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: Romney gets positive review from DeMint, hits back at Santorum
"Excited" after a meeting Thursday with Mitt Romney, tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint urged fellow Republicans to be realistic and rally around the party's eventual nominee, making his plea the same day the ex-governor's chief rival suggested voters would be as well off with President Barack Obama as they would Romney.
CNN: Obama defends his policy on oil pipeline
President Barack Obama took on critics of his energy policies Thursday, saying in carefully coordinated speeches that they weren't paying attention to increased oil production at home and were misleading the public about the cause of rising gas prices.
CNN: Romney pens op-ed to mark 'Obamacare' anniversary
Republican and Democratic opponents alike have sought to align the health care reform laws of Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, but on the federal law’s two year anniversary, Romney penned an op-ed to argue he has nothing to do with “Obamacare.”
CNN: Marine says he faces discharge over Obama comments
A politically active Marine who has questioned President Barack Obama's authority said Thursday that he is facing administrative discharge proceedings over his comments. Sgt. Gary Stein, who founded the Armed Forces Tea Party, said his commanding officer at Camp Pendleton near San Diego has accused him of violating a catch-all military justice provision against conduct endangering "good order and discipline."
CNN: Prosecution faces major hurdles in massacre case
The 16 Afghans killed in a shooting spree in early March were buried without autopsies, in accordance with the Islamic tradition of a quick burial. Any effort to do disinter the bodies and do an autopsy would probably be resisted by the Afghan villagers. But that could present one of many challenges military prosecutors will have in making a case against the alleged shooter, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales.
CNN: Sanford, Florida, police chief steps aside 'temporarily' in fallout from teen's death
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee announced Thursday he is stepping down "temporarily" as head of the department, which has been criticized for its handling of the fatal shooting last month of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
CNN: Mississippi AG takes Barbour pardons back to state's high court
Mississippi's attorney general Thursday again asked the state Supreme Court to overturn some 200 pardons, including those of convicted murderers, issued by former Gov. Haley Barbour in January during his last days in office. In a brief, Attorney General Jim Hood argued that the case should be reheard because the "private personal rights" of the victims, as provided by the state constitution and the Mississippi Crime Victims' Bill of Rights, were violated by the pardons.
CNN: Cocaine, heart disease contributed to Houston's drowning, coroner says
Whitney Houston died from an accidental drowning in a hotel bathtub, but the "effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use" were contributing factors in her death, the Los Angeles County coroner said in an initial autopsy report released Thursday.
CNN: Japan prepares missile defense ahead of North Korea launch
The Japanese defense minister said Friday that he had ordered the country's military to prepare a missile defense system ahead of a planned rocket launch by North Korea next month. North Korea said last week that it is planning to carry out a rocket-powered satellite launch between April 12 and 16, alarming countries around the region.
CNN: France asks: Were warnings missed on Toulouse killer?
Did French intelligence services miss vital clues as Mohammed Merah showed signs of growing radicalization? In the words of the French newspaper, L'Express, on Thursday: "Did the security services fail in their surveillance?"
CNN: Divers find 5 more bodies in Costa Concordia wreckage
The bodies of five more people killed when the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank were found Thursday, bringing to 30 the number of bodies located, Italian officials said. Two of the roughly 4,200 originally aboard the cruise liner remain missing. The Costa Concordia, a ship belonging to cruise line Costa Crociere, struck rocks off the island of Giglio on January 13 with about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members on board.
CNN: Raul Castro reportedly replaces two Fidel loyalists with younger leaders
Cuba President Raul Castro removed two longtime government leaders loyal to his brother Fidel and promoted younger technocrats, according to state-run media and a U.S. analyst.
CNN Money: Colleges slashing tuition, offering 3-year degrees
A growing number of colleges are taking extreme measures to attract more students by cutting tuition or speeding up the rate at which they graduate. While some private colleges are introducing double-digit percentage cuts in tuition or freezing prices altogether, other schools are offering three-year degree programs or four-year graduation guarantees.
CNN Money: Americans now watch more online movies than DVDs
U.S. movie buffs will pay to watch more movies online in 2012 than they will on physical video formats like DVD. That historic first marks a tipping point for Hollywood - and its business model.
CNN Money: Facebook strips 'privacy' from new 'data use' policy
In case you missed it…
With gas prices on the minds of voters, the president's support for the Keystone pipeline is a red flag to Republicans.