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Morning Briefing: June 21, 2011

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"Morning Briefing: June 21, 2011"

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President Obama “plans to announce a troop reduction in Afghanistan that Pentagon and other administration officials say is expected to bring home about 10,000 personnel by the end of the year,” the Los AngelesTimes reports. The drawdown is greater than the 3,000 to 4,000 troops the Pentagon wants, but would maintain more than 90 percent of the troop force in the country.

Federal regulators are suing J.P. Morgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland for allegedly duping five large credit unions into buying more than $3 billion in mortgage bonds that were “destined to perform poorly.” The suits, filed yesterday, are “the most aggressive move yet by U.S. regulators to recover losses from Wall Street firms for alleged wrongdoing before and during the financial crisis.”

Fitch credit rating agency warned today that it will downgrade its rating of U.S. government bonds if the debt ceiling is not raised by the Aug. 2 deadline. Fitch’s statement is “the latest credit warning” after a Moody’s report recently declared a “review for possible downgrade” would begin in July.

Kenneth Melson, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, is expected to resign amid controversy surrounding the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” gun operation, CNN reported yesterday. The program inadvertently sold illegal weapons to straw buyers representing Mexican drug cartels. Melson’s resignation could come as soon as today.

Yesterday in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court sided with retail giant Walmart in a huge employment discrimination suit that denied 1.5 million female workers the chance to sue for billions of dollars in damages. Democrats were swift to denounce the decision, with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) calling it a setback for women.

Despite her Tea Party rhetoric, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) aggressively pursued literal government pork when she “leaned heavily” on federal officials to inject money into her district’s pork industry, the Huffington Post reports. Three of the six counties in her district are also among the top 10 recipients of dairy subsidies in the state.

The Federal Trade Commission will investigate the recent increase in gasoline prices, its third such investigation since 2005. With U.S. refiners doubling profits since 2010 despite having more unused capacity, the FTC will investigate whether producers, refiners, retailers, and others have manipulated the market to increase prices.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) declared in a letter yesterday that he will officially resign at midnight tonight. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) “could call for a special election at any time in the coming weeks” and until then, Weiner’s staff will report to the House clerk.

Kenneth Melson, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, is expected to resign amid controversy surrounding the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” gun operation, CNN reported yesterday. The program inadvertently sold illegal weapons to straw buyers representing Mexican drug cartels. Melson’s resignation could come as soon as today.

And finally: The Onion wants a Pulitzer Prize. The satirical newspaper has launched a “full-scale multimedia campaign” to demand its rightful recognition from the premier American journalism prize, and even has the backing of some (B-list) celebrities, (C-list) world leaders, and a (fictional) nonprofit advocacy group called Americans for Fairness in Awarding Journalism Prizes.

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