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 Rifle Association gearing up for a fight
The National Rifle Association is gearing up to face one of the strongest challenges to its cause in many years: recommendations from an Obama administration working group on gun violence that are expected to address assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips.
CNN Security Clearance: Panetta orders defense cuts before Congress does
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered the military to begin implementing cost-cutting measures aimed at mitigating the risk of significant budget cuts should Congress fail to reach a deal in coming months to avert or soften them.
CNN: Binders closed: Rangel says mostly-male Obama picks 'embarrassing'
As President Barack Obama finalizes his cabinet picks heading into his second term, some are pointing to a noted lack of diversity among the select group. And Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel says "it's embarrassing as hell." The congressman from New York pulled no punches Thursday when he chided the White House for not picking more women and minorities for the top level positions.
CNN Security Clearance: Karzai comes with wish list
Afghan President Hamid Karzai showed up to the Pentagon on Thursday with a wish list of military equipment to ensure the security of his country by the time NATO forces leave at the end of 2014. In return, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had a message to deliver – the United States wants to make sure Afghanistan does not become a terrorist safe haven again.
CNN: California sheriff: Youth who shot classmate felt he'd been bullied
A 16-year-old student who blasted a California high school classroom with a shotgun Thursday was targeting two classmates because he felt he'd been bullied, the local sheriff said Thursday night.
CNN: Colorado shooting suspect should face trial, judge rules
A Colorado judge ruled Thursday that probable cause exists in the case of James Holmes, accused of killing 12 people and wounding scores more in last summer's shooting inside an Aurora movie theater, and ordered that he stand trial.
CNN: Court considers demand that U.S. release photos of bin Laden's body
A federal appeals court panel is considering whether photos of Osama bin Laden's body should be released. Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, argued Thursday before a three-judge panel that the Freedom of Information Act requires the government to release the pictures or better explain why the release of specific images would damage national security.
CNN: Dreamliner's growing pains not unusual for new airplanes, experts say
A fire, a fuel leak, mechanical issues. For a passenger about to board Boeing's next-generation 787 Dreamliner aircraft, reports of parts of the plane not working properly don't inspire confidence. After years of manufacturing delays and cost overruns, the state-of-the-art Boeing 787 debuted in 2011. Yet a string of maintenance issues have put the much-anticipated plane into a less rosy light.
CNN: Outrage over beheading of Sri Lankan woman by Saudi Arabia
A young Sri Lankan woman has been beheaded with a sword in a small, dusty town in Saudi Arabia, thousands of miles from the lush jungles and idyllic beaches of the country where she grew up.
CNN: Pentagon weighs how to secure Syria's chemical weapons
U.S. officials are discussing with Middle East governments the steps needed to ensure that Syria's chemical and biological weapons sites are secured when President Bashar al-Assad leaves office, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.
CNN: Chinese newspaper in eye of censorship storm back on sale
The Chinese newspaper at the center of a censorship storm hit newsstands in the capital Thursday for the first time since journalists went on strike in protest against apparent editorial interference from the government. The controversy surfaced last week when a group of former Southern Weekly journalists said, in an open letter, that a local propaganda chief had dramatically altered the paper's traditional New Year message, which had called for certain reforms and greater respect for constitutional rights
CNN: 3 Kurdish women political activists shot dead in Paris
The apparent assassination of three Kurdish women political activists in central Paris on Thursday, all shot in the head, has provoked shock among the Kurdish community. Mystery swirls around the slayings, with no claim of responsibility or any indication from authorities as to who might have pulled the trigger.
CNNMoney: Consumer groups criticize new mortgage rules
New rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau aim to make mortgages safer for borrowers, but consumer groups argue that the rules offer more protection for lenders than benefits for borrowers.
CNNMoney: Latest debt ceiling fix-it: IOUs
Edward Kleinbard, a tax and legal scholar, has offered up a contingency plan he thinks President Obama could adopt without causing a constitutional crisis if Congress pushes the country to the brink of default: Issue IOUs that can be sold and traded in private markets.
CNNMoney: American Express to cut 5,400 jobs
American Express announced Thursday that it was cutting 5,400 jobs, becoming the latest large financial firm to reduce its headcount. The company said the largest reductions would come from its travel businesses, which "operate in an industry that is being fundamentally reinvented as a result of the digital revolution."
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