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: CNN Poll: Should U.S. get directly involved in Syrian conflict?
Most Americans are concerned about the bloody civil war raging in Syria, but according to a new national survey a majority of the public opposes direct U.S. involvement in the fighting.
CNN: Kennedy passes on Senate run
After giving it serious consideration, Ted Kennedy Jr. has decided not to run for Massachusetts’ soon-to-be open seat in the U.S. Senate. Kennedy is the son of the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, and had been urged by friends and some Democratic leaders to run for Sen. John Kerry's seat. President Barack Obama nominated Kerry on Friday to serve as his next secretary of state.
CNN: Obama's cabinet: Who's in, who's out?
As President Obama prepares to begin his second term in office, he's expected to make some changes to key positions in his cabinet. Here's a look at the current cabinet, and who may be under consideration to serve in the next term.
CNN: Affleck rules out Massachusetts Senate run
Ben Affleck won’t run to be the next U.S. senator from Massachusetts. The actor and director on Monday put an end to the rumors that he might throw his hat in the ring to replace Sen. John Kerry if he is confirmed as secretary of state, saying he plans to advocate for his causes from outside the upper chamber.
CNN: New York town's 'Firefighter of the Year' shot dead responding to blaze
Seven weeks ago, Michael Chiapperini was in Long Island, helping those suffering after Superstorm Sandy. Two weeks ago, he was named "Firefighter of the Year" for his department in his upstate New York town of Webster. Monday, he was dead. A gunman - later identified as William Spengler, 62 - apparently set his home ablaze, took up a position on a nearby berm, then shot and killed Chiapperini and fellow firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka.
CNN: 'It's a police thing' - nearby cops move in, give Newtown officers Christmas off
On Christmas Day, thanks to a grassroots effort by their fellow law enforcement brethren in nearby communities, Newtown's police officers will be the recipients of a rare gift in their profession - a holiday off, for the entire force.
CNN: Obama is CNN's Most Intriguing Person of 2012
A year ago, President Barack Obama was under fire. Today, he is being feted. In just 12 months, the 51-year-old lawyer and former U.S. senator raised by a single mother went from a beleaguered candidate for re-election - his record and signature health care law under daily attack by Republican rivals - to being the first Democrat to win more than 50% of a presidential vote twice since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Now the nation's first African-American president is CNN's Most Intriguing Person of 2012.
CNN: Instagram hit with class action lawsuit
A class action lawsuit against Instagram has been filed in San Francisco federal court, following user outrage regarding the mobile photo sharing app's changed Terms of Service. This appears to be the first civil lawsuit filed as a result of Instagram's service term changes, Reuter’s reports.
CNN: U.N. envoy meets with Syrian president as deaths mount
With the carnage in Syria showing no sign of abating, U.N. peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met Monday with Syria's president in hopes of making headway in ending the country's civil war. "We have exchanged opinions about the possible steps that can be taken in the future," Brahimi told reporters after meeting with President Bashar al-Assad.
CNN: In Syria, more civilians die in bakery attacks; mystery gas kills 6
For the second time this week, hungry civilians waiting in line for bread came under deadly attacks from the sky. At least 15 people were killed by an air assault in Homs province Monday, a day after more than 100 were killed at a bakery in Hama province, opposition activists said. Both attacks took place in areas known for their anti-government sentiment.
CNN: Ship crew held for 1,000 days rescued off coast of Yemen
Over the weekend, troops from the Puntland Maritime Police Force rescued the 22 hostages remaining on the MV Iceberg 1, ending the longest time anyone has been held hostage by pirates, according to Michael Howlett, deputy director of the International Maritime Bureau.
CNN: Police continue lockdown amid outrage over gang rape
Police continued to block off a key government district in India Tuesday in an effort to stop protesters angered about the gang rape of a woman. Furious weekend demonstrations rocked the Raisina Hills section of New Delhi as public outrage surged. The protests started after a 23-year-old woman was sexually assaulted and beaten to near death on a bus on December 16 by a group of six suspects, now under arrest, police say.
CNNMoney: Last minute shoppers bring hope to stores
A weekend wedged in right before Christmas seemed like the perfect gift for procrastinators who wait until the 23rd hour for holiday shopping, or shoppers who wait for one last big sale. Estimates for the final shopping weekend aren't out yet, but there's evidence that more shoppers were coming into stores as the holidays drew near.
CNNMoney: Italy's Monti may lead again, reforms key
Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti has signaled he may be willing to lead Italy again after elections due in February, but uncertainty over the fate of his economic reforms is likely to keep markets on edge in the New Year.
CNNMoney: Clock ticking on mortgage tax break for struggling homeowners
A tax break that has saved struggling homeowners from paying thousands of dollars to the IRS is just days away from expiring. If the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 does not get extended by Congress by the end of the year, homeowners will have to start paying income taxes on the portion of their mortgage that is forgiven in a foreclosure, short sale or principal reduction.
In case you missed it…
CNN's Barbara Starr reports on an Afghan woman who killed a NATO contractor and the rise of insider attacks on forces.