Friday, October 08, 2010

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

BREAKING -- China's Best-Known Dissident Wins Nobel Peace Prize: "Liu Xiaobo was detained at his Beijing home in December 2008 after co-authoring Charter 08, a call for democratic reforms in China. The decision will infuriate the Chinese government. A foreign ministry spokeswoman said last week that awarding Liu the prize would contradict the aims of the award. The director of Norway's Nobel institute said a senior Chinese official had warned that Sino-Norwegian relations would be damaged if Liu won. . . . It is highly unlikely that the 54-year-old author and former academic knows he has won. His lawyer told him his name had been put forward, but it is thought he knows little about the nomination because he is not permitted to talk about current affairs with visitors to his prison in Jinzhou, Liaoning province." (Guardian) -- China Goes Ballistic: "In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry lashed out at the decision, saying the award should been used instead to promote international friendship and disarmament. 'Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who has been sentenced by Chinese judicial departments for violating Chinese law,' the statement said. Awarding the peace prize to Liu 'runs completely counter to the principle of the prize and is also a blasphemy to the peace prize.' It said the decision would damage bilateral relations between China and Norway."


Money Talks. And Talks: "The dominant story line of this year’s midterm elections is increasingly becoming the torrents of money, much of it anonymous, gushing into House and Senate races across the country." (NY Times)

Dems Have a Dream, and It Goes Like This: "As the cable news networks' electronic maps run red with Republican victories, three of the nation's most populous states - California, Florida and Texas - turn instead to blue. Gubernatorial pickups in those Sunbelt states would bring a measure of satisfaction on what otherwise could be a bleak evening for Democrats. And heading into the final weeks of the campaign, the party has a chance of winning some or all of these races. Democrats know that heavily Republican Texas is the most difficult of the three." (WaPo)

Pete Rouse Takes Charge: "Week One of the Pete Rouse era in the White House is in the books — and West Wingers already notice the difference from the Rahm Emanuel days: The interim chief of staff emails when he wants to summon a staffer – no more hollering for them to get the hell in here right away. Where Emanuel was a whirlwind of on-the-spot decision-making, his replacement is more focused on organization and long-term planning. And the low-key Rouse is less prone to spouting opinion, signaling his intentions through pointed questions, the same Socratic technique favored by President Barack Obama. “Rahm is declarative,” says a top administration official. “Pete is inquisitive.” Beyond the atmospherics, Rouse is quietly preparing for more substantive changes. Working closely with Obama, Rouse is gaming out the range of staff and organizational shifts the White House would undertake after the Nov. 2 midterms – with different scenarios depending on the magnitude of the party’s losses, according to people familiar with the planning." (Politico)

Classy Politics: "In a private conversation inadvertently captured by voicemail, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown or one of his associates can be heard referring to his Republican opponent Meg Whitman as a "whore," saying she cut a deal protecting law enforcement pensions while the two candidates competed for police endorsements." (LA Times)

RNC Falls Short of Fundraising Target: "The Republican National Committee (RNC) pulled in $9.7 million in donations in September, about $4 million short of its goal." (The Hill)

Miller Admits Benefits: "Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller says his family benefited from Medicaid and a state-run health care program for low-income children and pregnant women." (AP)

... And Substantial Debts: "After a long delay, Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller has filed his financial disclosure paperwork with the U.S. Senate. " (McClatchy)

Lobbying Becomes Line of Attack for Both Parties: "From California to Indiana to Florida, candidates are seizing on ties between their opponents and the lobbying profession as an alleged sign of loyalty to special interests. Campaign contributions from K Street lobbyists have also flared as an issue in many campaigns, including the widely watched contest between tea party favorite Sharron Angle (R) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). Although the lobbying industry has never been beloved by the public, its image has declined dramatically over the past decade even as its influence continued to expand. The Jack Abramoff scandal was arguably a turning point, sending politicians to jail and saddling the industry with the stench of criminality." (WaPo)

