Friday, October 29, 2010

THERE WON'T BE an overnight roundup today, I'm afraid; I have an unavoidable commitment and have no time to prepare it. Check back on Monday for the full "While America Was Sleeping" feature, thought I'll drop some quick posts that you can see if you visit the homepage. Thanks!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

FOURTEEN killed by U.S. airstrikes in Pakistan in 24 hours. Good thing they didn't capture them, take them to Gitmo and force them to stand up for 5 or 6 hours, because everyone would be screaming "torture". But you can hear the crickets now...

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:


Anger and Frustration: "A far grimmer mood than in 2008 now pervades the electorate, one shaped not just by the immediacy of the economic distress that has hit virtually every household, but by fears that a recovery might take years." (WaPo)

Post-Vote Deals Planned: "Politicians from both parties are debating ideas on taxes and spending that move the discussion to the right, putting pressure on the White House and top Democrats to work with a newly empowered Republican Party after Tuesday's election." (WSJ)
U.S. President Barack Obama chats with Daily Show host Jon Stewart during a commercial break in taping in Washington on October 27, 2010.  UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg Photo via Newscom

Obama On Jon Stewart's Daily Show: "President Obama appeared on the Daily Show Wednesday, but was more serious than his last appearance on the show. The President interwove a few light moments with a defense of his policies, ending by urging young people to vote next Tuesday." (CSM)

Jon Stewart Gets Serious: "Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” on the Mall Saturday has occasioned handwringing from some devoted fans who worry that he’s losing his outsider credibility, and celebration from some Democrats who hope to channel his energy to advance their electoral prospects." (Politico)

Alaska Court's Write-In Ruling Could Aid Murkowski: " After a day’s worth of back-and-forth, the Alaska Supreme Court late Wednesday said voters can look at a list of certified write-in candidates when they go to the polls." (McClatchy)

Coalition for Obama Split by Drift to G.O.P. -- Poll: " Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Roman Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents. All of those groups broke for Mr. Obama in 2008 and for Congressional Democrats when they grabbed both chambers from the Republicans four years ago, according to exit polls." (NY Times)

Democrats Stress Social Issues: "Polls show men leaning heavily Republican this year. That has Democrats and their backers trying in the campaign's last days to spur left-leaning and independent women to vote, by emphasizing abortion and other social issues." (WSJ)

Does She Have What It Takes? "Karl Rove, the former senior adviser to George W Bush, has cast doubt on Sarah Palin’s viability as a White House candidate, questioning if the American people thought she had the 'gravitas' for the 'most demanding job in the world'." (Telegraph)

Goodbye, Girlie Men; Hello, Wimps: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Says D.C. Politicians Are 'Wimps' Against Big Oil" (ABC)

Brown Leads by 10: "Democrat Jerry Brown has amassed a 10-point lead in the California governor's race over Republican Meg Whitman, whose negative ratings have reached record levels despite her spending $162 million in the largest self-funded campaign in American history, a new Field Poll shows." (SFGate)

Too Late? "President Barack Obama has improved his standing among voters, and Democrats finally have started to energize their base, but it might be too little and too late to change the course of Tuesday's elections, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll." (McClatchy)

If Not Now, in 2012? "If Senate Democrats think 2010 is a tough cycle, just wait two more years.
They’ll probably hold the Senate majority Tuesday — with a couple of seats to spare, most analysts believe. But 2012 is a different story. By then, Republicans will be poised to take control of the Senate — with pickup possibilities scattered across the map and a much narrower base of their own to defend." (Politico)

Then Again, Maybe Not: "A majority of voters see the midterm election as a referendum on Barack Obama, but most have not decided whether they’ll vote against the president in 2012, according to a poll." (The Hill)

The Party Crashers: Behind the New Republican Revival (David Von Drehle @ Time)

Apr. 15, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - 12th Annual Keepers Of The Dream Awards.Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers New York, NY 04-15-2010.REV. JESSE JACKSON. 2010.I15179BT. © Red Carpet Pictures

Jesse Jackson Scolds NPR over Juan Williams' Firing: "NPR was wrong because they did not afford him freedom of speech," Jackson said. "They did it in a way that was unfair. The context was he was arguing with Bill O’Reilly, saying why he should not be so virulently anti-Muslim … It reminded me so much of the case with Shirley Sherrod. They jumped so quick." (Politico)

