Thursday, October 07, 2010

WHILE AMERICA WAS SLEEPING, I fixed a 'news breakfast' for you -- these must-reads will help you kick start the day:


Abortion Rights Becoming a Campaign Weapon: "Republicans have won points with many voters by promising a conservative overhaul of taxes and spending, but Democrats are working hard in the closing weeks of the campaign to convince voters that a conservative social agenda is waiting in the wings, too, should Republicans be elected in large numbers. " (NYT)

Obama Losing Some Chicagoans Too: "Nearly two years after Obama took office, while the president remains widely popular in the city, his image has slipped a bit as many people wonder where the promised change and jobs are, even if they believe such talk is probably a bit unfair." (AP)

Dems Get Their Guns: "So far this year, the NRA has endorsed 58 incumbent House Democrats, including more than a dozen in seats that both parties view as critical to winning a majority. The endorsements aren't the result of a sudden love for a party with which the NRA is often at odds. Rather, the powerful group adheres to what it calls "an incumbent-friendly" policy, which holds that if two candidates are equally supportive of gun rights, the incumbent gets the nod." (WaPo)

O'Donnell Still Far Behind: "A University of Delaware poll released Wednesday showed O'Donnell trailing Democrat Chris Coons by 19 points. And a Fairleigh-Dickinson University poll showed Coons up 53 percent to 36 percent." (First Read)

In Other News, the Pope is Catholic: "A new Republican ad that shows a couple of guys at the counter of a diner, wearing ball caps and plaid shirts as they take shots at West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D), was shot with actors, from a script, in Philadelphia. And it turns out that 'real people' in political ads are often fake." (Politico)

Murkowski's 'Alaska Mafia': "Once insurgent conservative Joe Miller knocked off moderate Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's Senate primary, almost all Beltway Republicans lined up behind Miller. But thanks to Alaska's unique political culture, there is a small cadre -- mostly former staffers for Murkowski and other Alaska lawmakers -- supporting her quixotic write-in race for re-election." (Examiner)

GOPer Mark Kirk Leading Race to Obama's Erstwhile Senate Seat: "Rasmussen Reports most recent statewide telephone survey of “Likely Voters” found the Republican Illinios Rep. Mark Kirk to be leading Democratic state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias 45 to 41 percent. Green Party Candidate LeAlan Jones trailed both men with 4 percent of the vote. Two weeks ago, a Rasmussen poll had Kirk leading Giannoulias 44 to 41 percent with Jones pulling in 4 percent support." (Daily Caller)

Early Ballots Surged 50% in the Primaries: "The growth in early voting, which is driven in part by state laws that make casting a ballot before Election Day easier, is forcing campaigns and advocacy groups to readjust their calendars as they reach out to voters in advance of the Nov. 2 election. " (USA Today)


Obama's Fresh Strategy -- Ignore Other Powers: "As President Obama remakes his senior staff, he is also shaping a new approach for the second half of his term: to advance his agenda through executive actions he can take on his own, rather than pushing plans through an increasingly hostile Congress." (LAT)

John Edwards Getting Hot Again: "A law enforcement source told the I-Team Wednesday that about 20 new subpoenas have been issued ordering people to testify about the arrangement to conceal the affair and the baby John Edwards had with his mistress, Rielle Hunter. " (ABC)

Not a Whole Lotta Love for Sarah: "Sarah Palin is viewed unfavorably by nearly 50 percent of Americans, a new CBS News poll finds, a significant challenge for her to overcome should she enter the 2012 presidential race. Palin is viewed favorably by just 22 percent of Americans, according to the poll - including less than half (44 percent) of Republicans. Twenty-one percent of independents and 6 percent of Democrats view her favorably. (CBS)

Obama Admistration at Fault for Oil Spill: "The Obama administration failed to act upon or fully inform the public of its own worst-case estimates of the amount of oil gushing from the blown-out BP well, slowing response efforts and keeping the American people in the dark for weeks about the size of the disaster, according to preliminary reports from the presidential commission investigating the accident." (NYT)

Record Number in Deportations: "Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the U.S. deported a record 392,862 illegal immigrants and arrested more of their employers this past year than ever before." (WSJ)

Support for Gay Marriage Edges Upwards: Now fewer than half of Americans against it. (Pew Research Center)

"The Hill Is a Very Gay Place": Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who is openly gay, talks about Pink Hill Mafia, a new online forum catering to gays staffers on the Hill. (WaPo)

Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite: "his relentless diatribes against "illegals" and their employers, Dobbs is casting stones from a house—make that an estate—of glass. Based on a yearlong investigation, including interviews with five immigrants who worked without papers on his properties, The Nation and the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute have found that Dobbs has relied for years on undocumented labor for the upkeep of his multimillion-dollar estates and the horses he keeps for his 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, a champion show jumper." (The Nation)

The Man Who Never Was: "Desperate to keep his Senate seat, John McCain repudiated his record, his principles, and even his maverick reputation, entrenching himself as the anti-Obama. Which raises the issue of whether the leader so many Americans admired—and so many journalists covered—ever truly existed." (Todd Purdum @ Vanity Fair)


Job Losses in 2009 Likely Bigger than Thought: "The economy likely shed more jobs last year than previously thought, but analysts say the undercount by the government should prove less severe than it did during depths of the recession. The Labor Department on Friday will give an initial estimate of how far off its count of employment may have been in the 12 months through March. The government admitted earlier this year that its count through March 2009 had overstated employment by 902,000 jobs. Analysts expect a much smaller miscount this time, given the economy's growth spurt in the second half of last year." (Reuters)