GOP Widens Lead in Generic House Ballot: "Republicans have widened their lead against Democrats among likely voters in the generic ballot for the House of Representatives by six points since last month, a new CBS News Poll reports. Republicans now hold an eight point lead over Democrats in the generic ballot, with 45 percent of likely voters saying they would support the Republican candidate for the House, and 37 percent saying they would support the Democrat. Last month Republicans led Democrats by a margin of only 2 points, with 40 percent saying they would vote for a Republican and 38 percent saying they would vote for a Democrat. " (CBS)

Playing the Expectations Game: "Trying to set expectations before an Election Day that's 26 days away, Obama adviser (and former campaign manager) David Plouffe today said it would be a 'colossal failure' for Republicans if they don't win back control of the House and Senate. Yet citing polls showing a more enthusiastic Democratic base, Plouffe added that Democrats could win many close races -- if they turn out their voters and improve among independents. 'I think we can stave off the worst of predictions,' he told a gathering of political reporters." (First Read)

Mexico Slams California Pot Law: "President Felipe Calderon said Thursday that a California ballot measure to legalize marijuana represents hypocrisy in U.S. drug policy for encouraging consumption while at the same time demanding that Mexico and other countries crack down on drug trafficking." (AP)


Obama Administration Pushes Back: "The White House is denying accusations that the administration prevented government scientists from informing the public of the worst-case scenario for the BP oil spill." (Fox News)

Sherrod Dismissal a Rash Decision: "Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was warned that he may not have the full story as he stuck by his decision to oust Shirley Sherrod, the department worker who was wrongly accused of racism, e-mails released by USDA show." (AP)

HCR Could End Up Hurting Nevada, Rory Reid Says: "During a televised debate, Rory Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said he does not support the legal challenges against the health overhaul. Yet, he does believe that President Obama’s signature achievement could negatively affect Nevada." (The Hill)

Bo Derek Rides Again: "The California state Senate has confirmed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's appointment of actress Bo Derek to a commission that oversees horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering at racetracks in California." (SF Chronicle)

We Assume He Anchors the Show With His Socks On, Too: "The Manhattan madam who supplied hooker-happy former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer a slew of high priced call girls has labeled his new CNN primetime show a bore - 'just like he was in bed'". (Radar Online)

'I Have Done Nothing Illegal' -- Dobbs: "'The only person who would have been an illegal in any context would have been a landscaper who was working for the contractor working on my house in Florida. That may have happened,' admits the former CNN anchor and fierce anti-illegal immigration crusader."


Dollar Falls Roil World, Currency War Talk Builds: "The dollar hit fresh lows against several currencies Thursday, raising pressure on global leaders to address worsening tensions among countries vying to keep their currencies weak and exports competitive." (WSJ)

Mo' Money For the States: "The Treasury Department on Friday announced a $1.5 billion lending initiative to promote small businesses at the state level." (Reuters)

And Mo' Money For the Japanese, Too: "The Japanese Cabinet has approved 5.05 trillion yen ($61 billion) in new measures to stimulate the country's economy." (MSNBC)

Social Security's Sixth Sense: "More than 89,000 stimulus payments of $250 each went to people who were either dead or in prison, a government investigator says in a new report. The payments, which were part of last year's massive economic recovery package, were meant to increase consumer spending to help stimulate the economy. But about $18 million went to nearly 72,000 people who were dead, according to the report by the Social Security Administration's inspector general. The report estimates that a little more than half of those payments were returned." (AP)


Pentagon Contractors Entwined With Taliban Warlords: "A Senate investigation finds that Pentagon contractors in Afghanistan are inadvertently helping the Taliban and becoming ensnared in the turf wars of local warlords." (Christian Science Monitor)

Blast in Afghan Mosque: "A massive blast at a mosque in northern Afghanistan killed 15 people including the provincial governor in northern Afghanistan on Friday, officials said. More than 20 people were wounded in the explosion during Friday prayers at the Shirkat mosque in Takhar province, said Gen. Shah Jahan Noori, provincial police chief. (AP)

