies said Wednesday that they'll be joining forces to sell Starbucks-branded single serving coffee packs to run with Green Mountain's newest coffee machine, the Vue.
In case you missed it…
Mitt Romney responds to attacks over a senior adviser's comments about his campaign being like an Etch A Sketch