The Earlybird: Today's headlines

Patients' rights deal, ANWR drilling approval, military closures, population prediction, Florida poll, Carnahan challenger, Feinstein rebuke, Levy tip:
  • President Bush and Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., reached a deal on patients' rights legislation Wednesday, the Dallas Morning News reports. But allies of Norwood from both parties "said late Wednesday that they did not support the deal, which would limit the damages patients could win in lawsuits against insurers."
  • The House could consider the bill today, the Houston Chronicle reports.
  • Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who sponsored patients' rights legislation in the Senate, said the compromise protects "HMOs more than patients," CBSNews.com reports.
Forming An Education Coalition
  • Bush spoke to the National Urban League Wednesday and asked them to help him get his education bill passed, CNN.com reports. Bush said "the policy at many public schools of passing students who haven't learned the required curriculum... amounts to 'bigotry,' and he called for an end to that policy."
  • Congressional staffers will work on education legislation during the upcoming month-long congressional recess "to forge a compromise between dueling bills," AP reports.
Also In The Administration
  • The White House released $583 million -- "what's left of the nation's disaster assistance money" -- to help recent victims of flooding, the Houston Chronicle reports.
  • "Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Wednesday that they will move forward with a plan to dredge toxic chemicals from the bottom of the Hudson, one of the largest cleanup projects ever conceived," USA Today reports. General Electric will "probably have to pay $500 million" for the cleanup.
  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday "unanimously approved a resolution calling on President Bush to return to the bargaining table this fall with specific proposals for either revising the Kyoto global warming treaty or negotiating a new binding agreement for reducing greenhouse gas emissions," the Washington Post reports.
Votes In The House...
  • Early this morning the House voted 223-206 to pass Bush's energy proposal, including opening "part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas exploration," the Boston Globe reports.
  • "Proponents of campaign finance reform plan to take advantage of the upcoming August recess by putting pressure on various Members to sign a discharge petition that would bring the Shays-Meehan legislation to the House floor this fall," Roll Call reports.
  • The House Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday to "prohibit the Navy from closing its firing range on the island of Vieques until it found a replacement that was as good or better," the New York Times reports.
And In The Senate
  • The Senate voted Wednesday to require stricter standards for arsenic in water, AP reports.
  • The Senate also voted to "impose safety standards on Mexican trucks coming into the United States" as part of a $60 billion transportation package, CNN.com reports. "Republican opponents pledged that when Congress returns in the fall they would put up roadblocks to the legislation President Bush has vowed to veto."
  • The Senate confirmed Asa Hutchinson as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration Wednesday by a vote of 98-1, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday to "overturn the so-called Mexico City policy, which bars U.S. funds to overseas groups that use their own money to promote or perform abortions," National Journal News Service reports.
  • After hearing complaints from food companies about racist leaflets left in cereal boxes and other packages of food, lawmakers are considering "legislation that would make placing messages in food packaging a federal crime," the Wall Street Journal reports.
Penta-Gone
  • Pentagon officials said Wednesday they "will propose to Congress that an independent commission meet in 2003 to conduct one more round of military base closures and consolidations," AP reports.
  • The Pentagon is investigating charges that Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, the commanding general of the U.S. Southern Command, "who has been under consideration for a top position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tolerated anti-women attitudes," the Washington Times reports.
  • The "Code Red" computer worm "spread Wednesday to more than 150,000 computers and forced the Pentagon to shut down public access to many of its Web sites for the second time in 2 weeks," USA Today reports.
Palestinians Vow Revenge
  • "Thousands of Palestinian mourners vowed revenge and death to collaborators with Israel" during a funeral Wednesday for the eight victims of Israel's helicopter attack on Tuesday, the Boston Globe reports. "Israeli officials, meanwhile, defended their use of targeted killings in the face of mounting criticism from the United States and other countries."
  • Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday Israel's attack "was 'too aggressive,'" CNN.com reports.
Around The World
  • Scientists said Wednesday that "the world's population will probably peak at about 9 billion around 2070 before it starts to decline," Reuters reports.
  • "A Japanese Cabinet panel approved guidelines for stem cell research yesterday, a move likely to allow its laboratories to start studies on building tissue from embryonic cells by the end of the year," AP reports.
  • One person died and as many as six people are missing after a boat from Cuba that was likely smuggling immigrants "capsized yesterday in rough seas off Key West," AP reports.
Polls, Fund Raising, Announcements
  • A new Mason-Dixon Florida Poll shows former Attorney General Janet Reno (D) winning a Democratic primary in the 2002 gubernatorial race but losing "soundly" to Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in the general, the Miami Herald reports. The Tallahassee Democrat reports that "Bush's popularity has dipped below 50 percent for the first time in more than three years."
  • Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) took his first step toward re-election on Wednesday, announcing a "campaign Web site that accepts credit card campaign donations," the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
  • Libertarian Charles Wilhoit announced he will run for governor in Tennessee in 2002, AP reports.
  • The Michigan Democratic Party "is demanding to know how much the state spent for radio ads featuring" Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus (R), a possible gubernatorial candidate, and "Survivor" contestant Mike Skupin (R), who is mulling a Senate bid, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Candidates Who Carry Some Weight
  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former Rep. Jim Talent, R-Mo., plans to challenge Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo., in 2002.
  • North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D) "filed federal election paperwork and notified the State Board of Elections of her plans to run in the 2002" Senate race, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.
  • Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., "raised just $21,000 during the first six months of the year, intensifying speculation he may retire in 2002," Roll Call reports.
  • Fund-raising reports released yesterday show two candidates in the Massachusetts 9th District special election -- Democratic state Sens. Stephen Lynch and Brian Joyce -- "on track to raise and spend seven-figure totals," Roll Call reports.
  • And Massachusetts acting Gov. Jane Swift (R) "announced she'd support Republican state Sen. JoAnn Sprague" in the 9th District race, the Boston Herald reports. Swift also "took fast aim at the Democratic field -- saying none has the kind of tax-cutting record voters in the 9th District need."
Latest Levy Tip
  • "A Web site based in California forwarded to D.C. police a three-page message that said" Chandra Levy "was buried at a parking lot under construction at Fort Lee," just outside Richmond, Va., the Washington Post reports.
  • "But state, local and federal law enforcement agencies... did not search for anything yesterday other than the veracity of the tip received," the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
  • Yesterday's "scorching criticism of" Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., "by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a fellow Democrat and one of California's most influential public figures, shed light on the political difficulty Condit faces amid questions about his conduct since Levy disappeared three months ago," USA Today reports.
Names In The News
  • Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris (R) on Wednesday "turned over four computer hard drives used to draft correspondence during the presidential race for an inspection by news organizations," including the New York Times, AP and nearly a dozen Florida newspapers.
  • "The FBI yesterday started investigating allegations that" Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., "took $62,000 in campaign contributions from a New Jersey businessman who used straw donors," the New York Post reports.
  • On Wednesday Bush tapped Strom Thurmond Jr., the 28-year-old son of Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., to serve as South Carolina's U.S. Attorney, Gannett News Service reports.
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