Dutch Delivered Banned Nuclear Equipment to Iranian Group: "Authorities in the Netherlands improperly supplied nuclear equipment to the sanctioned Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), the Dutch Economic Affairs Ministry wrote in an October 4 letter . . . According to Economic Affairs Minister Maria van der Hoeven’s letter, 'That shipment contained a helium-leak detector, which was ordered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in line with its technical cooperation program with Iran, [but] was shipped to a banned recipient (AEOI).'" (JPost)

In Hunt for Dubai Hit Men, Trail Goes Cold: "Soon after the January assassination of a top Palestinian official here, Dubai police stumbled onto what looked like a big break in the case. . . . The findings raised hopes of nabbing one of the orchestrators of the hit, possibly providing proof for accusations by Dubai police that Israel's intelligence agency Mossad was behind it. But just as quickly, the trail went cold, a Wall Street Journal examination of the case shows." (WSJ)

Free By Saturday: "The drill which is boring a tunnel to 33 trapped miners in Chile could reach the men by Saturday, according to latest estimates." (Sky News)

Ghosts of Battle in Baghdad's Triangle of Death: "Now, as Bobby Ghosh and I drove through the final checkpoint into Mahmudiya, my first thought was that I knew quite a few people that had died here. An hour later, the head of Mahmudiya's city council told us that, for all of the city's problems — lack of water, high unemployment — the security situation was relatively stable. He insisted that there have been few attacks in recent months and that Mahmudiya had come a long way from its tortured past. " (Time)

Taped Execution of Pakistanis to Be Investigated: "Pakistan's army chief Friday ordered an investigation into a video circulating online showing the brutal firing squad execution of six blindfolded Pakistanis by a group of men dressed in what appear to be Pakistani army uniforms." (LA Times)

Red Toxic Sludge Reached the Danube: "The government wants expert assistance in three villages left covered by the toxic red sludge after the accident Monday, the official news agency MTI reported. Meanwhile, the sludge from an aluminum plant reached the Danube, Europe's second largest river, on Thursday as emergency officials worked to contain as much of the leak as possible." (CNN)

Tech, Science

U.A.E. Won't Ban Blackberry: "The United Arab Emirates said Friday it has reached a "regulatory compliant" solution with Blackberry maker Research In Motion, averting a ban on key Blackberry services that would have come into force Monday. Blackberry services in the UAE won't be suspended on Oct. 11 and will continue to operate normally, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, or TRA, said in an emailed statement. " (WSJ)

From the Cradle: "Thanks to the ubiquity of photo-sharing websites like Facebook, 82 percent of children in 10 Western countries have a digital footprint before the age of 2, according to a study by internet security firm AVG. The U.S. led, with 92 percent of American children under 2 appearing in online pictures, the report said." (CNN)

Media, Entertainment

MGM Prepares Bankruptcy: "Saddled with more than $4 billion in debt, MGM is trying what's known as a "prepackaged bankruptcy" that it hopes will wend its way through court in a matter of weeks, rather than the months or years that some bankruptcy cases require." (WSJ)

Polanski Victim Very Relieved He Wasn't Extradited to the US: "'I think they did the right thing,' Geimer said in an exclusive interview with 'Larry King Live,' her first since the Oscar-winning filmmaker was arrested in September 2009. 'I am happy they didn't extradite him. I don't want to see him go to trial.' Geimer said that she doesn't want to deal with the media circus that would surround Polanski's return to the U.S. 'If just the arrest brought such a ruckus into my life and into my backyard in a literal sense ... I'm sure his coming back would just be a thousand times worse.'" (CNN)


Yankees Take 2-0 Series Lead: "Playing together in the postseason for the first time since the 2005 World Series, Berkman and Pettitte delivered the Yankees to the verge of the American League Championship Series on Thursday night. There was nothing complementary about either of their performances in a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins that silenced the largest crowd in Target Field’s one-year history (42,035) and sent the Yankees back to New York with a two-games-to-none lead in their best-of-five division series." (NY Times)

Barcelona Beats Lakers: "Juan Carlos Navarro scored 25 points to help Barcelona beat the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers 92-88 in an exhibition on Thursday. Spanish center Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 24 points but had only one field goal in the second half. His homecoming was spoiled by the Euroleague champion in a game that lived up to the billing of an informal intercontinental showdown." (AP)