For Steve Rattner, a Legal Standoff With Andrew Cuomo: "Wall Street deal-maker and former U.S. car czar Steven Rattner recently reached a tentative settlement with Securities and Exchange Commission staff over his role in a pay-to-play investigation of New York State's public pension fund, according to people familiar with the matter. But Mr. Rattner has been stymied in efforts to forge a similar deal with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, another powerful Democrat also probing activities surrounding the pension fund and who is running for governor in his state. One reason for the delay came up in a tense phone call in the summer of 2009 between Mr. Cuomo and a lawyer for Mr. Rattner, people familiar with the matter said." (WSJ)


Bank Probe Trouble for FDIC Chief? "The demise of the politically connected ShoreBank has sparked yet another investigation -- one that could spell trouble for FDIC chief Sheila Bair." (FBN)

Stores Push Black Friday Into October: "The year’s most popular discount shopping event, referring to the Friday after Thanksgiving, is arriving ahead of Halloween this year, with some promotions beginning this week and others throughout November." (NY Times)

Robert Reich -- Prepare Yourselves: "In the short term there is very little the President can do. He can put the best face on it and say 'Look we're trying very hard' but this is going to take years at best. This is no garden variety recession. The great recession is officially over but the aftershock will continue for years." (Sky News)

Can the E.U. Fix the Euro? "The convulsions that rattled the euro this year — and nearly tore it asunder — were supposed to be a wake-up call for Europe, a sign that it had to fix once and for all the potentially fatal flaws built into its single currency. Caught unawares by the Greek debt crisis, European Union governments eventually pulled together a "shock and awe" $1 billion bailout plan to avert the eurozone's collapse — and then pledged to overhaul their policies to ensure they would never again be so threatened. However, as E.U. leaders gather in Brussels on Thursday for a major two-day summit, they are divided on how best to repair the euro and restore confidence in their debt-riddled economies." (Time)

Nissan Recalls 2.14m Cars: "Nissan Motor Co said on Thursday it would recall 2.14 million March/Micra, Cube and about a dozen other models in its third-biggest recall, to fix a faulty ignition relay that could cause engine problems. No accident was reported from the defect, Nissan spokesman Toshitake Inoshita said. " (Reuters)


Nigeria Intercepts 13 Iran Missile Containers Possibly Destined for Gaza: "Rocket launchers, grenades and other explosives camouflaged as building material were seized in the Nigerian port of Lagos after being unloaded from an Iranian ship." (Haaretz)

French Still Striking -- In Other Words, Generalissimo Franco Is Still Dead: "The lower house of France’s parliament, the National Assembly, gave final approval on Wednesday to a bill that raises the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 and the age for a full pension from 65 to 67. But, despite the ballot, new protest strikes called by labor unions disrupted air and rail traffic on Thursday." (NY Times)

China Slows Iran Oil Work: "China's top energy firms have slowed work on projects in Iran as their ties grow with U.S. energy companies, a blow to Tehran as it struggles under sanctions to attract investment in its strategic oil sector." (Reuters)

Indonesia Tsunami Death Toll Tops 300: "Survivors said they had almost no warning that the 3m wall of water was bearing down on them, despite the laying of a sophisticated network of alarm buoys off the Sumatran coast. As the magnitude of the disaster became clear, many were asking whether the expensive warning system -- established after the 2004 Asian tsunami which killed at least 168 000 people in Indonesia alone -- had failed." (Mail & Guardian)

Suu Kyi To Be Released? "The Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi may be released from house arrest after the Myanmar's elections next month. . . . Indonesia's foreign minister Marty Natalegawa said Win indicated Suu Kyi will be freed when her sentence expires in November." (Sky News)

Ban Ki-Moon to Junta -- Free Prisoners or Else: " The United Nations chief warned Thursday that unless Myanmar's junta frees political prisoners its planned Nov. 7 elections may not be considered legitimate or credible." (AP)

Top General Won't Run: "Myanmar's top leader Gen. Than Shwe will bow out of national elections next month, but his role in the country's political future remains unclear, a Southeast Asian diplomat said Thursday." (AP)

Berlusconi Gave Me Cash After We Had Sex, Says Teenager: "Il Giornale, the newspaper owned by Mr Berlusconi's brother, described the allegations as a potential "sex scandal" and another "D'Addario case" – a reference to Patrizia D'Addario, the prostitute who last year claimed that she slept with the prime minister at his mansion in Rome. Magistrates cautioned that the Moroccan woman's claims might be without foundation and could be part of a plot to blackmail the 74-year-old premier, or an attempt at self-promotion by the aspiring showgirl." (Telegraph)

Giants Pound Rangers in Game 1: "The pitching duel never materialized, but the previously hibernating Giants offense did." (Sports Illustrated)


Wednesday, October 27, 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:

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 04: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) attends the Fortune Most Powerful Women summit at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 4, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.)

