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: Gingrich hits Romney in frank assessment
Mitt Romney's former rival Newt Gingrich issued a harsh assessment of the GOP nominee's campaign strategy Wednesday, saying Romney's presidential bid was struggling in key battlegrounds against President Barack Obama because of a messaging failure.
CNN: Obama, Romney clash on China, taxes in Ohio battleground
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney went head-to-head on China, taxes, and jobs on Wednesday as the two campaigned throughout Ohio. Both sought to illustrate what the next four years would be like under their leadership as new polls indicated Obama exceeding 50% support among likely voters in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania. Those are all swing states that combined will account for nearly a quarter of the electoral votes needed to win the White House.
CNN: Obama steps up Romney jabs in Ohio
Buoyed by a string of recent polls suggesting his lead in Ohio is nearing double digits, President Barack Obama crisscrossed the crucial battleground state on Wednesday and sharpened his attacks on rival Mitt Romney's "47%" comments.
CNN: Health reform law an example of compassion, Romney says
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney pointed Wednesday to the Massachusetts health reform law he signed – and particularly its coverage of children – when asked about his compassion for middle class people. Romney raised the law in an interview with NBC News.
CNN: Deal ends lockout, brings real refs back to the NFL
The short and painful era of replacement referees is over after the National Football League struck a deal with the union that represents the league's referees late Wednesday night. Along with bringing the real refs back for Thursday's night game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns, the deal ends an embarrassing stage for the NFL.
CNN: Boy dies from self-inflicted gun shot at Oklahoma junior high school
A 13-year-old student died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound Wednesday morning at a junior high school in Stillwater, Oklahoma, police said. Sherry Fletcher, a spokeswoman for the city of Stillwater, said no one else was injured in the shooting at Stillwater Junior High School. Students were moved to another location so parents could pick them up or buses could take them home, Fletcher said in a statement.
CNN: Boy Scouts claim kids safer with them than at home
The Boy Scouts of America released a study Wednesday that claims children were safer from sex abuse in the Scouts than when at home or school. The report was prepared by a psychiatric expert hired by the Scouts to review so-called "perversion files" kept by the organization from 1970 to 1991.
CNN: University of California offers $30,000 each to pepper-sprayed students
The University of California is offering to pay $30,000 to each of 21 plaintiffs who were pepper-sprayed by a police officer on the Davis campus last year, according to a proposed settlement of in a class-action lawsuit announced Wednesday. A federal court hasn't yet approved the preliminary settlement, a statement from the university president's office said.
CNN Security Clearance: Sources: 15 days after Benghazi attack, FBI still not on the scene
More than two weeks after four Americans – including the U.S. ambassador to Libya – were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, FBI agents have not yet been granted access to investigate in the eastern Libyan city, and the crime scene has not been secured, sources said. "They've gotten as far as Tripoli now, but they've never gotten to Benghazi," CNN National Security Analyst Fran Townsend said Wednesday, citing senior law enforcement officials.
CNN: Syrian civil war marks grim record
The death toll in Syria hit 343 Wednesday, the highest daily toll since unrest broke out in March 2011, an opposition group said. "The regime is escalating the violence at every possible opportunity and it is proof that it is determined to crush the revolution by any means necessary," said Rafif Jouejati, a spokeswoman for the Local Coordination Committees of Syria. "The staggering numbers are horrific but the world also needs to know that there is increasing sexual torture and more children being tortured."
CNN: Assange speaks via satellite from London, calls for end to 'persecution'
The founder of WikiLeaks delivered an impassioned appeal Wednesday for the U.S. government to end its actions against him, his website and those who support it. Assange was speaking from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been holed up since June.
CNN: 5 things we learned on second day of U.N. General Assembly
Here's five things we learned Wednesday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
CNN: Nearly one-in-five households have student loans
A record number of American households have student loan debt. Some 19% of households had student loans in 2010, up from 15% just three years earlier, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center released Wednesday.
CNN: Thousands protest austerity measures in Greece
Minor scuffles broke out Wednesday between demonstrators and police in Athens as thousands of Greeks took to the streets to protest new austerity measures that critics describe as draconian. The daylong general strike is the first called by unions since Greece's new coalition government was formed in June and comes as the country grapples with an economic crisis and heavy debt burden.
CNN: S&P 500 down for 5th straight day amid Europe unrest
U.S. stocks declined Wednesday, with the S&P 500 logging its fifth consecutive daily loss, as investors kept an eye on unrest in Greece and Spain. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.3%, while the S&P 500 lost 0.6% and the NASDAQ dropped 0.8%. The Dow and S&P 500 closed at the lowest levels in two weeks, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq finished at a three-week low.
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CNN's John Johns reports about changes in Florida's voting law and how it will impact voters.