Wednesday, November 17, 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:

Outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial in Washington November 10, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEADSHOT)

Both Parties to Choose House Leadership Today: "Republicans, who won a net gain of at least 60 seats in the midterm elections, will control that chamber next year. House Democrats have been divided since their midterm losses, with a diminished faction of more conservative "Blue Dog" members pushing to replace outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California." (CNN)

Pelosi Tries to Sooth Unhappy Dems Ahead of Vote:
"Fractious House Democrats feuded Tuesday over their leader's refusal to step aside after massive election losses, and some signaled they will compromise with Republicans over the next two years. That's a big contrast to the discipline and closed ranks that Republicans adopted four years ago when they lost the majority. Democrats moved a step closer to keeping Nancy Pelosi as their leader, letting her supporters and critics vent their emotions at a four-hour closed meeting in the Capitol." (AP)

Murkowski Readying For Victory Lap: "Alaska election officials have finished separating the write-in ballots, with the exception of a few hundred overseas ballots, and it appears Sen. Lisa Murkowski will be declared the winner." (AP)

G.O.P. Gain Goes Up to 61: "Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois has conceded her re-election bid to Republican Joe Walsh, giving Republicans a net gain of 61 House seats. . . . A total of 13 House races did not produce a winner on Election Night. Since then, the Democratic incumbent has prevailed in seven of those contests; five races remain unresolved." (Political Ticker)

Big Guns in House Gave Big Bucks: "The top six Republican and Democratic candidates running in today's House leadership elections poured more than $6 million into their colleagues' campaigns since 2009, nearly a third more than during the 2006 election." (USA Today)

Republicans' Distrust of Obama Behind Postponed Slurpee Summit: "The roots of the partisan standoff that led to the postponement of the bipartisan White House summit scheduled for Thursday date back to January, when President Barack Obama crashed a GOP meeting in Baltimore to deliver a humiliating rebuke of House Republicans. Obama’s last-minute decision to address the House GOP retreat – and the one-sided televised presidential lecture many Republicans decried as a political ambush – has left a lingering distrust of Obama invitations and a wariness about accommodating every scheduling request emanating from the West Wing, aides tell POLITICO." (Politico)

A Non-STARTer: "The Senate's No. 2 Republican said Tuesday that he opposed a vote this year on President Barack Obama's signature arms control treaty, dealing a blow to a top White House foreign policy priority and possibly to U.S.-Russian relations. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona said there wasn't time to deal with his concerns over a treaty that would cut U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons deployments by about one third and restore weapons inspections that were halted nearly a year ago. Treaty ratification requires 67 votes in the Senate. Mr. Kyl's decision likely pushes a vote to next year, when the Senate Democratic majority shrinks to 53 from 58. Mr. Kyl's announcement took the White House by surprise." (WSJ)

Rangel Guilty: "'How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the Ethics Subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?' Rangel said in a statement. 'I can only hope that the full committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress before making any decisions on sanctions.'" (Politico) -- House Panel to Decide Punishment (Bloomberg) -- What's the Right Penalty? - A debate.

Levin Open to Drop DADT From Defense Bill: "In what could be a be a major victory for opponents of a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, told reporters on Capitol Hill it is possible the vote on repeal could be considered separately from the defense authorization bill. Levin supports repealing the law, which bans openly gay troops from serving." (CNN)

National Academy of Engineering -- BP Ignored Signs Before Gulf Disaster: " BP and its contractors missed and ignored warning signs prior to the massive oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, showing an "insufficient consideration of risk" and raising questions about the know-how of key personnel, a group of technical experts concluded." (AP)


Obama Reassures Dems on Tax Cuts: "After days of confusion, President Barack Obama sought to reassure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a conference call Monday that he wanted a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts only for the middle class." (Politico)

Meanwhile, Reid Signals Agreement: " The top Democrat in the Senate said on Tuesday he was willing to consider a temporary tax cut extension for all income levels, a step that could pave the way for a possible deal with Republicans on Bush-era tax cuts." (Reuters)

Altman to Succeed Summers? "Roger Altman, a Wall Street executive who was deputy Treasury secretary early in the Clinton administration, visited the White House on Tuesday to discuss leading the president's National Economic Council. The administration's interest in Mr. Altman is a sign that the White House is still pursuing a top corporate executive to succeed economist Lawrence Summers, who leaves at year's end and is expected to return to his professor's post at Harvard University." (WSJ)

