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Obama chooses Sotomayor for Supreme Court vacancy, citing 'inspiring' life story. Plus: North Korea threatens military attacks on South.

Supreme Court: Obama Chooses Sotomayor

• "President Obama made history Tuesday by announcing his plan to nominate the first Hispanic to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor has an 'inspiring' life story similar to his own and can employ an empathetic 'common touch' on the bench," the Washington Times reports. "While Judge Sotomayor, 54, presented herself as an ordinary woman with humble roots, the White House boasted that her 17-year jurist credentials give her more experience than Supreme Court nominees chosen over the past century, and aides insisted their vetting process had been exhaustive."

• "Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) is warning Republicans against criticizing" Sotomayor, "saying it will hurt their party's standing with Hispanics," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "'The Republicans are looking at ways they can make inroads in the Latino community... they need to be very cautious and careful' about lobbing harsh attacks on Sotomayor, Velázquez said Tuesday."


• "The woman who would be the next Supreme Court Justice was one of four finalists interviewed last week by President Obama, administration officials said Tuesday," USA Today reports. "The sources, who declined to be identified, said Solicitor General Elena Kagan and federal Judge Diane Wood were slipped into the White House last Tuesday; Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and" Sotomayor "visited on Thursday."

White House: Obama To Merge Security Councils

• Obama said Tuesday "that he will merge the staffs of the Homeland Security Council and the National Security Council to speed up and unify security policymaking inside the White House," the Washington Post reports. "The combined national security staff, about 240 people, will report to national security adviser James L. Jones."

Politics: Burris Worried He Would 'Catch Hell' For Helping Blagojevich

• "A month before his appointment to the U.S. Senate, Roland Burris," D-Ill., "agonized with the brother of then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich [D] about how to raise campaign cash for the governor without creating the perception he was buying his way into Congress, according to a federal wiretap unveiled Tuesday," the Chicago Tribune reports. "Burris said he would make a personal donation but worried that both he and the governor could eventually 'catch hell' for any campaign help Burris gave as he lobbied for Blagojevich to choose him."


• "The next campaign in the gay-marriage fight has already begun," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Less than 90 minutes after the California Supreme Court released its ruling on Proposition 8, both sides had already e-mailed supporters soliciting funds anticipating a new ballot measure on gay marriage that could reach voters in 2010."

• "Former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik was indicted on charges of making false statements to White House officials vetting him for the secretary's seat at the Department of Homeland Security in 2004, federal prosecutors said Tuesday," CNN reports. Kerik "allegedly gave false and misleading answers to Bush administration officials about his relationship with contractors who renovated his Riverdale apartment, according to the indictment handed up by a Washington grand jury."

Transportation: Government To Own 70 Percent Of GM

• "The latest plan for" General Motors, "which is expected to file for bankruptcy by Monday, calls for the Treasury Department to receive about 70 percent of a restructured G.M," the New York Times reports. "Including the more than $20 billion that has already been spent to prop up G.M., the government will provide G.M. at least $50 billion to get the company through Chapter 11, people with direct knowledge of the situation said Tuesday."

• "Federal bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez" today "is scheduled to consider a motion to sell most of Chrysler's assets to a new entity led by Italy's Fiat," the Washington Post reports. "The judge's approval would set up the automaker for one of the biggest and fastest bankruptcy proceedings of its kind."


• Chrysler "said on Tuesday it submitted proposals totaling $448 million to the U.S. Department of Energy to research and develop electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid models," Reuters reports. "Chrysler and its 'partners,' plus the Department of Energy, would pay $224 million each should the proposals be approved and would include an investment of up to $83 million to build a new technology and manufacturing center in Michigan to help develop and assemble these vehicles."

Economy: Recession Could End This Year, Forecasters Say

• "The end of the recession is in sight, according to a new survey of leading economists," CNNMoney reports. "While the economy is showing signs of stabilizing, the recovery will be more moderate than is typical following a severe downturn, said the National Association for Business Economics Outlook in a report released" today.

World: North Korea Threatens Military Strikes

• "North Korea" today "threatened to launch military strikes against South Korea if any of its ships were stopped or searched as part of an American-led operation to intercept vessels suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction," the New York Times reports. "South Korea agreed to join the global interdiction program after North Korea tested a nuclear device on Monday."

• "In a series of raids that began at dawn on Tuesday, federal police detained the mayors of 10 prominent cities in the central state of Michoacan under suspicion that they were working for a violent drug cartel that beheaded its enemies," the Washington Post reports. "The simultaneous detention of the mayors represents an unprecedented and bold move by the government of President Felipe Calderón in his war against the cartels."

