Tuesday, November 30, 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:

Wikileaks Fallout
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 29: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton comments on the recent release of some 250,000 classified cables released by Wikileaks at the State Department November 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. Clinton refused to comment on specific reports included in the release of documents but said the disclosure of the sensitve cables was harmful to U.S. foreing policy and that the U.S. would take aggressive steps to hold accountable those responsible for the release. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

How Damaging? "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemns the WikiLeaks 'attack on the international community' as harmful to US policy goals. But major geopolitical shifts are unlikely, analysts say." (Christian Science Monitor)

Obama Weighing Criminal Action: "The Obama administration moved Monday to contain potential damage to U.S. national security from the WikiLeaks release of tens of thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic documents and said it might take criminal action against the whistle-blowing Internet site." (McClatchy)

A Few Questions: For Julian Assange, the U.S. government, and Sarah Palin. (Dan Gillmor @ Salon)

Assange -- Obama Stifles Freedom of the Press: "Assange did not address the assertion that has risked lives by releasing confidential diplomatic cables, saying only that the Obama administration was trying to make it impossible to publish information responsibly. The comments were made in a video recorded on a cell phone in Assange's London hiding place and sent to The Telegraph." (JPost/AP)

Role of Free Press Weighed: "At the heart of the heated reaction Monday to WikiLeaks' latest giant government document drop were fundamental questions about the role of a free press in a democracy: Would the publication of secret State Department information serve the public good? Or would it merely endanger diplomats, jeopardize international relations and complicate the war on terror?" (USA Today)

Anatomy of a Leak: " Fallout from Wikileaks' cache of embarrassing diplomatic cables has left fingers of blame pointed across the world, but the well-organized leak has also shed light on a new breed of cooperation to get the story out.  Once considered a rogue organization, Wikileaks appears to have gained even more credibility with this latest set of documents -- at least among the news media." (ABC)

Was It the Result of Too Much Sharing? "The WikiLeaks fiasco is not an inevitable consequence of information sharing. It's an inevitable consequence of information sharing done wrong. The scandal will probably have all kinds of chilling effects. Diplomats will be more careful about what they put in writing. Agencies will err on the side of overclassification instead of underclassification. But the only real solution is to enforce information security on the ground level—to make sure that whoever sees the dots is actually trying to connect them." (Slate)

China Blocks Wikileaks: "China has blocked Internet access to WikiLeaks' release of more than 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables, with its Foreign Ministry saying that it does not wish to see any disturbance in China-U.S. relations." (PC World)

Wikileaks Sets Sight on U.S. Bank: "The founder of whistle-blower website WikiLeaks plans to release tens of thousands of internal documents from a major U.S. bank early next year, Forbes Magazine reported on Monday. Julian Assange declined in an interview with Forbes to identify the bank, but he said that he expected that the disclosures, which follow his group's release of U.S. military and diplomatic documents, would lead to investigations." (Reuters)


What to Expect From Obama-G.O.P. Meeting: "When President Obama sits down with the new Republican congressional leaders for their first face-to-face meeting on Tuesday, the stated mission will be to make progress on ratifying an arms agreement with Russia and reaching a deal on soon-to-expire tax cuts. But with the White House session scheduled to last just one hour, neither side anticipates emerging with a grand compromise. Instead, the goal will be to set a course for the weeks ahead - and to try to determine whether either side is serious about making concessions necessary to reach a deal." (WaPo)

Is Voter Fraud at Play In Close N.Y. Election? "The closest Congressional race in the nation could be decided by people who don't really live in the district, and a Fox News investigation has uncovered evidence of voter registration illegalities, including one voter who apparently voted twice. The candidates, Long Island Democratic incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler, have been as close as just 15 votes apart, out of roughly 180,000 cast in New York's 1st Congressional District. The latest count puts Democrat Bishop ahead by about 235 votes. But both sides are now challenging roughly 2,000 absentee ballots that will eventually determine if the seat stays Democratic or falls to the Republicans." (Fox News)

Biden to Meet Issa: "Vice President Joe Biden welcomes California Rep. Darrell Issa to the White House Tuesday, the White House’s first outreach to the chairman that has vowed to investigate every corner of government. The meeting, which will be at 3 p.m. in the White House, will focus on tracking stimulus spending, White House and Hill sources say." (Politico)

Ethics Committee Refers Rangel Resolution to House: "Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the chair of the House Committee on Standards on Official Conduct, told reporters late Monday evening that the ethics committee has tonight submitted a resolution to the House of Representatives regarding the matter with Rep. Charles Rangel. A senior aide from the Speaker's office had not heard the news about the resolution, but suggested if it was true that the full House of Representatives could consider the ethics committee's recommendations as early as Tuesday or Wednesday." (ABC)

Civil War? What Civil War? "Anyone hoping for 2011 GOP infighting is going to be disappointed." (David Weigel @ Slate)

In Terrorism Stings, Questions of Entrapment: " Some defense lawyers and civil rights advocates said the government’s tactics, particularly since the Sept. 11 attacks, have raised questions about the possible entrapment of people who pose no real danger but are enticed into pretend plots at the government’s urging.  But law enforcement officials said on Monday that agents and prosecutors had carefully planned the tactics used in the undercover operation that led to the arrest of the Somali-born teenager, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, a naturalized United States citizen. They said that Mr. Mohamud was given several opportunities to vent his anger in ways that would not be deadly, but that he refused each time. " (NY Times)

Hostage Taking Drama Ends at Wisconsin School: "All 24 hostages held captive by a hangun-toting student in northeast Wisconsin were freed Monday night, after several hours of being confined inside a high school classroom, police said." (CNN)


Obama Freezes Pay for Federal Workers: " The pay freeze amounted to an opening bid as the president and Republican Congressional leaders begin jousting in earnest over tax and spending policy. It also illustrated how Mr. Obama can use his office on occasion to get ahead of newly elected Republicans; they had been talking about making such a move when they assume control of the House and additional Senate seats in January." (NY Times)

Economists' Grail: A Post-Crash Model: "In the wake of a crisis that models failed to capture, economists are questioning the foundations on which those models are built." (WSJ)

