Friday, November 12, 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:

JUNEAU - NOVEMBER 10: State of Alaska Division of Elections director Gail Fenumiai takes a closer look at a write-in ballot as workers tally the write-in ballots November 10, 2010 in Juneau, Alaska. U.S. Senate incumbent and write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski holds a narrow lead against the Republican nominee and Tea Party-backed candidate Joe Miller, who defeated Murkowski in the Republican primary election. (Photo by Eric Engman/Getty Images)

Murkowski Camp Cries Foul: "U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski's campaign on Thursday accused observers for rival Joe Miller of making petty challenges in the counting of voters' write-in ballots in an attempt to tilt the Alaska Senate race in their favor. Miller's campaign disputed the charge, saying observers are simply challenging votes that don't meet the strict letter of the law — including those with minor misspellings of Murkowski's name or those with legibility or penmanship issues." (AP)

Spending, Taxes Top Agenda of 'Lame Duck' Congress: "From expiring income tax cuts that affect three-quarters of American households to billions of dollars in unemployment benefits that will run out unless Congress acts, the proposals on the agenda for the "lame duck" session that begins Monday underscore why cutting spending will be a long, hard process." (USA Today)

Many Newbies Joining Congress: "The new class of lawmakers will contain the highest number of members with no experience of elective office in decades, likely since 1948, when there were 44 such House members elected, according to Gary C. Jacobson, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, and probably above 1952, when there were 34 such members. In 1994, the last big citizen revolution led by Republicans, there were 30 political-novice House members elected. (The numbers will fluctuate slightly as unresolved races settle.)" (NY Times)

Pelosi bid -- Bad idea, or what Dems need? "Her decision to hang on as leader of the House Democrats comes as a surprise to much of Washington, including many in her own party. Recent polls show her favorable rating below 30 percent." (WaPo)

Pawlenty Ups Obamacare Challenge: "Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential GOP presidential candidate, stepped up his attack Thursday on President Barack Obama's federal health care law with a court filing challenging its cost to states. Pawlenty and Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri, both Republicans leaving office soon, joined in the federal court filing in Pensacola, Fla." (AP)

GOP Seeks Allies Against Health Law Across the Aisle: "Newly empowered congressional Republicans plan to chip away at the health care reform law next year – and they're hoping a handful of at-risk or moderate Senate Democrats will help them out. West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin won a Senate seat vowing to repeal "the bad parts of Obamacare," and Republican aides say they'll hold him to it. Republicans are also eyeing Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Jim Webb of Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana – Democratic senators in red or reddish states who will face the voters in 2012." (Politico)

Republicans Already Planning 1st 2012 Presidential Debate: "Just more than a week after Republicans made big gains in congressional elections, former first lady Nancy Reagan is inviting leading contenders for the party's 2012 presidential nomination to a debate next spring." (Reuters)

Jindal on Obama in New Book: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal uses a new book to portray President Obama as disconnected from the Gulf oil spill, charging that he was more focused on the political aftermath than the actual impact of the crisis. Jindal recounts a pair of private conversations with the president which paint him as consumed with how his actions were being perceived." (Politico)

Future of Arizona's Virtual Fence In Jeopardy? "Just four years since its inception, only 53 miles of the border are dotted with the spotty radar towers. Close to $1 billion of taxpayer money has been spent and the panned project is close to being canned by the Department of Homeland Security. . . . What was supposed to be a high-tech answer to immigration has turned into a jumble of weak cameras providing blurry images, unreliable radar that sometimes confuses cars for humans, and slow software that is unable to track people in real-time. And on top of all of that, the virtual fence reportedly performs poorly in bad weather." (ABC)

U.S. President Barack Obama meets China's President Hu Jintao as part of the G20 Summit in Seoul, November 11, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young   (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

G-20 Summit Ends; No End to U.S.-China Currency Feud: "At the end of their two-day summit, the Group of 20 leaders including President Barack Obama issued a watered down statement that only said they agreed to refrain from "competitive devaluation" of currencies. That call is of little consequence as the dispute that soured the G-20 summit is over Washington's allegations that Beijing artificially keeps its currency, the yuan, weak to boost its exports." (CBS/AP)

Axelrod Denies Tax-Cut Deal: "But he allows room for negotiations." (National Journal)