Democrats Getting Outspent? Not So Fast: "It’s true that conservative third-party groups are outspending their Democratic rivals. But the Democrats still have a sizable cash advantage in their party committees – making this year’s elections a lot more of a fair fight than Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi let on. So far, the latest figures show that the Democratic Party machinery has outraised its Republican counterpart in this campaign cycle by almost $270 million. And even when outside spending on television advertising and direct mail is added to the mix, Republicans still haven’t closed the gap." (Politico)

Campaign Spending Is Bluer: " Lost in all of the attention paid to the heavy spending by Republican-oriented independent groups in this year’s midterm elections is that Democratic candidates have generally wielded a significant head-to-head financial advantage over their Republican opponents in individual competitive races." (NY Times)

Parties Pull Out the Stops: "For many candidates now — particularly struggling Democrats — their political future hinges on getting voters to the polls on Nov. 2. . . . A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds that 63% of registered Republicans and those leaning Republican say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year. That compares with 37% Democrats and Democratic-leaning registered voters." (USA Today)

Manchin Investigation Worries Democrats: "A federal investigation into West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin’s administration has taken a disturbing turn for his Democratic supporters: agents reportedly have subpoenaed the director of the state Aviation Division, along with flight logs and records for official government aircraft. . . .  It’s highly unlikely the federal investigation will be resolved before Election Day, and the exact details of the probe, which apparently stem from state contracts, are still unclear. But the headlines about possible wrongdoing in the governor’s office – and rumors swirling around his former top aide – threaten to hamstring Manchin in his tight Senate race with millionaire businessman John Raese, with the Democrats’ control of the Senate at stake." (Politico)

House Forecast -- 52-Seat Gain For G.O.P.: "If Democrats were hoping for a late surge to improve their chances of retaining control of the House, there isn’t any evidence of it yet. Instead, Republicans have generally had the better of the polls in individual House districts released in the past 24 hours." (Nate Silver @ NY Times)

But It's a Tougher Road Ahead for the Senate: "We have been noting for several weeks that, with Republican chances having dwindled from slim to virtually none in a few East Coast Senate contests like Connecticut, Delaware, and the New York special election, their prospects of the party winning a 51st Senate seat on Nov. 2 instead boiled down to winning either California or Washington (while sweeping the other competitive contests). Today, they have gotten bad news in one of those races. That is the race in California, where several polls released within the past 24 hours show leads of 4 to 9 points for the Democrat, Barbara Boxer. Trendlines in these polls show little indication that Ms. Boxer’s lead has eroded; instead, it appears to have at least held steady and perhaps expanded by a point or so." (Nate Silver @ NY Times)

Midterm Blowout -- 50 House Seats for Republicans: "Republicans are headed for a blowout election win that seems certain to seize more than enough seats to knock out the Democrats and take control of the House. The Hill 2010 Midterm Election poll, surveying nearly 17,000 likely voters in 42 toss-up districts over four weeks, points to a massive Republican wave that, barring an extraordinary turnaround, will deliver crushing nationwide defeats for President Obama’s party. The data suggest a GOP pickup that could easily top 50 seats (the party needs 39 for control of the House)." (The Hill)

Fiorina Staying Overnight at Hospital: "It wasn't clear how soon she would return to the campaign trail, but Bowker told NBC Fiorina expected to return later this week." (MSNBC)

Jockeying Starts: "Senior Republicans in the House, pressed by the party's base to hew to conservative principles and rein in spending, are homing in on that message as they jockey to become chairmen of the chamber's most powerful committees." (WSJ)

Divide and Conquer: "With just six days left until Election Day, a key component of the Democratic strategy to hold the House is becoming clear: In more than a dozen close races, Democrats are encouraging and advancing little-known, conservative third-party candidates in an attempt to fracture the Republican vote enough to eke out narrow victories." (Politico)