Debt Contagion Fears Still Hurting European Markets: "The euro hit a 10-week low against the dollar and world stocks struggled on Tuesday as euro zone debt problems weighed on investor sentiment even after Ireland's bailout. The premium investors demand to hold Spanish and Italian sovereign bonds over German bonds hit their highest since the euro's launch while some of the region's "core" debt issuers, including France, were pressured. An 85 billion euro package for Ireland announced on Sunday did little to stem fiscal concerns, as speculators targeted other debt-laden countries." (Reuters)

Bad News For Oh-So-Exquisite Gourmets: "In a brief, but pointed quarrel with Fiji's government, the US-based premium water distributor that makes up 20 percent of Fiji’s exports has decided to cease operations here and cancel outstanding development projects. On Monday, November 29, the company laid-off nearly 400 people at its bottling plant in the mostly rural Ra Province in Western Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island. A reporter for the Fiji Times estimates the closure could affect 4,000 people." (Global Voices)


Russia Nuke Movement Worries U.S.: "The U.S. believes Russia has moved short-range tactical nuclear warheads to facilities near North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies as recently as this spring, U.S. officials say, adding to questions in Congress about Russian compliance with long-standing pledges ahead of a possible vote on a new arms-control treaty. U.S. officials say the movement of warheads to facilities bordering NATO allies appeared to run counter to pledges made by Moscow starting in 1991 to pull tactical nuclear weapons back from frontier posts and to reduce their numbers. The U.S. has long voiced concerns about Russia's lack of transparency when it comes to its arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, believed to be many times the number possessed by the U.S." (WSJ)

North Korea Reveals New Nuclear Plant: "Secretive North Korea has detailed for the first time its expanded nuclear programme--a move seen by South Korea and its key ally, the US, as yet another provocation. Pyongyang said on Tuesday that it has thousands of centrifuges at a new uranium enrichment plant as pressure built on China to rein in its ally amid heightened tensions on the peninsula." (Al Jazeera)

U.S. Rejects Talks: "White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters: 'The United States and a host of others, I don't think, are not interested in stabilising the region through a series of PR activities.'" (The Guardian)

Had He Sent Them to Wikileaks, He Wouldn't Be in Trouble: "U.S. Embassy officials in Beijing were barred Tuesday from attending the appeal hearing of an American geologist sentenced by China to eight years in prison on charges of obtaining state secrets. . . . Xue Feng was convicted in July of obtaining state secrets by procuring a database and other information on China's oil industry. His case has underscored China's use of its vague state secrets law to restrict the flow of business information and the vulnerability of Chinese who take foreign citizenship but return to China to work." (NPR)

Will He Serve Before Or After the Death Penalty? "An Iraqi court on Monday convicted Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's longtime foreign minister, of terrorizing Shiite Kurds during the Iran-Iraq war, sentencing him to 10 years in prison." (AP)

Fairness, Transparency of Egypt Elections Questioned: " The Obama administration on Monday raised serious questions about the fairness of Egypt's weekend parliamentary elections, saying it was disappointed by widespread reports of irregularities that cast doubt on the credibility of the polls in the strong US ally. The State Department said it had closely followed the campaign and Sunday's polling and was concerned by arrests and intimidation of opposition supporters, denial of media access to opposition candidates and Egypt's refusal to allow international monitors to observe the vote." (AP)

Haiti Vote 'Valid' Despite Flaws -- International Observers: "The joint observer mission from the Organization of American States/Caribbean Community said that although there had been widespread problems, including acts of violence and intimidation and poor organization blocking many people from voting, this was not enough to doom the polls." (Al Jazeera)

Tech, Science

BREAKING --  EU Launches Investigation of Google Possible Abuse in Online Search: "The European Union's executive is to launch an anti-trust probe into Google following claims that Google's search engine manipulates results to harm rivals, EU officials announced Tuesday. The investigation comes after some of Google's business rivals complained that its search engine gave their products unfair treatment, the European Commission said in a statement. The launch of a probe does not mean Google is guilty, the commission stressed." (DPA)

Microsoft Sells 2.5 Million Kinects: "Microsoft Corporation in 25 days has sold more than 2.5 million of its motion-controlled Kinect video game systems globally, the software company said Monday. Sales forecasts are tracking toward 5 million this holiday shopping season."

Media, Entertainment, Arts

James Franco, Anne Hathaway To Host Oscars: "Oscar telecast producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer announced just now that 'James Franco and Anne Hathaway personify the next generation of Hollywood icons— fresh, exciting and multi-talented. We hope to create an Oscar broadcast that will both showcase their incredible talents and entertain the world on February 27. We are completely thrilled that James and Anne will be joining forces with our brilliant creative team to do just that.'" (Deadline Hollywood)

Italian Film Giant Mario Monicelli Kills Himself: "Monicelli, 95, was dubbed 'father of Italian comedy' for directing films such as Amici Mei (My Dear Friends) and I Soliti Ignoti (Persons Unknown). He was said to have leapt from the fifth floor of a Rome hospital where he was being treated for terminal cancer." (BBC)

Picasso Treasure Trove Found: "More than 270 previously unknown works by Pablo Picasso recently came to light when a retired electrician sought to have them authenticated by the late artist's estate, the Picasso Administration said Monday. But in a strange twist, 71-year-old Pierre Le Guennec finds himself slapped with a lawsuit filed by the artist's son, Claude Picasso, and five other heirs who say the works are stolen." (CNN)

Inside the Wild, Wacky, Profitable World of Boing Boing: "It's eccentric. It's unprofessional. And it makes money. How four people who do exactly what they want run one of the most popular blogs on the planet." (Fast Company)


Monday, November 29, 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:

TODAY'S B'FAST SPECIAL -- Implications of Wikileaks' Cablegate
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange attends a news conference about the internet release of secret documents about the Iraq War, in London October 23, 2010. Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 classified U.S. files on the Iraq war on Friday, some detailing gruesome cases of prisoner abuse by Iraqi forces that the U.S. military knew about but did not seem to investigate.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT MILITARY MEDIA)

How 250,000 US Embassy Cables Were Leaked: "From a fake Lady Gaga CD to a thumb drive that is a pocket-sized bombshell – the biggest intelligence leak in history." (Guardian)

