Wednesday, November 24, 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:

['While America Was Sleeping' roundup won't be published over Thanksgiving weekend; see you all on Monday, Nov. 29 -- and a happy holiday to all readers!]

A sign explains the use of backscatter x-ray technology at a security check-point at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts November 22, 2010. U.S. authorities will reconsider airline passenger screening procedures that have caused a public uproar on the eve of the busy holiday travel season, the top transport security official said on Monday.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder  (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT)

TSA Workers Push Back: "'We just want the public to understand that we're not perverts,' said screener Ricky D. McCoy, who heads a local TSA union for Illinois and Wisconsin." (AP)

Protest Could Mean Long Delays at Airports Nationwide: "Protesters are calling the day before Thanksgiving 'National Opt-Out Day,' and are urging travelers who are selected for the full body scan using advanced imaging technology to refuse the procedure. If a large number of people refuse the full body scans, they will have to take a more time-consuming 'enhanced' pat-down procedure. A mass opt-out could cause more delays at the already backed-up airports Wednesday." (CNN)

Obama's Looking Weak for Re-election in 2012: "Nearly half of his own base — 45 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents — want someone to challenge him for the Democratic nomination, according to the poll. And, assuming he wins re-nomination, barely more than 1 in 3 voters, or 36 percent, said they'll definitely vote for him, while nearly half, 48 percent, said they'll definitely vote against him." (McClatchy)

Limited 2012 Options for Lieberman: "Joe Lieberman essentially has two options for 2012: Retire or become a Republican. The Connecticut senator and Democratic exile hasn't made up his mind whether to seek a fifth term, Lieberman and those close to him say. But if he does, the GOP ticket appears to offer his best shot at reelection." (Politico)

Republicans Pick Two More in House: "House Republican gains from the midterm elections reached 63 Tuesday, as two Democratic incumbents conceded defeat in outstanding races. Rep. Dan Maffei conceded to Ann Marie Buerkle in New York's 25th Congressional District . . . With the defeat of Maffei, first elected in 2008, 22 of the chamber's 26 first-term Democrats have lost their seats. On Monday night, 14-term incumbent Solomon Ortiz conceded to Blake Farenthold in the 27th District of Texas. Like Maffei, the final margin was less than 1,000 votes. But Democrats held on in another race. The Associated Press called California's 20th District for incumbent Jim Costa, giving him a fourth term representing the Central Valley." (LA Times)

GOP Lawmakers Urged to Put Their Healthcare Where Their Mouths Are: "Congressional Republicans who assailed the Democrats’ healthcare law in the run-up to the midterm elections are facing pressure to decline government-provided coverage when they take office."

SF Tug of War Over Happy Meals: "The San Francisco, California, Board of Supervisor banned most McDonald's Happy Meals with toys Tuesday. Despite objections and ridicule from opponents, the vote overrode the mayor's veto and officially approved the ban." (CNN)

Final Settlement Phase Starts for BP Oil Spill: " In the months since the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, hundreds of thousands of people and businesses have filed for emergency payments from the $20 billion BP fund administered by Kenneth R. Feinberg. More than $2.2 billion is being paid to some 150,000 individuals and businesses with documented claims, according to fund estimates. That emergency program came to an end Tuesday, and now the next phase begins: the negotiation of lump-sum final settlements for those affected by the spill. The rules for those settlements will be announced on Wednesday by Mr. Feinberg, after consulting with lawyers, state attorneys general, the Department of Justice and BP."

