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Van Hollen to return as Dem campaign chair; AIG bailout expanded; Schwarzenegger hopes court overturns Prop. 8; U.S. uses secret order to raid Al Qaeda overseas.

• "After bringing at least two dozen new Democrats to the House in Tuesday's elections, Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) has agreed to try to duplicate that achievement in 2010 as chair of the caucus's campaign arm," the Washington Post reports. "He also will take on an added role, coordinating policy decisions between the House and President-elect Barack Obama's administration."

• "Newly designated White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Sunday that the incoming Obama administration opposes attaching the Colombia Free Trade Agreement to an economic stimulus package in order to get the approval of the Bush Administration," The Hill reports. "The White House has suggested it might stomach another stimulus package, which it currently opposes, if it is tagged on to the free trade deal."


• "A House leader who had seen his party lose more than 50 seats in two election cycles might expect to get the boot -- or at least a major challenge -- but House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) has not only emerged unscathed, he has been consolidating his hold on power by hand-picking a new team underneath him," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Members and GOP aides say Boehner's likely survival has been helped immensely by the lack of major rivals gunning for the job, and also by his instincts in navigating the hand-to-hand business of internecine party politics."

• "With tens of thousands of votes left to be counted, the Alaska Senate race is far from over," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "The state Division of Elections announced Friday that there are 81,224 ballots yet to be counted in Alaska, where two embattled Republican incumbents are leading their Democratic challengers for now."

• "[Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd's] exit opens the chairmanship to Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii)," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is expected to take over for Inouye on Commerce, leaving his chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee to Rules and Administration Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)."


Economy: Government Expands Bailout Of AIG

• "The U.S. government unveiled a plan Monday to scrap its original $123 billion bailout of American International Group Inc. and replace it with a new package worth around $150 billion," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "While the arrangement stands to considerably ease terms on the faltering insurer, it gives the government an unprecedented role as an actor in financial markets."

• "In the midst of this late-September drama, the Treasury Department issued a five-sentence notice that attracted almost no public attention," the Washington Post reports. "But corporate tax lawyers quickly realized the enormous implications of the document: Administration officials had just given American banks a windfall of as much as $140 billion."

• "Less than a month after walking away from Wachovia Corp., Citigroup Inc. is in discussions to acquire another U.S. bank, according to people familiar with the situation," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "The target's name couldn't be determined, but it is a regional bank that overlaps geographically with Citigroup's retail-banking unit, which has its highest concentration of branches in the Northeast, California and Texas."

• "The slide in stock markets globally has convinced many that decoupling is dead. In fact, thanks to the financial crisis, decoupling may be accelerating," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "Decoupling is the theory that emerging nations are weaning off U.S. economic dependence and, thus, would weather a U.S. economic slump better than in the past."


Washington: Inauguration Tickets In High Demand

• "The frenzy to attend President-elect Obama's inauguration has already begun, with thousands calling Congress for a ticket and scam artists promising entry for hundreds of dollars," Roll Call (subscription) reports. A spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies "said she was 'appalled' when a friend told her that tickets were being sold online for $400."

• "The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has printed about 250,000 tickets to the Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony at the west front of the U.S. Capitol," the Washington Post reports. "The tickets are free and will be given to members of Congress and to ... Obama's presidential inaugural committee, once that is established."

• "The U.S. government has chipped new holes in the secrecy of Swiss bank accounts, obtaining the names of American clients of the banking giant UBS as part of an investigation into the use of foreign banks to evade taxes," the Washington Post reports. "In an unusual move, the Swiss have turned over information on about 70 UBS clients for use by Justice Department investigators, a source close to the case said."

• "As Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) prepares to become President-elect Obama's chief of staff, he won't just be taking his Rolodex of Capitol Hill contacts," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "He will also have a number of K Street allies who expect to have a leg up lobbying a White House that has signaled it will keep influence peddlers at an arm's length."

• "For the nation's labor union leaders, it's time to cash in," the Washington Times reports. "Having mobilized an army of workers to help elect Barack Obama, top union officials have not been shy about their plans to push a legislative wish list blocked under President Bush, and they say they will not wait."

Nation: Schwarzenegger Hopes Court Overturns Prop. 8

• "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday expressed hope that the California Supreme Court would overturn Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage," the Los Angeles Times reports. "He also predicted that the 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who have already wed would not see their marriages nullified by the initiative."

• "Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan told his congregation Sunday he saw a 'oneness of spirit' among the multitudes who rallied and celebrated Obama's presidential victory at Grant Park and around the nation -- a victory, he contends, God directed," the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

• "The age at first marriage has been climbing steadily for all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups," USA Today reports. "The median age is now the oldest since the U.S. Census started keeping track in the 1890s: almost 26 for women and almost 28 for men."

Iraq: Triple Bombing Kills 28 In Baghdad

• "Two car bombs exploded in central Baghdad on Monday and a suicide bomber blew himself up among police and civilians who rushed to help the wounded, a triple strike that killed 28 people and wounded 68," Reuters reports.

• "At least 12 Iraqis were killed Sunday in a spate of attacks, many of them in provinces where much-lauded Iraqi-led security operations had taken place recently," the New York Times reports. "The deadliest attack was in the town of Khalis in Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad."

• "In a potentially dangerous phase of the transfer of powers from the U.S. military, Iraq's government will begin paying salaries this week to more than 51,000 members of Sunni neighborhood patrol groups," USA Today reports. "Known as the Sons of Iraq, or Awakening Councils, the U.S.-created program helped turn the tide against the insurgency by offering steady employment to disaffected Sunni Arabs in exchange for help battling al-Qaeda and other militant groups."

World: Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda Overseas

• "The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials," the New York Times reports. "These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said."

• "The Bush administration's plans to increase the U.S. military role in Afghanistan include a $100 million expansion next year of the Kandahar airfield, to accommodate aircraft working for Task Force ODIN, the once-secret Army fighting units that have been successful in Iraq," the Washington Post reports. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to a notice issued Thursday, has set Wednesday as the "tentative" date for putting out the contract to design and build a secure area for the aircraft."

• "China unveiled an economic stimulus program it billed as totaling $586 billion, aiming to bolster domestic demand and help avert a global recession," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Though the two-year package appeared to include some previously announced measures, its size was clearly designed to revive the fading confidence of Chinese businesses and consumers, and impress foreign governments."

• "Leaders of the quartet of Middle East peace mediators reaffirmed their backing on Sunday for the continuation of Israeli-Palestinian efforts toward a two-state solution, yet they shed no light on whether there had been any political progress after a year of negotiations," the New York Times reports.

Transition: Obama's Oval Office Preview

• Bush and Obama are scheduled to meet today at the White House. Read more in Lost In Transition,'s new blog about the changeover.

Commentary: Progressives Speak Up

• Commentators on the left lay out their hopes for the Obama administration in Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section.

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