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 National Security: With Afghan president's visit, nations' post-2014 future takes shape
The Obama administration's plan to solidify the number of U.S. troops that will be left in Afghanistan after the NATO-led operations end in 2014 should come into greater focus this week as Afghan President Hamid Karzai visits Washington.
CNN: Preparing for a fight, pro-Hagel group forms, but stands down
Supporters of Chuck Hagel formed an organization to fight back against attacks directed at the former Republican senator, but for now have decided not to launch a political campaign style defense of the new Secretary of Defense nominee.
CNN: Bloomberg: Biden no 'shrinking violet' on gun control
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a vocal proponent of tighter gun laws, confirmed Monday he was advising Vice President Joe Biden's task force to help curb gun violence.
CNN: Obama taps Brennan as CIA director
John Brennan joined the CIA as a young man after responding to a newspaper want ad. Now, at 57, he could become its next director. President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Brennan, his chief counterterrorism adviser, to lead the CIA, praising his pick as someone already closely connected to the agency and willing to fight on its behalf.
CNN: Teen in Ohio video 'ashamed and embarrassed,' lawyer says
One of the teens who recorded himself mocking the girl at the center of an Ohio rape case "did a really dumb thing and regrets it" but did not commit any crime, his lawyer said Monday.
CNN: Imprisoned 'Dating Game Killer' gets more time in '70s deaths of 2 women
Rodney Alcala - already on death row in California after being convicted of strangling four women and a 12-year-old-girl there - now faces two new 25-to-life sentences for the grisly murders of the New York women. The California murders took place between November 1977 and June 1979
CNN: Illinois man killed by cyanide poisoning after striking it rich in lottery
One day, Urooj Khan literally jumped for joy after scoring a $1 million winner on an Illinois lottery scratch ticket. The next month, he was dead. The Cook County medical examiner's office determined there was a lethal amount of cyanide in Khan's system.
CNN: Alabama beats Notre Dame for BCS championship
Alabama rode the tide of a commanding halftime lead to beat Notre Dame 42 to 14 to win the BCS National Championship game at Miami Gardens, Florida.
CNN Analysis: Study shows rise of al Qaeda affiliate in Syria
A jihadist group with links to al Qaeda has become the most effective of the different factions fighting the in regime, according to a new analysis, and now has some 5,000 fighters. The group is Jabhat al-Nusra, which was designated an al Qaeda affiliate by the United States government last month. It is led by veterans of the Iraqi insurgency "and has shown itself to be the principal force against Assad and the Shabiha," according to the study.
CNN: Bahrain's high appeals court upholds convictions of 13 pro-democracy activists
Bahrain's highest court on Monday upheld the verdicts against 13 activists convicted of plotting to overthrow the government for their role in pro-democracy demonstrations sparked by the success of popular Arab Spring uprisings.
CNN: China hints at ending its labor prison camps
Hints emerged Monday that China may terminate its controversial system of labor prison camps this year. The proposal to stop using the system was put forth at a working conference by the country's most senior law enforcement official, Meng Jianzhu, according to a post by the state-run CCTV on its Sina Weibo microblogging account. Meng is the secretary of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Politics and Law Commission.
CNN: Firefighters battle blazes on 'dangerous day' in Australia
Soaring temperatures and strong winds have combined to create a "catastrophic" fire threat across the southeast Australian state of New South Wales. Residents have been warned to remain vigilant as temperatures rise towards a predicted high of 43 degrees (109 degrees Fahrenheit) in the state capital of Sydney.
CNNMoney: Banks to pay $8.5 billion in foreclosure settlement
Federal regulators announced an $8.5 billion settlement on Monday involving 10 banks over alleged foreclosure abuses. The deal, brokered by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, includes $3.3 billion in direct payments to borrowers as well as $5.2 billion in other assistance, like loan modifications and forgiveness of deficiency judgments.
CNNMoney: Debt Ceiling: 'Chaotic' choices on 100 million payments
The red alarm deadline to raise the debt ceiling could be as soon as Feb. 15 - but no later than March 1, according to the latest estimate from the Bipartisan Policy Center. If Congress misses that deadline, the Treasury Department will be forced to make legally questionable, no-win decisions on how to honor the tens of millions of bills owed every month.
CNNMoney: How we used our payroll tax cut
Americans spent more of the extra income they received from the payroll tax cut in 2011 than they intended to. Consumers spent an average of 36% of the tax cut, though they said they only intended to spend 13.7%, a Federal Reserve Bank of New York report found. That's more than economic theory would suggest and on the higher end of what was spent in previous tax rebates in recent years.
In case you missed it…
CNN's Piers Morgan talks to Alex Jones, the man behind the petition to deport him, over his gun control views.
Nothing wrong with Chuck Hagel–congress is the main menace for USA.
One thing I've noticed lately in the news is how different things are for politicians who have become somewhat disabled.In private industry,employees who become injured,unhealthy or damaged are usually shown the door as not being able to perform their jobs while politicians who cannot work are carried by the people.This is a double standard that we need to look at seriously.Most of the politicos we have heard about having some kind of debilitating condition are still not having to take disability while in private industry we would have no choice.