Why We're Publishing Them: "The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match." (NY Times)

To Publish Leaks Or Not to Publish? "News organizations are confronting that question as aggressive tactics like those of WikiLeaks become more common in an age of fast-moving information." (WSJ)

Wikileaks' First Victim -- Transparency: "The first and most lasting casualty of this massive avalanche of documents classified “confidential,” “secret” and “noforn” (not for foreign governments to see) is going to be precisely the “transparency” that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he advocates. . . . The problem the State Department faces now is not just the difficulty of having frank conversations with allies or secret negotiations with enemies who think—who know—it leaks like a sieve. It will also be harder to have frank exchanges within the United States government itself. To avoid this kind of massive leak in the future, documents will get higher classification and less distribution, and a lot of the most important stuff may not be committed to the keyboard at all." (Chris Dickey @ Newsweek)

It's Started -- Pentagon Tightens Info Controls: "The Pentagon on Sunday announced new approaches for how it would safeguard information in the wake of the leak of documents from WikiLeaks, amid allegations that the Obama administration went too far in improving information-sharing across the government." (Politico)

Leaks Could Deal Blow to Global Trust: "What will be damaging in the Wikileaks, then, will be revelations about views on the part of senior political figures about individuals or nations who may be able to retaliate, or when the cultivation of personal trust is essential in progressing whatever interests may be in play. This will apply particularly in relation to states which have an elevated sense of national honour and, more generally, to the Muslim world. Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan spring immediately to mind." (British diplomat Hilary Synott @ The Independent)

Wikileaks' Target -- American Power: "The first victims of the leaked cables released Sunday was anyone who shared secrets with American diplomats, especially Arab leaders who saw their private security deals - and their insistence that those deals be kept from their people - published online with undiplomatic bluntness. But the main effect of the many details of American diplomacy revealed in the thousands of documents obtained and released by WikiLeaks was to deepen the damage to their intended targets: U.S. foreign policy, prestige, and power." (Politico)

Better Sharing of Data = Danger: " The release of a huge tranche of U.S. diplomatic cables has laid bare the primary risk associated with the U.S. government's attempt to encourage better information-sharing: Someone is bound to leak. The U.S. intelligence community came under heavy criticism after Sept. 11, 2001, for having failed to share data that could have prevented the attacks that day. In response, officials from across the government sought to make it easier for various agencies to share sensitive information - effectively giving more analysts wider access to government secrets. But on Sunday, the Web site WikiLeaks, which had previously released sensitive U.S. documents about the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, once again proved that there's a downside to better information-sharing." (WaPo)

The Guardian Gave the Cables to the NY Times: "New York Times editors said Sunday that although the paper's reporters had been digging through WikiLeaks trove of 250,000 State Department cables for "several weeks," the online whistleblower wasn't the source of the documents. But if WikiLeaks—which allegedly obtained the cables from a 22-year-old army private—wasn't the Times source, than who was? Apparently, The Guardian—one of the five newspapers that had an advanced look at the cables—supplied a copy of the cables to The Times." (Michael Calderone)

The Fallout from WikiLeaks' Latest Exposure: "Julian Assange's may not have endangered lives directly by leaking thousands of pages of purloined diplomatic correspondence, but he's certainly made conducting American diplomacy more difficult." (Tunku Varadarajan @ Daily Beast)

U.S. Officials Overstating the Danger From the Leaks? "Unlike the release earlier this year of intelligence documents about the war in Afghanistan, when WikiLeaks posted on its website unredacted documents that included the names of Afghan informants, WikiLeaks agreed this time not to release more than 250,000 documents because they hadn't been vetted by the U.S. government." (McClatchy)

Reactions Around the World compiled by The Lede @ NY Times.


Congress Returns to Work With Long To-Do List: "U.S. lawmakers face a lengthy to-do list, topped by a dispute over expiring tax cuts, when they return to work on Monday in a session that offers an early gauge of the chances for bipartisanship when the new Congress convenes in January. The first test of the post-election relationship between President Barack Obama and newly powerful Republican congressional leaders will come at a White House meeting on Tuesday, which is likely to focus on the tax-cut debate." (Reuters)

Obama Faces Democratic Angst: "The week's big focus will be on the bipartisan summit to be held Tuesday at the White House -- a key indicator of how the president plans to govern under the new reality imposed by voters in the midterm elections. But it's President Obama's relationship with his own party in its waning weeks of total control of Washington that still will determine a range of policy outcomes. Moves to the right in the coming weeks will be viewed with skepticism on the left, as Democrats still must guard against a revolt inside their ranks in their final weeks in control of the House." (ABC)

American Exceptionalism Becomes Political Battle: "'American exceptionalism' is a phrase that, until recently, was rarely heard outside the confines of think tanks, opinion journals and university history departments. But with Republicans and tea party activists accusing President Obama and the Democrats of turning the country toward socialism, the idea that the United States is inherently superior to the world's other nations has become the battle cry from a new front in the ongoing culture wars. Lately, it seems to be on the lips of just about every Republican who is giving any thought to running for president in 2012." (WaPo)

T.S.A. Furor Gives Media a False Positive: " What made the T.S.A. story so sticky and irresistible, a nearly perfect Perfect Storm?" (David Carr @ NY Times)

Experts Predict More Terror Plots in U.S.: "Americans should expect more homegrown terrorist plots such as the foiled attempt by a Somalia-born university student to bomb downtown Portland, Ore., security analysts say." (USA Today)

Oregon Fire Raises Muslims' Fears of Attack Backlash: "Someone set fire to an Islamic center on Sunday, two days after a man who worshipped there was accused of trying to blow up a van full of explosives during Portland's Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Other Muslims fear it could be the first volley of misplaced retribution." (WaPo)

Wind Knocked Out of Obama's Climate Agenda: "The fight over U.S. environmental policy will shift next year as Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, leaving the Obama administration chasing smaller victories in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What's dead for now is the ambitious climate bill that President Obama had backed, which sought to commit the U.S. to reduce industrial pollution 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. Companies that came in under those caps could trade, or sell, their pollution credits to others." (USA Today)


