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EARLYBIRD

Top News

The White House releases its economic report, while Reid tries to unite Senate Democrats on the jobs bill. Plus: Iran restricts Google e-mail.

White House: President To Sign Report On 'Recovering' Economy

• "The White House will release the Economic Report of the President this morning," Politico reports. "At 458 pages, it is one of the longest... ever published, reflecting the severe recession the president inherited as well as the administration's efforts to address the economic crisis."

• "The White House battle with Republicans over terrorism is intensifying, with the ranking GOP member of the Senate Intelligence Committee calling for the ouster of President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan," Politico reports.

 

Economy: Reid Trying To Rally Dems Behind Jobs Bill

• "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid must bridge divisions among Democratic senators when they gather" today "to discuss jobs legislation," The Hill reports. "The wooing of Republicans has drawn criticism from liberal senators, as well as union officials and left-leaning advocacy groups."

• "The Federal Reserve is in talks with money-market mutual funds on agreements to help drain as much as $1 trillion from the financial system as policy makers prepare for the first interest-rate increase since June 2006, according to a person familiar with the discussions," Bloomberg News reports.

National Security: Supreme Court Will Hear Case Challenging Patriot Act

• The Supreme Court will soon hear "a case that pits First Amendment freedoms against the government's efforts to combat terrorism," the New York Times reports. "The case represents the court's first encounter with the free speech and association rights of American citizens in the context of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks -- and its first chance to test the constitutionality of a provision of the USA Patriot Act."

 

• "Two former employees of Blackwater Worldwide have accused the private security contractor of defrauding the government for years with phony billing, including charging for a prostitute, alcohol and spa trips," the Washington Post reports.

World: Iran Shuts Down Google E-mail Amid Protests

• "Iran's telecommunications agency announced what it described as a permanent suspension of Google Inc.'s email services, saying a national email service for Iranian citizens would soon be rolled out," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The move marks another effort by the regime to close the gap with its opposition in controlling Iranian cyberspace, according to Internet security experts."

• "South Africans" today "celebrated the steps that sounded apartheid's death knell 20 years ago: Nelson Mandela walking to freedom after 27 years in prison," AP reports. "Thousands gathered for commemorations near Cape Town at what was known in 1990 as Victor Verster, the last prison where Mandela was held."

Politics: New Poll Shows Bipartisan Dissatisfaction With Taxes

• "Two-thirds of Americans are 'dissatisfied' or downright 'angry' about the way the federal government is working, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll," the Washington Post reports. "On average, the public estimates that 53 cents of every tax dollar they send to Washington is 'wasted."

 

• "Three new media firms that together represent 22 Senate Democrats and five former presidential campaigns have merged to become Trilogy Interactive," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

Congress: Former Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson Dies

• "Charlie Wilson, the fun-loving Texas congressman whose backroom dealmaking funneled millions of dollars in weapons to Afghanistan, allowing the country's underdog mujahedeen rebels to beat back the mighty Soviet Red Army, died Wednesday," AP reports. "He was 76."

• "Congressional liberals were heartened when" Obama "pledged to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell,' but their initial elation has given way to concerns the repeal will stall in the penalty box of presidential promises: the U.S. Senate," Politico reports.

Energy & Environment: Snowstorms Become Climate Debate Fodder

• "Skeptics of global warming are using the record-setting snows to mock those who warn of dangerous human-driven climate change -- this looks more like global cooling, they taunt. Most climate scientists respond that the ferocious storms are consistent with forecasts that a heating planet will produce more frequent and more intense weather events," the New York Times reports.

• "Attackers bombed a frequently attacked oil pipeline north of Baghdad, slowing production at a refinery in the capital by half, Iraq's Oil Ministry said Wednesday," AP reports.

• Reporting on Kathleen Merrigan's selection as deputy to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Politico reports: "Longtime food policy observers are having a difficult time squaring the Department of Agriculture's entrenched preference for high-tech industrial agriculture that emphasizes biotechnology and genetically engineered crops with its newfound interest in helping those who favor low-tech ag: small farmers, advocates of organic and local food and champions of sustainability."

Transportation: Competitors Seizing On Toyota's Fall

• "With Toyota stumbling as it recalls more than eight million vehicles for problems, its rivals are seeing a rare opportunity to take back some market share," the New York Times reports. "General Motors and the Ford Motor Company are continuing to offer discounts of up to $1,000 to people who trade in a Toyota this month. (Ford's offer is good on other foreign brands, too.) But the companies are not widely advertising the deals."

• "By killing NASA's Constellation program, President Obama essentially challenged the space agency to do something other than put a man back on the moon," the Washington Post reports. "What that will entail remains unclear."

• "Electric bikes have gained mass acceptance in China, where 22 million are expected to sell this year, and are taking off quickly in Europe. In the U.S., they are still struggling to gain ground. But a growing number of analysts say the next few years could determine whether these bikes become a part of the U.S. cycling landscape or remain a novelty," USA Today reports.

Technology: Google To Launch Ultrafast Broadband Service

• "Google said Wednesday that it would offer ultrahigh-speed Internet access in some communities in a test that could showcase the kinds of things that would be possible if the United States had faster broadband networks," the New York Times reports. The announcement came "just as federal regulators were debating new rules for the Internet and preparing a national broadband plan commissioned by Congress that could call for higher-speed networks to be available nationwide."

Health Care: Childhood Obesity Could Lead To Early Death, Study Shows

• "A rare study that tracked thousands of children through adulthood found the heaviest youngsters were more than twice as likely as the thinnest to die prematurely, before age 55, of illness or a self-inflicted injury," the New York Times reports.

• "The two main industry trade groups, America's Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, are to announce a pilot program in New Jersey" intended to reduce "the burdensome paperwork involved in paying medical claims," the Times also reports. "Five of the state's largest private insurers plan to offer doctors and hospitals the ability to use a single Web portal to check a patient's coverage and track claims, regardless of which of those five health plans they are enrolled in."

• "Without a way to keep insurers from covering procedures that" comparative effectiveness "studies find ineffective, projects like 'Courage' face an uphill climb," the Wall Street Journal reports on a well-known study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. "The health-care bills passed by the House and Senate have provisions to disseminate study results, but wouldn't require private insurers or Medicare to adjust coverage or payments to doctors in response to findings."

Lobbying & Advocacy: Coats' Past Hurting His Election Chances

• "If there were any question where lobbying ranks in popularity these days, the attacks on former senator Dan Coats of Indiana over the past week provide a pretty clear answer," the Washington Post reports. "Coats, a Republican who served in Congress for nearly 20 years, is preparing a run to win back the seat occupied by Sen. Evan Bayh (D).... The problem for Coats is that he spent a good part of the past decade as a well-connected Washington lobbyist."

• "Three new media firms that together represent 22 Senate Democrats and five former presidential campaigns have merged to become Trilogy Interactive," reports Roll Call (subscription). "The new online communications and strategy shop for Democrats was put together by partners Brent Blackaby and Larry Huynh of Blackrock Associates, Stacey Bashara and Randy Stearns of Articulated Man, and Josh Ross of Mayfield Strategy, according to a news release."

• "Labor groups are furious with the Democrats they helped put in office -- and are threatening to stay home this fall when Democratic incumbents will need their help fending off Republican challengers," Politico reports. "The Senate's failure to confirm labor lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board was just the latest blow, but the frustrations have been building for months."

Commentary: A European Tea Party?

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, the Washington Post calls attention to an alternative climate change proposal and David Ignatius prescribes a Tea Party for Europe's economy.

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