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EARLYBIRD

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Obama meets with his Chinese counterpart on trade and nukes, while the NAACP pressures the president on unemployment. Plus: Afghan leaders introduce anti-corruption measures.

White House: Obama, Hu Huddle On Trade, Nukes

• "President Obama and President Hu Jintao of China met in private off Tiananmen Square" in Beijing this morning "to discuss issues like trade, climate change and the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, in a session that signaled the central role of China on the world stage," the New York Times reports.

• "The White House announced Monday President Obama plans to nominate a longtime consumer protection lawyer," Julie Brill, "and a California attorney specializing in antitrust and intellectual property issues," Edith Ramirez, "as FTC commissioners," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

 

Health Care: New Breast Cancer Guidelines Spark Criticism

• "Sweeping new U.S. breast cancer guidelines released on Monday recommend against routine mammograms for women in their 40s, but several groups immediately rebelled against the recommendations," Reuters reports.

• "Progressive senators met with" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., "Monday evening to discuss how to pass a healthcare overhaul bill with a public insurance option, even as three Democrats are holding out against one," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "'There are a couple of members on our side that need some convincing, and we'll keep working on it,' said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who asked for the meeting along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and about a dozen liberal senators."

• "As the Senate prepares to take up legislation aimed at overhauling the nation's health-care system," Obama "and the Democrats are still struggling to win the battle for public opinion," the Washington Post reports. "A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Americans deeply divided over the proposals under consideration and majorities predicting higher costs ahead."

 

• "The House is expected to pass a bill later this week to permanently plug a long-standing shortfall in Medicare payments to doctors," Politico reports. "But prospects for the bill look dim, since the Senate blocked consideration of a similar measure late last month, and House leaders stripped the proposal from their broader health reform package."

Politics: Palin Bats Down 2012 Speculation

• "Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said a White House bid in 2012 is 'not on my radar screen' as she began a public relations blitz keyed to the release of her new memoir," USA Today reports.

• "A lack of competitive open-seat House races in 2010 could complicate Republican efforts to fully maximize a favorable national environment and make large seat gains after back-to-back elections where the political winds were blowing in the opposite direction," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "Five months after Sen. John Ensign," R-Nev., "admitted to having an extramarital affair with a staffer, the scandal is still in the headlines -- in large part because the husband of his onetime lover keeps making them,"Politico reports.

 

World: Afghans Roll Out Anti-Corruption Measures

• "Seeking to smooth over a key point of contention in advance of President Hamid Karzai's inauguration this week, senior Afghan officials Monday unveiled what they described as tough new anti-corruption measures," the Los Angeles Times reports.

• "As hijackings in the Indian Ocean surge with the end of the monsoon season, European Union naval force patrolling the waters off Somalia said" today "that a chemical tanker with 28 North Korean crew had become the latest in a string of ships commandeered by Somali pirates off the Seychelles Islands," the New York Times reports.

National Security: Intel Director Takes Fresh Look At CIA

• "Sensitive CIA operations overseas will face new scrutiny from the nation's intelligence director under a plan approved by the White House and outlined in a memo to the espionage workforce last week," the Los Angeles Times reports.

• "The former head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection called Monday for the U.S. to reinstitute the ban on assault weapons and take other measures to rein in the war between Mexico and its drug cartels, saying the violence has the potential to bring down legitimate rule in that country," the Washington Times reports.

Economy: 25 Percent Of Kids Go Hungry Amid Recession, Report Finds

• "The nation's economic crisis has catapulted the number of Americans who lack enough food to the highest level since the government has been keeping track, according to a new federal report, which shows that nearly 50 million people -- including almost one child in four -- struggled last year to get enough to eat," the Washington Post reports.

• "With unemployment among blacks at more than 15 percent, the N.A.A.C.P. will join several other groups" today "to call on President Obama to do more to create jobs," the New York Times reports.