Boom in Debt Buying Fuels Another Boom—in Lawsuits: "Across the nation, there is a surge in lawsuits against people who aren't paying their bills, driven by the debt-buying industry that has boomed in the past three years as a sea of souring loans and credit-card obligations have become cheaper and cheaper to buy amid hard economic times. Handing debt over to collectors is an important step in cleaning up the financial system, but the explosion in lawsuits—many for small sums—creates problems for the legal system. "There exists a real danger that the courts will be perceived as mere extensions of collection agencies," says Thomas Donnelly, an associate judge in Cook County, Ill." (WSJ)

EU Approves $89B Bailout for Ireland: "European Union nations agreed to give euro67.5 billion ($89.4 billion) in bailout loans to Ireland on Sunday to help it weather the cost of its massive banking crisis, and sketched out new rules for future emergencies in an effort to restore faith in the euro currency. The rescue deal, approved by finance ministers at an emergency meeting in Brussels, means two of the eurozone's 16 nations have now come to depend on foreign help and underscores Europe's struggle to contain its spreading debt crisis. The fear is that with Greece and now Ireland shored up, speculative traders will target the bloc's other weak fiscal links, particularly Portugal." (AP)

France, Germany Say Euro Saved But Investors Skeptical: "Initial market reaction to the deal in Asia was cautiously negative. After a brief jump, the euro fell to a two-month low of $1.3183 before recovering to trade close to Friday's levels. The risk premium investors charge to hold Irish, Spanish and Portuguese bonds rather than safe-haven German bunds fell only slightly in early London trade." (Reuters)


Iran Nuclear Scientists Killed: "Iranian state media has reported that a nuclear scientist was killed and another injured after coming under attack in Tehran. . . . Fars news agency said the scientists were targeted in two different locations by men on motorcycles who approached their vehicles and attached bombs to their cars." (Sky News)

China Envoy Seeks Urgent Talks on Korea: "China said mounting tensions on the Korean peninsula in the wake of a deadly North Korean artillery attack on the South are "worrying" and called Sunday for emergency consultations in Beijing, as the U.S. and South Korea started large-scale naval drills in the Yellow Sea." (WSJ)

Protests and Fraud Charges Roil Haiti Elections: "Haiti's elections ended in confusion on Sunday as 12 of the 18 presidential candidates denounced 'massive fraud' and demanded the polls be annulled and street protests erupted over voting delays and problems. The repudiation of the elections by so many of the presidential candidates dealt a blow to the credibility of the U.N.-supported poll. The international community was hoping the vote could produce a stable, legitimate government in the poor earthquake-ravaged Caribbean country." (Reuters)

Not Going Smoother in Egypt: "Egyptians went to the polls on Sunday to vote in a parliamentary election that seemed to unroll according to a wearily familiar script: scattered violence, widespread accusations of fraud and intimidation, and a sense among many here that Egypt’s long-dominant governing party was bent on entrenching its hold on power in a period of looming political uncertainty." (NY Times)

Tech, Science

Internet Blackout Hits Comcast Customers in Boston, DC: "An internet service outage for some Comcast customers on the East Coast eased early Monday, the company said. . . . Shortly after midnight Monday, the problem appeared to be resolved." (CNN)

Media, Entertainment

Leslie Nielsen Dies: "The actor best known for starring in such comedies as Airplane! and the Naked Gun film franchise, died Sunday of complications from pneumonia at a hospital near his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He was 84." (Hollywood Reporter)


Friday, November 26, 2010

FOR THOSE OUT THERE who insist that the anthropogenic global waming theory is "settled science": Edge magazine compiles a long list of wrong scientific beliefs that were held for long periods.

Of course, the fact that it happened in the past doesn't necessarily mean that it happens now with AGW. It just means that its proponents should be more humble and, instead of labeling anyone who dares to disagree as a negationist, they should remember that science has proven to be wrong many times before.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

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)


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

THE COST of Ireland's rescue could actually end up being twice the current estimates. This doesn't look good. At all.

UPDATE. Meanwhile, Spanish bonds are falling fast; the debt premium, which has been rising all day, is now on the verge of 300 points just passed 300 points, which is the highest in 15 years. Angela Merkel has said that the prospect of serial European bailouts is "exceptionally serious."

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:
Smoke rises from South Korean Yeonpyeong Island after being hit by dozens of artillery shells fired by North Korea November 23, 2010. Several South Korean civilians and soldiers were wounded and many others were being evacuated to bunkers on Tuesday, a Seoul television reported. The island is located near the western maritime border between the two Koreas, 11 km (7 miles) from the North and about 115 km (71 miles) northwest of Seoul. REUTERS/Yonhap (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY DISASTER IMAGES OF THE DAY) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

TODAY'S BIG NEWS --  North Korea Shells South Korean Island, South Korea Fires Back: "North Korea on Tuesday fired dozens of artillery shells at a South Korean island, setting buildings on fire and prompting a return of fire by the South, Seoul's military and media reports said. . . . The exchange, which lasted for about an hour and then stopped abruptly, was the most serious between the two Koreas in years. South Korea's military said one marine had been killed and three seriously wounded in the shelling, the biggest attack in years. The island is about 3 km (1.8 miles) south of the sea border and 120 km (75 miles) west of Seoul." (Reuters)

One Dead: "South Korea's YTN television said one marine was killed and two other people were injured, several houses were on fire and shells were still falling on Yeonpyeong island. The station broadcast pictures of thick columns of black smoke rising from the island." (CBS)

Four Seriously Wounded (Yonhap)

Second Marine Dies (Yonhap)

'Provocation': "South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Friday called the torpedo attack on one of its warships a "military provocation" by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and a violation of the armistice agreement between the two sides." (Xinhua)

NKorea Says SKorea Fired First: "The South Korean enemy, despite our repeated warnings, committed reckless military provocations of firing artillery shells into our maritime territory near Yeonpyeong island beginning 1pm (1500 AEDT) . . . [We] will continue to make merciless military attacks with no hesitation if the South Korean enemy dares to invade our sea territory by 0.001 mm." (AFP)

