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Eye Opener: Jan. 11, 2010

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Monday! (Unless you're NBC?) The Eye has jury duty for the first time ever this morning. Depending how things go, blogging could be light today -- or for the foreseeable future!

Follow The Federal Eye on Twitter as he live tweets his progress through the D.C. jury system on Monday. Regular updates will resume the moment The Eye is freed of his civic obligations.

In other news...

White House Web Chats All Week: Various Obama administration officials will mark their first year in office with a series of live web chats. First up: White House Environmental Czar Carol Browner. Later in the week: national security assistant and speechwriter Ben Rhodes, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Christina Romer.

Hillary's Impact on Diplomacy: There are 25 female ambassadors posted in Washington -- the highest number ever, according to the State Department. A key reason? What some call the "Hillary effect."

Cabinet and Staff News: Palestinians downplay Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's push for peace while she dines with Silicon Valley executives. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visits Afghanistan to tour agricultural projects. More Republicans call on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to resign. "Teflon Timmy" Geithner's latest scandal. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki was awarded the Gold Good Citizenship Medal by the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. If Peter Orszag is so smart, what will he do now? Gen. David Petraeus (and President Obama) says no plans for troops in Yemen. Despite rumors to the contrary, Rahm Emanuel wants Richard Daley to run again for Chicago mayor.

CIA:
CIA bomber struck just before search: A moment that officials had hoped would lead to a significant breakthrough in the fight against al-Qaeda instead became the most grievous single blow against the agency in the counterterror war.

CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION:
Watching the border: "60 Minutes" assesses the progress (or lackthereof) of the "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
U.S. food delivery contracts in Middle East worth billions: The Defense Logistics Agency is preparing to contract out delivery of more than $10 billion worth of food to U.S. troops and other government personnel serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Jordan.

Plans approved for DoD complex, Coast Guard headquarters: The National Capital Planning Commission approved plans for a new Pentagon administrative complex for more than 6,400 civilian, military and contract employees, and a new Coast Guard headquarters for more than 3,800 employees.

Military is deluged in intelligence from drones: Air Force drones collected nearly three times as much video over Afghanistan and Iraq last year as in 2007 -- about 24 years’ worth if watched continuously.

EPA:
White House, EPA at odds over coal-waste rules: Environmental groups are pointing to a flurry of industry meetings on the coal-ash issue as evidence that utilities and other companies are using a foothold within the White House to fight back against potentially far-reaching new rules.

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:
Too big to succeed: The department, with its $42 billion budget, is a giant bureaucratic disaster. Christopher Buckley wonders who, really, is in charge.

GOVERNMENT WORK/LIFE/OPERATIONS:
Vows of bipartisanship give way to rancor on House oversight panel: Less than six months after pledging to reverse the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's history of rancorous partisanship, the relationship between the top Democrat and Republican has become contentious.

Energy spending expected to skyrocket in 2010: Agencies will spend $28.8 billion in fiscal 2010 on electricity, fuel and all other energy, a 36 percent increase from 2009.

OPM prepares for relaunch of USAJobs.gov: The new site will debut on Jan. 24 and coincides with the agency-wide reorganization.

SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION:
Giant panda artificially inseminated at zoo: Mei Xiang underwent the nonsurgical insemination after she and the zoo's male giant panda, Tian Tian, tried but failed to mate successfully.

TSA:
TSA pressed on full-body scans despite concerns: The agency now plans to buy a total of 450 body-scanning machines -- more than ten times the number now in use.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 11, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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