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Eye Opener: Aug. 17, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

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Cabinet and Staff News: Let there be no doubt: Cabinet secretaries report to Rahm Emanuel. Hillary Rodham Clinton ends her 11-day trip to Africa and adopts a folksy style of diplomacy. Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg must review the compensation plans at seven companies receiving substantial government funds. The new U.S. ambassador to Paris is the youngest sent there in 56 years. Former Pentagon spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon dies at age 64. Questions for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Bill Clinton regrets signing DOMA. Tom Vilsack sets new Obama administration forest policies.

In other news...

Pentagon Worries Led to Command Change: The humiliating removal of a four-star general for being too conventional reveals the ferocious intensity Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen share over a growing war that will soon enter its ninth year.

Threat Theater: Every day, as Washingtonians go about their overt lives, the FBI, CIA, Capitol Police, Secret Service and U.S. Marshals Service stage covert dramas in and around the capital where they train. Officials say the scenarios help agents and officers integrate the intellectual, physical and emotional aspects of classroom instruction.

Agencies at Odds Over New York Crash: NTSB and FAA appeared to be at odds over the role of air traffic controllers in the crash over the Hudson River last weekend.

Pathology Institute Defends Its Turf: For nearly 150 years, from its origins during the Civil War, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington has helped diagnose illnesses and solve medical mysteries. Despite the institute's renown, the Pentagon announced plans four years ago to shut it down as part of the closure of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2011 because of the federal base-closing program.

GAO: Missile Site Costs Likely to Rise: The cost of building and operating the controversial U.S. anti-ballistic missile sites in Europe could substantially exceed the original estimate of more than $4 billion.

HHS Takes On Health Records: The department is almost certain to take on responsibility for creating the criteria used to decide what health records technologies qualify for billions of dollars in reimbursements to medical offices under a new stimulus program.

Treasury Bailout's Limits on Lobbyists Still Haven't Taken Effect: A plan by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to limit lobbyists' influence over the $700 billion bailout program has yet to get off the ground -- even as the program nears an end.

Congressional Staffers Create Own 'Hot List': On Saturday night, a bipartisan team announced its own list of the hottest staffers around, to compete with The Hill's famous list.

Panel Orders FAA to Set New Controller Pay Scales: A mediation panel has issued a decision that paves the way for a new contract to be ratified by members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association

Funding Fight Sparks Debate on Peace Corps' Future: As the the agency nears its 50th anniversary, lawmakers, former volunteers and the agency's founding fathers are grappling over the budget and where President Kennedy's brainchild goes from here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | August 17, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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