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EARLYBIRD

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Unemployment report coming out today, and EPA finalizes new rules on fuel standards. Plus: Obama plans to 'ratchet up pressure' on Iran.

Economy: Jobs Gain Expected

• "Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to put out their spin ahead of" today's "unemployment report," reports The Hill. "The report is expected to show the economy gained a significant number of jobs for the first time in three years, and a Thursday release by the Department of Labor that said that weekly unemployment claims had hit a new low did nothing to lower the expectations."

• "The world's factories are fuelling the global economic recovery, with new figures showing that manufacturing output in the US, China and Europe is growing at a record rate," the Financial Times reports.

 

• "Squeezed by food shortages and financial sanctions, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il appears to be reaching out to China and Chinese investors in a way that could mark an extraordinary opening in the insular nation's shuttered economy," reports the Washington Post. "Kim might soon travel to China, according to the office of South Korea's president and U.S. officials."

Congress: Derivatives Regulation Revisited

• "Lawmakers on the Senate Agriculture Committee are crafting new rules to oversee the vast, unregulated derivatives market, legislation that could become a central element of a larger regulatory overhaul effort currently headed to the Senate floor," reports the Washington Post. "Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and ranking Republican Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) plan to shepherd a bipartisan bill through their committee soon after Congress returns from its two-week April recess."

• "Lawmakers are likely to impose restrictions on company stock buybacks, dividend payouts and executive compensation as conditions for relief from higher pension funding requirements -- testing the willingness of firms to accept strings-attached aid from Washington," reports CongressDailyPM (subscription).

 

• "Partisan acrimony reached one of the most obscure outposts of the federal government on Thursday, when House GOP leadership voiced its opposition to a Democratic nominee to the Election Assistance Commission," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

Energy & Environment: EPA Finalizes Fuel Emissions Rules

• "The Obama administration finalized rules" Thursday "that establish the first-ever greenhouse gas emissions regulations for vehicles, drawing cheers from environmentalists and state agencies but disappointment from a major auto industry group that was instrumental in creating the rules," NationalJournal.com reports.

• "President Barack Obama is trying to neutralize the oil industry to advance energy reform, according to Democrats who see him taking a page from his healthcare playbook," The Hill reports. "But his decision to support offshore drilling could come at a cost. Liberals are concerned he might jettison their chief goal -- limits on carbon emissions -- in the final hours to pass the legislation, similar to the way the public option was sacrificed to pass healthcare reform."

• "The Obama administration on Thursday imposed strict new environmental guidelines that are expected to sharply curtail 'mountaintop' coal mining, a controversial practice that has enriched Appalachia's economy while rearranging its topography," the Washington Post reports.

 

White House: Chinese Leader To Meet With Obama

• The New York Times reports on Chinese President Hu Jintao's plans to attend a nuclear security summit this month. "American officials had feared that Mr. Hu would skip the talks to express China's anger over recent diplomatic clashes, including a White House decision to sell arms to Taiwan and President Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader."

• "Obama had a new message Thursday for the critics, reporters and slumping polls that have defined his health care reform package so far: 'It's only been a week!'" reports Politico.

Politics: Democrats Plan Midterm Strategy

• "Facing a tough midterm election in which they could potentially lose their majorities in Congress, Democrats are privately debating where and how President Obama can help -- or hurt," reports the Washington Post. "Although many states won't hold primaries until next month, Obama has appeared at only one campaign rally this year."

• "As congressional primary campaigns gear up across the nation, tea party activists face some of their first big choices since coalescing last year in opposition to President Obama, health-care reform and growing federal spending: picking candidates," the Post also reports. "In many cases, they will have to decide between purity and pragmatism, between ideals and organization."

• "Senator John Ensign," R-Nev., "sought financial backing for a troubled Nevada energy company in 2008, and at the same time he urged the company to hire his mistress's husband, according to people involved in the matter," reports the New York Times.

Health Care: Dems Face Heat On 'Yes' Votes

• "Some politically vulnerable Democrats are getting an earful from constituents about their yes votes on healthcare reform," The Hill reports. "The criticism from constituents is not as fervent as the feedback members of Congress received at last summer's town halls. But some voters have let legislators know they were not pleased with the passage of healthcare reform."

