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, congressional leaders to discuss impending fiscal cliff
President Barack Obama and congressional leaders will discuss the looming fiscal cliff impasse Friday at the White House, aiming for a last-minute deal to stave off automatic tax increases and spending cuts. The 3 p.m. meeting will come days before the deadline to reach a deal, and after another day of Republicans and Democrats blaming each other for the stalemate.
CNN: Rep. Markey to seek Kerry's Senate seat
Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said Thursday he will seek the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. John Kerry, who was nominated to become the next secretary of state last week. Markey's announcement makes him the first to publicly announce will seek the seat.
CNN: ATF official cites 'miscommunication' over NBC gun magazine flap
NBC evidently got conflicting guidance from federal and local law enforcement officials about the legality of displaying an empty gun magazine on "Meet the Press," according to statements by the agencies involved.
CNN Poll: How will Obama perform in second term?
A plurality of Americans think President Barack Obama will do a better job during his second term than he did in his first term in the White House, according to a new national survey.
CNN: After newspaper's gun-permit map, blogger posts journalists' addresses
A blogger has posted the home addresses of staffers from a newspaper after the paper published an online, interactive map showing names and addresses of all handgun permit-holders in New York's Westchester and Rockland counties.
CNN: NRA clarifies its stance on arming schools
Facing widespread outrage over the National Rifle Association's response to the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre, the group's president Thursday tried to clarify, saying that schools should decide for themselves how to protect their children.
CNN: Gulf War commander Schwarzkopf dies
Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded coalition forces during the Gulf War, died Thursday, a U.S. official said. He was 78. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Schwarzkopf directed the buildup of 700,000 coalition troops. On January 17, 1991, they began a nearly six-week air assault of Iraqi forces that was followed by a swift ground campaign that pushed Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait.
CNN: Whale on Queens beach to be buried in sand dunes, NOAA says
A 60-foot-long finback whale that washed ashore in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens and that was determined dead Thursday morning will be buried in the sand dunes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
CNN: Benazir Bhutto's son steps into Pakistan's political spotlight
The 24-year-old son of the late Benazir Bhutto, groomed to take the reins of power in Pakistan, came of age politically Thursday, exactly five years after the assassination of his mother. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari flexed his tender political muscles at a rally with his father, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, near the family home in Sindh province ahead of next year's elections.
CNN Security Clearance: U.S. official: North Korea likely deceived U.S., allies before launching rocket
North Korea likely engaged in a deliberate campaign of deception before a December 12 long-range missile launch, catching the United States and its Asian allies "off guard," according to a U.S. official with direct knowledge of analysis of the incident conducted by U.S. military and intelligence agencies.
CNN: Central African Republic president seeks help against rebels
The president of the Central African Republic asked Thursday for help from other nations to stave off rebel advances that threaten his rule. The former French colony asked France and the United States to help ensure "the rebels return home...instead of destroying and killing Central Africans," President Francois Bozize said.
CNN: Security forces killed, abducted in Pakistani Taliban raids
Militants in Pakistan killed two security forces and abducted 21 others in an assault on two military camps Thursday, a government official told CNN. More than 200 people suspected to be members of the Taliban conducted the actions, said Nazeed Akbar, a government official.
CNNMoney: First-time jobless claims fall
The number of newly unemployed seeking jobless benefits fell more sharply than expected last week, taking a key reading to its lowest level in more than four years, the government reported Thursday. There were 350,000 filing for initial jobless claims in the week, down from the 362,000 who sought assistance a week earlier. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast 375,000 would be seeking help last week.
CNNMoney: What happens to the economy if we go over the cliff?
Five days left: It's looking more and more like Washington may not get a deal done in time to avert the fiscal cliff. What happens to the economy if lawmakers don't cut a deal and the tax hikes and spending cuts become law? The worst-case scenario is if Congress stands by and lets the fiscal cliff stay in effect all next year. Economists expect the U.S. economy would then fall into a recession.
CNNMoney: The rich will pay more taxes next year – no matter what
The rich will pay more in taxes next year regardless of the outcome of the fiscal cliff. That's because two new taxes enacted to fund President Obama's health care reform are kicking in come January.
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