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EARLYBIRD

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Friday's monthly jobs numbers could disappoint, made worse as statistics for 2009 are revised downward. Plus: Administration accused of withholding spill estimate.

Congress: Pressure Grows For Foreclosure Investigation

• "Lawmakers continued their calls" Wednesday "for an investigation into home lenders who allegedly short-circuited state laws in their quest to foreclose on thousands of delinquent homeowners," CongressDaily reports. "Senate Banking ranking member Richard Shelby" of Alabama "said his panel should start an immediate investigation after Ally Financial, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America suspended foreclosure proceedings in 23 states amid allegations that their employees did not follow the law, such as by hastily signing thousands of documents without reading them to verify facts or not having a notary public present to verify."

• "House Minority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., is hedging on what kind of reaction his fellow South Carolinian Tim Scott [R] can expect from the Congressional Black Caucus if, as expected, Scott wins election to Congress this fall," CongressDaily reports.

 

White House: Foreclosure Bill Awaits Obama's Signature

• "A bill that homeowners advocates warn will make it more difficult to challenge improper foreclosure attempts by big mortgage processors is awaiting President Barack Obama's signature after it quietly zoomed through the Senate last week," Reuters reports. "The bill, passed without public debate in a way that even surprised its main sponsor," Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., "requires courts to accept as valid document notarizations made out of state, making it harder to challenge the authenticity of foreclosure and other legal documents."

• "The federal government deported more illegal immigrants this year than ever before, the Department of Homeland Security announced," CongressDaily reports. "The 392,000 deportees, half of whom are criminals, illustrate the Obama administration's determination to show it can be tough on immigration even as several Republican political candidates are calling for stricter laws."

Politics: Early Voting Up 50 Percent From 2006

• "The number of voters who cast early ballots in this year's primary elections increased 50% over the 2006 midterm, a USA TODAY review of key states shows, the latest uptick in a trend that is reshaping political campaigns," USA Today reports.

 

• "With growing scrutiny of the role of tax-exempt groups in political campaigns, Congressional Republicans are pushing back against Democrats by warning about the possible misuse of the Internal Revenue Service to audit conservative groups," the New York Times reports. "Leading Republicans are suggesting that a senior official in the Obama administration may have improperly accessed the tax records of Koch Industries, an oil company whose owners are major conservative donors."

• "A new Republican ad that shows a couple of guys at the counter of a diner, wearing ball caps and plaid shirts as they take shots at West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D), was shot with actors, from a script, in Philadelphia," Politico reports. "'We are going for a 'Hicky' Blue Collar look,' read the talent agency's casting call for the independent-expenditure ad, being aired by the National Republican Senatorial Committee."

• "Rep. Bobby Bright (D) has received campaign donations from at least three of the 11 individuals indicted this week in an FBI bribery probe in Alabama, while a fourth defendant was a key supporter during his 2008 Congressional campaign," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

Economy: Jobs Numbers Could Disappoint

• "Figures from payroll firm Automatic Data Processing Inc. showing that companies cut jobs last month suggest that Friday's employment report from the Labor Department could be weaker than economists expect," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Private-sector jobs fell by 39,000 in September from August," ADP's monthly report said.

 

• "The economy likely shed more jobs last year than previously thought, but analysts say the undercount by the government should prove less severe than it did during depths of the recession," Reuters reports. "The Labor Department on Friday will give an initial estimate of how far off its count of employment may have been in the 12 months through March."

• "Japan's ruling party unveiled an economic stimulus plan Wednesday totaling more than $57.6 billion that also calls for Japan to consider making use of its $1.07 trillion in foreign reserves to create a sovereign wealth fund," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "If approved, Japan would join other large foreign-currency reserve countries such as China, the United Arab Emirates and Russia, which have sovereign wealth funds that have taken greater roles in global deal making."

• "High unemployment, public debt and fragile banking systems pose risks to global prosperity, the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday, urging policymakers to take bolder steps to ensure a sustained recovery," the Washington Post reports.