South Korea Warns: "South Korea has condemned a deadly attack by the North on one of its islands and warned it would retaliate strongly if there was more violence." (Sky News)

White House Reacts: .'The United States strongly condemns this attack and calls on North Korea to halt its belligerent action and to fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement,' spokesperson Robert Gibbs said today." (RFI)

South Korean TV Live Streaming:

European Stocks Dropping (Bloomberg)

Currencies Rising: "The dollar and the Swiss franc strengthened after North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire, boosting demand for the currencies as a refuge." (Bloomberg)


White House -- Terrorists Have Discussed Use of Prosthetics to Conceal Explosives: "The revelation about the intelligence, which is not new but relevant to debate over new security measures at airports, comes as the White House today acknowledged that the implementation of the security procedures has not gone perfectly.  Americans by a 2-to-1 margin support the use of naked image full-body x-ray scanners in airport security lines, but fewer than half back aggressive new pat-down procedures, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. Opposition to both rises among those who fly with any frequency." (ABC)

She Says She Could Beat Obama. Or Could She? "Voters don't think President Obama deserves a second turn – but they don't want Sarah Palin either, according to a new Quinnipiac University survey. Obama leads the former vice presidential candidate by 8 percentage points in the survey, but is in a statistical dead heat with Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee." (NY Daily News)

Plouffe to White House: "President Obama is planning to bring former campaign manager David Plouffe onto the White House staff at the beginning of January to work alongside senior adviser David Axelrod for a brief time before Axelrod moves on to help run the re-election campaign, according to a senior administration official and a senior Democratic strategist familiar with the plan." (CNN)

Business Wary: "After business leaders sunk millions into the midterms to defeat Democrats, a chastened Obama administration is seeking reconciliation with the corporate community.
But after two years of building frustration, the executives say they won’t be won over by another round of private lunches and photo opportunities at the White House.  If President Barack Obama has any hope for a truce with Corporate America in time for his 2012 reelection campaign, he needs to drop the name-calling, try to see their point of view better and step up with some specific proposals." (Politico)

Left’s Pressure Moves Pelosi Toward Clashes With Obama: " As Obama decides whether and how much to compromise with the new Republican majority in the House, Pelosi is facing pressure from empowered liberals in her caucus to take a harder line with the administration." (The Hill)

G.O.P. Scores Another: "Democratic Rep. Solomon Ortiz has conceded to Republican Blake Farenthold, handing the GOP an upset victory in the race for the South Texas seat. With local election officials completing their manual recount of votes cast in the Corpus Christi-area 27th District race, Ortiz trailed Farenthold by nearly 800 votes." (Politico)

No Midterm Mandate? "A majority of Americans want the Congress to keep the new health care law or actually expand it, despite Republican claims that they have a mandate from the people to kill it, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll." (McClatchy)

Jeb Won't Run: "Jeb Bush would make a good president, but the former Florida governor has no intention of running for the Oval Office in 2012, according to his father, former President George H.W. Bush." (CNN)

Could Democrats give Obama trouble in 2012? "Most Democrats oppose the war in Afghanistan. Amid talk of a longer US presence there, Obama runs the risk of alienating his base. A damaging primary challenge from the left is not unthinkable." (Christian Science Monitor)

Woman 'Exhausted' From Defending Obama Loses Job: The woman who told President Barack Obama that she was "exhausted" from defending him and his economic policies and waiting for the change she expected after voting for him has another reason to be put out: She's lost her job. Velma Hart, the chief financial officer for Am Vets, a veteran services organization based in Maryland, said Monday in an interview with CNBC that she was laid off as part of the nonprofit's effort to cut expenses." (AP)

Admin Loses Two More: "Diana Farrell, deputy director of President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, and Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr are leaving the administration, adding to the turnover in the ranks of the White House economic team that worked on the government’s response to the worst financial crisis in more than 70 years." (Bloomberg)

BBB to Investigate Its Own L.A. Chapter: " The Better Business Bureau says it will "launch an immediate investigation" into its biggest local chapter, the Los Angeles-area BBB, after an ABC News report revealed that the chapter sold memberships to non-existent businesses that immediately received A grades." (ABC)


The Just-In-Time Consumer: "After 20 years of stocking up, more shoppers now buy goods just when they need them, forcing companies to overhaul the way they produce and distribute." (WSJ)

J. Crew Nears Sale Deal: "J. Crew, the clothier of choice for the likes of Michelle Obama, is near a deal to sell itself for about $2.8 billion to the buyout firms TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners, people with direct knowledge of the matter told DealBook on Monday." (NY Times)

Ireland Political Crisis Complicates Rescue Deal: "One day after requesting a bailout worth more than $100 billion, financially troubled Ireland plunged deeper into a political crisis that could complicate a rescue deal with the International Monetary Fund and European Union. At the same time, concern mounted that attempts to prevent a broader regional debt crisis by shoring up near-bankrupt Ireland may not be enough to prevent the need for more bailouts in ailing Portugal, and perhaps even for the far larger economy of troubled Spain." (WaPo)


Iranian Parliament Wants Ahmadinejad Impeached: "Iran's parliament revealed it planned to impeach President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but refrained under orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, exposing a deepening division within the regime. Lawmakers also launched a new petition to bring a debate on the president's impeachment, conservative newspapers reported Monday. . . . They accused him and his government of 14 counts of violating the law, often by acting without the approval of the legislature. Charges include illegally importing gasoline and oil, failing to provide budgetary transparency and withdrawing millions of dollars from Iran's foreign reserve fund without getting parliament's approval." (WSJ)

Taliban Leader in Secret Peace Talks Was an Impostor: "'It’s not him,' said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. 'And we gave him a lot of money.' American officials confirmed Monday that they had given up hope that the Afghan was Mr. Mansour, or even a member of the Taliban leadership. NATO and Afghan officials said they held three meetings with the man, who traveled from in Pakistan, where Taliban leaders have taken refuge. The fake Taliban leader even met with President Hamid Karzai, having been flown to Kabul on a NATO aircraft and ushered into the presidential palace, officials said." (NY Times)

No Harm Done: "Iran's nuclear chief says a malicious computer worm known as Stuxnet has not harmed the country's atomic program. . . . Salehi's remarks on Tuesday came a day after diplomats told The Associated Press in Vienna that Iran's nuclear program has suffered a recent setback, with major technical problems forcing the temporary shutdown of thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium." (AP)

More On the Iranian Nuke Setbacks @ WaPo.