• "Rescuers are searching the rubble of a police building in Lahore after a bomb attack killed at least 23 people and injured 200 in Pakistan's second city," BBCNews reports. "Gunmen reportedly opened fire on guards before detonating a car bomb which flattened the emergency response building at police HQ."

National Security: Details On Former Guantanamo Detainees Released

• "The Pentagon said Tuesday that 5% of Guantanamo Bay detainees have participated in terrorist activities since their release from the U.S. navy prison," AP reports. "An additional 9% are believed to have joined -- or rejoined -- the fight against the U.S. and its allies, according to Defense Department data released amid a simmering political battle over where to send the detainees if the prison closes in January as planned."

Technology: IBM Earmarks Billions For Foreign Stimulus Projects

• "IBM has earmarked $3 billion to finance so-called smart infrastructure projects in Europe and Asia likely to receive government stimulus support," Reuters reports. "The move, announced" today, "follows a similar announcement of $2 billion the computer consulting and technology company is making available in the United States as it seeks to win business for which government funds may not immediately be forthcoming."

• "A senior adviser to President Obama is touting the idea of spending tens of billions of dollars in public funds to build a nationwide, state-of-the-art broadband network featuring speeds 100 times faster than today's technology," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "While there has been no formal Obama administration commitment to such infrastructure investment, Susan Crawford, special assistant to the president for science, technology and innovation policy, has said she is 'personally intrigued' by an ambitious plan by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd."

• "Cable companies cannot have exclusive rights to provide service in apartment buildings that they wire, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday," the AP reports. "The decision from the Court of Appeals in Washington upholds a Federal Communications Commission ruling that banned the exclusive agreements as anticompetitive."

Energy & Environment: Landrieu Explores Dutch Levee Plan

• "During Congress' Memorial Day holiday break," Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., "is leading a congressional delegation to the Netherlands to study the Dutch integrated water management system," the Washington Times reports. "The Netherlands' new technology can find weak spots in levees automatically and digest data 100 times faster than previous systems," which can "limit flooding, save lives and billions of dollars in reconstruction costs."

• "Oil rose to hit a six-month high above $63 a barrel" today "after OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia said the global economy had strengthened enough to cope with oil at $75-$80 a barrel," Reuters reports. "Speaking ahead of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' meeting in Vienna on Thursday, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said oil prices would continue to rise, recovering from lows near $32 at the turn of the year."

• "The global market for carbon emissions trading doubled in value last year, despite the global economy slowing down in the second half of 2008, the World Bank said" today, Reuters reports. "The market grew to $126 billion last year, up from $63 billion in 2007 and nearly 12 times the value in 2005, the World Bank said."

Lobbying: 'No' Votes Targeted In Cap-And-Trade Ads

• "Liberal-leaning groups have launched a TV ad campaign attacking three lawmakers who voted against cap-and-trade legislation in the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Reps. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), John Barrow (D-Ga.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) are targeted in the ads paid for by the League of Conservation Voters, and building trades unions."

• "A report by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) disclosed that four lobbyists collected $209,700 in campaign contributions for the political committee during the month of April," The Hill reports. "The top lobbyist bundler for the Senate Democrats' campaign committee is Ted Burnes, a lobbyist for the American College of Radiology."

• "Conservative groups are stepping up the battle against Democrats' proposed health-system overhaul with advertising campaigns contending that the changes could result in long waits for surgery and difficulty obtaining prescription drugs," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "The conservative groups' campaigns seek to liken the Democrats' proposed system to those in countries where the government has more involvement in the health system."

Health Care: Drug CEOs Switch Tactics On Reform

• "Drug-company executives are aiming to prevent steep cuts in prescription prices by joining the effort to overhaul the U.S. health-care system," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "The pharmaceutical executives are using their new access to try to steer lawmakers away from measures that could reduce drug margins, pressing instead for cost reductions by hospitals and insurers."

• "The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether shareholders can sue Merck over whether the drugmaker properly warned about the risks of its former blockbuster painkiller Vioxx before it was pulled from the market," the AP reports.

• "In her first day on the job, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret 'Peggy' Hamburg signaled that she sees the FDA as a public-health agency, and not just an organization that helps the food and drug industry market products," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "The agency's success should be measured by its impact on promoting health, preventing illness and prolonging life, not the number of facilities inspected or drugs approved, she wrote in a New England Journal of Medicine editorial published Tuesday."

Commentary: SCOTUS Scuffle

• Commentators in Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section spar over Sotomayor's "wise Latina woman" remark and weigh in on her "empathy."

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