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EARLYBIRD

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White House yanks Iranian diplomats' Fourth of July invitations, and South Carolina governor Mark Sanford admits to an affair. Plus: New talks with China address North Korean concerns.

Iran: White House Revokes Diplomats' Fourth Of July Invitations

• "The White House announced" Wednesday "that it had withdrawn invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend Fourth of July festivities at U.S. embassies around the world," the Washington Post reports. "The move is the first tangible penalty the United States has imposed against the Iranian government in the wake of the brutal crackdown of demonstrations over the disputed presidential elections."

• "Iranian officials stepped up efforts to crush the remaining resistance... on Wednesday, as security forces overwhelmed a small group of protesters with brutal beatings, tear gas and gunshots in the air. Intelligence agents shut down an office of a defeated presidential candidate, saying it was a 'headquarters for a psychological war,'" the New York Times reports.

 

• "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on" President Obama "on Thursday not to interfere in Iran's internal affairs after the U.S. president said he was 'appalled and outraged' by post-election violence in the Islamic state," Reuters reports.

Energy & Environment: Administration Gets Behind Climate Change Bill

• "The Obama administration has gotten heavily involved in the final days leading to an expected close House vote late this week on climate change legislation to convince skeptical lawmakers in both parties to back the bill," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Cabinet officials; White House climate czar Carol Browner; Phil Schiliro, President Obama's assistant for legislative affairs, and other members of the White House legislative affairs office are lobbying a long list of moderate and conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans either on Capitol Hill or through events in their districts."

• "With her flagship project and the strength of her leadership muscle on the line, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday launched a buzzer-beater: trying to sell skeptical members of her Caucus on sweeping climate change legislation before they break for the July Fourth recess," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "The gambit appears to be working."

 

• "The nuclear industry, ethanol producers and rural electric cooperatives are among those who stand to benefit from eleventh-hour deals made by House Democrats in search of enough votes to pass a sweeping climate bill," AP reports.

• "Three-quarters of Americans think the federal government should regulate the release into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases from power plants, cars and factories to reduce global warming, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll," the Washington Post reports. "But fewer Americans -- 52 percent -- support a cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions similar to the one the House may vote on as early as" Friday.

• "If a tree falls in Brazil, it will, in fact, be heard in the U.S. -- at least if a little-noticed provision in the pending climate-change bill in Congress becomes law," the Washington Times reports. "As part of the far-reaching climate bill, the House is set to vote Friday on a plan to pay companies billions of dollars not to chop down trees around the world, as a way to reduce global warming."

Lobbying: Ethanol Lobby Forces Compromise On Climate Bill

• "The deal House Democrats were forced to strike on the climate change bill demonstrates the power of the corn ethanol lobby to get its way on Capitol Hill, despite an array of interests aligned against it," The Hill reports.

 

• "As the House prepares to vote Friday on climate change legislation, two groups representing tens of thousands of small businesses are upping the ante, saying they will use the cap-and-trade energy package vote to score lawmakers," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "The National Federation of Independent Business and the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors will 'key vote' the bill, making it part of the organizations' public scorecard on how lawmakers vote on priority legislation."

• "Many farm lobbyists are still on the fence with climate change and energy legislation headed to the House floor Friday, though most are singing the praises of House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson," D-Minn., "for negotiating changes in the bill," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Most were pleased Wednesday that the bill would put the sections of a carbon offsets program that applies to agriculture under the control of the USDA rather than the EPA."

Politics: Sanford Asks Forgiveness For Affair

• "Gov. Mark Sanford admitted Wednesday to an extramarital affair with a woman living in Argentina and to lying to South Carolinians to cover up his tryst -- then asked everyone, including his family, for forgiveness," The State (S.C.) reports. "The two-term S.C. Republican, a rising GOP star, fought tears during a news conference hours after a reporter from The State newspaper surprised him at the Atlanta airport on his way back from seeing the mother of two during Father's Day weekend."

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• "Senate Democrats are about to limp into the Independence Day recess after arguably their least-productive week this year, and there are many hurdles in the way of the ambitious agenda they hope to address after the break," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Democrats started the week with a surprise loss as Republicans, objecting to limits on their ability to offer amendments, killed a tourism promotion measure by uniting to defeat a motion to cut off debate."

• "Seeking to avoid the legislative minutia that has consumed some of his predecessors," Obama "is pushing his agenda through Congress by outlining a broad vision of his policy goals and then letting lawmakers fill in the blanks. Republicans would like to make him pay for that," Politico reports. "GOP leaders on Capitol Hill see in Obama's approach a chance to paint the young president as disengaged from the work required to address the country's ills."