Michelle Obama On Going On the Campaign Trail Alone: "I was scared. I was worried that I'd say that wrong thing. I was nervous that someone might ask a question that I didn't know the answer to. I have a tendency to do that thing that a lot of women do, where you get 99 things right, but spend all your time beating yourself up about the one thing you messed up." (CNN's Political Ticker)
WASHINGTON - JULY 26:  U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) (L) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, joined other House Democrats for a press conference to promote the 'Amerisave' plan at the Capitol July 26, 2005 in Washington, DC. According to the Democrats, the plan is intended to help middle-class families to save for retirement.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

‘I Know I’ve Disappointed You’: "Here’s a tactic that one of the most at-risk House Democrats -- North Dakota Congressman Earl Pomeroy -- is hoping will resonate with voters: just apologize." (ABC)

Lobbyists Courting Potential House Stars: " Across Washington, lobbyists have been working behind the scenes now for months to prepare for this possible power shift. Former aides to Mr. Camp, who now work as lobbyists, are checking in with their onetime boss, chatting with him and his aides about staff appointments he might make when he takes over the Ways and Means Committee, and what tax or health care issues will be at the top of his agenda. Other lobbyists have gone to his staff to try to get to the head of the line in presenting proposed tax changes that will benefit their clients." (NY Times)

The Rise, Fall and Rise of John Boehner: " Twelve years later, Boehner, 60, is on the verge of completing a remarkable political comeback. He is now the minority leader, and if Republicans win control of the House in next week's midterm elections, he will almost certainly become speaker." (WaPo)

Rand Paul Supporter Apologizes: "Tim Profitt, a volunteer with the Republican’s U.S. Senate campaign, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the camera angle made the scuffle Monday night appear worse that it was. He criticized police for not stepping in and says other supporters warned authorities about the activist. Paul has cut ties with Profitt, of Paris, Ky., who allegedly assaulted a liberal activist during a rally Monday night in Lexington, his campaign announced Tuesday afternoon." (McClatchy)

Ed Koch -- Republicans Will Sweep House and Senate: "Koch is blaming voters' profound disappointment in the leadership of President Barack Obama for the looming debacle facing Democrats." (Newsmax)

Records -- Miller Admits to Computer use, Lying: "Alaska GOP Senate hopeful Joe Miller was suspended for three days and referred to an employee assistance program after admitting to improperly using three government computers, then cleaning the caches to cover up the activities, according to personnel records released Tuesday under court order." (WaPo)


NPR Receives Bomb Threat: " Sources at the news organization said the threat was received via U.S. mail and was immediately turned over to local police and the FBI. The organization did not publicly disclose the threat or release details, on the advice of law enforcement officials. The letter didn't reference the Williams firing specifically, but people at NPR, who spoke about it on the condition of anonymity, said the timing and tone suggested it was sent after Williams's widely publicized termination. " (WaPo)

FBI Links 2 Military Shootings, Probes 3rd: "In the early morning hours of October 19 police and FBI investigators responded in force when six shots were fired into the south side of the Pentagon, leaving bullets embedded in two different windows. Just two days earlier, police in Quantico, Virginia responded to a similar attack on the Marine Corps Museum, where bullets were also fired at windows in the early morning hours. The FBI announced Tuesday it determined those shootings were carried out with the same weapon, which police said at the time of the Pentagon shooting was believed to be a high-powered rifle. Ballistic testing is now also underway for a third shooting that occurred sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning at the Marine Corps recruiting station in Chantilly, Virginia." (Fox News)


Fed Set For New Round of Monetary Easing? "The Federal Reserve looks set to embark on a hotly debated second round of monetary easing next week, but much uncertainty surrounds the scope and pace of bond purchases by the U.S. central bank." (Reuters)

Detroit Revving Up the Engine: " Ford Motor Company's plan to add more than 1,000 jobs at seven Michigan plants is proof that the Motor City, so hammered by this economy, is finally seeing early glimmers of a comeback. Ford, the only U.S. automaker not to take federal bailout money, is leading the way. This morning, the company announced their record third quarter profits." (ABC)

U.S. Seeks to Shield Goldman Secrets: " Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has always closely guarded the secrets of its lucrative high-speed trading system. Now the securities firm is getting a help from an unusual source: federal prosecutors." (WSJ)


Arab-Israelis, Police Clash Ahead of Rightwing March: "Violent clashes have broken out between Palestinian-Israelis and Israeli police ahead of a planned demonstration by members of a right-wing Jewish group in the town of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel." (Al Jazeera)
An Afghan policeman searches a compound with U.S. Marines during a search for bomb-making materials on a patrol that came under fire from Taliban insurgents in the town of Nabuk in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, October 26, 2010. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST)

