Thursday, October 21, 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:

WASHINGTON - JUNE 22: Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) participates in a Senate-House Conference Committee meeting on Capitol Hill, June 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. The Conference Committee is discussing the Senate and House versions of the financial regulatory reform bill in hopes of a compromise that both houses will accept. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Nobody Is Safe: "How Republicans are forcing Democrats to spend money in previously 'safe' districts." (Slate)

Key Senate Battles Tighten: "Key Senate races are tightening as candidates on both sides make unexpected gains, suggesting that the final days in the battle for control of the chamber could be as volatile as any in recent memory." (WSJ)

McCain Violating McCain-Feingold? " In a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee alleged that television ads aiding two House candidates from Arizona violate the McCain-Feingold law, the 2002 legislation that sought to restrain campaign spending and contributions. . . .  The McCain campaign flatly rejected the allegations, releasing documents showing that it reported the ads to the Senate earlier this week as "independent expenditures." Such expenses are not treated like contributions under campaign laws. The DCCC complaint suggested that the McCain campaign had not taken that step." (WaPo)

Obama Trying to Save the Senate. The House? Not So Much: "A review of Mr. Obama's travel schedule in the weeks leading up to the election show that he's focused primarily on Senate and gubernatorial races as he jets around the country to raise money and gin up the base." (Fox News)

Moms for Pot: "Need more proof that California's marijuana legalization proposition is gaining mainstream traction? Look no further than West Hollywood, where a group of mothers from A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing) are campaigning in support of Proposition 19." (Fast Company)

You're Backed! "The reports to the Federal Election Commission, which covered from Sept. 1 to Oct. 13, included a $50,000 donation by none other than Donald J. Trump, the real estate developer, who previously had not had much of a reputation as a major financial backer of Republican politics." (Fox News)

Doubters of Obama's Change Also Skeptical of Climate Change: " Those who support the Tea Party movement are considerably more dubious about the existence and effects of global warming than the American public at large, according to a New York Times/CBS News Poll conducted this month. The survey found that only 14 percent of Tea Party supporters said that global warming is an environmental problem that is having an effect now, while 49 percent of the rest of the public believes that it is. More than half of Tea Party supporters said that global warming would have no serious effect at any time in the future, while only 15 percent of other Americans share that view, the poll found." (NY Times)

Democrats Call Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, and Others Stupid: " Republicans say this strategy will work about as well this year as it did when used against Ronald Reagan." (Politico)

Hollywood Backs Harris as Cooley Pulls Away: "At this point in the campaign for California Attorney General, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, the Democrats' nominee, was supposed to be choosing a designer to make over her new Sacramento office following her sure win in November. Instead, every reliable poll has her far behind Steve Cooley, Los Angeles County's top prosecutor and her Republican opponent. How this reversal occurred in one of the bluest of blue states is a case study in the real nature of California's electorate." (LA Weekly)


Gallup Poll finds Obama at New Low: "Barack Obama averaged 44.7% job approval during the seventh quarter of his presidency. . . . For the first time, more Americans view the president unfavorably (50%) than favorably (47%), and his favorable rating is the lowest of his presidency. . . . The Oct. 14-17 Gallup poll also finds that, at this point in his presidency, 39% of Americans believe Obama deserves re-election and 54% say he does not. Earlier this year, between 46% and 48% of Americans said Obama should be re-elected. The current results for Obama are remarkably similar to what Gallup measured for Clinton in October 1994." (Gallup)

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: NPR host Juan Williams poses with his wife on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

NPR Fires Juan Williams for Muslim Comments: "NPR News has terminated the contract of longtime news analyst Juan Williams after remarks he made on the Fox News Channel about Muslims: 'I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.'"

Court Makes DADT the Rule Again for Now: "A federal appeals panel on Wednesday temporarily blocked a lower court ruling that halted enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning openly gay and lesbian soldiers from the military. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave the government the delay it sought in challenging a federal judge's order last week to stop enforcing the policy around the world."

Bill Clinton Fumbled the Nuclear Football: "Gen Hugh Shelton, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, said in his new memoir, Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior that 'the codes were actually missing for months. That's a big deal -- a gargantuan deal.' A similar claim was made by Lt Col Robert Patterson, a former aide, in a book published seven years ago." (Daily Telegraph)

Posse Comitatus Not for Cyberattacks: "The Obama administration has adopted new procedures for using the Defense Department’s vast array of cyberwarfare capabilities in case of an attack on vital computer networks inside the United States, delicately navigating historic rules that restrict military action on American soil. " (NY Times)


Futures Pointing Up Today: "Stock index futures pointed to a higher start on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq 0.3-0.4 percent higher at 0903 GMT." (Reuters)

Foreclosure Problem 'Not Systemic': "A federal probe investigating five large mortgage servicers has found some improper foreclosures, but officials have yet to find systemic, "structural" problems with processing, according to the U.S. Housing Secretary." (Money)

Geithner's Goal -- Rebalanced World Economy: "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he would use weekend meetings of G-20 finance ministers to advance efforts to "rebalance" the world economy so it is less reliant on U.S. consumers, to move toward establishing "norms" on exchange-rate policy, and to persuade others the U.S. doesn't aim to devalue its way to prosperity." (WSJ)

Europe Snubs Keynes: "Across Europe, where the threat of a double-dip recession remains palpable, governments from Germany to Greece are slashing public outlays. But even as students and workers in France clash with the police and block fuel shipments to protest a rise in the retirement age, the debate in Europe is more on how fast to cut government spending rather than whether such reductions are the right thing to do under the circumstances." (NY Times)

Toyota Recalls 1.5m Cars Mostly in US and Japan: "Toyota has recalled more than 1.5 million vehicles worldwide to fix a brake fluid leak it warned can gradually diminish braking performance. . . . The fault could cause brake fluid to leak from the brake master cylinder, which would lead the brake warning lamp to light up, Toyota said." (Sky News) -- Reuters: "Toyota's U.S. sales unit said separately it would recall 740,000 Avalon, Highlander, Lexus GS300, IS250 and IS350 cars to replace a brake master cylinder seal because there was a possibility that some brake fluid could leak from the cylinder, causing the brake warning lamp to light up."

Sex Sells: For $13 million, if it has a .com appended. (The Register)

China 'Cools' to 9.6% GDP Growth: "China's gross domestic product rose 9.6% from a year earlier in the third quarter, slowing from 10.3% growth in the second quarter, official data issued Thursday show, as the government withdrew stimulus and took measures to cool sectors such as the property market." (WSJ)


Afghanistan Surge Working: "A series of civilian and military operations around the strategic southern province, made possible after a force of 12,000 American and NATO troops reached full strength here in the late summer, has persuaded Afghan and Western officials that the Taliban will have a hard time returning to areas they had controlled in the province that was their base."

Iran Getting Creative Fending Off Sanctions: " Iran is secretly trying to set up banks in Muslim countries around the world, including Iraq and Malaysia, using dummy names and opaque ownership structures to skirt sanctions that have increasingly curtailed the Islamic republic's global banking activities, U.S. officials say." (WaPo)

Day 10 -- French Protesters Block Airport, Roads: "We're ready to continue striking every day and go all the way." (MSNBC)

Media, Entertainment

Bob Guccione Dies: "Penthouse, founded in 1965, was a kind of dirtier distant relation of the relatively classier Playboy." (Speakeasy @ WSJ)