Hundreds Die in Cambodia Stampede: "At least 410 people have been killed in a stampede at a water festival on a small island in the Cambodian capital. The crush occurred on the island of Koh Pich following a traditional boat race along the Tonle Sap river on Monday evening." (Al Jazeera)


Monday, November 22, 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:

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 22:  A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker Denise Thieben (L) checks a traveler at her security post at O'Hare International Airport December 22, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois. The TSA announced today that their passenger screening process has been amended to once again allow items such as scissors and small tools to be carried onto planes.  (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Complain All You Want, But They'll Keep Touching Your Turkey: "Despite the uproar over intrusive pat-downs for some airline travelers, the policy will not change heading into the holiday travel season, the head of the Transportation Security Administration said." (LA Times)

Or Will They? "But within hours, TSA issued a statement clarifying that the door is open to changes. It said security procedures 'will be adapted as conditions warrant' to be 'as minimally invasive as possible.'" (CBS)

5 Seats Still To Be Claimed: "Republicans gained at least 61 House seats in the Nov. 2 election, but they are positioned to win more. While Democratic incumbents hold leads in three of the five still-contested races, they trail in two others." Details at the link.

Jim DeMint Still Battling to Keep Murkowski From Senate: " Even as DeMint says he would welcome fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski back to the Senate, the South Carolinian is still urging conservative activists around the country to donate money to replace the Alaskan incumbent with tea party favorite Joe Miller." (McClatchy)

Hil Says No: "'I am not in any way interested in or pursuing anything in elected office,' Clinton said on 'Fox News Sunday.' Clinton laughed off speculation that she might run for president in 2012." (Political Ticker)

Some Accord in Debate Over Deficit: "A debate is raging over the size and shape of those changes, particularly the wisdom of cutting Social Security benefits. But a surprisingly broad consensus is forming around the actions required to stabilize borrowing and ease fears of a European-style debt crisis in the United States. As a presidential commission struggles to build political momentum for such a package, even Republicans who initially opposed the commission's creation are still at the negotiating table." (WaPo)

View From Mideast -- Obama's a Problem: "Vowing to change a region that has resisted the best efforts of presidents and prime ministers past, Barack Obama dove head first into the Middle East peace process on his second day in office. He was supposed to be different. His personal identity, his momentum, his charisma and his promise of a fresh start would fundamentally alter America’s relations with the Muslim world and settle one of its bitterest grievances.  Two years later, he has managed to forge surprising unanimity on at least one topic: Barack Obama. A visit here finds both Israelis and Palestinians blame him for the current stalemate – just as they blame one another." (Politico)

47 Years Ago Today: "After mostly avoiding the spotlight for decades, many of the former U.S. Secret Service agents who were assigned to protect President John F. Kennedy are now offering their accounts of the day he was assassinated." (CNN)

Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen reacts to a question as he speaks to the media in Government Buildings in Dublin November 21, 2010. Ireland requested an international bailout on Sunday to tackle its banking and budget crisis, the euro zone's second bailout this year as Brussels moves to protect Europe's wider financial stability. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton (IRELAND - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)

Officials To Mull Ireland Bailout Details: "Negotiations on the shape of the rescue package from the EU and IMF are expected to continue for several weeks. However, it is understood Ireland's controversially low 12.5% corporation tax will not be touched - but income tax will go up.
In addition the government will set out a plan of austerity measures, which could also see a rise in VAT and a cut in public sector jobs and wages. A four-year plan will provide a reduction of 15 billion euros by 2014." (Sky News)

Stock Index Futures Up, Nevertheless: "U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.45 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.37 percent and NASDAQ 100 futures up 0.71 percent at 4 a.m. ET. . . . The news boosted the euro against the dollar, while oil rose to above $82 a barrel, bouncing back from two straight weeks of losses, helped by the weakening dollar. European stocks rallied early, led by banking stocks such as Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) and Barclays (BARC.L)." (Reuters)

Fear of EU Contagion Remains: "The fact that a deal has finally been hammered out with the Irish government is unlikely to assuage fears that other eurozone members will need a bailout in the coming weeks. Commentators have expressed serious doubts that Portugal can continue without EU and IMF assistance, with a growing number also expressing doubts about the financial strength of Spain, and even Italy." (The Independent)

FBI Visit Exposes Trade-Probe Tactics: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation's attempt to pressure an independent analyst to record his calls with a client offers a window into how the government is trying to build what could become one of the most far-reaching insider-trading cases ever." (WSJ)


Germany Races to Track Pair of Suicide Bombers: "Authorities in Berlin are racing to track two suspected suicide bombers believed to be planning to strike a prominent location, according to a person familiar with the investigation. Police are combing through travel and visa records and scrutinizing arrivals from the Mideast and South Asia as they hunt the pair, this person said." (WSJ)

BREAKING -- German Parliament Closes Reichstag Cupola to Visitors Over Security Concerns (AP)

Iran Again Postpones U.S. Hikers' Court Date: " Masoud Shafii, the lawyer for Americans Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, said he received a letter from Revolutionary Court Judge Abolqasem Salavati informing him the court date for the two, originally scheduled for earlier this month, had been postponed until Feb. 6." (LA Times)

Adm. Mullen -- North Korea Nukes a 'Huge Concern': "Reacting to a report in the New York Times that North Korea has made a major advance in nuclear technology, Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen told This Week anchor Christiane Amanpour that the potential the development of nuclear weapons in the region is a 'huge concern.' Mullen called the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il 'predictable in his unpredictability,' and said North Korea is a 'very dangerous country.'" (ABC)

U.S. Special Envoy -- Provocative, But No Surprise: "'This is obviously a disappointing announcement. It is also another in a series of provocative moves' by North Korea, Bosworth said. 'That being said, this is not a crisis. We are not surprised by this. We have been watching and analyzing the (North's) aspirations to produce enriched uranium for some time.' Kim also played down the facility, telling reporters: 'It's nothing new.'" (AP)

