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EARLYBIRD

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Obama isn't sending troops to Yemen, while spy drones are collecting more intel than analysts can process. Plus: World Cup security concerns.

White House: Obama Looks To Boost Democratic Governors

• "The White House is taking an increasingly active role in 2010 gubernatorial contests in key battleground states," The Hill reports.

• "White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, the administration's most feared and fascinating personality, is fending off questions about just how long he will remain in his draining job -- and whether his next gig will be in Washington or back in Chicago, perhaps as Mr. Mayor," Politico reports.

 

World: North Korea Offers Peace Talks

• "North Korea" today "proposed talks with the United States to reach a formal peace treaty that would replace the truce that ended the Korean War 57 years ago, indicating it would not give up its nuclear weapons until Washington signed such an agreement," the New York Times reports.

• "An Iranian parliamentary probe has singled out a former Tehran prosecutor as being responsible for the violent deaths of three protesters in a now-closed prison facility after anti-government demonstrations in July," the Washington Post reports.

• "A rebel attack in Angola that killed members of a visiting soccer squad has led to a hunt for separatists in an oil-rich region of the country, and stirred concerns about security at this summer's World Cup in South Africa," the Wall Street Journal reports.

 

Politics: GOP Demands Reid Step Down

• "Republicans moved Sunday to draw attention to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid's racially tinged remarks about Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential race, with leading officials calling for him to step down and Democrats standing behind him," the Washington Post reports.

• "Obama called Minority Leader John Boehner," R-Ohio, "on Sunday to offer condolences for the death of Boehner's longtime aide, Paula Nowakowski, according to aides familiar with the situation," The Hill reports.

National Security: No Troops To Yemen, Obama Says

• "Yemen's president vowed over the weekend to track down al-Qaeda militants who refuse to renounce terrorism, as President Obama affirmed in a magazine interview that he has no plans at the moment to send troops to Yemen in response to concerns that the terrorist network's presence has become more dangerous in that country," the Washington Post reports.

• "As the military rushes to place more spy drones over Afghanistan, the remote-controlled planes are producing so much video intelligence that analysts are finding it more and more difficult to keep up," the New York Times reports. "Air Force drones collected nearly three times as much video over Afghanistan and Iraq last year as in 2007 -- about 24 years' worth if watched continuously."

 

• "A Defense Department review of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, has found the doctors overseeing Maj. Nidal Hasan's medical training repeatedly voiced concerns over his strident views on Islam and his inappropriate behavior, yet continued to give him positive performance evaluations that kept him moving through the ranks," AP reports.

Health Care: Liberals Playing Defense On Bill

• "Senate liberals are spending January's early days defending the healthcare reform bill they helped pass," The Hill reports. "While much of the public focus has been on the handful of Democratic centrists who had wavered on the $871 billion bill that passed on a 60-39 vote on Dec. 24, liberals like Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bernard Sanders of Vermont are on the defensive as well."

• "Republicans are attacking the legal premise of the" health care "legislation, saying Congress has no power to make people carry health insurance or pay a penalty or tax," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson [D] said Sunday he didn't hold back his vote on health care legislation just to get more money for his state, 'but to fix the unfunded Medicaid mandate for all states,'" AP reports.

Energy & Environment: State Regulators Seek Delay On Emissions Rules

• "A growing number of state regulators are urging the Obama administration to slow the rollout of proposed federal rules curbing industrial greenhouse-gas emissions, saying the administration's approach could overwhelm them with paperwork, delay construction projects and undercut their own efforts to fight climate change," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "The maintainer of the House offices said on Friday that all offices belonging to members, officers and committees would have 'green' consultations by the end of the year in its effort to make the House more environmentally friendly," The Hill reports.

• "Pope Benedict XVI has denounced the failure of world leaders to agree to a new climate change treaty by saying world peace depends on the responsible safeguarding of God's creation," AP reports.

Transportation: Funding To Be Announced For Fuel Efficiency Projects

• "The Obama administration will announce" today "funding for nine projects designed to significantly increase fuel efficiency in heavy trucks and passenger vehicles, with more than half the money coming from the $787 billion stimulus package," AP reports.

• "Detroit will become a political battleground" today "as lawmakers and activists descend on the city for its international auto show," The Hill reports. "A delegation of Democratic lawmakers, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), will travel to Motown... for the opening day of closed-door previews for the media, industry officials and other VIPs. They will be met, though, by conservative 'Tea Party' activists, who plan to rally against the show."

• "Air travelers strongly approve of the government's use of body scanners at the nation's airports even if the machines compromise privacy, a USA TODAY/Gallup poll finds," USA Today reports.

• "China's vehicle sales in 2009 raced past the U.S. to land in the world's top spot, as government incentives helped sales surge 46.2% from a year earlier to 13.6 million units amid a world-wide slowdown," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

Lobbying: Labor Hoping To Limit Tax On High-Cost Insurance Plans

• "The presidents of about a dozen labor unions will meet with" Obama today "to push him to limit the scope of a proposed tax on high-cost insurance plans," The Hill reports. "Labor sources acknowledge they will not succeed in completely eliminating the tax, but they hope to raise its threshold so that fewer labor households feel the impact."

• The Washington Post profiles the relationship between Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., and his wife, Debbie, to illustrate the limits of congressional conflict-of-interest rules.

• "The community bank lobby and HuffingtonPost are urging people to move their money out of the nation's biggest banks," The Hill reports. "Liberal activists Arianna Huffington and Rob Johnson started a campaign late in December to encourage people to move their money away from Wall Street banks and into community banks."

Commentary: How Well Did Obama React?

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, Fareed Zakaria wonders if "overreaction" to the Christmas Day attack plays into terrorists' hands, even as Clive Crook wonders if Obama appeared too "pragmatic" and "hesitant" in response.

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