Friday, October 22, 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:

AFSCME President Gerald McEntee speaks at a American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) rally in support of health care reform at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington on August 31, 2009. Congress is expected to resume the health care debate when it returns from a rancorous recess after Labor Day. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg Photo via Newscom

Public-Employees Union, the Campaign's Big Spender: "The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is now the biggest outside spender of the 2010 elections, thanks to an 11th-hour effort to boost Democrats that has vaulted the public-sector union ahead of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and a flock of new Republican groups in campaign spending." (WSJ)

Clinton to the Rescue of Michigan Dems: "Former President Bill Clinton will campaign Sunday in Detroit, Ann Arbor and Battle Creek with several Democratic candidates." (AP)

Young Voters Not Engaged: "Democrats face a big hurdle in motivating young voters to go to the polls this November, according to two new surveys." (WaPo)

Kansas Governor’s Race Seen Redefining G.O.P.: "If Sam Brownback, a United States senator and, briefly, presidential candidate, is elected governor in two weeks as nearly everyone expects, Kansans are anticipating the type of conservative revolution that those living elsewhere already assumed had swept through this state long ago. Mr. Brownback’s ascent would be the culmination of a civil war that has raged here for decades between moderates and conservatives in the state’s Republican Party." (NY Times)

Prop. 19 Going Up in Smoke? "Calculating a trendline from all surveys on the initiative suggests that about 46 percent of Californians plan to vote in favor of Proposition 19 — a yes vote would legalize marijuana in the state — but 47 percent plan to vote no. This reflects a reversal from before, as the ballot measure had led in most surveys prior to this month." (Nate Silver @ NYT)

Fiorina's Contrast in Images: " Getting to know the person friends call "the real Carly," meanwhile, can be a confounding task. Stung by several episodes in her life, including the unraveling of her first marriage and the brouhaha surrounding her firing from Hewlett-Packard, where she was chief executive, president and chairman, she is private and guarded." (LA Times)

GOP Latinos Poised for Big Wins: "The nation's fastest-growing voting bloc - nearly half the voters in New Mexico, for instance, are of Latino origin - has largely shunned the GOP in recent years. Yet those Republican hopes may be difficult to realize, if only because the GOP's anti-immigration rhetoric is a primary reason Latinos have turned away from the party." (WaPo)

Obama to Seattleites: "'We need you fired up,' Obama told a packed crowd inside a basketball arena here at the University of Washington to rally for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). He added: 'We are grinding it out. We are doing the hard, frustrating, inch-by-inch, day-by-day, week-by-week work of bringing about change.'" (WaPo)

Struggles to Win Women Back: "Yet despite 22 months of such gender-specific policy moves – and a recent push to energize disenchanted women voters — Obama has steadily lost ground with women, the Democratic Party’s biggest constituency. Their lack of enthusiasm has imperiled a crop of 2010 Congressional candidates, complicated Obama’s own path to victory in 2012 – and resulted in the president making the kind of explicit, 11th hour appeal to women voters that he made here Thursday." (Politico)

In Two Years, a Fearful Turn in Obama's Speeches: "With the 2008 Democratic primary race all but won, Barack Obama appeared at a massive outdoor rally here and delivered a message that was unique by the cutthroat standards of American political campaigns. 'We're not going to worry about what other folks are doing, Obama told a crowd of 75,000 at the waterfront event in May 2008. 'We're going to try to focus on what we think we can do for America.' Obama returned to Portland on Wednesday night and delivered a different sort of speech. His message of national unity and reconciliation had been replaced by a stark warning against cynical Republican tactics, vague threats to America's political system and the urgent need to keep the GOP marginalized. There was less hope, more fear." (LA Times)

O'Donnell -I Can Win': "A defiant Christine O'Donnell implored supporters to get out and vote on Election Day, claiming her upstart candidacy is surging against Democratic nominee Chris Coons." (The Hill)

It's Not the Foreign Companies: "The recent allegations from President Obama and others that foreign money has ended up in the chamber’s coffers miss a larger point: The chamber has had little trouble finding American companies eager to enlist it, anonymously, to fight their political battles and pay handsomely for its help." (NY Times)

Hopefuls Laying Low: "With less than two weeks before the midterm elections, candidates all across the nation are doing . . . not much of anything? Congressional hopefuls from California to Delaware are shunning the traditional trappings of campaigns, avoiding public events, debates and other venues where they can't control the action. Many are keeping their schedules secret and limiting their in-person appearances and have canceled interviews on national television in favor of smaller, friendlier venues. " (WaPo)

Do All These Expensive Campaign Ads Matter? Experts are divided on how much the barrage matters in elections. (McClatchy)
Dems Losing Gender War: "For years, Democrats have patted themselves on the back for being the self-appointed party of women.  While Republican women have watched enviously, over the years the left has elected more women to Congress, marketed them skillfully in glossy magazines by using a complacent and willing network of women's media and has been able to galvanize support from liberal women by relying on organizations like EMILY's List, which recruits female Democratic candidates who support abortion. In 2010, that's changing.  If you haven't read the headline now sending shivers down every feminist's back, here it is: 2010 is the year of the Republican woman." (Andrea Tantaros @ NY Daily News)


