Of the Department of Justice's 350 civil rights lawyers, 236 left between 2003 and 2007, according to an Obama transition report obtained by the New York Times. The report described the turnover as a "brain drain" that laid the groundwork for more conservative replacements. To remedy the problem, the Times reports, "the Obama White House has also proposed a hiring spree that would swell the ranks... with more than 50 additional lawyers, a significant increase for a relatively small but powerful division of the government." The administration is also considering putting hiring decisions in the hands of panels of career employees, instead of political appointees.
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske announced an additional $60 million in grants for communities working to "prevent and reduce youth substance abuse," according to a press release.
Obama has exempted defense and national security from his plan for a spending freeze.
The fiscal 2011 budget proposed by the White House calls for increasing the Department of Homeland Security's discretionary funding to $43.6 billion. This includes $734 million to buy up to 1,000 advanced imaging machines to screen for weapons at airports.
As the U.N. climate change conference got under way in Copenhagen, Obama met with Gore at the White House. The one-on-one meeting strongly suggests the president cares a great deal about what the vice president has to say about climate change, but there has still been no official talk of Gore taking a position in the administration.
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, was flown to Denmark to discuss the war effort with Obama this week.
Haiti will receive $2 million for counter-narcotics efforts as part of a $50 million aid package.
Obama today announced the "Educate to Innovate" campaign, a public-private initiative to encourage students to study math and science. "Administration officials say that the breadth of participation in Educate to Innovate is wider than in previous efforts, which have failed to produce a perceptible rise in test scores or in most students’ perceptions of math and science," the New York Times reports.
The federal government stepped up its crackdown on companies that employ illegal immigrants, announcing it would audit about 1,000 companies.
Commissioner Doug Shulman said an IRS study of possible joint audits with other countries is in the works. The agency is working with counterparts across the world to establish "protocols" for the audits, which would likely be administered through the Joint International Tax Shelter Information Center.