The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
CNN: Holder: DOJ to respond 'appropriately' to judges' questions about health care law
The Justice Department is scrambling to meet a federal court's Thursday deadline to answer fundamental constitutional questions dealing with the health care law championed by President Barack Obama, an escalating political battle that has embroiled all three branches of government.
CNN: Obama signs STOCK Act to address 'deficit of trust' in Washington
President Barack Obama signed legislation on Wednesday aimed at restoring Americans' faith in the nation's public institutions at a time they rank at record lows in opinion polls. The act bans insider trading by members of Congress and many executive branch employees.
CNN: Romney makes general election pitch in Pennsylvania, but can't ignore Santorum
Mitt Romney set foot in Pennsylvania on Wednesday in full general election mode, attacking President Barack Obama’s “government-centered” view of America and promising to restore “freedom” to the middle class. But as much as Romney wanted to pivot to the general election, especially in a state that will be a key battleground in November, he could not escape the nagging reality that his trip to the Keystone State was fundamentally about Rick Santorum, not the president.
CNN: Former presidential candidate George McGovern hospitalized in Florida
Former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, 89, was admitted to a Florida hospital on Tuesday, CNN has confirmed. The liberal icon is being evaluated for "brief transient spells where he passes out and becomes verbally unresponsive," his family said in a statement. "He is comfortable and undergoing further testing," the family added.
CNN: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 4 others charged in 9/11 attack
The United States on Wednesday announced charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of orchestrating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and four others accused of involvement in the plot. "If convicted, the five accused could be sentenced to death," the Defense Department said in a statement.
CNN: Judge orders psychiatric exam for JetBlue pilot
A JetBlue pilot who had an apparent meltdown aboard a flight last week will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to see whether he was sane during the incident and whether he is competent to stand trial. In what could be a first step to divert the case from the criminal justice system to the health system, a federal judge Wednesday ordered that pilot Clayton Osbon be taken to a hospital for the examination.
CNN: Connecticut Senate votes to do away with death penalty
The Connecticut Senate voted 20-16 early Thursday morning on a bill that would do away with the death penalty and make the state the fifth in five years to abolish capital punishment. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is also expected to pass.
CNN: Justice Department to sue Arizona sheriff after talks fall through
The Justice Department is preparing to sue Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known internationally as "America's toughest sheriff," saying talks between the two sides have fallen through. The Obama administration and Arpaio's Maricopa County Sheriff's Office had been in the midst of settlement talks, after the Justice Department accused it of systematically discriminating against Latinos.
CNN: U.S. to ease Myanmar sanctions, open relations
Responding to Myanmar's parliamentary elections, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called a "dramatic demonstration of popular will," the Obama administration is taking several significant steps to normalize relations with the country.
CNN: South Sudan says it shot down Sudanese fighter jet as tensions escalate
In a dangerous escalation of border violence, South Sudan accused rival Sudan of war mongering Wednesday and said it had shot down a fighter jet sent to bomb the oil-rich Pan Akuac region.
CNN: Chavez returns to Venezuela after radiation treatment
President Hugo Chavez returned to Venezuela early Thursday morning, after a second round of radiation treatment in Cuba. Appearing healthy and walking unaided, Chavez held court on the tarmac of the airport in Barinas, telling well-wishers who had gathered to welcome him that his treatment went well.
CNN: Mali postpones convention addressing nation's political woes
Military leaders who overthrew Mali's president postponed plans to hold a national convention Thursday aimed at addressing political woes and determining the direction of the country. The reason for the postponement was unclear. Military leaders planned to invite political parties and civilian representatives to the convention, said Capt. Amadou Sanogo, the junta leader.
CNN Money: Stocks nosedive as investors grow anxious
U.S. stocks dropped Wednesday, rebounding somewhat into the close, as investors grew increasingly anxious about what the markets might look like without additional stimulus from the Federal Reserve.
CNN Money: Eyes on Spain as euro debt fears resurface
The debt crisis in Europe may be making a comeback, with a renewed focus on Spain following lukewarm debt auctions. The Spanish government sold €2.6 billion worth of bonds Wednesday, which came in at the lower end of the estimated range of €2.5 billion and €3.5 billion, analysts said.
CNN: E-books spur reading among Americans, survey shows
E-book users tend to read more often than people who read only print material, a Pew survey found. In particular, they read more books. A typical e-book user read 24 books in the past year, compared with the 15 books reported by typical non-e-book users. This might be good for the economy. According to Pew, e-book users are " more likely than others to have bought their most recent book, rather than borrowed it, and they are more likely than others to say they prefer to purchase books in general."
In case you missed it…
John Brabender, the senior adviser to Rick Santorum's presidential campaign says winning Pennsylvania is "critical."