Thursday, December 02, 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:

Cablegate Fallout
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 29: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announces the seizure of 82 website domain names during a news conference at the Department of Justice on November 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. Attorney General Holder spoke about the seizure orders that were given towards commercial online retailers engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods such as sports equipment, shoes, and handbags and copyrighted material such as music, DVDs and software as part of Operation: In Our Sites v.2.0 . (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

First Amendment May Not Protect WikiLeaks: "Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's senior legal analyst, says federal prosecutors could pursue criminal charges against Assange, an Australian citizen. Lawyers for the U.S. government could argue WikiLeaks and Assange have jeopardized national security and make their case. Further, Interpol has recently named 39-year-old Assange in a most-wanted persons alert. That alert is related to a sex crimes investigation of Assange in Sweden, not to the WikiLeaks affair." (CNN)

Hurdles Seen for Prosecution of Assange: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has confirmed that the Justice Department is examining whether Mr. Assange could be charged with a crime, but legal scholars say that such an effort would encounter steep legal and policy difficulties." (NY Times)

Assange in the UK, Police Know Where: "Wikileaks website founder Julian Assange is in Britain and police know his whereabouts but have refrained so far from acting on an international warrant for his arrest, a British newspaper said on Thursday." (Reuters)

A Matter of Time? " Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has received the so-called "red notice" – an international arrest warrant – but has so far refused to authorise the arrest of Mr Assange, who is thought to be in South-east England. Until it does, police forces cannot act. The delay is said to be a technical one, with sources suggesting Soca needed clarifications about the European Arrest Warrant issued by Swedish prosecutors for Mr Assange, a fast-track system for arresting suspects within the EU." (The Independent)

Leaked Cables Spook Some U.S. Sources: "The release of U.S. diplomatic cables this week could impede American diplomats' ability to engage in one of their most essential functions—learning about foreign countries—say some of those cited in cables. . . . Much of the work of diplomats involves building trust with officials, government-connected scholars and others who can provide useful perspectives on the policies and personalities of foreign governments. This sort of reporting can be especially important in countries such as China and Russia—which pair enormous international clout with often-opaque policy making and official statements—and in countries from Central Asia and Africa to Latin America and beyond where public dissent can be muted." (WSJ)

'Significant Damage' to Diplomacy -- State Official: "'It’s going to complicate U.S. diplomacy and international cooperation for a long time after the headlines stop,' said the official, who was authorized to speak to reporters on condition of anonymity. The senior State official’s assessment differed starkly from that offered by Gates, who called the disclosures 'embarrassing' and 'awkward,' but with only a 'fairly modest' effect on diplomacy." (Marc Ambinder @ National Journal)

Jon Stewart to Julian Assange -- 'Stop the Drama!': "Jon Stewart opened with the second segment in as many days regarding WikiLeaks' latest data dump. During it, Stewart went after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his exaggerated martyrdom complex, exclaiming, 'Stop the drama!'" (Gawker)

Amazon Faces Boycott Over WikiLeaks Axe: "The internet giant took action after coming under pressure from right-wingers in the US to stop hosting the site, which this week published tens of thousands of confidential diplomatic e-mails. . . . But Amazon now faces protests from free speech campaigners, who say it should be ‘punished with boycott’ at what is its busiest trading period of the year." (Metro)

The Secret Life of Julian Assange: "If he has succeeded in creating a public firewall of sorts around himself, it is perhaps because he learned as a child to cope with solitude and exposed his mind to the machinery that would overtake his life." (CNN)


Alaska Senate Case on Fast Track: "An Alaska judge ruled Wednesday evening that the case concerning the Alaska Senate race would hear initial arguments next week, putting the certification of the results of the race on the fast track for now." (Politico)

Maxine Waters Trial in Jeopardy This Year: "Two House ethics committee lawyers have been suspended, possibly ending any chance that Rep. Maxine Waters of California will get the ethics trial she has demanded this year." (AP)

Signs Point to Extending All Tax Cuts Temporarily: "Republicans and Democrats Wednesday sat down to negotiate a compromise on extending Bush-era income tax cuts—an effort that could be the first step toward a deal this month that many strategists in both parties believe will temporarily extend current tax rates for all income levels. No decisions were reported from the first meeting of the small group that was appointed by President Barack Obama and leaders of both parties in the House and Senate. Still, White House officials expressed optimism about prospects for a bipartisan compromise." (WSJ)

Not So Fast: "A day that started off with the rare sight of top Obama officials sitting down with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to hash out a tax-cut deal deteriorated almost immediately Wednesday, as both parties reverted to partisan form. Senate Republicans threatened to grind the Senate to a halt. House Democrats announced plans to force a vote on middle-class only tax cuts – with Republicans crying foul. And the idea of a bipartisan tax-cut bargain that seemed possible at Tuesday’s White House meeting? It had practically evaporated before lunchtime." (Politico)

