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Eye Opener: Nov. 26, 2008

By Ed O'Keefe

Good morning! In case you're tasked with carving the Thanksgiving turkey and need some last-minute tips, The Eye refers you to the clip above. Or watch this classic scene from "The Cosby Show."

Thanksgiving Eve is one of the busiest travel days of the year, so The Eye gives a special shout out today to all Federal employees -- especially folks at the transportation and homeland security departments -- who are working extra hard today to ensure Americans get to their Turkey Day destinations safely.

In the news...

Eye Opener

The FDA's Woes: Did you know the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for overseeing products that account for one-quarter of consumer spending in the U.S.? "Shaken by a series of alarming failures, the FDA desperately needs an infusion of strong leadership, money, technology and personnel -- and perhaps a major restructuring," reports The Post's Rob Stein. "Morale within the FDA, along with its credibility outside, has plummeted as the agency has been stretched to keep pace with its responsibilities and riven by accusations of ideological bias, a tilt toward industry rather than consumers, and internal dissension." In line to serve as the next FDA administrator: Robert M. Califf, Steven E. Nissen, Joshua M. Sharfstein or Susan F. Wood.

Census Spending Cuts: "The Census Bureau plans to cut spending on advertising and community outreach for the 2010 census by at least a fourth compared with the 2000 census, provoking concern among congressional overseers that historically difficult-to-count groups such as minorities and illegal immigrants will not be accurately tallied," notes The Post's N.C. Aizenman. "The news adds to congressional dismay over the bureau's decision in the spring to scrap a plan to use wireless handheld devices to collect information from people who do not mail back their census forms. Technical problems with the devices forced the agency to switch back to its original pencil-and-paper-based system, adding between $2.2 billion and $3 billion to the $11.5 billion cost." More: "Census workers could face even more difficulties in 2010 because of increased fears of identity theft and the rapid rise in the minority and immigrant populations over the past decade."

Ex-Interior Official Charged: "A former Interior Department official has been charged with accepting payments from business leaders in exchange for arranging meetings with government officials in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Edgar A. Johnson, 59, of Bowie, [Md.] who left his position at Interior's Office of Insular Affairs last year, was charged Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington with one count of honest services wire fraud, a felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both. ... Johnson, who held federal jobs for nearly 30 years, most recently was director of the technical assistance division, which provides funding to U.S. territories and private companies to increase self-sufficiency and encourage private-sector investment." More here.

Revolving Door: Obama transition official John Brennan has removed his name from consideration for CIA director, reports the Fed Line blog. Various blogs don't like his stance on torture, to which Brennan commented: "It has been immaterial to the critics that I have been a strong opponent of many of the policies of the Bush Administration such as the preemptive war in Iraq and coercive interrogation tactics, to include waterboarding."

This Day in History: Turkeys of the world can thank Franklin D. Roosevelt for signing a bill on this date in 1941 that officially established the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 25, 2008; 7:59 PM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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