Debt Plan Gets Heat From Both Sides: "Among Democrats, liberals are in near revolt against the White House over the issue, even as substantive and political forces push Mr. Obama to attack chronic deficits in a serious way. At the same time, Republicans face intense pressure from their conservative base and the Tea Party movement to reject any deal that includes tax increases, leaving their leaders with little room to maneuver in any negotiation and at risk of being blamed by voters for not doing their part." (NY Times)

Middle Class Shrinking: "The good paying, predominantly white-collar jobs that once sustained many American communities are disappearing at an alarming rate, keeping the unemployment rate stubbornly high despite the end of the Great Recession. More troubling, these jobs in accounting, financial analysis, commercial printing and a broad array of other mostly white-collar occupations are unlikely to come back, experts predict." (McClatchy)

EU Vows to Bail Out Ireland: "The European Union said it stands ready to step in and help Ireland with its financial situation as investors grew increasingly worried about the challenges facing the region's weaker countries and drove the euro down to a one-month low. . . . Ireland's struggle to rescue its banking system has driven its budget deficit to 32% of gross domestic product, more than 10 times the euro zone's deficit ceiling. In recent days, investors have grown more doubtful that Ireland will succeed in reducing its deficit without external help. . . . The EU reiterated that it has the tools to deal with Ireland, should it need to. The EU has established a €440 billion ($606.3 billion) sovereign rescue fund, mainly in response to the Greece crisis." (WSJ)

California Legislature Called Into Special Session on Budget Deficit: "Declaring that California faces a fiscal emergency, lame-duck Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Thursday he would convene a special session of the incoming Legislature to address the state's massive budget deficit. The announcement came one day after the state's chief budget analyst said the fiscal shortfall has grown to $25.4 billion over the next year and a half — far larger than officials had estimated only days earlier." (LA Times)


Suu Kyi Set for Release: "Reports are coming out of Burma saying the military authorities have signed an order authorising the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The Nobel laureate has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, and her house arrest term expires on Saturday. There has been increased police activity outside her house in Rangoon, but as yet no official confirmation." (BBC)

Sunnis' Walkout Mars Political Talks in Iraq: "Iraq's parliament achieved an important milestone Thursday, agreeing on who would hold the country's top leadership spots after more than eight months of acrimonious negotiations. But a dramatic walkout by members of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc marred the nearly five-hour session and underscored the deep divisions and distrust that dominate the country's political system." (WaPo)

Cleric Bakri Mohammad Gets Life: "Radical cleric Omar Bakri Mohammad has told Sky News has has been sentenced to life in prison by a court in Lebanon. Mohammad, who was thrown out of the UK in 2005, had been charged with fund raising for al Qaeda in the middle eastern country. The sentence was issued in his absence after he failed to turn up for a court hearing and he is now on the run from Lebanese authorities." (Sky News)

Pakistani Taliban Go For the Jugular: "Taliban fighters attacked an anti-terrorism police compound today, killing at least 18 people and injuring more than 100 here in Pakistan's largest city, according to police and hospital sources." (Christian Science Monitor)

Sharp Rise in Haiti Cholera Death Toll: "Cholera is spreading quickly in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, as the death toll rises across the quake-hit country. More than 80 people have died in the last 24 hours across Haiti, taking the death toll to 724." (BBC)

Cash In The Attic: " Mystery surrounds the identities of the brother and sister who sold a rare Chinese vase they found in their parents' loft for £43million [$69m]." (Daily Telegraph)

Tech, Science

UK Showing What Obamacare Will Be Like? "Those suffering from bowel cancer will not be given access to a potentially life-extending drug, the health watchdog has confirmed. The health watchdog said Avastin was too expensive when compared to its benefits." (Sky News)

Facebook Apostate Caught in West Bank, Could Face Life in Prison: "A mysterious blogger who set off an uproar in the Arab world by claiming he was God and hurling insults at the Prophet Muhammad is now behind bars — caught in a sting that used Facebook to track him down." (MSNBC)

Media, Entertainment

Newsweek, Daily Beast Finally Tie the Knot: "Some weddings take longer to plan than others. The union of The Daily Beast and Newsweek magazine finally took place with a coffee-mug toast between all parties Tuesday evening, in a conference room atop Beast headquarters, the IAC building on Manhattan’s West 18th Street. The final details were only hammered out last night." (Tina Brown @ Daily Beast)