Thursday, December 09, 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 kick start your day!

Wikileaks Fallout

Assange Extradition Attempt an Uphill Struggle: "A former extradition specialist for the Crown Prosecution Service today predicted it would be 'very difficult' for Sweden to get the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, sent back to face sexual assault allegations. Raj Joshi, a former head of the European and International Division at the CPS, said Sweden's lack of a formal criminal charge against Assange increased his lawyers' chances of success in blocking the extradition attempt." (Guardian)

close-up of a young woman cutting a credit card with a pair of scissors

MasterCard, Visa Hardest Hit: "Credit card giants MasterCard and Visa came under intense cyber attack on Wednesday as supporters of WikiLeaks retaliated for moves against Julian Assange after the release of U.S. diplomatic cables that angered and embarrassed Washington. The Swedish prosecution authority, whose arrest order for Assange over accusations of sexual offenses led a British court to remand the 39-year-old WikiLeaks website founder in custody, also said it had reported an online attack to police." (Reuters)

WikiLeaks Pay Processor to Sue: "WikiLeaks' payment processor said Thursday that it was preparing to sue credit card companies Visa and MasterCard over their refusal to process donations to the secret-spilling website." (AP)

The Palins Too: "The website and personal credit card information of former Gov. Sarah Palin were cyber-attacked today by Wikileaks supporters, the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate tells ABC News in an email. Hackers in London that the Palin team believe to be affiliated with “Operation Payback” – a group of supporters of Julian Assange and Wikileaks – have tried to shut down SarahPac and have disrupted Sarah and Todd Palin’s personal credit card accounts, SarahPAC aide Rebecca Mansour said."

Twitter Next? "Activitsts urged people to "get your weapons ready" by downloading software from a link posted on Twitter. Supporters were then told to 'FIRE FIRE FIRE!!!' at the agreed time to attack the websites." (Sky News)

More to Come: "More cyber attacks in retaliation for attempts to block the WikiLeaks website are likely in a 'data war' to protect Internet freedom, a representative of one of the groups involved said on Thursday. Though no major websites appeared to be under attack early on Thursday, Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet said the Swedish government's website was down for a short time during the night. Sweden had issued an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks' founder." (CNBC)

Nobody Tell 'Anonymous': "Why isn’t the much reported-upon WikiLeaks scandal a trending topic on Twitter? Blame Justin Bieber." (Speakeasy @ WSJ)

Wikileaks' Likely Next Target -- Guantanamo: "WikiLeaks' next assault on Washington may highlight U.S. government reports on suspected militants held at Guantanamo Bay, which some U.S. officials worry could show certain detainees were freed despite intelligence assessments they were still dangerous. . . . WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, jailed in Britain this week, has told media contacts he has a large cache of U.S. government reports about inmates at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, known as GITMO, the last of four major tranches of U.S. government documents which WikiLeaks had acquired and at some point would make public. 'He's got the personal files of every prisoner in GITMO,' said one person who was in contact with Assange earlier this year." (Reuters)


House Passes DREAM Act: "The bill -- the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act -- passed 216 to 198, including eight Republicans in favor of the bill and 38 Democrats opposed. The Senate, which postponed an anticipated vote on the act today, is expected to vote Thursday morning. Prospects of the bill's passage are slim." (ABC)

The Clintonization of Mr. Obama: "As Mr. Obama defends the tax accord, the nation is witnessing a pivot point in his presidency. Gone is the leader who, during a tussle with Republicans over his stimulus package in the earliest days of his administration, boldly declared that 'elections have consequences' and 'I won.' In his place is the post-shellacking, pragmatic Mr. Obama, willing to anger his party’s liberal base by joining hands with Republicans and cutting out Congressional Democrats in service of his own legislative goals — not to mention his electoral ambitions. Analysts across the political spectrum agree that if Mr. Obama is to win re-election in 2012, he must recapture the support of the independents who have abandoned him over the past two years. Polls show that even before the tax deal, he seemed to be making a start." (NY Times)

Senate Leaders Set to Begin Debate on Tax Cuts: "Democrats are still angry, but lawmakers say the magnitude of the concessions President Obama won in the talks came into sharper focus." (WaPo)

Two More Midterm Contests End: "With the concession of two Republicans on Wednesday, the remaining undecided races for the House of Representatives and for governors nationwide ended with a small boost for Democrats after the walloping the party took in November. In New York, businessman Randy Altschuler exited the final outstanding race in the House, returning the seat to the incumbent, Democratic Rep. Timothy H. Bishop, who was first elected to the post in 2002. . . .  Meanwhile, a Democrat will become governor of Minnesota for the first time in nearly two decades. Mark Dayton had a 9,000-vote lead over Republican opponent Tom Emmer on election night, and Emmer, a three-term state legislator, wasn't able to close the gap through a recount." (LA Times)

Money Woes at RNC: "The Republican National Committee has quietly disclosed more than $4 million in previously unreported debt in amended filings with the Federal Election Commission, meaning yet another headache for embattled party chairman Michael Steele." (ABC)

House Republicans Overhaul Work Calendar: "Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, released a schedule on Wednesday which plans for mostly four-day work weeks in Washington, and also includes regular "constituent work weeks" for members to spend back in their districts. House sessions would go for two weeks, followed by a week back home in the district. Cantor said Republicans told leaders they wanted to cut back time in Washington to interact with constituents back home during the week, instead of mainly on weekends." (Political Ticker)

