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: Obama takes on gun violence in New Orleans speech
Days after the Colorado movie theater massacre, President Barack Obama on Wednesday forcefully spoke out against gun violence, making perhaps some of his strongest comments yet as president on the issue. While the president said he stands by the Second Amendment and recognizes the traditions of hunting and gun ownership in the country, he told a crowd at a gathering for the National Urban League in New Orleans that there is work left to be done in tackling the problem.
CNN: Romney calls for a change in hearts, not gun laws
Mitt Romney on Wednesday reiterated his position that new gun laws are unnecessary in the wake of the Colorado movie theater massacre that left 12 dead and dozens wounded last week. "Well this person shouldn't have had any kind of weapons and bombs and other devices and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already," Romney said in an interview with NBC News. "But he had them. And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won't."
CNN: Senate passes Democratic tax plan, rejects GOP version
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed a Democratic plan to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for middle income Americans while rejecting a Republican alternative to continue all of the cuts - twin votes that help to crystallize the position of the two parties on a critical issue heading into the fall campaign. The Democratic proposal passed in a sharply polarized 51-48 vote, while the Republican plan was defeated 45-54.
CNN: 'Special' controversy has Biden attacking, Romney denying
Mitt Romney said Wednesday that a racially charged anonymous quote in a British newspaper slamming President Barack Obama for his understanding of the United States' 'special relationship' with Britain did not come from him, and did not reflect the presumptive GOP nominee's views. "I’m not sure who this person is, but I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain," Romney said in an interview with NBC News. "But I also believe the president understands that."
CNN: Residents return to building where Colorado suspect set boobytraps
For the first time since last week's deadly shooting rampage at a crowded Colorado movie theater, residents who shared an apartment building with the alleged shooter have been allowed to return. "Yes, residents have been allowed back in," Sgt. Cassidee Carlson of the Aurora Police Department said Wednesday evening. "Police will remain present throughout the night for security purposes."
CNN: Calm returns after protests rock Los Angeles suburb
After four nights of rioting, the Los Angeles suburb of Anaheim was calm Wednesday night as federal authorities agreed to examine police shootings in the city, including one Saturday that sparked the protests. "We are aware of the concerns in the city of Anaheim and will review the recent incidents to determine whether a federal civil rights inquiry is warranted," said spokeswoman Laura Eimiller with the FBI's Los Angeles field office. No inquiry has been opened yet, she said.
CNN: U.S. Special Ops Commander discusses role in serious and humorous tones
While it was one of 11 missions carried out by U.S. Special forces that night, the head of U.S. Special Operations command said the raid that killed Osama bin Laden will go down as one of the "great intelligence operations in history." Admiral William McRaven spoke Wednesday before an audience at the Aspen Institute Security Conference on a panel discussion moderated by CNN's Wolf Blitzer. The talk was his first interview about the raid with a journalist. McRaven also touched on some of the other pressing issues facing the U.S. military in the discussion that ranged from serious to light-hearted.
CNN: Penn State insurer seeks to deny coverage
Penn State's legal battles continued Wednesday with the university's primary general liability insurer filing a motion claiming coverage should be denied because the administration failed to disclose what it knew about former coach Jerry Sandusky's behavior, according to legal documents. The motion, filed in common pleas court by the Pennsylvania Manufacturer's Association, says Penn State did not provide it with information relevant to the insurable risk the association assumed.
CNN: Kim Jong Un's wife remains a mystery woman
In the latest trickle of information from notoriously opaque North Korea, the country's supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, was confirmed by state media to be married—and to a woman named Ri Sol Ju. An unidentified woman was pictured in recent weeks attending official events by Kim's side, prompting rampant speculation as to her identity. Her status as Kim's wife was announced on Wednesday during a state-run KRT broadcast of an amusement park opening ceremony attended by the couple.
CNN: Syrian rebels, regime forces clash in Aleppo
Syrian rebels took their fight to the northern city of Aleppo on Wednesday, burning a police station and capturing pro-regime forces in an effort to wrest control from government forces, opposition and rebel groups said. Rebels took control of a police station, according to footage streamed live by the Free Syrian Army on Wednesday. The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels burned a police station, though it wasn't clear if it was the same one.
CNN: Beijing flood victims fume at official response
Four days after the biggest rainstorm in six decades hit the Chinese capital, Zhang Huishen remains furious over what she perceives as government indifference to her family's plight. "Our family of five lives off one income," said the 46-year-old farmer Wednesday. "Nobody cares about us because there's no official in this household."
CNN: South Korea teenagers bullied to death
Seung-min's room has not changed in seven months. Even the bed is exactly as he made it, just hours before taking his own life. The 13-year-old was bullied at school, and he committed suicide by jumping out of his home's seventh floor window. His mother, Lim Jee-young, reads his suicide note as she has countless times since his death. In the note he describes being beaten and robbed by boys in his class, burned with lighters and having electrical wire was tied around his neck as a leash. At the end of the letter he says: "I love you mum and dad, please don't be sad I'm gone, I'll wait for you."
CNNMoney: Food prices on the rise as drought worsens
Consumers can expect to pay more for beef, poultry and milk, as the worst drought in 50 years spreads across the Midwest, destroying crops and sending corn and soybean prices spiking. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday that meat prices would rise significantly, with the consumer price index for beef and veal expected to gain between 3.5% and 4.5% this year.
CNNMoney: Chinese buying of U.S. business at record pace
Chinese direct investment in the United States could hit a record high in 2012, according to a new research report released Wednesday. Total Chinese foreign direct investment in the U.S. is on pace to reach at least $8 billion this year, according to the report from research firm Rhodium Group.
CNNMoney: Bush tax cuts: What you'd pay under rival plans
Congress starts voting this week over competing proposals for how to extend the Bush tax cuts. None of them is likely to be enacted as is - nor is the debate likely to be resolved before the November elections at the earliest. But the proposals frame the terms of a fight that will be waging for months.
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President Barack Obama's re-election chances will be determined in part by African-American turnout.