NPR CEO Apologizes For Juan Williams Remark: After her comment late yesterday that now-former NPR news analyst Juan Williams should have kept his feelings about Muslims between himself and "his psychiatrist or his publicist." (NPR) -- JUAN WILLIAMS: I Was Fired for Telling the Truth (Fox News) -- Pitfalls of the 'Insta-opinion' Age: "Journalists like Juan Williams, fired Wednesday, are laboring under increasing demands to share their personality and opinion while at the same time abiding by traditional ethics rules." (CSM) -- Mickey Kaus: Should NPR CEO Fire Herself? -- Howard Kurtz: "I suspect that if he’d said the same thing to Charlie Rose, rather than on the O’Reilly Factor, he’d still have his radio job." (Daily Caller)

Pentagon Makes It Harder to Discharge Gays: "Any service member who is suspected to be gay can't be kicked until the case is heard by the head of his or her service (i.e. the Navy, Army, or Air Force Secretary) and two other top officials in the Pentagon -- all of whom are political appointees." (Fox News)

New Bush Exhibit Opens Rift: "“Breaking New Ground: Presenting the George W. Bush Presidential Center,” an exhibit set to open this weekend on the campus of Southern Methodist University, prominently features the handgun taken from Saddam Hussein and the loudspeaker used to address rescue workers at the World Trade Center in September 2001. The choice of mementos, emphasizing some of the more controversial foreign policy aspects of the Bush presidency, has reinvigorated opposition to the center’s presence at the university." (NY Times)

Toxic Powder Sent to Arizona Rep Raul Grijalva: "Staffers checking mail in the congressman's Tucson, Arizona, office Thursday found a white powdery substance and drawings of two swastikas inside an envelope." (CNN)


Fed Officials at Odds on Further Easing: "Two top U.S. Federal Reserve officials gave competing views on the need for more monetary stimulus to the U.S. economy, continuing a public debate over further easing even as the core view at the U.S. central bank appears to favor such a move." (Reuters)

G-20 Proposal on Curbing Trade Imbalances Faces Opposition: "A proposal among the Group of 20 industrial and developing nations to target cuts in current-account imbalances, meant to avert a "currency war," is itself running into opposition from big exporting nations." (WSJ)

Credit Cards to Get Bells and Whitles: "Next month, Citibank will begin testing a card that has two buttons and tiny lights that allow users to choose at the register whether they want to pay with rewards points or credit, at most any merchant they please. Other card issuers are testing more newfangled cards, including some that can double as credit and debit cards, and cards with fraud protections baked right into the plastic." (NY Times)


UK Weapons Inspector David Kelly's Death Secret Files Released -- He Killed Himself: "Wounds to the body of weapons inspector David Kelly were ''typical of self-inflicted injury', according to previously secret medical documents released today. . . .  Dr Kelly's body was found in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003 after he was identified as the source of a BBC story claiming the Government "sexed up" its dossier on Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction." (Daily Telegraph) -- Live Coverage @ The Guardian --  Full Report @ UK's Ministry of Justice website

U.S.-Led Afghan Reconstruction Projects Halted: "U.S.-funded development firms are beginning to shut down massive reconstruction projects because the Afghan government has refused to rescind a ban on their use of private security guards, according to U.S. officials and aid workers here. The decision to start shuttering the projects, collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars, could have far-reaching effects on the U.S.-led military campaign against the Taliban, disrupting a central component of the strategy to counter the insurgency at a critical moment in the war." (WaPo)

Pakistani Troops Linked to Abuses Will Lose U.S. Aid: "The Obama administration will refuse to train or equip about a half-dozen Pakistani Army units that are believed to have killed unarmed prisoners and civilians during recent offensives against the Taliban, senior administration and Congressional officials said Thursday." (NY Times)

Reza Taghavi Back Home: "A 71-year-old Iranian-American businessman imprisoned for more than two years in Tehran returned to the U.S. Thursday night. " (WSJ)

French Police Move to Break Blockade: "Security forces scuffled with strikers on Friday morning as they lifted a blockade of a major refinery near Paris and the government moved to accelerate a Senate vote on pension reforms that have sparked weeks of strikes and demonstrations. " (NY Times)

Mubarak to Run for 6th Term: "The next president is President Hosni Mubarak," Alieddin Hilal, a spokesman for Mubarak's National Democratic Party, said in an interview on Alhurra. (McClatchy)

Tech, Science

Facebook Doesn't Ask, But Tells: "Facebook's privacy problems continue this week after researchers discovered that Facebook may inadvertently be outing gay users to its advertisers." (Ars Technica)

Enough Water on the Moon to Consider Space Station: "The amount of water discovered on the moon last year when scientists purposely slammed a rocket into the lunar south pole may be enough to help set up a space fueling station, according to latest data from the mission." (Bloomberg)

Media, Entertainment

Who's on the First Week of Conan? "The lineup of celebrity guests for the first week of Conan O'Brien's TBS talk show was announced Thursday, with one notably open slot: the first guest. Voting to determine whom that will be is still underway." (Celebritology 2.0 @ WaPo)