Hey, Politico, Ever Heard About Hillary? "Some angry liberals may want to see President Barack Obama face a primary from his left in 2012, but they have no answer to a basic question: Who? Two of the Democratic Party's most well-known progressives – Howard Dean and Russ Feingold - have both indicated that they won't take on Obama and there are few others who have the stature and willingness to mount a credible campaign against the president. Top leaders of the institutional left say they don't want a 2012 intra-party civil war. And as disillusioned as some in Obama's base may be in the wake of his tax deal-making with Republicans - and the frustration does seem to be at a high watermark - an array of Democrats said it is unlikely the president would face a challenge from within his own party." (Politico)

World Anxiously Waiting: "New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg denied again on Wednesday he would run for president but his latest critique of the U.S. political system has stirred new speculation about his political plans." (Reuters)

DADT Vote Will Come Later. Some Time: "Unable to secure needed Republican support, Senate Democrats decided Wednesday to postpone a planned make-or-break vote on starting debate on repealing the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy that bars openly gay and lesbian soldiers from the military." (CNN)

Meanwhile, Tucked In the Spending Bill: "The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation to prohibit moving terrorism suspects from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay to U.S. soil, a blow to President Barack Obama's efforts to prosecute them in criminal courts. The proposed legislation prevents moving such prisoners to the United States under any circumstances by prohibiting the administration from spending any money to do so." (Reuters)


What, They're Not Asking Their Taxes to Be Raised? "The billionaire founder of social network Facebook Inc. has agreed to give the majority of his wealth to charity, part of a broader group of rich entrepreneurs committing to philanthropy earlier in their lives. Mark Zuckerberg has signed onto the "Giving Pledge," which asks its signatories to commit publicly to give away the majority of their wealth. The 26-year-old is one of 16 billionaires new to the pledge, which now totals more than 50 donors. New names include AOL co-founder Steve Case, investor Carl Icahn and former junk-bond king Michael Milken." (WSJ)

Slimmed-Down Spending Bill Clears House: "The House of Representatives Wednesday approved a slimmed-down spending bill that funds many of President Barack Obama's top priorities but denies him billions of additional dollars he had sought for government operations. The bill, which heads to the Senate, reflects the changed political climate in Washington." (Reuters)

Long-Term Unemployment On the Rise: "Nearly 6 million Americans looked for work but weren’t able to find employment at all last year, a new report shows. . . . Economists widely acknowledge the vexing nature of the problem. It has the potential to be long-lasting, it’s expensive and it’s not clear what policies would be most helpful in solving it." (WSJ)

U.S. Union Backing Helps Korea Trade Pact Chances: "An unusual split in the labor movement has developed over President Obama’s proposed free-trade pact with South Korea, with two powerful unions backing the deal — a development that experts say will make Congressional ratification far more likely." (NY Times)

Low Rates Squeeze Financial Industry: "Rock-bottom interest rates are taking a toll throughout the financial sector, presenting a potential downside to the Fed's efforts to reignite economic growth." (WSJ)

Summers -- Killing Tax Deal Could Cause Double Dip Recession: "Summers warned today that if Congress fails to approve the tax deal the president struck with Republicans in the next two weeks, it 'would materially increase the risk that the economy would stall out' and the country would suffer what he called 'a double-dip" recession.'" (National Journal)

Gov. Moonbeam Gives Budget Warning: "Gov.-elect Jerry Brown serves notice that he is serious about addressing California's chronic budget crisis, gathering state lawmakers to impress upon them the depth of the problem. " (CSM)

Japan's Economic Growth Revised... Up: "The economy grew by an annualised rate of 4.5%, compared with the previous estimate of 3.9% announced last month. Despite the upgrade, economists remain cautious about the economic outlook in Japan, which is suffering from a strong yen and falling prices." (BBC)


Israel, Turkey Kissing and Making Up: "Israel is expected to offer hundreds of thousands of dollars to the families of the nine Turkish activists who were killed in a deadly raid on a humanitarian aid convoy bound for the Gaza Strip last May. Turkey and Israel are close to an agreement over the wording of an apology Ankara has demanded as the two sides move toward rebuilding ties." (Haaretz)

China and N. Korea Meet Over Crisis: "State Councilor Dai Bingguo met the isolated North's ailing leader in the capital Pyongyang for talks and 'the two sides reached consensus on bilateral relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula after candid and in-depth talks,' Xinhua news agency said. North Korea's KCNA news agency said the talks were 'held over the issue of boosting the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries and a series of issues of mutual concern.' Neither gave any further details." (Reuters)

How Many Times Have We Heard That Before? "A source close to the family of the Lockerbie bomber Adelbaset al Megrahi has told Sky News his health has deteriorated and every day is 'expected to be his last".' (Sky News)

Media, Entertainment
Not That There's Anything Wrong With That: "Oprah Winfrey: 'I'm Not a Lesbian'" (ABC)

Aretha Franklin Has Pancreatic Cancer: "ABC affiliate WXYZ Action News in Detroit, Mich. reported today that a family friend of Franklin's is suffering from the disease. A family friend also told WJBK FOX 2 News in Detroit that Franklin is doing 'okay,' though her family and friends are "very concerned" and have asked fans of the Queen of Soul to send prayers and well wishes. A week after Franklin underwent surgery for a mysterious illness, a tabloid report said the 68-year-old singer was battling incurable pancreatic cancer."