Russia Steps In to Help NATO in Afghanistan: "Russia has agreed to return to the war in Afghanistan at the request of the Western states which helped the mujahedin to drive its forces out of the country 21 years ago. . . . In return for help in Afghanistan Moscow is seeking what it terms as more co-operation from Nato. President Barack Obama has already scrapped missile-defence shields in Poland and the Czech Republic, proposals for which had led to prolonged protests from Moscow, and Nato has agreed that Russia will be consulted on the replacement system. Moscow would also like Nato to accept a fait accompli over Georgia, where Russian troops remain in South Ossetia and Abkhazia after the war of two years ago." (The Independent)

Taliban Unscathed: " An intense military campaign aimed at crippling the Taliban has so far failed to inflict more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency or put meaningful pressure on its leaders to seek peace, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials citing the latest assessments of the war in Afghanistan." (WaPo)

Obama Tries to Restart Talks With Iran: "The Obama administration is pushing to revive a failed deal for Iran to send some of its nuclear stockpile overseas in exchange for assistance with peaceful nuclear technology, according to senior U.S. officials. The aim is to try to reduce Tehran's ability to quickly produce an atomic weapon." (WSJ)

India Fears Terror Attacks During Obama Visit: "Home Secretary Gopal Pillai on Wednesday told CNN-IBN television on Wednesday that the country was on alert to prevent attacks, such as the killing of 35 Sikhs in Kashmir by militants in 2000, when then U.S. President Bill Clinton visited India." (Reuters)

British Airways Chairman Attacks US Airport Security Checks: "Practices such as forcing passengers to take off their shoes should be abandoned, Martin Broughton said. And he questioned why laptop computers needed to be screened separately." (BBC)

French Retirement Age Reform Goes Ahead: "French President Nicolas Sarkozy moves a step closer to raising his country's retirement age today, amid signs resistance against the measure is fading. The bill to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62 goes before France's lower house after being given final approval by the Senate." (Sky News)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SPANISH BANK may have passed the stress tests but it doesn't mean they're untroubled, writes The Wall Street Journal.

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:
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz lights a cigar as he attends the final session of the International Baghdad Conference September 18, 2002 in Baghdad, Iraq. The conference was attended by such dignitaries as former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, British labour MP George Galloway and others.  (Photo by Taha Al-Rubayyh/Getty Images)

BREAKING -- Tariq Aziz to Hang: "Iraqi state TV says former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz has been sentenced to death for persecuting Shiite political parties during Saddam Hussein's regime. State TV reported the High Criminal Court issued the death sentence Tuesday." (CBS)


Aide Fired Over Florida Debate Foul: "Alex Sink’s campaign violated rules Monday evening at the CNN/St. Petersburg Times Florida gubernatorial debate when her make-up artist delivered a message during a television break. Sink, the Democratic nominee, was shown a two-sentence message on a cell phone that offered her advice during the debate." (CNN)

Reid Aide Resigns: "A press secretary to Hispanic media in Nevada for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is no longer with his office following a news report accusing her of marrying a Lebanese man in 2003 to help him evade immigration laws, a Reid spokesman said Monday night.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that Diana Tejada's alleged conduct was "clearly wrong." (MSNBC)

Obama Gets Caustic Welcome: "Welcome to Rhode Island, where Democratic politics are so quirky that the party’s nominee for governor welcomed President Obama on Monday by declaring, on live radio, that the president could 'take his endorsement and really shove it.'  Later, as if to drive home his point, the Democrat, Frank T. Caprio – miffed that Mr. Obama is refusing to endorse him in the governor’s race – was a no-show when the president toured a local factory here, although he had an invitation from the White House to attend." (NY Times)

Then Gets Caustic on Republicans: "He said Republicans had driven the economy into a ditch and then stood by and criticized while Democrats pulled it out. Now that progress has been made, he said, 'we can't have special interests sitting shotgun. We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.'" (AP)

Shattering of Fundraising Records by Both Parties: " House and Senate candidates have already shattered fundraising records for a midterm election and are on their way to surpassing $2 billion in spending for the first time, according to new campaign finance data. To put it another way: That's the equivalent of about $4 million for every congressional seat up for grabs this year." (WaPo)