Third Most-Wanted Nazi Suspect Dies Before Trial Can Start: "A court in Germany says the world's third most-wanted Nazi suspect has died before he could be brought to trial. Bonn's state court said in a statement Monday that 89-year-old Samuel Kunz died Nov. 18. Kunz was indicted on charges he was involved in the entire process of killing Jews at the Belzec death camp: from taking victims from trains to pushing them into gas chambers to throwing corpses into mass graves. No trial date had been set." (AP)

Hezbollah Linked to Hariri's Assassination: " A Lebanese police officer and U.N. investigators unearthed extensive circumstantial evidence implicating the Syrian-backed Hezbollah movement in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, according to an investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. The U.N. International Independent Investigation Commission's findings are based on an elaborate examination of Lebanese phone records. They suggest Hezbollah officials communicated with the owners of cell phones allegedly used to coordinate the detonation that killed Hariri and 22 others as they traveled through downtown Beirut in an armed convoy, according to Lebanese and U.N. phone analysis." (WaPo)

Ready For Africa's Newest Country? "The time for decision is fast approaching for the people of southern Sudan, who are going to the polls to decide if the largest country in Africa will be split into two. Voter registration has begun for the long-awaited referendum that aims to end one of Africa’s worst civil wars and could lead to the creation of the newest African state." (JPost)

U-Turn or More of the Same? "Pope Benedict XVI's comments on condom use are causing confusion and debate from Manila to Mexico City." (Christian Science Monitor)

Media, Entertainment

Harry Potter a Wizard at the Box Office Too: "Well done, Potter. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 posted the franchise’s best opening ever by grossing $125.1 million this weekend, according to studio estimates. That figure smashes the wizarding series’ prior opening-weekend record of $102.7 million, held by 2005′s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The new Potter flick also registered the sixth largest opening weekend of all time, landing just behind this year’s Iron Man 2, which debuted to $128.1 million in May." (Entertainment Weekly)


Sunday, November 21, 2010


Saturday, November 20, 2010

DESPITE ALL THE HYPE, it turns out that virtually all online news are viewed from desktop computers: 97%, no less. Just 2% are viewed from mobile phones, and a meager 1% from the iPad.

Friday, November 19, 2010

NO OVERNIGHT NEWS ROUNDUP TODAY: I have a couple of meetings. Back on Monday!


Thursday, November 18, 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:

BREAKING -- Suspected Bomb Found on Germany-Bound Plane: "An Air Berlin flight from Namibia was delayed on Wednesday after police found a suitcase with a fuse in the luggage hall of the airport in the African country's capital, German authorities said. Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office said on Thursday that a scan showed batteries attached by wires to a fuse and a clock. They say authorities in Windhoek, Namibia, were investigating whether the device found Wednesday could have exploded. German security officials told NBC News that they were in the process of assessing whether the device was "a fake bomb" or could have actually detonated." (MSNBC)

More @ JPost: "The suitcase was found in the luggage hall area near where those intended for the Air Berlin flight were, and the Air Berlin flight's luggage was rechecked as a precaution. All passengers on the flight had to identify their own bags, and none were found without an owner, she said. Teller said she did not know whether Namibian police had determined whose bag contained the device, or what flight it was intended for."

A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) mug shot of Ahmed Ghailani is seen in an undated handout image. Ghailani, a high-value detainee, was moved June 9, 2009 from Guantanamo Bay to federal court in New York to face charges related to al-Qaida's 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings. He is the first such prisoner taken to the United States. (UPI Photo/FBI) Photo via Newscom

Holder Strikes Out in First Gitmo Civilian Trial: "Ahmed Ghailani, a key figure in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, was cleared by a jury of 276 murder and attempted murder counts." (Clarice Feldman @ PJM)

Verdict Tests Obama's Strategy on Detainees: " The mixed verdict in the case of the first Guantánamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court on Wednesday quickly re-ignited a fierce debate over the Obama administration’s effort to restore the role of the traditional criminal justice system in handling terrorism prosecutions." (NY Times)

Murkowski Claims Victory; Miller Vows to Fight On: "The Associated Press called the race for Murkowski on Wednesday afternoon, making her the first write-in candidate to win a Senate seat since South Carolina's Strom Thurmond in 1954. But Joe Miller, the lawyer who defeated Murkowski in the Republican primary, said he has no plans to concede and argued that the race is far from over." (WaPo)

Reflections on Loss and Acceptance From Those Swept Out: "With denial and bargaining behind them, some members who lost [the midterms] seem to have arrived at a shaky acceptance." (NY Times)

Why Pelosi Stays: "Call it a triumph of inside politics. While midterms 2010 felt like a tsunami outside of Washington, the waves didn’t reach Capitol Hill's corner offices, where House leadership teams in both parties barely budged." (Christian Science Monitor)

Obama May Not Be the Best Investment -- Soros: "And if this president can't do what we need, it is time to start looking somewhere else." (HuffPo)

Bipartisanship Seems to Be the Hardest Word: " Never mind figuring out what to do about the national debt or the tax cuts that are set to expire soon. President Obama and the Republicans who just won control of the House seem to be having a hard time even setting up a meeting." (WaPo)

Backlash Over Airport Screening Grows: "Just days before a busy Thanksgiving weekend when hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the air, frequent travelers, unions, passengers groups and civil libertarians are filing lawsuits and urging boycotts of new airport screening procedures. Those procedures include machines that see through passengers' clothing, and more aggressive pat-downs by security personnel, which some travelers say amount to fondling or strip searches." (USA Today)

There's a Better Solution, from American Companies, Used Overseas: "Unlike the backscatter imaging devices that provide revealing body images and which have stoked concerns about radiation, the system at [Amsterdam's] Schiphol uses radio waves to detect contraband. The Woburn, Mass., firm that manufacturers the system, L-3 Communications Security & Detection Systems, claims on its website that the radio waves are '10,000 times lower than other commonly-used radio frequency devices.' If the software identifies a passenger carrying explosives, an outline of the problem body area is displayed on a generic mannequin figure instead of on the actual image of the passenger's body. The mannequin image, which appears on the operator's control panel, 'can then be used by security personnel to direct a focused discussion or search,' the company website reads." (McClatchy)