Upsized GM IPO Biggest Deal Ever: "General Motors Co GM.UL is boosting the size of its common stock offering by more than 30 percent to $15.5 billion, two people familiar with the matter said, potentially making its landmark IPO the largest U.S. offering ever. The expansion comes in response to surging demand from investors, who had put in orders worth $70 billion for GM's common shares by late on Tuesday, the sources said." (Reuters)

Obama Sails Trade Sea: "Conventional wisdom in Washington says that trade policy is one of the few areas where President Obama and Congressional Republicans can work together in the next two years. But making progress will require Mr. Obama to navigate opposition from within his own party, and could test how far he is willing to go in compromising and building new coalitions in the wake of the Republican victories." (NY Times)

FDIC Probing 50 Banks: "The agency responsible for dealing with bank failures is stepping up its effort to punish alleged recklessness, fraud and other criminal behavior, as U.S. officials did in the wake of the savings-and-loan crisis a generation ago. More than 300 banks and savings institutions have failed since the start of 2008, but just a few have led to criminal charges being filed against bank officials." (WSJ)

Lenders, AGs in Talks Over Foreclosure Fund: "Proposal would help banks avoid court challenges and aid state investigators in efforts to seek relief for homeowners who were wronged, officials said." (WaPo)

Ireland Under Pressure to Accept Bailout: "Fifteen Eurozone countries have failed so far to persuade Ireland to "ask" for a bailout for its economy in Brussels last night. This morning most of the other 11 EU nations (not in the euro) will add their weight to the argument. . . . Under EU regulations, a member state has to ask for help - it cannot simply be given money. But the other Euro countries are frightened that unless Ireland requests extra funding, the money markets will undermine Ireland even further, then turn on Portugal, Italy and even Spain." (Sky News)

Ghost Estates and Broken Lives -- The Human Cost of the Irish Crash: "They stand empty across Ireland: 300,000 unoccupied homes, a silent reproach to those who built them believing that the country's economic boom would never end. As Europe's finance ministers laboured in vain to reach an agreement on how to ease Ireland's economic misery last night, the so-called ghost estates were an awful reminder that the "survival crisis" the politicians were warning was under way had already hit ordinary people." (The Independent)


U.S., Kazakhstan Complete Secret Transfer of Nuclear Materials: " Working under extraordinary secrecy, the U.S. and Kazakh governments in the past year have moved nuclear material that could have been used to make more than 770 bombs from a location feared vulnerable to terrorist attack to a new high-security facility. In the largest such operation ever mounted, U.S. and Kazakh officials transferred 11 tons of highly enriched uranium and 3 tons of plutonium some 1,890 miles by rail and road across the Central Asian country. The transfer culminated a project spanning three American presidencies that was intended to prevent the material from falling into the wrong hands." (McClatchy)

NATO Razing Booby-Trapped Afghan Homes: "In the newly won districts around this southern city, American forces are encountering empty homes and farm buildings left so heavily booby-trapped by Taliban insurgents that the Americans have been systematically destroying hundreds of them, according to local Afghan authorities." (NY Times)

Israel Approves Unilateral Withdrawal from Ghajar: "The security cabinet on Wednesday morning approved a plan whereby Israel will unilaterally withdraw from the northern part of Ghajar, placing that part of the village in Lebanese hands as mandated by the United Nations." (JPost)

China to Turn Silk Road City Into Special Economic Zone: "China hopes Kashgar, the crossroads of Europe and Asia, will become the launch pad for goods into South and Central Asia. But Uighur residents worry that the real goal is to weaken their identity." (LA Times)

Tech, Science

How Stuxnet Targeted Iran: "Researchers from California and Germany dove into the Stuxnet code and found it sought out specialized components used in Iran nuclear centrifuges – and could cause them to explode." (Christian Science Monitor)

Media, Entertainment

Amazon Goes Into Movie Production Business: " is launching Amazon Studios, a new website that lets users upload scripts and sample movies and then use community tools to evaluate and edit each others' work. Work judged the best by a panel of experts and company executives will be brought to Warner Bros, where Amazon has signed a first-look deal, in hopes of ultimately producing feature films under the Amazon Studios production label." (LA Times)

Expect It to Be Fake But Accurate: "News anchor Dan Rather has signed a book deal with Grand Central Publishing for his memoir. The book will be entitled Summing Up, and is tentatively scheduled for spring 2012 publication." (MediaBistro)