Global Currencies Moving: Dollar falls to 15-year low against yen. (FT)

World Bank vs. IMF: "Emerging economies should consider steps to contain fund flows that could cause currency rallies and asset bubbles, the World Bank chief was quoted as saying, but the International Monetary Fund called such actions "undesirable." The contrasting views over capital controls come amid rising tension between emerging and developed economies over exchange rates, which is expected to be a hot topic at Group of Seven and International Monetary Fund meeting starting on Friday." (Reuters)

California Budget Plan is Basically Creative Accounting, or Something: "The deal, reached late last week between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the four Republican and Democratic leaders of the Assembly and Senate, does not contain new taxes or fees. Instead, it relies on a series of assumptions and accounting maneuvers that in all likelihood will punt many of this year's budget problems to the next governor." (WaPo)

For Women, It Pays to Be Thin: A new study shows that "seem to treat women exactly the way the fashion industry does – by rewarding very thin women with higher pay, while penalizing average-weight women with smaller paychecks. Very thin men, on the other hand, tend to get paid less than male workers of average weight. Men earn more as they pack on the pounds – all the way to the point where they become obese, when the pay trend reverses." (WSJ)

The Dog Ate My Mortgage Papers: "Millions of U.S. mortgages have been shuttled around the global financial system - sold and resold by firms - without the documents that traditionally prove who legally owns the loans. Now, as many of these loans have fallen into default and banks have sought to seize homes, judges around the country have increasingly ruled that lenders had no right to foreclose, because they lacked clear title." (WaPo)


With Friends Like These...: "Members of Pakistan's spy agency are pressing Taliban field commanders to fight the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan, some U.S. officials and Afghan militants say, a development that undercuts a key element of the Pentagon's strategy for ending the war. The explosive accusation is the strongest yet in a series of U.S. criticisms of Pakistan, and shows a deteriorating relationship with an essential ally in the Afghan campaign. The U.S. has provided billions of dollars in military and development aid to Pakistan for its support." (WSJ)

Not Much Hope: "Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday that the chances of renewing peace talks with Israel are unclear." (JPost)

The (Almost) Red Danube: "Hungary is racing to prevent red chemical sludge from a huge spill reaching the Danube river, officials have said. The alkalinity has risen in the Raba river, which flows into the Danube - Central Europe's major waterway. If the sludge enters the Danube the pollution could reach six countries down river, including Croatia, Serbia and Romania. (BBC) -- "Hungary has opened a criminal probe into the toxic sludge flood as latest estimates say it will take a year to clean up the spill." (Sky News)

US in Contact With Key Insurgents: "Both the Afghan and US governments have recently made contact with the most fearsome insurgent group in Afghanistan, the Haqqani network, the Guardian has learned. Hamid Karzai's government held direct talks with senior members of the Haqqani clan over the summer, according to well-placed Pakistani and Arab sources. The US contacts have been indirect, through a western intermediary, but have continued for more than a year." (Guardian)

NATO -- Afghan Campaign Unaffected: "Nato insists its war effort in Afghanistan has not been impeded by a row with Pakistan that has left its supply routes vulnerable." (BBC)

Pakistan Border to Remain Closed: "Pakistan said Thursday it has not decided when to reopen a key border crossing NATO uses to ship supplies to Afghanistan despite a U.S. apology for a helicopter attack that killed two Pakistani soldiers." (AP)

Russia Successfully Tests Bulava Missile: "Russia's military said on Thursday it successfully tested a long-range missile seen as a mainstay of its nuclear forces, after a series of failures had raised doubts about its viability." (Reuters)

Tutu's Bye-Bye: "Nobel Prize winner and hero of the South African anti-apartheid movement Archbishop Desmond Tutu is officially retiring from public life." (Sky News)

Is That Really a Surprise? "Kenyan polygamist with 100 wives dies" (CNN)

Tech , Science

Facebook Gets a Facelift: "The features being announced give a crucial look at the site's even bigger ambitions." (Gizmodo)

Honeybee Killer Found: "A fungus tag-teaming with a virus have apparently interacted to cause the problem, according to a paper by Army scientists in Maryland and bee experts in Montana in the online science journal PLoS One." (NYT)

Media, Entertainment, Culture

Mario Vargas Llosa Wins Nobel Literature Prize: "The Swedish Academy said it honored the 74-year-old author "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt and defeat.'" (AP)

The Website May Not Lean Forward With the Cable Channel, After All: "NBC Universal and Microsoft, the parents of, are holding high-level talks about changing its name, an unusual and potentially risky endeavor for the third most popular news Web site in the United States. The two parents have not yet agreed on what to call the site. But according to internal memorandums obtained by The New York Times this week, the parents have concluded that the brand known as, a strictly objective news site, is widely confused with MSNBC, the cable television channel that has taken a strongly liberal bent in recent years. " (NYT)

Gary Coleman Death Ruled an Accident: "Salt Lake City police chief Dennis Howard said an autopsy found the star died of natural causes after an accidental fall at his home in May." (BBC)


Halladay fires no-hitter past Reds: "The Phillies' ace threw the second no-hitter in postseason history Wednesday in a 4-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the National League division series." (Philly Inquirer)