• "Obama took to the road" Thursday "to tout health-care legislation, calling it a 'middle-of-the-road solution' that will bring immediate help to small business owners, seniors and the uninsured," Bloomberg News reports.

• "Health reform may have finally become law, but the partisan wars over the bill continue to rage -- and the latest flash point is a debate about whether the $940 billion overhaul means thousands of new government workers are about to bloat the federal payroll," Politico reports.

National Security: Obama Wants More Pressure On Iran

• "Obama intends to 'ratchet up pressure' on Iran over its nuclear program and believes Tehran is becoming increasingly isolated, he said in an interview aired" today, Reuters reports.

• The New York Times reports that a recent court ruling on wiretapping "may force onto the table a discussion of how aggressively the Obama administration should continue to defend from judicial review the contentious Bush-era counterterrorism policy."

• "The Obama administration and foreign governments will roll out in the next few weeks a more intelligence-based system to try to stop potentially dangerous passengers from boarding U.S.-bound flights, a senior administration official said," the Wall Street Journal reports.

World: Iranian Envoy Calls For Negotiations

• "Tehran's top nuclear envoy called for negotiations without threat of sanctions" today, "following meetings in Beijing in the wake of U.S. reports saying China had dropped its opposition to possible new U.N. measures against Iran," AP reports.

• "Iran may seem an unlikely place to turn for guidance when it comes to putting together a democratic government, but that is exactly what most of Iraq's political class did immediately after last month's parliamentary elections," the New York Times reports.

• "President Hamid Karzai on Thursday delivered one of his most stinging criticisms to date of the foreign presence in Afghanistan, accusing the West and the United Nations of wanting a 'puppet government' and of orchestrating fraud in last year's election," the Washington Post reports.

Transportation: Quarantine Regulations For Travelers Canned

• "The Obama administration has quietly scrapped plans to enact sweeping new federal quarantine regulations that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention touted four years ago as critical to protecting Americans from dangerous diseases spread by travelers," USA Today reports.

• "Toyota snapped back in March from one of its worst months ever, offering generous buyer incentives and boosting U.S. sales 41 percent, compared with the same month last year," the Washington Post reports.

• "Obama has signed off on new security protocols for people flying to the United States, establishing a system that uses intelligence information and assessment of threats to identify passengers who could have links to terrorism, a senior administration official said Thursday," the New York Times reports.

Technology: Administration Supports Royalty Bill

• "The Obama administration Thursday expressed 'strong support' for legislation that would require radio stations to pay additional royalty fees to singers, marking the administration's first public position on the highly contentious fight between broadcasters and musicians," The Hill reports.

• "When Congress reconvenes April 12, lawmakers will grapple with the latest snag delaying their efforts to renew the nation's premier satellite television law: a disagreement over how long to extend it and whether it can be done without worsening the budget deficit," CongressDailyPM (subscription) reports.

• The Federal Communications Commission's "April 21 public meeting is expected to feature a slew of votes on recommendations detailed in its national broadband plan, including two designed to migrate the federal Universal Service Fund from primarily subsidizing phone service in poor and rural areas to supporting broadband connectivity," CongressDailyPM (subscription) reports.

Lobbying: Frank Bars Ex-Aide From Lobbying His Panel

• "House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank," D-Mass., "has banned a former staff member who became a banking lobbyist in February from lobbying his committee as long as Frank is chairman," CongressDailyPM (subscription) reports.

• "A group of Ohio ministers and an ethics watchdog group... have separately asked federal investigators to examine whether four House members and four Senators received what amounts to illegal gifts for paying $950 a month, including housekeeping, to stay at the C Street house. But the tenants deny that they are getting breaks on the rent," the New York Times reports.

• "The next battles over" Obama's "sweeping revamp of the nation's health care system will be waged in the states -- where health care interests are heavily invested," USA Today reports.

Commentary: Considering Breaking Up Banks

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, Paul Krugman argues that financial services reform requires new regulation to get the job done.

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