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Congress is back after the August recess, faced with the same problems it failed to address in July. We hear about healthcare, global warming, finance reform — partisan Republicans and divided Democrats.  Also, President Obama delivered his speech to America's school children today, and President Hamid Karzai has enough votes, but Afghanistan's Electoral Complaints Commission has ordered a partial recount of last month's election.

Banner image: Former campaign staff members of US President Barack rally outside the White House with a message for the President that health reform without the public option is not 'Change We Can Believe In,' today in Washington, DC. Photo: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

Making News Obama's Back-to-School Speech Stresses Responsibility 7 MIN, 35 SEC

President Obama's plan for an inspirational back-to-school message was initially attacked by some conservatives as a recipe for socialist indoctrination. Today's speech, at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, stressed responsibility, both to oneself and to one's country. "The story of America isn't about people who quit when things got tough. It's about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best." Tom Hamburger reports from Washington for the Los Angeles Times.

Tom Hamburger, Washington Post (@thamburger)

Main Topic The August Recess Is Finally Over 34 MIN, 34 SEC

After a month of angry town halls all over the country, Congress returns to Washington with its lowest public opinion ratings in 24 years. Tomorrow night, President Obama will address a joint session on healthcare reform, promising that he's "all fired up and ready to go." But there's a cold wind blowing from the Republicans and from Blue-Dog and Progressive Democrats. Next up on the legislative agenda are global warming and finance reform. What are the prospects for an ambitious agenda in an environment of political hostility?

Andrew Kohut, Pew Research Center (@pewresearch)
Karen Tumulty, Washington Post (@ktumulty)
Thomas Mann, Brookings Institution / University of California, Berkeley (@BrookingsGov)
Jennifer Duffy, Cook Political Report (@jennifereduffy)

The Broken Branch

Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein

Reporter's Notebook Watchdog Orders Recount of Ballots in Afghan Election 8 MIN, 33 SEC

Preliminary results show that President Hamid Karzai received enough votes for re-election, but the Afghanistan Independent Elections Commission has ordered a partial recount due to "clear and convincing evidence of fraud." Fake polling sites, neatly rounded numbers and voting stations where turnout was 100% are examples of such dubious evidence. Brian Katulis, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, was a member of the Democracy International Election Observation Mission in Afghanistan.

Brian Katulis, Center for America Progress (@Katulis)

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