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Obama will deliver Kennedy's eulogy, and two economic indicators show positive signs. Plus: State Department enters dispute over Libyan leader's visit.

Kennedy: Obama To Deliver Eulogy

• "President Barack Obama will deliver a eulogy Saturday at the funeral of Sen. Edward Kennedy, who will be buried later that day alongside his brothers at Arlington National Cemetery," The Hill reports. "The Kennedy family announced his funeral will be held in Boston at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica. Both the funeral and burial service will be closed to the public."

• "Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) has not made a decision about whether he wants to take over an important chairmanship left vacant by the death of" Kennedy, The Hill also reports. "Dodd ranks after Kennedy on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which has jurisdiction over healthcare reform... But if Dodd took over that panel, he would likely have to step down as chairman of the Banking Committee, which will handle financial regulatory reform, another important Obama priority."


• "For the past six decades, it has been known simply as the 'Kennedy seat,' a Senate perch occupied and fiercely guarded by the first family of Massachusetts politics. Now," the stage is set "for a furious succession battle that will unfold by January," the Boston Globe reports. "The shape of the race -- and the Kennedy political legacy -- will hinge on whether another Kennedy seeks to keep it in the family, and whether voters are looking to extend the dynasty."

• "Massachusetts state legislative leaders appear more likely to pass a law that would allow Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint a temporary placeholder to succeed" Kennedy, Roll Call (subscription) reports. "During a national cable news interview Wednesday afternoon, Patrick said he thought the Legislature may take up a bill allowing for the appointment when it returns after Labor Day. 'If that bill comes to me, I will sign it,' Patrick said on MSNBC."

Health Care: Path Of Reform Uncertain After Kennedy's Death

• "'Let's win one for Teddy' became the new health care reform rallying cry Wednesday, as Democrats hoped an emotional outpouring over" Kennedy's "death would give reform efforts a badly needed boost," Politico reports. "But the political reality is more stark -- as insiders predict the impact of Kennedy's death is likely to be felt most in the legislative math. Democrats no longer have the 60 votes they need to pass a reform bill."


• "As tributes to" Kennedy "poured in Wednesday from Members on both sides of the aisle, the immediate impact of the veteran lawmaker's death became abundantly clear: more partisan bickering over health care," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Despite his strongly liberal politics, Kennedy was a consummate deal-maker with a long record of brokering compromise with conservative Republicans on major legislation."

• "The insurance industry is facing new heat from House Democrats as Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on Domestic Policy, on Wednesday requested that six top insurance company executives appear before his panel to explain how they do business," Roll Call (subscription) also reports. The hearing is scheduled for Sept. 17.

Politics: Lieutenant Governor Urges Sanford To Resign

• "South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer on Wednesday called on Gov. Mark Sanford, a fellow Republican, to resign from office," The Hill reports. "In a press conference and letter delivered to the governor and state lawmakers, Bauer said the embattled governor's political radioactivity has left many state lawmakers concerned the next legislative session beginning in January will be gridlocked."

• "Alaska state Rep. Harry Crawford (D) announced Wednesday that he will challenge 19-term Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) next year," Roll Call (subscription) reports.


Economy: Manufacturing And Housing Start Rebounding

• "Manufacturing and housing, two sectors that have suffered some of the largest job losses in this recession, showed signs of strengthening in July, the latest indications that the economy is on the mend," the Washington Post reports. "A spike in demand for commercial aircraft and motor vehicles lifted orders for durable goods by their biggest margin in two years, while new-home sales increased for the fourth straight month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday."

• "The U.S. Treasury has so far collected a combined $7.3 billion in dividend payments from many of the hundreds of banks to which it has loaned government capital, its latest report shows," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "Government collections of bailout dividends in July were aided by Citigroup Inc., which added $648 million to the tally as part of a deal that gave the U.S. government a 34% stake in the banking giant."

World: State Department Working With Libya On Leader's Visit

• "The State Department said Wednesday it continues to talk to Libyan officials about next month's visit to the New York area by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi," CNN reports. Gadhafi "often takes an ornate tent with him on trips, using it to entertain and hold meetings. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly continued to hold out the possibility of a compromise over Gadhafi's reported plans to pitch his Bedouin tent on the grounds of a Libyan diplomatic residence in suburban New Jersey during his visit to participate in the annual United Nations General Assembly."