Health Care: Fight Emerges Over Exchanges' Authority

• "The nation's largest health insurance industry lobbying group says it supports the creation of state insurance exchanges under the healthcare overhaul law, but fault lines are showing between how much regulatory authority the industry believes exchanges should have and what Congress intended in the law," CongressDaily reports. "America's Health Insurance Plans' written comments to the Health and Human Services Department, submitted Oct. 4, make it clear that the industry wants the exchanges to be free of regulatory authority and urges HHS and states to keep the exchanges separate from existing insurance departments."

• "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg sought federal permission on Wednesday to bar New York City's 1.7 million recipients of food stamps from using them to buy soda or other sugared drinks," the New York Times reports. The request "is part of an aggressive anti-obesity push by the mayor."

• "At first blush, the mandate in the new health-care law sounds simple: Starting next year, health insurers must use at least 80 to 85 percent of the premium dollars they collect to pay medical bills or otherwise improve their customers' health," the Washington Post reports. "But deciding which expenses insurers can include has been proving a monumental and controversial task for the" independent National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

• "Healthcare reform is hurting the reelection chances of freshman Democrats in the House," The Hill reports based on its poll. "When asked if they wanted the legislation repealed, 56 percent of voters" in key battleground districts surveyed "said yes."

Energy & Environment: Administration Denies Withholding Spill Estimate

• "The White House is pushing back against a report that it blocked public release of worst-case projections during the early days of the BP oil spill," The Hill reports.

• "Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens said Wednesday he thinks that Sen. Harry Reid will be able to move an alternative fuels subsidy bill in a lame-duck session in part because of Pickens' promise not to make campaign contributions this cycle," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "In an interview with reporters, Pickens, who was once a prominent Republican fundraiser, said he has pledged not to make federal campaign donations."

• "Aiming to clear up consumer confusion about 'eco-friendly' products, the Federal Trade Commission has revised its guidelines for businesses that make environmental claims in advertisements," the Washington Post reports. "The proposed new version of the agency's Green Guides was released Wednesday, with recommendations for when to use words like 'degradable' and 'carbon offset,' in advertisements and packaging, and warnings about using certifications and seals of approval that send misleading messages."

• "It has been one of the great murder mysteries of the garden: what is killing off the honeybees? Now, a unique partnership -- of military scientists and entomologists -- appears to have achieved a major breakthrough," the New York Times reports. "A fungus tag-teaming with a virus have apparently interacted to cause the problem, according to a paper by Army scientists in Maryland and bee experts in Montana in the online science journal PLoS One."

Technology: Attacks On Private Networks Widespread, Report Finds

• "Half of the companies that provide critical infrastructure such as utilities or communication services have experienced politically motivated cyber attacks, according to a new report from Symantec," The Hill reports. "A survey of critical infrastructure providers found 53 percent suspected they had experienced an attack with a specific political goal in mind."

• "A trek to Silicon Valley has become a must-do for D.C. lawmakers seeking to stress their business and tech bona fides while developing relationships that could lead to big campaign donations down the road," Politico reports. "Just last week, six Democratic senators -- Mark Begich of Alaska, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Tom Carper of Delaware, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mark Warner of Virginia -- joined the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for a fundraiser and an event on innovation featuring Google and Facebook."

• "A House Republican website that provided a searchable database of federal earmark requests has disappeared," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "The Web address, sunshine.gop.gov, now links only to a March news release about the House Republican Conference's one-year earmark ban."

National Security: Report Says Pakistan Encouraging Attacks

• "Members of Pakistan's spy agency are pressing Taliban field commanders to fight the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan, some U.S. officials and Afghan militants say, a development that undercuts a key element of the Pentagon's strategy for ending the war," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The explosive accusation is the strongest yet in a series of U.S. criticisms of Pakistan, and shows a deteriorating relationship with an essential ally in the Afghan campaign."

• "A Syrian man released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay last year sued the U.S. military Wednesday, saying that he was the victim of a 'Kafkaesque nightmare' in which he was tortured by al-Qaeda after being accused of being U.S. spy, liberated, then tortured by the Americans, who held him for seven more years by mistake," the Washington Post reports. "Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al-Janko, 32, who has been resettled outside the United States, filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, the court that ordered his release in June 2009."

• "Less than a week after the appointment of a new leadership hierarchy in North Korea, the South Korean defense minister said that his country's military would initiate a new and expanded propaganda war if provoked by the North," the New York Times reports.

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