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EARLYBIRD

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U.S. slams North Korea for sinking a South Korean warship, while GOP Senate nominee raises eyebrows with civil rights remarks. Plus: AMA settles for a short-term Medicare fix.

Economics: Financial Regulation Nears Finish Line

• "President Barack Obama on Thursday moved to the cusp of winning a major overhaul of Wall Street, following the worst financial crisis since the 1930s," The Hill reports. "The Senate on Thursday voted 59-39 to support the sprawling 1,500-page bill that now heads to a conference between the House and Senate. Four Republicans joined Democrats in support of the bill."

• "The United States on Thursday dispatched the first of a flotilla of senior officials to China for high-level economic and security meetings that are likely to be overshadowed by the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the deepening debt crisis in Greece, which some fear will infect other European countries," the New York Times reports.

 

• "Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has long pushed an amendment to limit those pesky and expensive transaction fees at automated teller machines, but his fellow senators didn't go along with the idea this week," the Washington Post reports. "One possible explanation: Quite a few of Harkin's aging colleagues appear to have little or no contact with the decades-old technology of cash machines."

Health Care: AMA Settles For Short-Term Medicare Fix

• "The American Medical Association is grudgingly accepting a plan by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional Democratic leadership to roll back scheduled cuts in physician Medicare payments through 2013," Roll Call reports.

• "House leaders have paused consideration of an 'extenders' package that would provide benefits for laid-off workers, tax breaks and higher Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians until next week, but lead negotiators for the bill in both chambers said they believe the legislation will have the votes to pass," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

 

Energy & Environment: Lawmakers Make New Push Against Arctic Drilling

• "Congressional oil and gas drilling opponents are ratcheting up their efforts against existing and planned projects in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. Seventy-eight House Democrats on Thursday "asked President Obama to delay exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean planned for this summer until the Gulf spill has been investigated and the administration 'has subsequently put into place improved and rigorous prevention technology requirements,' according to their letter."

• Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Thursday "ripped into the CEO of one of his state's largest mining companies for safety problems that led to an April explosion that killed 29 coal miners," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Democrats are proposing a tax increase on oil to pay for cleanup efforts, but an accounting loophole also allows them to use the extra revenue to offset the cost of a massive economic aid package," The Hill reports.

• "Local and state officials" in Louisiana "voiced desperation on Thursday as their fears became far more tangible, with oil from the BP spill showing up on shore as tar balls, sheens and gooey slicks," the New York Times reports.

 

• Obama "will hold an event at the White House" today "to announce the expansion of federal emissions standards to include trucks, an administration official said Thursday," Politico reports.

National Security: Spy Chief Resigns

• "The resignation of Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair is sure to reignite debate about whether he was an ineffective leader for the intelligence community or whether his authority to reshape the sprawling anti-terrorism apparatus was undercut by the White House, which never gave his office the powers some say are necessary to fill its intended role," Politico reports.

• "Seoul's dramatic accusation this week that North Korea torpedoed one of its warships, killing 46 sailors, sets up what could be one of the most combustible situations in the peninsula in years -- one that could force South Korea and its top ally, the United States, to make hard decisions," the Washington Post reports.

• "The House Armed Services Committee has dealt a blow to President Obama's hopes to shutter the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, by unanimously approving legislation that would prohibit creating a detention center inside the United States," the New York Times reports.

• "Defense Secretary Robert Gates waved the white flag Thursday over the House Armed Services Committee's decision to boost the Pentagon's basic pay raise request for fiscal 2011 by half a percentage point, saying he would not recommend a presidential veto if the proposal is included in the final defense spending bill," Military Times reports.

World: Palestinian Negotiators Offer Broader Land Concessions

• "Palestinian negotiators have surprised Washington with a bold opening offer to White House peace envoy George Mitchell that includes concessions on territory beyond those offered in past Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, according to officials briefed on the current negotiations," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "The authorities have identified a new threat to political stability in the restive region of Tibet: photocopiers. Fearful that Tibetans might mass-copy incendiary material, public security officials intend to more tightly control printing and photocopying shops, according to reports from the Tibetan capital, Lhasa," the New York Times reports.

• "As dawn broke Thursday, authorities in the French capital had egg on their faces and a high-profile mystery on their hands: How did a thief slip into Paris' Art Deco-style Museum of Modern Art, across from the Eiffel Tower, avoid the three guards on duty and slip out with five paintings worth at least $100 million, among them works by Picasso and Matisse?" the Los Angeles Times reports.

Politics: GOP Points Fingers After Special Election Loss

• "In the wake of Tuesday's Pennsylvania special election loss, disappointed House Republican leaders have engaged in a round of soul-searching to determine the causes behind the defeat and put an end to what they view as a potentially damaging campaign narrative," Politico reports.

• "Two days after becoming the newest symbol of 'tea party' politics, Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky thrust himself, his party and the movement into an uncomfortable conversation about the federal government's role in prohibiting racial discrimination and about a period of history that most politicians consider beyond debate," the Washington Post reports.

Transportation: Congressman Seeks To End Behavioral Detection Program At Airports

• "House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson," D-Miss., "on Thursday called on" Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano "to suspend a program using behavioral detection techniques at U.S. airports, charging that it has amounted to little more than racial profiling," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman," D-Calif., "said Thursday that Toyota Motor Corp. has broken promises it made to consumers that it would determine what caused sudden acceleration in some of its vehicles, resulting in massive recalls," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

Technology: Klobuchar Inquires Into Google's Breach Of Wi-Fi Networks

• "Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., wrote Google CEO Eric Schmidt Thursday seeking answers to her questions about the firm's admission last week that it had 'mistakenly' collected private data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "With bipartisan backing, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a bill Thursday to expand and update programs to ensure the security of federal computer systems," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Federal regulators on Thursday described the wireless telecommunications market as more concentrated, possibly laying the groundwork for new regulations that could aid smaller cell phone carriers such as Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers' names and other personal details, despite promises they don't share such information without consent," the Wall Street Journal also reports.

Lobbying: At Least Two Unions Will Top $100 Million On Midterms

• "At least two influential unions will spend close to $100 million on the 2010 election, with most of those funds going to protect incumbents," The Hill reports.

• "According to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, 850 businesses, trade groups and other corporate interests have hired more than 3,000 lobbyists to shape" the regulatory reform bill -- "roughly five lobbyists for each member of Congress," Politico reports.

Commentary: Tea Party Success A Harbinger For GOP

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, Eugene Robinson finds warnings for Republicans in the Tea Party's success while Michael Gerson foresees danger in ideological overreach.

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