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EARLYBIRD

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Bush congratulates Obama on historic victory, reshuffling leads to infighting among Dems, troop reduction in Iraq announced early, gay marriage bans pass in three states, world leaders have mixed messages for new president.

• "President Bush on Wednesday hailed Sen. Barack Obama's election to the presidency as the fulfillment of the civil rights era and a high point in American history," the Washington Times reports. "'No matter how they cast their vote, all Americans can be proud of the history that was made yesterday,' Mr. Bush said to reporters during a brief statement in the Rose Garden."

• "The Bush administration is hopeful that world leaders, at a summit in Washington next week, will adopt an action plan singling out some short-term steps that could be taken to deal with the current financial crisis as well as prevent similar problems from happening again," AP reports.

 

• "The Department of Homeland Security announced plans" Wednesday "to dole out $3 billion in counterterrorism grants next year to state and local agencies with far-fewer strings attached than in past years, in a concession to sharply tightening budgets at all levels of government," the Washington Post reports.

• "In an argument that touched on Aristotle and the Holocaust, the Supreme Court on Wednesday considered the fate of a former guard in an Eritrean prison where inmates were tortured and killed," the New York Times reports. "An applicant for asylum, he has said he performed his duties under duress and would have been executed had he tried to quit."

Congress: Liberal Factions Jockey To Shape New Agenda

• Obama's "victory unleashes pent-up demand for a host of Democratic goals: broader maneuvering room for labor unions, universal healthcare, appointing liberal federal judges and raising taxes on the wealthy," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Democratic factions and interest groups are jockeying to advance their causes with the public, Congress and Obama's inner circle."

 

• "Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gained an expanded Senate majority Tuesday night, and the country may have given Democrats a mandate for their agenda, but it remains unclear how the strengthened Majority Leader will turn this momentum into legislative gold in the next few months," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "Democrats emerged from Tuesday's election with larger majorities in both chambers of Congress, but with no ironclad guarantee their plans won't be derailed by a determined GOP minority in the Senate," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "With a gain of at least five seats, presuming Sen. Joseph Lieberman," I/D-Conn., "stays allied with them, Democrats must hold all of their members and pick up four Republican votes to overcome filibusters."

• "Democratic leaders are tamping down on expectations for rapid change and trying to signal they will place a calm hand on the nation's tiller," The Hill reports. "'The country must be governed from the middle,' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday. Repeating themes from election night, she said she plans to emphasize 'civility' and 'fiscal responsibility.'"

• "Tuesday's election may have made" Pelosi "the most powerful woman in U.S. political history, but she isn't getting much time to celebrate: Some of her colleagues are accusing her of plotting to overthrow a popular committee chairman, and the possible departure of Rahm Emanuel [D-Ill.] could bring new fights for spots on her leadership team," the Politico reports.

 

• "Democrats geared up for an internal battle royal as Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (Calif.) launched a bid to wrest the gavel of the Energy and Commerce Committee from Rep. John Dingell (Mich.)," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "The contest promises to reopen ideological rifts in the party over climate change and other issues just as the committee prepares to tackle an ambitious agenda in concert with President-elect Obama."

• "As House Republicans assessed the wreckage after a second consecutive electoral bloodbath, this much was clear: Members are willing to spare their leader, Ohio Rep. John A. Boehner," the Politico reports. "His No. 2, Minority Whip Roy Blunt [Mo.], might not be so lucky, however, as it appears he will avoid an inevitable challenge from his top deputy, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor."

• "Younger, more conservative lawmakers moved" Wednesday "to assert their influence in the House Republican caucus as the GOP began the traditional period of soul-searching that follows a major electoral defeat," the Washington Post reports. "Conservatives also began jockeying to fill the post of Republican National Committee chairman early next year."

Iraq: Troop Reduction Announced Two Months Early

• "Spurred on by a continued decline in violence, the U.S. military will reduce its presence in Iraq to 14 combat brigades this month -- at least two months earlier than originally planned," AP reports. "Military officials say two brigades from the 101st Airborne Division will leave Iraq this month and only one will be replaced."

