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: Geithner: No deal 'without rates going up'
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner drew a line in the sand over taxes in defense of the Obama administration’s controversial proposal to avoid the fiscal cliff. In an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley on "State of the Union," Geithner insisted that any compromise on the plan he presented to congressional Republicans on Thursday, which includes $1.6 trillion dollars in tax revenue, cuts to Medicare, and another $50 billion in stimulus spending, must contain an expiration of the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000.
CNN: Pelosi threatens House vote on tax bill
Warning that "the clock is ticking," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Sunday threatened to bring about a House vote on a bill that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for families making $250,000, but would allow the tax breaks to expire for those above the threshold. The Democratic-controlled Senate already passed its version of the bill in July, with strong support from President Barack Obama.
CNN: Graham: 'I think we're going over the cliff'
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham was blunt in his assessment Sunday of where negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff are headed. "I think we're going over the cliff," he said. "It's pretty clear to me they've made a political calculation," the South Carolina senator said on CBS' "Face the Nation," calling the administration's initial proposal offered Thursday "a joke" when it comes to entitlement reform.
CNN: Romney's Hispanic chairman: Economic growth depends on immigration, GOP must lead
As political strategists dissect the shortcomings of the GOP in this year’s election, Carlos Gutierrez, the man who led Mitt Romney's outreach to Hispanic voters, said Republicans need to lead on immigration to facilitate economic growth. “We can’t be the party of opportunity, growth, prosperity, entrepreneurship, small businesses and upward mobility if we are not the party of immigration. And that means that we have to lead on immigration,” Gutierrez said Saturday morning on CNN.
CNN: SeaWorld defends protocol, staffers' actions after dolphin bites girl
SeaWorld defended itself Sunday from criticism from a family after a dolphin bit their 8-year-old daughter at the Orlando attraction. A video posted online shows the girl standing along the edge of a pool, one of several people feeding dolphins. After she picks up a paper plate that once held the marine mammal's food, a dolphin lunges at her and bites her hand.
CNN: Coast Guardsman dies after his vessel is struck by 'suspicious' boat
A Coast Guardsman died Sunday after a "suspicious" boat rammed his small vessel off the coast of Southern California, an official said. Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne was one of two Coast Guard members thrown off their cutter's small boat when the suspect's panga-style vessel "suddenly increased speed and maneuvered directly" at them, then struck the boat, said Capt. James Jenkins.
CNN: Fukushima inspires safety features for Georgia nuclear reactors
People like to say history repeats itself, but Southern Co., which is building the first U.S. nuclear reactors approved in decades, is hoping this isn't true. With last year's tsunami-induced disaster at the Fukushima Daichi plant in Japan, Southern doesn't want its reactors to meet the same fate.
CNN: NTSB: Railroad bridge that collapsed was inspected in November
A railroad swing bridge in New Jersey that collapsed near the Delaware River was inspected in November, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday. Several cars on a train that was passing over the bridge derailed Friday morning. Some fell into the water below and one car hit another, tearing it open and releasing a vapor cloud from hazardous materials, Debbie Hersman told reporters at a new conference. Investigators are just beginning to piece together information from the accident and whether the bridge collapse or the train derailment occurred first.
CNN: Abbas calls for Palestinian unity after 'birth certificate' for Palestinian state
Standing before throngs of cheering supporters Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for an end to the division among Palestinians in the wake of the United Nations upgrading the authority's status - as Israel refused to acknowledge that newfound recognition.
CNN: Sworn-in president cites two Mexicos
Enrique Pena Nieto was sworn in as Mexico's new president Saturday, returning his party to power and promising to change the country's fight against organized crime. Pena Nieto belongs to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for more than 70 years before losing the presidency in 2000.
CNN: Egypt's high court suspends sessions after protesters block judges' way
Egypt's high court is indefinitely suspending all its sessions, after supporters of President Mohamed Morsy surrounded the building and blocked judges from entering. Calling Sunday a "dismal, black day" in the history of the country's judiciary, the court said in a statement that its judges will not return to work until they can do their jobs "without any psychological or physical pressures."
CNN Security Clearance: Official: 'Worrying signs' regarding Syria's chemical weapons
U.S. intelligence is concerned about the Syrian government's intent regarding its vast chemical weapons stockpiles after what one senior U.S. official described as "worrying signs" of activity in "the last few days." "There are concerns the regime may be considering use of chemical weapons" the official told CNN. But the official stressed that the Obama administration has not come to a final conclusion about Syria's intent.
CNNMoney: China: Manufacturing sector expands
China's official manufacturing index increased in November, boosting hopes for a sustained expansion in the crucial sector. China's official purchasing manager's index jumped to 50.6 in November from 50.2 the previous month, the government said. Any reading above 50 indicates that factory conditions are improving in the manufacturing sector.
CNNMoney: Stocks: Job reports in focus this week
U.S. stocks have been stuck at a standstill recently, but reports on the job market, manufacturing and consumer spending this week may provide the market with a jump start. Investors have been hesitant to pull the trigger over the last few weeks, as lawmakers and President Obama struggle to find consensus over year-end tax hikes and spending cuts. There's fears that, if unresolved, the so-called fiscal cliff will harm the economy at a time when the outlook for growth is already in question.
CNNMoney: European bailout funds downgraded
Another day, another European downgrade. Ratings agency Moody's announced a downgrade Friday of the continent's main bailout vehicle, the European Stability Mechanism, knocking it one notch from prized Aaa status to Aa1.
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