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EARLYBIRD

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A NATO airstrike kills 33 Afghan civilians, and a Chinese university is linked to hackers. Plus: Unions, liberals upset with jobs bill.

White House: Obama Hosts Governors' Ball

• "President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted the 2010 Governors' Ball on Sunday night, a festive black-tie dinner for state chief executives and their spouses, as well as members of the Obama administration," The Hill reports.

Economy: High-Stakes Vote Comes Up On Jobs Bill

• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., "faces a major test today on his initial jobs bill, with Republican support uncertain and at least one Democratic supporter that will not make it for the vote," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., whose office announced Friday he is receiving treatment over the next few months for stomach cancer, will not make it back to Washington today for the cloture vote."

 

• "Timothy Geithner's role in calming the financial crisis landed him the coveted job of Treasury secretary last year," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "That same résumé is now dogging him. In his next test, Mr. Geithner will find out this week how lawmakers are treating one of his main goals -- revamping the nation's financial regulations -- when Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd," D-Conn., "unveils his new bill."

Health Care: Obama Targets Insurers

• "Obama will call for new government power to regulate insurance-rate increases as part of comprehensive changes to the health-care system that the White House will unveil on its Web site" today, "senior officials said," the Washington Post reports.

• "Congressional Republican leaders on Sunday continued to voice skepticism that the bipartisan health care summit scheduled to take place this week will be a good-faith effort by Democrats to get GOP input on a reform plan," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

 

• "Some governors, frustrated by halted federal efforts to overhaul the U.S. health-care system, are introducing their own changes at the state level," the Wall Street Journal reports. In a three-day meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington that ends today, governors "listed an overhaul of the health-care system as a top priority for discussion."

Energy & Environment: GOP To Grill EPA On Regulations

• "A Senate hearing this week ostensibly to review the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget request is likely to turn into a broader debate on global warming, with Republicans seizing a chance to challenge the administration's push to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in an open forum," The Hill reports.

• "A last-ditch attempt at passing a climate change bill begins in the Senate this week with senators mindful that time is running short and that approaches to the legislation still vary widely, according to sources," Reuters reports.

• "The Obama administration has developed a five-year blueprint for the Great Lakes, a sprawling ecosystem plagued by toxic contamination, shrinking wildlife habitat and invasive species," AP reports.

 

Politics: GOP Takes A Fresh Look At Wooing Hispanics

• "Some high-profile Republicans are adopting a softer vocabulary on immigration and trying to recruit more Hispanic candidates, a response to the party's soul-searching about tactics that many strategists believe have alienated the country's fastest-growing voter bloc," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "Just a year ago, many Republican leaders considered Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to be the odds-on favorite to become the next governor of Texas," the New York Times reports. "But the political winds have shifted for Ms. Hutchison in the last few months, and she now finds herself far behind in the polls, as" incumbent Rick Perry (R) "has managed to surf a wave of anger here over President Obama's policies."

• "Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee blasted the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Saturday as outdated, nearly corrupt and unrepresentative of the conservative movement," Politico reports.

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National Security: Quick Repeal Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Might Not Hurt, Study Says

• "A comprehensive new study on foreign militaries that have made transitions to allowing openly gay service members concludes that a speedy implementation of the change is not disruptive," the New York Times reports. "The finding is in direct opposition to the stated views of Pentagon leaders, who say repealing a ban on openly gay men and women in the United States armed forces should take a year or more."

• "US analysts believe they have identified the Chinese author of the critical programming code used in the alleged state-sponsored hacking attacks on Google and other western companies, making it far harder for the Chinese government to deny involvement," the Financial Times reports.

• "A Chinese university thought to be at the center of last month's cyberattack on Google is denying any involvement in the scheme," The Hill reports. "Representatives from Shanghai Jiaotong University this weekend described those reports to Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, as 'baseless allegations which may harm the university's reputation.'"

• "A NATO airstrike on Sunday against what the coalition believed to be a group of insurgents ended up killing 33 civilians, including women and children, in Uruzgan Province, Afghan officials said" today, the New York Times reports.

World: Dubai Reconsiders Loose Visa Policies After Assassination

• "The use of forged European passports by assassins who entered Dubai and killed a Hamas operative may lead the United Arab Emirates to review the open border policies that have made it a commercial and tourist hub, a top UAE official said Sunday," the Washington Post reports.

• "Portugal is expected to announce three days of national mourning following the floods that have hit Madeira island, killing 42 people," BBC reports.

• "North Korea is getting bigger, older and less healthy, according to data from the country's latest census, and its fabled million-man army might have fewer than 700,000 people," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Transportation: Toyota Memo Cites Savings From Limited Recall

• "Toyota estimated that it saved $100 million by negotiating with regulators for a limited recall of 2007 Toyota Camry and Lexus ES models for sudden acceleration, the same problem that has since prompted it to recall millions of cars, documents turned over to a Congressional committee showed Sunday," the New York Times reports.

• "Internal Toyota documents derided the Obama administration and Democratic Congress as 'activist' and 'not industry friendly,' a revelation that comes days before the giant automaker's top executives testify on Capitol Hill amid a giant recall," Politico reports.

• "The use of forged European passports by assassins who entered Dubai and killed a Hamas operative may lead the United Arab Emirates to review the open border policies that have made it a commercial and tourist hub, a top UAE official said Sunday," the Washington Post reports.

Technology: FCC Chief To Release Broadband Usage Stats

• "With the March 17 congressional deadline for the FCC's national broadband plan drawing near, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will unveil survey results about consumer usage of high-speed Internet service during a Tuesday appearance at the Brookings Institution," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

Lobbying: Liberal Groups Deride Jobs Bill

• "Unions and liberal groups have dismissed" Reid's "$15 billion jobs bill as 'puny' while calling for larger stimulus measures," The Hill reports. "More than two dozen organizations, including the AFL-CIO," the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People "and the National Council of La Raza, warned Democratic leaders in Congress to avoid tackling the troubled economy through incremental action."

• When Obama "announced last year a plan to have the federal government assume direct control of all student loans, Sallie Mae, the large student lender, moved quickly to step up its lobbying game," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Fearful that the administration's plans could dramatically reduce its operations, the company sought some well-connected help, including the lobbying firm Podesta Group, and Jamie Gorelick, a partner at Wilmer, Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr -- and a deputy attorney general during the Clinton years."

• "As Toyota braces this week for its first round of congressional hearings, the automaker and its affiliates have assembled a formidable lobbying force to build support on Capitol Hill and leverage longstanding relationships with key lawmakers," the Washington Post reports.

Commentary: The GOP Game Plan

• The Republicans are expected to wield a partisan strategy during this week's health care summit, according to E.J. Dionne Jr., Clive Crook and others in Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section.

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