• "The expected victory for the opposition Democrats in Japan's election this weekend could open the way for a tentative improvement in ties with China, with both powers keen to avoid distractions from their economic priorities," Reuters reports. "Opinion polls show that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is set to be ousted in Sunday's election after five decades of near-unbroken rule, forcing Beijing to adjust to an untested and potentially fractious administration in Tokyo."

• "South Korea has proposed regular reunions of families separated by the Korean War during rare meetings between officials from the two Koreas held this week amid signs of easing tension on the peninsula, a spokesman said" today, AP reports. "The three days of talks" come as North Korea "adopts a more conciliatory stance toward South Korea and the U.S. after months of animosity over its nuclear and missile programs."

Energy & Environment: Solar Panel Costs Decrease

• Solar panel "prices have fallen about 40 percent since the middle of last year, driven down partly by an increase in the supply of a crucial ingredient for panels, according to analysts at the investment bank Piper Jaffray," the New York Times reports. "The price drops -- coupled with recently expanded federal incentives -- could shrink the time it takes solar panels to pay for themselves to 16 years, from 22 years, in places with high electricity costs, according to Glenn Harris, chief executive of SunCentric, a solar consulting group. That calculation does not include state rebates, which can sometimes improve the economics considerably."

• "The biofuels revolution that promised to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil is fizzling out," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "Two-thirds of U.S. biodiesel production capacity now sits unused, reports the National Biodiesel Board. Biodiesel, a crucial part of government efforts to develop alternative fuels for trucks and factories, has been hit hard by the recession and falling oil prices."

Lobbying: Bailed-Out Banks Spend Big On Campaign Donations

• "A new report by the group Public Citizen says that representatives of the banks that received the most money in a federal bailout have ponied up millions of dollars in campaign donations to Members of Congress," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Lobbyists, political action committees and trade associations connected to the industry have scheduled 70 fundraisers for Members since Election Day 2008 and have made $6 million in contributions," the report found.

• "Opponents of a health care overhaul have been stoking fears that a government health plan would entail 'death panels' that deny treatment to sick people. Now, a liberal group financed by two large labor unions is turning the tables with an attack ad that portrays health insurance companies denying medical care to patients as the 'real death panels in America,'" the New York Times reports.

Technology: Conficker Lives On, 5 Million Computers Strong

• "Like a ghost ship, a rogue software program that glided onto the Internet last November has confounded the efforts of top security experts to eradicate the program and trace its origins and purpose, exposing serious weaknesses in the world's digital infrastructure," the New York Times reports. "The program, known as Conficker, uses flaws in Windows software to co-opt machines and link them into a virtual computer that can be commanded remotely by its authors. With more than five million of these zombies now under its control -- government, business and home computers in more than 200 countries -- this shadowy computer has power that dwarfs that of the world's largest data centers."

• "Government and industry information technology experts have identified critical functions of the country's key information technology assets, some specific risks to the IT's sector's performance and potential mitigation strategies. That information is in a baseline assessment of threats to the IT sector," Federal Computer Week reports.

Transportation: Dealers Sell 690,000 Cars Through 'Cash For Clunkers'

• "The federal government's month-long 'Cash for Clunkers' program ended after having spent almost the entire $3 billion allotted and putting 690,114 new, more fuel-efficient cars on the road, the Transportation Department said Wednesday," the Washington Post reports.

• "Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the program was 'wildly successful' at bringing 'moribund' car showrooms back to life," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Trucks, vans and SUVs dominated trade-ins under the clunker program: the DOT said 84% of participating consumers traded in such vehicles and 59% of them purchased a new car. Trade-ins resulted in a 58% improvement in average fuel economy, according to the DOT, as purchased vehicles have an average fuel economy of 24.9 miles per gallon, 9.2 miles per gallon more than the trade-ins, which averaged 15.8 miles per gallon."

Commentary: Remembering The Liberal Lion's Legacy

• Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section remembers the life of the youngest Kennedy brother -- from Chappaquiddick to health care reform.

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