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EARLYBIRD

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Carter brings detainee back from North Korea. Plus: The former president secures a commitment to denuclearization and resuming talks.

Congress: Waters Seeks End To Investigating

• "Rep. Maxine Waters's legal team is demanding that the ethics committee stop gathering evidence against her," The Hill reports. "Attorneys Stanley Brand and Andrew Herman sent a letter to the ethics committee on Wednesday, taking issue with the panel's ongoing investigative activities after the formal probe was over and" the California Democrat "was charged with violating House rules."

White House: Record Fine Proposed For American Airlines

• "The federal government wants to fine American Airlines a record $24.2 million for failing to adequately address a problem with wheel-well wiring that could cause fires in its fleet of 245 McDonnell Douglas MD-80 airplanes," the Washington Post reports.

 

• "Immigration enforcement officials have started to cancel the deportations of thousands of immigrants they have detained, a policy they said would pare huge case backlogs in the immigration courts," the New York Times reports. "Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the new approach was part of a broad shift in priorities at the agency, to focus its efforts on catching and deporting immigrants who have been convicted of crimes or pose a national security threat."

• "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas every two weeks to improve the prospects of Middle East peace talks, a diplomatic source said" today, Reuters reports. "Netanyahu, set to travel to Washington next week for direct talks, intends 'to handle the negotiations personally,' the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity."

Politics: GOP Plots A Rash Of White House Investigations

• "Republicans are planning a wave of committee investigations targeting the White House and Democratic allies if they win back the majority," Politico reports. "Everything from the microscopic -- the New Black Panther party -- to the massive -- think bailouts -- is on the GOP to-do list, according to a half-dozen Republican aides."

 

• "A normally low-key judicial election" in Iowa "has suddenly taken center stage in the national fight over same-sex marriage," the Washington Post reports. "Conservative activists are trying to oust three judges on the state Supreme Court whose unanimous ruling last year legalized same-sex unions."

• "Rep. Bobby Bright (D-AL), one of the most vulnerable Dems in the House, has come up with a new way of distancing himself from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Joking that Pelosi could die in the coming months and be unable to serve as Speaker next year," Hotline On Call reports.

• "A second trial for Rod R. Blagojevich, the ousted governor of Illinois, is expected to start in January, but he will no longer be tried alongside his older brother," the New York Times reports. "Prosecutors dropped charges against his brother, Robert Blagojevich, on Thursday because, they said, he had less of a role in the federal corruption case."

Economy: Fannie And Freddie's Role In Crisis Challenged

• "A report Thursday by the federal regulator overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac put a new wrinkle in a common explanation for why the mortgage giants collapsed and could complicate efforts to restructure them," the Washington Post reports. "Thursday's report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency said that Fannie and Freddie's portfolios weren't the major driver behind the companies' losses. Rather, it was the role the companies played as a guarantor of mortgages that led to most of their losses, the FHFA said."

 

• Taxpayers could see "sizable profit from a government program devised to purge troubled real estate assets from the financial system," the New York Times reports. Nine months into the Public-Private Investment Program, "the eight investment funds chosen by the Treasury Department have generated an estimated return of about 15.5 percent" or "a paper profit of roughly $657 million for taxpayers. Some Wall Street analysts project that taxpayers could earn as much as $6.2 billion on these investments over the next nine years, from an investment of about $22 billion."

• "A presidential commission on tax reform is expected to deliver a report" today "that fails to make any clear recommendations and ducks virtually all of the controversies that have deterred tax reform for 24 years," NationalJournal.com reports. "Meanwhile, a higher-profile presidential commission tackling the budget deficit is mired in partisan disputes that are intensifying as the November elections draw closer."

• "Adding more fuel to the fire in the spat between the GOP and Vice President Joe Biden, conservative lawmakers slammed Democrats' 'runaway federal spending' in a conference call with reporters," NationalJournal.com reports. Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., said he was "absolutely stunned to see Joe Biden's quote" claiming an economic turnaround is under way.

