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EARLYBIRD

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Top Taliban commander is captured, and Spain offers to accept five Guantanamo detainees. Plus: Lautenberg hospitalized.

White House: Obama, Cabinet To Defend Stimulus

• "President Barack Obama, defending his economic stimulus plan on its first anniversary, is dispatching his Cabinet across the country to try to calm an anxious public as Democrats head into potentially devastating midterm elections," AP reports.

• "The White House has started using a new weapon for correcting news reports, pushing back against a negative story, or shaping the press corps narrative of the day: Twitter," Politico reports.

 

National Security: U.S., Pakistan Nab Top Taliban Commander

• "The Taliban's top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials," the New York Times reports.

• "Spain announced Monday it will accept five detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the largest commitment by a European country and a boost for the Obama administration's dragging effort to close the military detention center," the Washington Post reports.

• "Democrats and Republicans are both marching into the Presidents Day recess believing they have gained the upper hand in the debate over national security and terrorism, and both sides are preparing to continue sparring over these topics in the next several weeks," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

 

World: Germans Turn Against Bailout Of Greece

• "As European finance ministers refused Monday to name specific measures to rescue Greece and the Continent's common currency, opposition grew among Germans to bailing out what they call spendthrifts to the south after years of belt-tightening by workers at home," the New York Times reports.

• "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will meet" today "with female Saudi college students in Jiddah, where she is expected to tread lightly on the question of whether women in the kingdom should have the right to drive," the Washington Post reports.

Politics: Bayh Won't Run For Third Term

• "Two-term Sen. Evan Bayh says ever-shriller partisanship and the frustrations of gridlock made it time for him to leave Congress. Republicans aren't buying it, saying he and fellow Democrats sense that voters will be after their heads this fall," AP reports.

• Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele "didn't have many kind words for" Bayh "in response to his retirement," The Hill reports. "Steele said Bayh was 'running for the hills' because he, along with other centrist Democrats, had 'sold out their constituents.'"

 

• "Former Representative J.D. Hayworth [R] made his long-discussed and long-expected primary challenge to Senator John McCain in Arizona official" Monday, the New York Times reports.

Health Care: Senate Democrats Hold Fast To Reconciliation

• "Senate Democrats say they see no need to abandon the idea of using reconciliation to pass health care reform this year just because" Obama "has scheduled a bipartisan summit next week to try to break the impasse on Capitol Hill," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "Having received invitations to" Obama's "Feb. 25 health care summit and reviewed its proposed format, Congressional Republican leaders are dismissing the event as a political farce -- albeit one they're likely to attend," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

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• "Affymax Inc., a 10-year-old company with no marketed products, may get help from the U.S. government in grabbing market share from Amgen Inc.'s $2.6 billion anemia drug Epogen with a treatment in line to be approved next year," Bloomberg News reports.

Energy & Environment: Plans 'Fall Short' Of Copenhagen Mark, IEA Says

• "The pledges that countries have made to reduce their CO2 emissions 'fall short' of what is needed to reach a key target set at the Copenhagen climate summit last year, according to a study by the International Energy Agency," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "A top Obama administration scientist on Monday struck back at climate skeptics who claim that record snowstorms this winter have undercut evidence of global warming," The Hill reports.

• "A new report says U.S. oil-and-gas drilling bans will increase consumer energy costs and decrease cumulative U.S. GDP by $2.36 trillion over the next two decades," The Hill reports.

• "While warmer atmospheric temperatures thin all" of Greenland's "glaciers from above, scientists have wondered if warmer waters are also melting the many glaciers that flow into the fjords. Two studies published in Nature Geoscience provide evidence that this is the case," the New York Times reports.

• "The San Francisco building code will soon be revised to require that new structures be wired for car chargers," the New York Times reports.

Congress: Lautenberg Hospitalized After Fall

• "Long-serving U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg fell at his home and was taken by ambulance to a hospital as a precaution, an aide said," AP reports. "The 86-year-old Democrat, the first New Jersey senator to be elected to five terms, was conscious when he was taken from his Cliffside Park home Monday night, spokesman Caley Gray said."

• "As the snow recedes from Capitol Hill and staffers slip back into a normal work schedule, Congressional officials are calculating the cost of snow removal, overtime shifts and lost productivity," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "For most agencies, that cost seems to be minimal. Many employees were able to work from home, and delayed projects can be picked up this week during Congressional recess."

Transportation: Toyota Has Repaired 500,000 Vehicles, Executive Says

• Toyota "has repaired about 500,000 of the 2.3 million vehicles recalled over a potentially sticky gas pedal, a senior executive said Monday," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

• The automaker "is considering ways to bolster procedures for checking the quality and reliability of cars and to do more to publicize incremental changes to cars already on the market," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

• "At least 34 people have died in accidents involving Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles that allegedly accelerated out of control in the past decade," the Los Angeles Times reports, citing federal safety regulators.

• "Fallout from the attempted bombing of a passenger jet on Christmas Day has meant more hassles for travelers, but for companies selling high-tech screening equipment it's been a chance to hawk their products more aggressively," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

Technology: Google Planning Next Steps With Buzz

• "After taking steps to stem the public backlash against its social-networking service Buzz, Google Inc. is planning further updates and considering changing how it tests new Buzz features," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

• Microsoft, Intel and Nokia "have come to the world's largest mobile technology conference," in Barcelona, "with a message: they are willing to abandon tradition if it means getting another shot at the fast-growing mobile device market and blunting the advance of companies like Apple and Google," the New York Times reports.

Lobbying: Tribe Faces Off Against Online Gambling

• "Online gambling operatives and their backers in the financial services industry may have a new stumbling block in getting legislation passed that would reverse a ban on Internet gaming: the Morongo Band of Mission Indians," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "Retiring lawmakers are entering a job market that has openings with some of K Street's biggest players -- jobs that include seven-figure salaries or the chance to rub elbows with Hollywood stars," The Hill reports.

Commentary: Is Post-Partisan Debate Healthy?

In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, the Wall Street Journal sees weakness in global warming groups, while Paul Krugman says the euro complicates debt and Jonah Goldberg defends partisan debates.

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