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Federal News Digest — October 6, 2011

Washington Post

‘Calm down’ about Fast and Furious gun sting, ATF acting director says [Justice Dept., Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Fast and Furious] – Sari Horwitz reports that the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – which came under fire for its “Fast and Furious” operation that allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico that were later used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent – announced a shake-up of personnel in the agency; the reorganization isn’t stopping congressional calls for a special prosecutor and questions about the Attorney General Holder’s candor in the matter

E-mails show Energy Department was moving toward second loan for Solyndra [Energy Dept., green technologies, Solyndra] – Carol D. Leonnig and Joe Stephens report that the latest emails released by the Energy Dept. show that it was considering a second loan to the ailing solar panel manufacturing company that eventually went bankrupt; they also report that White House staff were closely monitoring the troubled company

Despite death of Awlaki, U.S.-Yemen relations strained [CIA, counterterrorism, Yemen] – Sudarsan Raghavan and Karen DeYoung report that although they have a common enemy in terrorists trained in Yemen, there are tensions in the U.S.-Yemen relationship because the U.S. is focused solely on groups that threaten Americans, not the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (or AQAP) which supports the ouster of President Saleh; the administration wants to avoid becoming embroiled in Yemen’s domestic rebellion

In a switch for U.S., Panetta praises NATO [Defense Secretary Panetta, NATO] – Craig Whitlock reports that on his visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised NATO’s leadership in Libya, where air strikes greatly helped rebels gain control of the country – a sharp contrast to the criticism of NATO’s inaction leveled by former Defense Secretary Gates

New York Times

E.P.A. panel issues plan for Gulf Coast restoration [Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf Coast] – Campbell Robertson reports that the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, a federal-state working group commissioned after the BP oil spill in the Gulf, proposed short-term and long-term fixes to restore and protect the environment along the Gulf Coast; after public comment on the report, it will go to the President

Budget presses Obama aide into political fight [White House Chief of Staff, federal budget] – Mark Landler reports that the Obama administration’s new strategy of attacking Republican positions rather than seeking common ground puts the White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, who hails form the business community and is more comfortable in the role of negotiator, in an awkward position

Obama says he would accept a surtax on high incomes [President Obama, economy, taxes] – Helene Cooper reports that President Obama is “comfortable” with the Senate proposal that his jobs bill be paid for with a tax surcharge on incomes above $1 million

Wall Street Journal

Nearly half of U.S. lives in household receiving government benefit [Census Bureau] – Sara Murray reports on the Census Bureau’s finding that in the first quarter of 2010, 48% of the population lived in a household receiving a government benefit such as food stamps, subsidized housing, cash welfare or Medicaid – up from 44.4% at the end of 2008; and due to high unemployment, 46% of households will not pay federal income tax this year – up from 39.9% in 2007

Task force urges haste on nuclear-safety measures [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] – Rebecca Smith reports that a Nuclear Regulatory Commission task force is recommending that U.S. nuclear plants move quickly to improve safety conditions, especially in plants similar in design to the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan that did not withstand the earthquake and tsunami there; the NRC is scheduled to take up the recommendations next week

NLRB delays employer requirement to post union rights [National Labor Relations Board] – Melanie Trottman reports that the National Relations Labor Board postponed from November to January a rule staunchly opposed by the business community that requires businesses to post information about workers’ right to unionize; the delay is intended to provide more time to educate small and medium sized business about the requirement

Post Office’s rescue plan: junk mail [U.S. Postal Service, Postal Regulatory Commission] – Jennifer Levitz reports that what consumers call junk mail is an important source of revenue for the financially ailing Postal Service, and it is encouraging businesses to advertise via the mail

Obama: Jobs ‘Brave enough to think differently’ [President Obama, information technology] – Jared Favole covers President’s Obama’s remarks on the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs; the president heralded Jobs as an example of American ingenuity

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