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Eye Opener: Michelle Obama's chief of staff leaves, FDA studying caffeinated booze, security clearances and airport security

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Question of the Week: The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has introduced a series of ideas to cut the federal deficit, including federal workforce-related proposals ranging from increasing health insurance fees, to freezing salaries and bonuses for three years, to trimming the workforce by 10 percent by 2020. What do you think of the proposals and federal employees being asked to sacrifice? E-mail your thoughts to federalworker@washpost.com and please include your name and hometown. We may use your thoughts in Friday's Post.

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama's bipartisan meeting on tax cuts postponed. First Lady Michelle Obama's second chief of staff is leaving. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney reunite. Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told Obama he should not pursue bipartisan support for health-care reform. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner expects a deal on tax cuts. Senate Banking Committee refers Fed Board nominee Peter Diamond to the full Senate. In op-ed, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pushes for passage of food safety legislation.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Levin open to dropping 'don't ask' from defense bill: The Senate will not consider ending the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy until after it holds hearings on a Pentagon report studying the issue, a key Senate Democrat said Tuesday.

Obama awards Army Staff Sgt. Giunta a Medal of Honor for valor in Afghanistan: Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta became the first living service member to receive the honor for action during any war since Vietnam.

FDA:
FDA panel endorses a drug to treat Lupus: The advisory committee recommended by a 13-2 vote that the drug, Benlysta, developed by Human Genome Sciences, should be approved.

Schumer: FDA, FTC to act on caffeinated booze: Federal officials are taking steps against those caffeinated alcoholic beverages that have become increasingly popular and have raised alarm among public health authorities, law enforcement and state officials, according to a Senator.

FEDERAL RESERVE:
Stung by criticism, fed officials reply: They're counterpunching to defend themselves and, in some cases, to reinforce their commitment to the policy.

MMS:
BP and minerals agency faulted in Gulf spill: A new report finds no single smoking gun pointing to what led to the disaster, putting blame on BP for several missteps as well as on the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that oversaw offshore drilling at the time of the spill.

NASA:
A costly quest for the dark heart of the Cosmos: Sitting and being fussed over by technicians in a clean room at the Kennedy Space Center is an eight-ton assemblage of magnets, wires, iron, aluminum, silicon and electronics that is one of the most ambitious and complicated experiments ever to set out for space.

OPM:
Federal security clearance process improves, officials say: The federal government has improved the speed and efficiency of its security clearance process, but challenges remain with technology and collaboration.

TSA:
TSA: Religion offers no break on airport screening: Passengers who refuse to go through a full-body scanner machine and reject a pat-down won't be allowed to board, even if they turned down the in-depth screening for religious reasons.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | November 17, 2010; 5:58 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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