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Health Care: Salmonella Strains Found In Feed At Two Iowa Farms

• "Salmonella strains matching those identified in the nationwide outbreak have been found at Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms of Iowa, the Food and Drug Administration announced" on Thursday, NationalJournal.com reports. "The news came on the same day the House Energy and Commerce Committee called a hearing for Sept. 14 to examine the nation's largest egg recall."

Energy & Environment: Panel Questions Pattern Of Risk At BP

• "Federal investigators pressed senior BP officials on Thursday about whether the company had a troubled record of safety problems even before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster," the New York Times reports. "A government panel exploring the rig explosion raised pointed questions about what lessons had been learned from several previous emergencies in 2002 and 2005. Time after time, BP appeared to have gambled with safety, said a chairman of the panel, Capt. Hung Nguyen of the Coast Guard."

• "A bipartisan think tank that analyzed the Interior Department's response to the BP oil spill has concluded that recently imposed safety mandates are sufficient to allow resumption of deepwater drilling," The Hill reports. "The finding by the Bipartisan Policy Center -- founded by a quartet of former Senate majority leaders -- could provide a political lift to lawmakers and oil industry groups pushing for the temporary moratorium to end before its scheduled Nov. 30 expiration."

• "The Obama administration sided with major utility companies in a Supreme Court case about climate change on Thursday, angering environmentalists who say that the administration's broad argument could hurt their ability to force reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or even to bring other lawsuits," the Washington Post reports.

• "Clusters of wind turbines, which can reach as high as 400 feet, look very similar to storm activity on weather radar, making it harder for air traffic controllers to give accurate weather information to pilots. Although the military says no serious incidents have yet occurred because of the interference, the wind turbines pose an unacceptable risk," a Pentagon official recently told a House subcommittee, the New York Times reports. "The Defense Department has emerged as a formidable opponent of wind projects."

Technology: Company Settles In Case Of Fake Online Reviews

• "The Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday that a California marketing company had settled charges that it engaged in deceptive advertising by having its employees write and post positive reviews of clients' games in the Apple iTunes Store, without disclosing that they were being paid to do so," the New York Times reports.

• "California GOP Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina this week staked out her spot opposing tough net neutrality rules," Politico reports. "The former Hewlett-Packard CEO and telecommunications industry executive" said "she opposes any federal requirement that Internet providers treat all Web traffic equally."

• Precisely how much benefit to the economy NASA spending can provide is a question "that most researchers have given up trying to resolve," NationalJournal.com reports. But it "becomes more pertinent than ever as NASA proposes to issue a series of technological challenges through its $572.2 million Space Technology Program, an initiative modeled after the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency."

• "A new report on the U.S. wireless market from the Government Accountability Office found that while consumers have benefitted in the last decade from lower prices and better coverage, industry consolidation has posed challenges for the competitiveness of smaller carriers," NationalJournal.com reports.

National Security: Carter Wins Detainee's Release From North Korea

• "Former president Jimmy Carter won the release Friday of an American citizen detained by North Korea for illegal entry," the Washington Post reports. "Aijalon Gomes, sentenced earlier this year to eight years of hard labor, was granted amnesty and permitted to return to the United States, according to the State Department. Carter, acting as a private citizen, visited Pyongyang to secure Gomes's release."

• "North Korea's number two leader has told" Carter "that the reclusive state is committed to denuclearizing the peninsula and resuming six-way talks, the North's state news agency said" today, Reuters reports.

• "The CIA is making secret payments to multiple members of President Hamid Karzai's administration, in part to maintain sources of information in a government in which the Afghan leader is often seen as having a limited grasp of developments, according to current and former U.S. officials," the Washington Post reports. "The CIA has continued the payments despite concerns that it is backing corrupt officials and undermining efforts to wean Afghans' dependence on secret sources of income and graft."

• "Yemeni forces do not need foreign parties to take the lead in the crackdown on al Qaeda, an official said on Thursday, responding to reports that the U.S. may increase strikes on the militant group's Yemen wing," Reuters reports. "The security official disputed statements from U.S. officials that they may step up attacks and argued that Yemen is able to fight al Qaeda without outside intervention, state news agency Saba reported."

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