White House: Obama To Meet With Merkel

• "Obama sits down this week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel under a cloud of disagreement over the way out of the global financial crisis and Germany's role in the U.S.-led Afghan war," AP reports. "The Germans probably will stand pat on their refusal to increase troop strength significantly to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Merkel's unusually harsh public criticism of U.S. financial policy appears to be driven by domestic politics -- the chancellor's need to appear tough in advance of September elections."

Economy: Americans Hit The Road In Search Of Work

• "With the unemployment rate at 9.4%, some Americans are willing to go wherever they can to nab a job, even if it is temporary. To adapt, they find living quarters near the job in campers or cheap apartments, giving up normal family life for a paycheck, in a contemporary echo of the itinerants who roamed the country for work in the Great Depression," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

• "After bruising global downturns, the American economy has usually led the world back to growth, but developing countries could be the engine that powers the next recovery," the New York Times reports. "Despite fears just months ago that they would be among the biggest victims of the financial crisis, emerging giants like China, India and Brazil are set to rebound strongly next year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicted Wednesday -- as Europe, the United States and Japan lag."

• "Federal Reserve officials, encouraged by signs the recession is easing, doused speculation they will pump more money into the economy to hold down interest rates, while indicating they're not ready to begin a retreat," Bloomberg News reports. "Fed policy makers voted yesterday to maintain the size and pace of their $1.75 trillion program to buy mortgage debt and Treasuries. The central bank said it sees a 'gradual resumption of sustainable' growth even as 'substantial' economic slack holds down inflation pressures."

World: China Renews Attacks On Google

• "China on Thursday stepped up accusations that Google is spreading obscene content over the Internet, a day after U.S. officials urged Beijing to abandon plans for controversial filtering software on new computers," Reuters reports. "The growing friction over control of online content threatens to become another irritant in ties at a time the world is looking for the United States and China to cooperate in helping to pull the global economy out of its slump."

• "With a nationwide election only weeks away" in Afghanistan, "the paradox of President Hamid Karzai has never seemed more apparent: he is at once deeply unpopular and likely to win," the New York Times reports.

National Security: U.S.-China Military Talks Address North Korea

• "Chinese and American officials on Wednesday gave a positive assessment of their military talks aimed at addressing the growing nuclear threat from North Korea and a series of naval skirmishes that have marred relations between the countries," the New York Times reports. "The two days of dialogue were the first military talks since December, when China broke off annual military exchanges to protest a $6.5 billion arms deal between the United States and Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province."

• "A bomb in a sprawling Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Baghdad killed at least 78 people Wednesday and wounded 145, highlighting the danger of Iraq slipping back into violence after the deadline for U.S. combat troops to leave its cities -- now less than a week away," the Los Angeles Times reports.

• "The new commander of US and Nato-led troops in Afghanistan has said troops must shift from conventional warfare to protecting Afghan civilians," BBC News reports. "Gen Stanley McChrystal is expected to release new combat rules aimed at reducing the number of civilian deaths."

Technology: Schumer Wants Biometric ID System For Workers

• Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., "said he plans to introduce legislation that would create a system under which biometrics, such as fingerprints, are used to verify the identity and legal status of all workers," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Such a technology-driven project could be a boon to federal information technology contractors, but other programs involving biometrics, such as the US-VISIT system to track foreigners entering and leaving the United States, have taken years to develop."

• "Senior U.S. officials are pressuring the Chinese government to shelve a proposed rule that would require all computers shipped in China to be equipped with Web-filtering software, citing concerns that the order may violate China's commitments under the World Trade Organization," the Washington Post reports.

Health Care: Liberal Dems Threaten Any Bill Without Public Option

• "House liberals are warning the Senate, Democratic leaders and" Obama "that a government-run insurance option must be included in any health reform bill, or else the powerful bloc will vote it down," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "A bipartisan group of governors told" Obama on Wednesday "that they share his urgent desire to restructure the nation's health-care system but warned that any changes should not place more burdens on strained state budgets or eliminate innovative programs they already have in place," the Washington Post reports.

• "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a generic version of the controversial Plan B morning-after contraceptive," the Wall Street Journal reports. "For now, the generic version, made by a unit of Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., is available by prescription only for women 17 years old and younger, the FDA said in a press release."

Transportation: Rendell Pushes For Infrastructure Bank

• "Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) said Wednesday that Congress should create a national infrastructure bank to prevent a conflict between" Obama "and lawmakers over earmarks in a transportation bill," The Hill reports. "Rendell said the new transportation reauthorization bill will be stuffed so full of earmarks that it will test Obama's resolve to limit spending on parochial projects."

• "The Federal Aviation Administration, following up on earlier pledges to enhance commuter airline safety, said Wednesday it will convene a panel to draft recommendations by Sept. 1 on new rules aimed at alleviating fatigue among pilots working for such carriers," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Commentary: Sanford's Revelation

• Sanford's admission of an affair Wednesday triggers both sympathy and criticism in Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, with many commentators seeing him in a different light than other straying politicians.

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