Afghanistan is number-two.

Afghanistan is number-two.

Somalia is still the most corrupt country in the whole, wide world.

Drugmakers, who have already spent $110 million lobbying Congress this year, are preparing to make a stand in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is working to unveil a health care bill this week. [LAT]

→ Led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, business foes of health care overhaul legislation are outspending supporters at a rate of 2-to-1 for TV ads as they grow increasingly nervous over a final bill.

Did the reset work? The U.S. and Russia they only need to iron out a few more kinks before U.S. planes are flying through Russian airspace to Afghanistan. [Ria Novosti]

After a drug cartel shot down a police helicopter in Brazil last month, the country’s Federal Police have announced that unmanned spy planes will fly over the favelas at about 4 miles high, out of shooting range.[MercoPress]

David Plouffe, one of Obama’s chief campaign strategists in the 2008 election, exposes in his new book that John Edwards’ staff offered to endorse Obama in exchange for making Edwards his VP pick. . . . the book is titled The Audacity to Win. [TPM]

After three years and $105 million, scientists studying AIDS in Thailand have worked up to a vaccine with a protective effect of 31.2%. “We’ve taken a very small step,” Jerome Kim of the Walter Reed Institute of Research says. “It’s not a home run, but it opens the door to future work.” Vaccine proponents also point to the lessons learned from the failed Merck STEP trial. [Scientific American]

The NY Fed gave up much of its power in high-pressure negotiations with AIG’s trading partners last year, according to a new report, which spells wasted-tax-dollars for the rest of us. [NYT]

→ Geithner may have led the negotiations with AIG counterparties when he headed the New York Fed last year, but TARP special inspector Neil Barofsky’s audit is damning where it really hurts. [via Reuters]

→ The Downfall of AIG’s ‘Beautiful Machine,’ [via WaPo]

Paul Allen, Microsoft Corp.’s co- founder, has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is undergoing chemotherapy. [Bloomberg]

Now that House Democrats have a brief respite on the health care bill’s passage, they can focus on another problem plaguing Americans: unemployment. The plan is to pass highway construction bill that would initiate infrastructure projects and therefore jobs. Legislators are also considering more small-business tax breaks, extending unemployment benefits again, paying the health benefits of unemployed workers, providing aid to state Medicaid programs and extending popular tax breaks to give more cash to consumers. [The Hill]


Obama, meet China.

“The United States and China have a great many mutual interests, and after 30 years of bilateral relations, I think it’s fair to say that our two governments have continued to move forward in a way that can bring even greater cooperation in the future,” Obama said.

→ President Hu Jintao appreciated Obama’s support of the one-China principal.

“We hope the U.S. understand and support China’s government’s stance and concerns, properly manage the Taiwan issue, and disallow any ‘pro-Tibet independence’ and ‘the East Turkistan’ forces to commit to any moves on the American soil to separate China.”

→ But some Chinese are not convinced by Obama’s words of love. They demand action to not take protectionist trade measures with China,  and to stop selling arms to separatist forces like Taiwan.

→ Obama and Hu agree to work for success at Copenhagen climate change talks.

→ But, Chinese officials successfully blocked the U.S. president’s town hall talk with 400 students, which did not make it to Facebook or YouTube.


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