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President Obama couches praise with challenges to Russians, and centrist Dems threaten his agenda in the Senate. Plus: China cracks down on civil unrest.

White House: Obama Mixes Praise With Challenges In Russian Address

• "President Barack Obama challenged Russians to bolster the rule of law, recognize the sovereignty and borders of its neighbors and rejuvenate its flagging democracy, even as he reassured the former Cold War adversary that the U.S. is committed to a 'strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia,'" the Wall Street Journal reports. "In what White House officials describe as a 'major' foreign policy address, the U.S. president used his increasingly familiar blend of praise and challenges in a commencement address to the New Economic School."

• "The early part of President Obama's three-nation, two-continent trip might seem like a throwback to the Cold War era as the president wrestles in Moscow with arms control, missile defense and troop levels," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "But starting Wednesday, when he travels to Italy for a series of summits with other world leaders, the focus will shift to an issue that is decidedly 2009 and has dominated his presidency -- the global recession."


• "The fight to enact a $787 billion economic stimulus package was the first big battle of the Obama administration -- and it isn't over yet," the Wall Street Journal reports. Recent unemployment news and "a remarkably frank weekend admission from Vice President Joe Biden that the administration miscalculated how bad the jobless problem would be" are prompting "a new question: Should the Obama administration dive back into the fray by seeking a second dose of stimulus from Congress this fall?"

• "One day after the Honduran military prevented him from landing at his capital's airport, ousted President Manuel Zelaya said he would meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington -- then take another run at going home," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Congress: Handful Of Centrist Dems Could Enable Senate Filibusters

• "Half a dozen members of the Senate Democratic Conference pose the biggest threat to President Obama's agenda, giving Senate Republicans a fighting chance to block the administration's major expansions of government," The Hill (subscription) reports. "GOP leaders have begun reaching out to these centrists, hoping they will buck their party on Obama's two biggest initiatives: healthcare reform and climate change legislation."


• "Obama's congressional allies want to create a powerful insurance commissioner to oversee medical plans nationwide. State regulators say it would duplicate what they do without better protecting consumers. Conservatives bemoan the big government mentality. The issue could flare as lawmakers push to meet an ambitious schedule for votes on health care legislation before their August vacation," AP reports.

Politics: GOP Plans To Stall Sotomayor Nomination Seem 'All But Dead'

• "Senate Republicans, whose numbers officially hold at 40 today with the swearing-in of Democrat Al Franken (Minn.), have limited options to slow the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Earlier rumors of GOP-led delay tactics to stall" Obama's "first high-court nomination now appear all but dead."

• "Franken envisions playing the 'people's proxy' during" Sotomayor's hearings. "'As someone who will have been in the committee a grand total of six days and isn't an attorney I kind of see myself fulfilling a certain role for Americans watching the hearings,' Franken said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press."

• "Sarah Palin is resigning as Alaska's governor because the volume of investigations and public-record requests scrutinizing her activities kept her from doing what she wanted, said one of her confidantes," the Wall Street Journal reports.


• "The South Carolina Republican Party voted to censure Gov. Mark Sanford Monday -- rather than call for his resignation -- an outcome that makes it likely the GOP governor will be able to weather the storm surrounding his extramarital affair and remain in office," Politico reports.

Health Care: Dems To Explain Financing For $1 Trillion Reform

• "Democrats on Capitol Hill this month will answer the $1 trillion-plus question: how they plan to pay for comprehensive healthcare reform," The Hill reports.

• "It is more important that health-care legislation inject stiff competition among insurance plans than it is for Congress to create a pure government-run option, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Monday," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "Hundreds of embryonic stem cell lines, whose use in the United States had effectively been curtailed by the Bush administration, can be used to study disorders and develop cures if researchers can show the cells were derived using ethical procedures, according to new rules issued by the federal government" on Monday, the Washington Post reports.

• "House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) blasted the Obama administration on Monday for releasing new rules that ease restrictions on the use of federal dollars for stem cell research," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

Economy: Low Returns Cause Silicon Valley Firms To Reboot

• "For a group accustomed to looking outward for the next big thing, Silicon Valley's venture capitalists are getting very introspective these days," the New York Times reports. "The biggest names in the industry are concerned about low returns and are blaming several factors: funds that have grown too large, the M.B.A.'s that have invaded the industry and older partners who have lost touch with what is new in technology."

• "The president's stimulus plan has been aimed primarily at the top of the economy, pumping money into banks and car companies and state and city governments. But it also has put more money into the hands of the poorest Americans by boosting monthly food-stamp allocations," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Starting in April, a family of four on food stamps received an average of $80 extra."