Gold Coin Falling into Blue Piggy Bank

Fed Lowers Economic Expectations for 2011: " Unemployment is set to remain higher for longer than previously thought, according to new projections from the Federal Reserve that would mean more than 10 million Americans remain jobless through the 2012 elections - even as a separate report shows corporate profits reaching their highest levels ever." (WaPo)

Irish Government to Set Post-Rescue 4-Year Plan: "Ireland's deeply unpopular government will finally explain on Wednesday how it plans to save 15 billion euros over the next four years, inflicting more pain on voters to prove that it can tackle the country's debt." (Reuters)

Social Tension Mounting: "The Irish government's planned 15 billion euro (£12.7bn) budget cuts are expected to have dramatic social effects as the nation battles economic ruin. Huge tax hikes, new levies in property and water and cuts to the dole and minimum wage are expected in the 150-page four-year budget road map. Prime minister Brian Cowen has called for solidarity across the political system in Dublin, while social justice campaigners are demanding the poorest are spared. Opposition parties were warned Ireland's bailout would only go ahead if swingeing cuts and tax rises and a more detailed six billion euro (£5.1bn) budget on December 7, were passed." (Sky News)

Fear of Domino Effect Sweeps Europe: "Contagion once again emerged in Europe as investors turned from Ireland's debt crisis and set their sights on Portugal and Spain.
Both Spanish and Portuguese bond prices fell sharply Tuesday, and the yields above German bunds rose to records. The euro slid below $1.34 for the first time in two months, though part of the weakness came as investors turned to the safe-haven status of the U.S. dollar after North Korean artillery attacks on South Korea." (WSJ)

Fed Trading Inquiry Widens to Big Firms: "Hedge-fund giants SAC Capital Advisors and Citadel LLC, big mutual-fund company Janus Capital Group Inc. and Wellington Management Co., one of the nation's biggest institutional-investment firms, have received subpoenas from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office seeking trading, communications and other data as part of a broad criminal investigation, according to people familiar with the matter." (WSJ)

SAP to Pay Oracle $1.3b: "A federal jury in Oakland handed software giant Oracle Corp. one of the largest awards ever for a copyright-infringement case on Tuesday, determining that rival SAP AG should pay $1.3 billion for a defunct division's unauthorized use of the Redwood City company's products. The eye-popping figure should strongly dissuade blatant misappropriation of technology in the software industry and beyond, but could also force innocent companies to consider more carefully whether their products are too similar to those of rivals, some legal observers said." (SF Chronicle)


Bodies Of Two Civilians Found In South Korea's Island Attacked by North Korea: "The South Korean coastguard reported that two more burnt bodies had now been discovered, believed to belong to two construction workers in their 60s. The total number of dead now stands at four, including two dead marines, with 18 wounded." (Sky News)

US Aircraft Carrier Heads to Korean Peninsula: " The USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier carrying 75 warplanes and a crew of over 6,000, shipped out towards Korean waters on Wednesday. According to US officials in Seoul, the carrier left Japan and was expected to join naval exercises with South Korea next week." (JPost)

A Day After, Anxiety Settles in Seoul: " The incident rattled diplomatic nerves in capitals not only in the region but also around the world. Residents of Seoul, however, seemed to display only a mild anxiety on Wednesday, caught somewhere between calm and dread, and maybe breathing a collective sigh of relief that things had not escalated." (NY Times)

Obama Is as Hamstrung as His Predecessors: "Tensions on the Korean peninsula have bedeviled 12 presidents, and the latest is no exception." (National Journal)

Police Arrest 11 in Europe for Plotting Attack Against Belgium: "In a series of early morning raids, the police in three European countries arrested 11 people on Tuesday, saying that some were part of an international jihadist group planning a terrorist attack in Belgium and that others were members of a Chechen group. . . .  The suspects were Belgian, Dutch, Moroccan and Russian of Chechen origin, said Leen Nuyts, a spokeswoman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office." (NY Times)

2nd Explosion Kills All 29 NZ Miners: "All 29 miners trapped underground in a New Zealand mine for five days are believed to be dead following a second explosion, police said on Wednesday, as the government vowed to investigate the disaster." (Reuters)

Tech, Science

Powerful Web Profiling Comes Back: "One of the most potentially intrusive technologies for profiling and targeting Internet users with ads, "deep packet inspection," is on the verge of a comeback." (WSJ)