Parties Daring Each Other: "House Democrats will forge ahead with a highly partisan tax vote Thursday — just two days after President Obama called for a bipartisan deal on the issue.
The vote comes as administration officials and congressional representatives are negotiating a compromise on extending the Bush-era tax cuts, all of which are set to expire at the end of the year." (The Hill)

Tea Party Caucus Takes $1 Billion In Earmarks: "Members of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus used the 111th Congress to request hundreds of earmarks that, taken cumulatively, added more than $1 billion to the federal budget. According to a Hotline review of records compiled by Citizens Against Government Waste, the 52 members of the caucus, which pledges to cut spending and reduce the size of government, requested a total of 764 earmarks valued at $1,049,783,150 during Fiscal Year 2010, the last year for which records are available." (National Journal)


$9 Trillion in Emergency Overnight Loans From the Fed: "The loans were made through a special loan program set up by the Fed in the wake of the Bear Stearns collapse in March 2008 to keep the nation's bond markets trading normally. The amount of cash being pumped out to the financial giants was not previously disclosed. All the loans were backed by collateral and all were paid back with a very low interest rate to the Fed -- an annual rate of between 0.5% to 3.5%. Still, the total amount was a surprise, even to some who had followed the Fed's rescue efforts closely." (CNN)

Aid Went Beyond Wall Street: "Funds went to stalwarts of American industry including GE and Caterpillar and household-name companies such as Verizon, new data show."

... And Beyond U.S. Borders: "Foreign banks were among the biggest beneficiaries of the $3,300bn in emergency credit provided by the Federal Reserve during the crisis, according to new data on the extraordinary efforts of the US authorities to save the global financial system. The revelation of the scale of overseas lenders’ borrowing underlines the global nature of the turmoil and the crucial role of the Fed as the lender of last resort for the world’s banking sector." (Financial Times)

... And Ready to Take More: "The United States would be ready to support the extension of the European Financial Stability Facility via an extra commitment of money from the International Monetary Fund, a U.S. official told Reuters on Wednesday." (CNBC)

Eurozone Worries Spread to Italy, Belgium: " Throughout Europe’s financial crisis, Italy and Belgium have managed to avoid being one of the countries that keep people awake at night.  But even as concern mounts that Portugal and possibly Spain may seek financial aid after Greece and Ireland requested bailouts, investors have started asking whether those two economies may be the next weak links in Europe’s monetary union, the euro." (NY Times)

All Hopes on the ECB: "The European Central Bank faced pressure on Thursday to take steps to contain the euro zone debt crisis and prevent it affecting the United States and Asia, but was unlikely to announce mass new bond purchases." (Reuters)

Deficit Plan Wins Bipartisan Support: "Seven members of the White House's deficit commission, including the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, endorsed its final plan Wednesday, setting up the prospect of action to address the nation's fiscal woes next year. The full 18-member panel will vote on the proposals to cut the deficit on Friday and is expected to come up short of the 14 votes needed to issue a formal recommendation to Congress and the White House. But the show of bipartisan support, including the votes of five of the six members appointed by President Barack Obama, gives the plan momentum many thought impossible just weeks ago." (WSJ)

Jobless Data Could Break '80s Record: "Not since the early '80s has the unemployment rate been so grim for so long, a government report due Friday is likely to show." (USA Today)

Fed Wants to Strip Key Protection For Homeowners: "As Americans continue to lose their homes in record numbers, the Federal Reserve is considering making it much harder for homeowners to stop foreclosures and escape predatory home loans with onerous terms." (McClatchy)


Afghan Election Disappoints: "Afghanistan’s Western backers put up $150 million this year for parliamentary elections, hoping that a credible vote would demonstrate progress in the war, help stabilize the country and encourage efforts toward peace. Instead, the complete results announced Wednesday from the September balloting have thrust Afghans into a new period of uncertainty, deepened skepticism of the government and stirred Afghanistan’s always volatile ethnic fault lines." (NY Times)

Tech, Science

Japan Says 'No' to Kyoto: "The delicately balanced global climate talks in Cancún suffered a serious setback last night when Japan categorically stated its opposition to extending the Kyoto protocol – the binding international treaty that commits most of the world's richest countries to making emission cuts." (The Guardian)

Neutron Bomb Inventor Dies: " Neutron bomb inventor Samuel Cohen, who designed the tactical nuclear weapon intended to kill people but do minimal damage to structures, has died." (AP)

Media, Entertainment

Eminem Leads Grammy Nominations With 10: "Others with multiple nominations include newcomer Bruno Mars with seven nods; rap icon Jay-Z, country trio Lady Antebellum and pop star Lady Gaga each earned six nominations." (CNN)