Energy & Environment: Senate Hopes To Wrap Legislation By Early Spring

• "Senate Democrats are aiming to finish legislation addressing climate change by early spring after finishing work on health care and the financial regulatory system, Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry," D-Mass., "said Monday," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "But that goal remains highly tentative, given the possible need to address the economy and unemployment, the politics of a midterm election year and the timing of an international climate treaty."

• "U.S. environmental groups are split over how to respond to the Obama administration's decision to go along with a Danish proposal not to push for a binding global climate agreement at a United Nations conference in Copenhagen next month," Politico reports.

• "Suntech Power, China's largest solar panel manufacturer, plans to open its first American plant near Phoenix, the company announced on Monday. It would be the first time a Chinese solar company has built a manufacturing plant in the United States, experts said," the New York Times reports. "The plant will begin production in the third quarter of 2010 and will build panels from solar cells shipped from China. Those cells, in turn, contain substantial amounts of a substance called polysilicon manufactured at a factory in Texas."

• "As their manufacturers see it, the electric cars entering U.S. showrooms as early as next year will be engineering marvels: stylish, battery-operated, zero-emission wonders," the Washington Post reports. "Yet for all their technological prowess, there's one practical question that unsettles the green dreamers and entrepreneurs alike: Where, oh, where, can you plug them in?"

Transportation: Administration To Propose Safety Requirements For Buses

• "The Obama administration said Monday it will propose long-sought safety requirements for long-distance buses, including seatbelts and stronger roof standards," AP reports. "A motorcoach safety plan released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calls for developing performance requirements for bus roofs before the end of this year and issuing a rule by early next year on installation of seatbelts."

• "A new crop of 'ultra-low emission' short-haul locomotives could have significant public health benefits, according to rail industry officials and federal health experts, who suggest that they could help decrease the risk of cancer and heart and respiratory disease for people living near rail yards," the Post also reports.

Technology: Rockefeller Asks FCC To Probe Verizon Sell-Off

• "Senate Commerce Chairman John (Jay) Rockefeller has quietly urged the" Federal Communications Commission "to closely scrutinize Verizon's plan to unload its rural assets in 14 states -- including his own -- to Frontier Communications, a deal that critics insist would leave customers without the latest broadband technologies," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "A quarter of U.S. teens ages 16 to 17 who have cellphones say they text while driving, and almost half of Americans ages 12 to 17 say they've been in cars with someone who texted while behind the wheel. Teens say their parents are texting fanatics, too," the Washington Post reports. "Those findings are in a report released Monday by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project."

Lobbying: Abortion-Rights, Business Groups Ramp Up Health Care Efforts

• "Abortion-rights groups and other progressive lobbies are organizing a post-Thanksgiving assault on Capitol Hill to press lawmakers to keep restrictive language on abortion out of the final health care package," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "The coalition has scheduled a 'National Day of Action' on Dec. 2 that will include a rally at the Capitol as well as visits by activists from around the country to lawmakers' offices."

• "Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, defended the bishops' decision to play an active role in shaping national health care legislation, saying Monday that the church must be the 'leaven' in the country's political debate," the Washington Times reports.

• "Business foes of health care overhaul legislation are outspending supporters at a rate of 2-to-1 for TV ads as they grow increasingly nervous over a final bill," AP reports. "Led by the giant U.S. Chamber of Commerce, opponents of the Democratic health care drive have spent $24 million on TV commercials over the past month to $12 million spent by labor unions and other backers."

• "The Club for Growth's recent claim to fame -- or infamy, for some -- has been mixing it up in House Republican primaries by backing conservative candidates running against moderates," Politico reports. "But the anti-tax, anti-big-government group now is positioning itself to be a major 2010 player in Senate races, too, a development likely to cause headaches for both parties."

Commentary: KSM's Move To Manhattan

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, several columnists worry about the consequences of moving Khalid Sheikh Mohammad's trial to Manhattan, while others ponder China and the United States' economic future.

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