It Had to Happen -- The Taiwanese Animator's Take:

Hang In There, Obama Is Told: "When the looming battle over Bush tax cuts comes up during their meeting at the White House Thursday morning, congressional Democrats are likely to pose a simple question to President Barack Obama: What is your strategy? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have already made it clear to Obama – in a conference call Monday – that they want him to establish a coherent and tough bargaining position to deal with the GOP’s united support for an extension of all tax cuts, according to House and Senate sources familiar with the call." (Politico)

'We Have the Votes': "The White House expressed confidence Wednesday in a lame-duck Senate vote on the START arms-control treaty between the U.S. and Russia, hours after the treaty’s top proponents appeared in the Senate to press their case. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Senate GOP Whip Jon Kyl’s (Ariz.) opposition won’t be enough to derail the treaty, which needs 67 Senate votes to be ratified." (The Hill)

Palin -- 'I Could Beat Obama': "Sarah Palin says she is seriously considering a run for the White House, and she believes she could beat President Obama in 2012, the former Alaska governor told ABC News' Barbara Walters." -- Published Yesterday, but don't miss NY Times Mag long profile of Palin.

Whitman Settles With Housekeeper: " Former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman agreed Wednesday to provide her former housekeeper with $5,500 in unpaid wages to settle a dispute that erupted after it was revealed the woman was an illegal immigrant. Whitman and her husband Dr. Griffith Harsh IV did not admit any wrongdoing while agreeing to the settlement at a two-hour closed meeting at the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement." (ABC)

Reid to Push Vote on DADT Repeal: "Making good on his pre-election promise, Sen. Harry Reid says he will call for a vote later this month to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell,' though it's uncertain whether the legislation would have enough votes to pass." (AP)

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 17: A message on the news ticker at the Morgan Stanley building states 'Morgan Stanley Welcomes General Motors' as GM prepares to return to the US stock market tomorrow on November 17, 2010 in New York City. Following a $50 billion government bailout of GM 16 months ago, the iconic American auto company is set to become the largest global IPO in US financial history. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

GM's IPO Bolts Out of Gate: "After bankruptcy, a high-profile delisting, and a controversial government bailout, the new General Motors Co. priced its initial public offering of 478 million shares at $33 each on Wednesday amid high demand.  The price tag makes it one of the largest IPOs in U.S. history, raising as much as $23 billion with preferred shares included. The shares begin trading Thursday." (ABC)

Here Comes a 2nd Round of Stress Tests: "The Federal Reserve plans to scrutinize the nation's top 19 banks for a second time, the latest indication federal regulators are seeking to toughen oversight of the nation's biggest financial institutions. The Fed, in guidance issued Wednesday, said the 19 largest bank-holding companies must submit capital plans by early next year showing their ability to withstand losses under a set of conditions to be determined by the central bank, including 'adverse' economic conditions and continuing real-estate-related woes." (WSJ)

'Tens of Billions' to Save Ireland From Disaster: "A loan of "tens of billions" of euros will be made to Ireland by its European Union counterparts, Patrick Honohan, member of the European Central Bank's governing council and governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, said Thursday. Officials from the EU, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund are in Dublin on Thursday to examine the country's finances and troubled banking system. This may include the activation of the European Financial Stability Facility, the €440 billion ($594.66 billion) emergency loan program established to help euro-zone countries refinance their debts." (WSJ)

Deficit Commission Debates Medicare Overhaul: "President Barack Obama's deficit commission on Wednesday debated a dramatic plan to gradually turn Medicare from a system in which the government pays most beneficiaries' medical bills into a program in which seniors would purchase health insurance with government-issued vouchers. Current Medicare beneficiaries wouldn't be affected, nor would future enrollees age 55 or over." (AP)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks during a news conference on the internet release of secret documents about the Iraq War, in London October 23, 2010. Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 classified U.S. files on the Iraq war on Friday, some detailing gruesome cases of prisoner abuse by Iraqi forces that the U.S. military knew about but did not seem to investigate.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT MILITARY MEDIA)

Prosecutor Orders Assange's Arrest: "A Swedish prosecutor is seeking a court order to detain Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for questioning in connection with a rape case. A warrant was issued in August, then dropped, before the case was re-opened." (BBC)

Afghanistan Exit Date -- 2011 ... 2014 ... Even Longer? "Afghanistan could experience "eye-watering" levels of violence after foreign combat troops withdraw from Afghanistan in four years' time, the Nato representative in Kabul warned today. Mark Sedwill, the civilian counterpart to US commander General David Petraeus, also said that the target of handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan army and police by the end of 2014 might not be met." (Guardian)

Kim Jong-Il Playing With Nukes Again? "New satellite imagery shows renewed activities in northeastern North Korea where Pyongyang conducted its second nuclear test in May 2009, but it is too early to say whether another test is imminent, a U.S. analyst told Kyodo News on Wednesday." (Kyodo)

Germany Raises Security Alert: "Germany said on Wednesday it had strong evidence Islamist militants were planning attacks in the next two weeks and ordered security at potential targets such as train stations and airports to be tightened." (Reuters)

Berlusconi Feeling New Heat: "Over the years, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has marveled Italians with his Houdini-like powers to escape the trickiest political traps and bounce back when all odds were against him. But this time around, as a political crisis deepens and looks poised to bring down the government within weeks, something is notably different in Italy." (NY Times)

Moscow Expands NATO's Routes: "Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will sign an agreement with the leaders of the NATO alliance on Saturday aimed at expanding the use of supply routes through Russia into Afghanistan, as part of an effort to improve ties between the former antagonists." (WSJ)

Tech, Science

Chinese Company 'Hijacked' U.S. Web Traffic: "Internet traffic from several U.S. government agency sites was briefly diverted through servers in China in April, congressional investigators reported Wednesday. For 18 minutes, about 15 percent of all web traffic was redirected through China, including traffic to and from the sites of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, the office of the Secretary of Defense, the Senate and NASA, according to a report delivered to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission." (CNN)