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: Electoral College tie possible in Obama-Romney race
An Electoral College tie. It's the white whale of American elections: elusive, mythical and never realized. But could it finally happen this year? The likelihood that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will each net 269 electoral votes in November, instead of the 270 needed to win, is actually not so farfetched - and for close observers of the Electoral College system, a tie would set off a wave of constitutional and political mayhem that would make the 2000 Florida recount seem like a tidy affair.
CNN: Obama talks guns, Democratic leaders duck
President Barack Obama broke his silence on the Colorado movie massacre Wednesday night and spoke out on the issue of gun control. "I believe the majority of gun owners would agree ... that we should check someone's criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily," said the president. "These steps shouldn't be controversial. They should be common sense," he added.
CNN: Republicans slam Justice Department on voter ID moves
Congressional Republicans told a top Justice official Thursday his department is wrong to fight state voter ID laws and that the government needs to do more to ensure people serving abroad in the military are able to vote. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, said the Justice Department "is seeking headlines opposing voter ID laws that an overwhelming majority of Americans support."
CNN: Romney: Military option in Iran should not be ruled out
As Mitt Romney gets ready to depart London for Israel this weekend, the presumptive GOP nominee reaffirmed his position Thursday that military force would be an option, though only as a last resort, in trying to prevent Iran from building its suspected nuclear weapons program. “We will employ every means short of military power,” Romney said in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “We recognize that if all means are exhausted and fail, a military option will have to be considered.”
CNN: Storms knock out power to tens of thousands from Plains to Northeast
Hundreds of thousands lost power due to a potent storm system that extended eastward from the Plains toward the Northeast on Thursday, bringing with it high winds and destructive lightning. Severe thunderstorm watches were in effect at one point Thursday evening for a continuous stretch from Oklahoma through New Jersey. The danger could lurk for several hours longer, with the National Weather Service issuing such warnings in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Kentucky, Virginia, Arkansas and other points in between.
CNN: Colorado hospitals chip in for shooting victims' care
With many patients still being cared for after last week's Colorado movie theater shootings, one burden is being lifted by some of the hospitals: medical expenses. Children's Hospital Colorado said it will use its charity care program and donations to cover medical expenses for victims of the shooting who do not have insurance. Victims who do have insurance will have their co-pays and deductible-related expenses waived.
CNN: Federal agents arrest 'designer drug' makers in nationwide raids
More than 90 people in 30 states were arrested Thursday as federal agents cracked down on the designer synthetic drug industry, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced. Almost 5 million packets of fake pot and nearly 167,000 packages of "bath salts" were seized as well as $36 million, DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said.
CNN: Attorneys: Sandusky voice mails released, shower abuse victim to sue
Attorneys for one of the victims Jerry Sandusky was convicted of abusing have released two voice mails that they say the former coach left on their client's phone just prior to his 2011 arrest - potential fodder for a civil lawsuit they now plan to file against Penn State and others. The recordings are allegedly among "numerous voice mails" unearthed during an investigation, and were left on the phone of a person identified as Victim 2, attorneys with the firm Ross Feller Casey said in a statement Thursday.
CNN: Olympics to begin, officially
One of the biggest secrets in London will finally be revealed Friday: what will happen at the opening ceremony for the Summer Olympic Games. Friday night billons will finally get to see the extravaganza created by Danny Boyle, best known for the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionare. Few specifics have been released about the three-hour show. A big feat taking into account that thousands of performers and technicians are involved and there have been two dress rehearsals this week.
CNN: Wife of controversial Chinese politician charged with murder
Chinese authorities announced murder charges Thursday against the wife of disgraced Communist Party figure Bo Xilai, a new step in a scandal China's ruling hierarchy is scrambling to put behind them. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, is accused of killing British businessman Neil Heywood in November, the state news agency Xinhua reported. Gu and a family aide have been accused of poisoning Heywood, who died in November.
CNN: Fighting worsens 'deteriorating' situation in eastern Congo
Army troops and rebels clashed on Wednesday in the violence-ridden eastern part of Congo, threatening to undermine an already fragile stability. Hundreds of people in North Kivu fled toward the city of Goma by road trying to escape the fighting. The sound of heavy artillery echoed through the hills. The Congolese army continued a second day offensive to recover the cities of Rugari and Rumangavo, and to takeover these positions held by the insurgency.
CNN: Battles for key cities of Aleppo, Damascus heat up in Syrian civil war
Undeterred by a wave of casualties, Syrian rebels say they will not back down in their quest to seize Aleppo, the country's commercial hub and its second-largest city. After six days of fighting, the battle with government forces raged again Thursday as helicopter gunships flew over the city, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. At least one rebel fighter was killed, the group said.
CNNMoney: Facebook earnings: Good, but not good enough
Facebook's shares plummeted to all-time lows in after hours trading after the company's first quarterly earnings report failed to wow investors. Shares of Facebook fell more than 10% to around $24 - nearly 40% below the company's initial public offering price. Facebook did beat analysts' revenues expectations slightly and earnings matched forecasts, but that was apparently not enough for Wall Street.
CNNMoney: Corporate America rings alarm on global slump
Global growth worries hit Corporate America this week. Several bellwethers said that difficult overseas markets had affected their second quarter earnings, leading some to temper their outlooks. UPS, DuPont and Ford, U.S.-based companies that rely heavily on overseas sales, all sounded very pessimistic about the global economy.
CNNMoney: Billions of dollars slated for Madoff victims
Victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme are on track to receive billions of dollars in recovered assets, according to the court-appointed trustee. Trustee Irving Picard announced on Thursday that he is preparing to distribute from $1. 5 billion to $2.4 billion to former investors in Madoff's firm. This is in addition to the $1.1 billion that has already been distributed to victims.
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Presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses the issue of being attacked for his success.