Republicans Remain Ahead in Race for House: "Republicans remain in position to win control of the House of Representatives in next week's midterm elections, although Democrats are doing slightly better now than they were early in October. Gallup's latest two-week average on its generic ballot for Congress shows Republicans retaining a 48% to 44% margin among all registered voters, a 52% to 43% margin among likely voters in a high-turnout scenario, and a 55% to 41% margin in a low-turnout scenario. These likely voter advantages for the Republicans are slightly smaller than in previous weeks, reflecting in particular increased Democratic strength over the most recent days of interviewing." (Gallup)

Soros for  Prop. 19: "We should invest in effective education rather than ineffective arrest and incarceration." (WSJ)

Meg Whitman -- 'We're Going to Win This': " Whitman has spent some $141 million of her own money for a fighting chance at the governor's mansion, but the former eBay CEO is still 13 points behind Brown in the latest Los Angeles Times poll." (ABC)
RICHMOND, VA - NOVEMBER 04:  Virginia Gov. and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine holds a press conference at the State Capitol complex November 4, 2009 in Richmond, Virginia. Kaine discussed the results of yesterday's election results during the press conference.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Nice Guy In a Nasty Moment: "Dems worry about Tim Kaine's dislike of negativity and reluctance to attack Republicans." (Politico)

Colorado Tea Party Groups Splinter: "The divisions may have turned some voters off. In early April, a Rasmussen Reports poll found Colorado had one of the highest rates of tea-party participation in the U.S.: 33% of voters considered themselves members of the movement. That has now dropped to 23%, according to a Rasmussen poll released Oct. 1. The national rate fell to 17% from 24% during that time, the poll found." (WSJ)

Obama's agenda in jeopardy if GOP captures House: "In 2008, Ron Fraatz supported Barack Obama for president. This year, the 61-year-old retired school worker represents everything the president's party now fears. That's because Fraatz, who says he still backs Obama, plans to vote Republican for the House of Representatives in this competitive district west of Philadelphia. It's independent voters such as Fraatz, in dozens of battleground spots across the nation, who are making the Nov. 2 midterm elections so tough for Democrats." (USA Today)

Dems, GOP Join to Challenge Alaska's List of Write-Ins: "Both political parties say the lists, which have been distributed to polling places statewide, are a considerable change in the state's previous write-in practices. In her write-in bid, Murkowski is taking on Republican Joe Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams." (McClatchy)

BAGHDAD, IRAQ, FEBRUARY 21:  An interior view of cell doors at the newly opened Baghdad Central Prison in Abu Ghraib on February 21, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. The Iraqi Ministry of Justice has renovated and reopened the previously named 'Abu Ghraib' prison and renamed the site to Baghdad Central Prison. According to the Iraqi Ministry of Justice about 400 prisoners were transferred to the prison which can hold up to 3000 inmates. The prison was established in 1970 and it became synonymous with abuse under the U.S. occupation.  (Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)

Do Wikileaks Documents Show Torture Also During on Obama's Watch? "Field reports from the Iraq war published by WikiLeaks show that, despite Obama's public commitment to eschew torture, U.S. forces turned detainees over to Iraqi forces even after signs of abuse." (AP)

N.Y.-Born Man Arrested in Hawaii in Terror Case: "A New York City-born man was ordered to return from Hawaii where he was arrested on charges he tried to join the U.S. military at a Times Square recruiting station so he could he could be deployed to Iraq, desert and fight with anti-American insurgency forces. Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, 21, was charged with making false statements in the midst of a New York-based terrorism investigation, authorities said." (AP)

Health Care Law's Medicare Trims Altering Seniors' Views: "Until this spring, life-long Democrat Carolyn Land never had a second thought about voting for Rep. Allen Boyd, a Democrat who has represented her area since 1997. But the day after Boyd cast his March 21 vote for the new health care law, Land, 65, got out of her La-Z-Boy, switched her registration to Republican and began stumping for Boyd's Republican challenger, Steve Southerland."