• "Home prices may fall in more than half of the largest U.S. cities through the first quarter of 2011 as unemployment and foreclosures rise, mortgage insurer PMI Group Inc. said," Bloomberg News reports.

World: Chinese Government Locks Down Regional Capital

• "The Chinese government locked down" regional capital Urumqi "and other cities across its western desert region on Monday and early" today, "imposing curfews, cutting off cellphone and Internet services and sending armed police officers into neighborhoods after clashes erupted" there "on Sunday evening between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese. The fighting left at least 156 people dead and more than 1,000 injured, according to the state news agency," the New York Times reports. "But hundreds of Uighur protesters defied the police again" this "morning, crashing a state-run tour of the riot scene for foreign and Chinese journalists."

• "Iranian opposition leaders have criticised what they describe as the 'security state' imposed in the country after the controversial June elections. They also called for the release of people detained during mass protests that followed the vote," BBC News reports. "Runner-up Mir Hossein Mousavi's website said the call was backed by fellow defeated candidate Mehdi Karoubi and former President Mohammad Khatami."

• "Complaints of voter list irregularities by the two challengers for Indonesia's presidency soured the mood on the eve of elections" today, "with one camp alleging that there were problems with up to 20 million names," Reuters reports. "Opinion polls have consistently shown that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will trounce his rivals in Wednesday's vote, winning a second term and a chance to quicken the pace of reform in Southeast Asia's biggest economy."

National Security: Seven Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

• "Three separate episodes in different parts of the country made Monday the deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan in nearly a year," the New York Times reports. "In all, seven United States soldiers were killed, said Capt. Jon Stock, an American military spokesman."

• "The Air Force is developing a new video sensor and creating 2,500 analyst positions to help gather and interpret the increasing flood of aerial surveillance data coming from the warfront and get it back to the troops on the ground, officials said Monday," AP reports. "Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, said the new technology, called the Gorgon Stare, will be available for deployment to the warzone on a limited basis early next year."

• "At least 12 militants have died in a missile strike by a suspected US drone in north-west Pakistan, intelligence officials and residents say. The attack targeted a stronghold of Pakistan's top Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, near the Afghan border," BBC News reports. "The missiles flattened a compound in the Zangarha area, officials said."

Technology: U.K. Will Turn To Google, Microsoft For Health IT

• "The British government is reportedly preparing a plan to give national health records to either Google or Microsoft, rather than creating a massive government database," Federal Computer Week reports. "Reports of the plan have sparked vigorous debates in the United Kingdom."

• "Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl, D-Wis., asked federal regulators to remove barriers to wireless phone competition in the latest sign that major telecom players can expect scrutiny from Congress and the Obama administration," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

Lobbying: Franken's Victory May Boost 'Card Check'

• With Franken giving Senate Democrats a 60th seat, "union officials plan to renew their push for a controversial bill that would make it easier for employees to organize, legislation that has stalled so far this Congress under a massive lobbying campaign by business groups that oppose it as a threat to an already listless economy," The Hill reports.

• "A group of unions, including the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said they will start pressing lawmakers for a jobs bill," The Hill reports. "They said the $787 billion economic stimulus approved earlier this year, though helpful, wasn't big enough and didn't include enough government spending."

• "Through June 27, $31 million has been spent for roughly 47,000 TV ads on health care this year, says Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, a firm that tracks issue advertising," AP reports. "That's double the roughly $14 million the insurance industry spent in 1993 and 1994 for the famous 'Harry and Louise' ads credited with helping kill President Bill Clinton's health care drive, but a fraction of the $250 million Tracey guesses will ultimately be spent this year."

Transportation: Dems Want Political Cover For Gas Tax Hike

• "The chief architect of House Democrats' 2008 electoral gains recently had a blunt message for supporters of a multiyear surface transportation funding bill: Don't count on Democrats alone to fall on their swords for gasoline or other tax increases to pay for it," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "The Transportation Security Administration appears to be taking a hands-off stance toward the treatment of personal data for 165,000 enrollees in a Registered Traveler program," Federal Computer Week reports.

Energy & Environment: Climate Bill Faces Uphill Climb In Senate

• "Obama's climate-change legislation begins a daunting march through the Senate this week, with supporters acknowledging they are as many as 15 votes shy of victory and well aware that deals to attract more votes could erode the bill's environment-friendly objectives," the Washington Post reports.

• "Liberal groups are firing back after watching national Republicans take aim at lawmakers across the country for backing a landmark climate change bill," Politico reports. "Americans United for Change, a liberal-minded group aligned with the Obama White House, is unleashing a wave of TV ads and robocalls thanking targeted Democrats for backing the bill."

Commentary: McNamara's 'Cautionary Tale'

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's death provokes stinging remembrance, while his legacy is seen as a "cautionary tale" for Obama's foreign policy.

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