• "The vast, new American Embassy in Baghdad, which cost well over half a billion dollars, has not yet officially opened," the New York Times reports. "But the ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker, welcomed about 250 Iraqi officials, diplomats and dignitaries for a preliminary glimpse on Wednesday morning in what was described as a party to celebrate the 2008 American presidential election."

• "A series of bomb blasts across Baghdad killed six people and injured more than 20 others" today, "police said, in the fourth consecutive day of heightened violence in the Iraqi capital," AP reports. "Meanwhile, Iraqi officials said the U.S. has officially responded to Iraqi proposals for changes in a draft security pact that would keep American troops in the country three more years -- but did not say what was in the response."

• "Experts... say there is little conclusive data on the political choices of active-duty service members, largely because their numbers are too small to show up in nationwide electoral surveys such as the Gallup Poll," the Los Angeles Times reports. "But slivers of data -- such as exit polling of military veterans and campaign contribution lists -- suggest that support for Republican presidential candidates within the U.S. military has declined over the last eight years, enabling Obama to increase Democrats' take of the military vote Tuesday."

Nation: Gay Marriage Bans Pass In Three States

• "The day was a long time coming, and when Wednesday finally dawned, a lot of bleary-eyed, partied-out Americans had to pinch themselves: They had an African-American president-elect," USA Today reports. "It was no dream, but many felt as if they were living one."

• "A giant rainbow-colored flag in the gay-friendly Castro neighborhood of San Francisco was flying at half-staff on Wednesday as social and religious conservatives celebrated the passage of measures that ban same-sex marriage in California, Florida and Arizona," the New York Times reports. "In California, where same-sex marriage had been performed since June, the ban had more than 52 percent of the vote, according to figures by the secretary of state, and was projected to win by several Californian news media outlets. Opponents of same-sex marriage won by even bigger margins in Arizona and Florida."

• "Attorneys for five men accused of plotting to kill soldiers in New Jersey began cross-examining a key government informant Wednesday as they tried to pin blame for the alleged conspiracy on him," the Washington Post reports. "The four previous days Mahmoud Omar spent on the witness stand mostly involved prosecutors asking him to clarify secret recordings he made that are key to the government's case."

• "For the first time, researchers have decoded all the genes of a person with cancer and found a set of mutations that might have caused the disease or aided its progression," the New York Times reports. "Using cells donated by a woman in her 50s who died of leukemia, the scientists sequenced all the DNA from her cancer cells and compared it to the DNA from her own normal, healthy skin cells."

• "There are no statistics that specifically track threats against Latino activists. But leaders of several groups cite anecdotal evidence of increasing attempts at intimidation," the Washington Post rpeorts. "'We've seen a rise in threats directed at Hispanic groups,' said Janet Murguía, president and chief executive of La Raza. "'We've seen a rise in hate groups. This is not just a feeling.'"

Economy: Election Day Rally Doesn't Last

• "Stocks erased all their gains from Tuesday's rally -- the biggest on a presidential Election Day in 24 years -- as investors banked their profits and dealt with another round of bleak economic news, this time about businesses that compose nearly 90 percent of the economy," the New York Times reports.

• "Top auto industry executives and the president of the United Auto Workers plan to meet with" Pelosi "today to ask for additional federal aid for the struggling U.S. carmakers," the Washington Post reports. "Chief executives G. Richard Wagoner Jr. of General Motors, Alan Mulally of Ford, Robert L. Nardelli of Chrysler and UAW president Ron Gettelfinger are in Washington to argue that if there is a November stimulus package from Congress, the auto industry should receive an additional $25 billion loan to retool for production of energy-efficient vehicles."

• "Oil prices will rebound to more than $100 a barrel as soon as the world economy recovers, and will exceed $200 by 2030, the International Energy Agency will say in its flagship report to be published next week," the Financial Times reports. "'While market imbalances could temporarily cause prices to fall back, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the era of cheap oil is over,' the report states."

• "The first clues are emerging that Wall Street pay will plummet this year -- but perhaps not enough to satisfy the financial industry's critics," the New York Times reports. "Bonuses, which soared to record heights in recent years, could drop by 20 to 35 percent across the industry, according to a private study to be released" today. "Bonuses for top executives could plunge by 70 percent."

