Friday, October 15, 2010

WHILE AMERICA WAS SLEEPING, I fixed a 'news breakfast' for you -- ready each weekday morning at 6am Eastern to satisfy your media craving [feature permalink here]. These must-reads will help you kick start the day:


Tea Party Set for Wide Influence: "With a little more than two weeks till Election Day, 33 Tea Party-backed candidates are in tossup races or running in House districts that are solidly or leaning Republican, and 8 stand a good or better chance of winning Senate seats. While the numbers are relatively small, they could exert outsize influence, putting pressure on Republican leaders to carry out promises to significantly cut spending and taxes, to repeal health care legislation and financial regulations passed this year, and to phase out Social Security and Medicare in favor of personal savings accounts. Still, the bulk of the Tea Party candidates are running in districts that are solidly Democratic, meaning that most Tea Party efforts — no matter how energetic — are likely to register as basically a protest vote." (NY Times)

Dem Funding Stalls: "A late effort by Democrats to match record fund raising by conservative organizations has come up short, leaving the party more reliant than usual on the campaign efforts of labor unions." (WSJ)
U.S. President Barack Obama answers questions as he appears at a youth Town Hall on Viacom's BET, CMT and MTV networks in Washington October 14, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

Obama Goes after Youth Vote, Gets a Grilling: "The tone at the president's latest town hall was set from the start when a woman identifying herself as a Republican asked Obama about his inability to foster his promised bipartisanship, and then a man disaffected with the state of the economy asked Obama: 'Why should we still support you?'" (AP)

W.Va. Race Key to GOP's Bid to Win the Senate: "The race to serve out the remainder of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd's term was expected to be an easy walk for Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin III, who won reelection two years ago with 70% of the vote. But nothing has been easy for Democrats this year. Political prognosticators have long speculated that the GOP could take control of the House, and the picture in the Senate has been in flux. Democrats breathed easier when "tea party" conservative Christine O'Donnell won the GOP nomination in moderate Delaware. But the respite didn't last long. At about the same time, Raese's campaign appeared to surge in polling, as did that of Linda McMahon in Connecticut, another corporate executive running in a state once thought safe for Democrats." (LA Times)

Obama 2010 = McCain 2008? "Two years after mocking Sen. John McCain and his herky-jerky campaign as "erratic," it's the White House that is veering from message to message in a seemingly vain attempt to dodge voters' overwhelming focus on the dismal economy." (Politico)

FLOTUS Voting Day Controversy: "Questions arose late Thursday over whether First Lady Michelle Obama engaged in unlawful electioneering during a conversation with a fellow voter at a Chicago polling place." (Fox News)

Reid - Angle Face Off: "The debate Thursday evening between Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, and Sharron Angle, the Republican running with Tea Party support, had been promoted as a climactic duel between two opponents for a Nevada Senate seat, locked in an exceedingly tight contest in what may well be the most closely watched race of the fall. . . . The 60-minute encounter at the PBS station here, the only one the candidates are scheduled to have, included attacks from both sides that were often personal." (NY Times)  --  LVRJ's Publisher -- 'Angle mops the floor with Reid'


Federal Judge Allows Health Care Lawsuits to Proceed: "A federal judge in Florida on Thursday said he will allow some of the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health care law to proceed — and criticized Democrats for making an 'Alice in Wonderland' argument to defend the law." (Politico)

Taliban Operative At Large Inside the U.S.? "Senior U.S. officials are concerned over recent intelligence indicating that the Pakistani Taliban, which orchestrated the failed Times Square bombing, may have successfully placed another operative inside the United States to launch a second attack, sources tell Fox News. Authorities, however, know very little about the potential operative or any possible plot. . . . Based on the intelligence, authorities believe the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, would have directed the individual to attempt another Times Square-style operation, but not necessarily in New York City." (Fox News)
WASHINGTON - MARCH 07:  Angelo Mozilo, founder and former CEO, Countrywide Financial Corporation, stands at the witness table before the start of a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on Capitol Hill March 7, 2008 in Washington, DC. The committee is examining the compensation and retirement packages granted to the CEOs of corporations deeply involved in the current mortgage crisis.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Mozilo and SEC Talking Settlement: "Confidential talks begun in recent weeks appear to be moving toward a settlement in the Securities and Exchange Commission's high-profile civil fraud case against former Countrywide Financial Corp. Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo and two other former executives, people familiar with the matter said." (WSJ)

Pentagon Halts Enforcement of Gay Ban... "The Pentagon Thursday halted enforcement of its "don't ask, don't tell" policy pending an appeal of a federal court order prohibiting the government from expelling gays and lesbian soldiers who disclose their sexual orientation. The Obama administration also on Thursday asked U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips to stay her order, issued Tuesday. It's unclear, however, whether Phillips will do so." (McClatchy)

... And the Obama Administration Files Appeal Against Judge's Ruling: "According to a DOJ spokesperson, the government is defending the statute because that's what is traditionally done when acts of Congress are challenged. At the same time, the filing goes out of its way to say that President Obama intends to reverse 'don't ask, don't tell' through an 'orderly repeal process.'"


Wall Street Futures Point to Mixed Open: "Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and for the S&P 500 both eased 0.1 percent while futures for the Nasdaq 100 rose 0.2 percent, pointing to a mixed open on Wall Street on Friday. . . . At 1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT), the Commerce Department will release September retail sales numbers. Economists expected a 0.4 percent increase, a repeat of the August rise. Excluding automobiles, sales were forecast to rise 0.4 percent, compared with a 0.6 percent increase in August." (Reuters)

The Little House in Maine That Started It All: "Nicolle Bradbury bought this house seven years ago for $75,000, a major step up from the trailer she had been living in with her family. But she lost her job and the $474 monthly mortgage payment became difficult, then impossible. It should have been a routine foreclosure, with Mrs. Bradbury joining the anonymous millions quietly dispossessed since the recession began. But she was savvy enough to contact a nonprofit group, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, where for once in her 38 years, she caught a break." (NY Times)

Dollar Fall Sparks Stability Warnings: "Increasing expectations the Federal Reserve will pump more money into the US economy next month under a policy known as quantitative easing sent the dollar to new lows against the Chinese renminbi, Swiss franc and Australian dollar. It dropped to a 15-year low against the yen and an eight-month low against the euro." (FT)


BREAKING-- Russia to Build Nuclear Plant in Venezuela: "President Dmitry Medvedev said the nuclear deal would help Venezuela develop modern energy sources in addition to its hydrocarbon riches.'Our intentions are absolutely pure and open: we want our partner Venezuela to have a full range of energy possibilities,' Medvedev said. 'Even though the country is rich in oil and gas, it needs to develop new energy sources.'" (AP)

Arabs may ask UN to recognize Palestinian state: "Egyptian foreign minister says if Israel continues with West Bank settlement building, 'the Arab League will study some other option aside from the peace process.'" (AP)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waves as he leaves the Presidential Palace in Baabda, near Beirut after a two-day visit to Lebanon October 14, 2010. REUTERS/ Mohamed Azakir  (LEBANON - Tags: POLITICS)

Ahmadinejad Targets Israel: "In a fiery speech two miles from Lebanon's border with Israel on Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised a cheering crowd that the "Zionists will disappear" and that "occupied Palestine will be liberated." (WaPo)

Meets Nasrallah Before Departing from Lebanon: "According to the report, the two discussed a range of issues, and at the culmination of the meeting Nasrallah gave Ahmadinejad a gun, which he claimed had been taken from Israeli soldiers during the 2006 Second Lebanon War." (Haaretz)

Hitting Hard Until the Beg For a Deal: "Airstrikes on Taliban insurgents have risen sharply here over the past four months, the latest piece in what appears to be a coordinated effort by American commanders to bleed the insurgency and pressure its leaders to negotiate an end to the war." (NY Times)

But a New Report Paints a Gloomy Picture: "The insurgency in Afghanistan is gaining strength and new recruits in areas where the Taliban has not previously been prominent, according to a new report from the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) in Kabul." (CNN) 

UN Space Expert Denies Being Alien Ambassador: "Ms Othman, whose official title is Head of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, says that life in outer space is likely to be bacteria." (ABC Australia)

3 Chilean Miners Leave Hospital: "The first of the 33 men rescued from a Chilean mine left the hospital Thursday, with more expected to follow on Friday and over the weekend." (CBC)

Kidnapping in Somalia: "Masked gunmen have abducted a Briton and a Somali working for aid agency Save the Children from a compound in western Somalia, the agency and a witness said Friday." (AP)

Hackers Steal South Korea Defense Documents: "Hackers believed to be from China stole secret South Korean documents on defense and foreign affairs by using e-mails pretending to be from Seoul officials, a news report said Friday. The suspected hacking occurred when South Korean officials handling foreign and security affairs opened attachment files that contained titles referring to items such as the schedule of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's trip to China, the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper said, citing a ruling party lawmaker." (AP)

More Calls for Xiaobo's Release: "More than 100 Chinese activists have signed and released an open letter asking that Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo be released from prison." (AP)

Wikileak's Finances Dry Up: "The whistleblowing group WikiLeaks claims that it has had its funding blocked and that it is the victim of financial warfare by the US government. Moneybookers, a British-registered internet payment company that collects WikiLeaks donations, emailed the organisation to say it had closed down its account because it had been put on an official US watchlist and on an Australian government blacklist." (Guardian)

Here's an Idea -- Don't Stone Anybody! "Iran infuriated by film of woman's stoning" (Sky News)

Tech, Science

Verizon to Sell the iPad: "Apple Inc is turning to Verizon Wireless to help sell the iPad in time for the holidays, loosening its cozy ties with AT&T Inc. The surprise move disrupts the relationship between Apple and AT&T Inc, which carries the iPhone exclusively and was initially tapped to provide the iPad's mobile data plan when the tablet computer launched last spring." (Reuters)

Media, Entertainment

CBS, NBC, Fox Will Be Green With Envy: "Marvel and ABC are developing a TV return for the Incredible Hulk" (The Hollywood Reporter)

TV's Alternate Universe: "Basic-cable shows are multiplying—and changing the way TV is made. Can the major networks learn from them?" (WSJ)