• "Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., faced with a weakening economy and the prospect of mounting losses, began firing workers as part of the firms' plans to cut more than 12,000 jobs, people with knowledge of the matter said," Bloomberg News reports.

World: Joy, Aggression Greet Obama

• "Through tears and whoops of joy, in celebrations that spilled onto the streets, people around the globe called" Obama's "election Tuesday a victory for the world and a renewal of America's ability to inspire," the Washington Post reports. "From Paris to New Delhi to the beaches of Brazil, revelers said that his victory made them feel more connected to America and that America seemed suddenly more connected to the rest of the world."

• "Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned in a nationally televised address Wednesday that he will deploy short-range missiles near Poland capable of striking NATO territory if the new Obama administration presses ahead with plans to build a missile defense shield in Europe," the Post reports. "The threat, which came just hours after the conclusion of the U.S. election, appeared intended to signal Moscow's priorities to the American president-elect."

• "Instead of extending an olive branch to" Obama, "who says he is open to talks with Tehran, Iranian military officials Wednesday delivered what could be interpreted as a sobering message to America," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Leaders of the armed forces issued a notice warning U.S. forces that any violation of Iranian airspace would be met with force."

• "Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday called on" Obama "to end U.S. airstrikes that risk civilian casualties after coalition forces allegedly killed dozens of people at a wedding party in southern Afghanistan this week," the Washington Post reports. "Karzai said that about 40 civilians were killed and 28 wounded Monday after coalition forces in Kandahar province bombarded the village of Shah Wali Kot during a clash with Taliban fighters in the region."

• "Landmark economic deals signed between China and Taiwan this week have brought the longtime foes another step closer to ending 60 years of hostilities," the Washington Times reports. "But entrenched political differences from a rupture that keeps the Cold War alive in East Asia threaten further reconciliation moves in the near future."

• "Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers scrambled Wednesday to contain fallout from the worst fighting since a truce was declared five months ago, but a flare-up later in the day threatened to unravel it anew," AP reports. "Gaza militants pounded southern Israel early Wednesday with dozens of rockets to avenge raids a day earlier that killed six militants, but the guns quickly fell silent with neither side appearing to have much to gain from renewed hostilities."

• "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice embarks Wednesday on yet another Middle East peacemaking trip, hoping to secure fragile Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and leave a viable process for the incoming Obama administration," AP reports. "With just 77 days left in office, Rice will be making her eighth trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories since the parties set a year-end goal of reaching a peace deal at last November's U.S.-sponsored peace conference. She will also visit Egypt and Jordan to shore up Arab support."

• "Jean Charest, the premier of Quebec, announced an early election for the province on Wednesday, less than a month after a federal election in Canada," the New York Times reports. "But even before the campaign officially began, one issue was clear: Quebec's separation from Canada will not be a major theme of any platform."

• "Fifty-five Tibetans have received prison sentences for their actions in the March 14 ethnic riot that engulfed Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region in western China, according to a senior Chinese official quoted Wednesday by Xinhua, the state news agency," the Times also reports. "The report was the first by an official news source stating the number of sentences handed down after the riot, which erupted days after monks staged peaceful protests in Lhasa."

• "One of Osama bin Laden's sons has been denied asylum in Spain, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman told CNN on Wednesday. Omar bin Laden, who is in his late 20s, stepped off a plane at Madrid's Barajas International Airport during a stopover late Monday and informed authorities that he planned to request political asylum, the spokeswoman said."

Transition: Change Is Coming -- To Obama Family

• Obama's transition team begins to emerge, as well as a new life for the Obama family. Read more in Lost In Transition, NationalJournal.com's new blog on the changeover.

Campaigns: Back To Her Day Job, For Now

Sarah Palin stepped off the campaign plane in Alaska yesterday to a crowd of supporters, "Palin 2012" T-shirts and plenty of questions about her future. Earlybird's Campaign News section has more.

Commentary: Rejoicing In The Aftermath

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, commentators acclaim what they see as a transformative election, for civil rights and more, on Nov. 4.

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