How Obama Lost the Narrative: "So he's not Superman after all—but how has he managed to lose to the legion of doom?" (David Corn @ Mother Jones)

The Real Reason Obama Has Let Us All Down: "On the night he won, I too shed a little tear; but the people weeping today are those having their homes repossessed." (Johann Hari @ UK's Independent)

NPR Affiliates' Discontent: "Executives at NPR affiliate stations across the United States have begun publicly voicing discontent in the aftermath of the network's dismissal of news analyst Juan Williams, with several station managers openly questioning the actions and judgment of NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller." (Fox News)


Treasury Draws Negative Yield for First Time: "The Treasury sold $10 billion of five-year Treasury Inflation Protected Securities at a negative yield for the first time at a U.S. debt auction as investors bet the Federal Reserve will be successful in sparking inflation." (Bloomberg)

It's a Positive Sign: "A combination of low interest rates and growing fears of rising prices enabled the U.S. government to sell inflation-protected Treasury bonds with a negative yield for the first time ever on Monday. That means if inflation doesn't appear as investors expect, they could end up paying to lend money to the government." (WSJ)

Warren Buffett Flags a Successor: "Berkshire named Todd Combs, manager of a small hedge fund from Connecticut, to oversee a portion of Berkshire's roughly $100 billion investment portfolio. The surprise appointment will be a challenge for Mr. Combs, 39 years old, whose fund recently had only about $400 million in assets and primarily invested in the shares of financial-services companies. Mr. Combs didn't return calls for comment." (WSJ)

AIG CEO Benmosche in Treatment for Cancer: "American International Group said Chief Executive Robert Benmosche has cancer and an unclear prognosis, casting a shadow on the bailed-out insurer as it undergoes a restructuring." (Reuters)

Lawsuits Accuse Lenders of Sabotaging Mortgage Modifications: "More borrowers are taking banks and loan servicers to court, alleging they were misled when they tried to renegotiate the terms of their loans." (LA Times)

UK Growth Better Than Expected: "The UK economy grew by 0.8% in the three months to September - a higher rate than had been predicted by analysts. (Sky News)


Iran Fuels Core Of First Nuclear Reactor: "Iran has started to load fuel into its Bushehr nuclear power plant, according to state media." (Sky News)

Hizbullah operatives now manufacturing missiles in Syria: " A report in the French daily Le Figaro on Tuesday revealed new information on the military wing of Hizbullah's structural make-up, with details on the guerrilla group's 10,000 operatives and arsenal of some 40,000 rockets. The report also focused on Syria's role in Hizbullah operations, in both manufacture and transportation of rockets." (Jerusalem Post)

Top Terrorist Returns to Al-Qaeda Fold: "Former al-Qaida military chief Saif al-Adel spent the last nine years under house arrest in Iran. He has now returned to Waziristan in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan and appears to have got his old job back. With his help, the weakened terror network could reorganize itself." (Der Spiegel)

Scores Dead, Missing After Tsunami Hits Indonesia (Reuters)

Global Food Crisis Forecast: " Rising food prices and shortages could cause instability in many countries as the cost of staple foods and vegetables reached their highest levels in two years, with scientists predicting further widespread droughts and floods." (Mail & Guardian)


Monday, October 25, 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:

President Barack Obama walks alone across the South Lawn of the White House as he returns to Washington, D.C. aboard Marine 1 after a short visit to Williamsburg, Virginia to make remarks at the House Democrats Issues Conference on February 5, 2009. (UPI Photo/Ron Sachs /Pool) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

Independents to Side with G.O.P.: "Republicans are on the verge of broad wins next week for one big reason: independent voters are ready to boot Democrats from office, according to a new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll." (Politico)

Early Voter ‘Enthusiasm Gap’ Appears Consistent With Polls: "So, the various estimates of early voting data each show an edge for Republicans: their voters have been slightly more inclined that Democrats in most states thus far. Under the most favorable set of assumptions for them, their advantage is around 9 points; by the least favorable set of assumptions, it is more like a 4-point edge." (Nate Silver @ NY Times)

Ehrlich Losing GOP Traction: "Heading into the final week of his reelection bid, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley holds a commanding lead over former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., whose comeback campaign has failed to capitalize on continuing anxiety over the economy and anger at Washington." (WaPo)

Gay Voters Angry at Democrats Could Sway Election: "Across the country, activists say gay voters are angry — at the lack of progress on issues from eliminating employment discrimination to uncertainty over serving in the military to the economy — and some are choosing to sit out this election or look for other candidates." (AP)

Cuomo Vows to Rein In the Unions: "Andrew M. Cuomo will mount a presidential-style permanent political campaign to counter the well-financed labor unions he believes have bullied previous governors and lawmakers into making bad decisions. He will seek to transform the state’s weak business lobby into a more formidable ally, believing that corporate leaders in New York have virtually surrendered the field to big labor." (NY Times)

America’s Worst Politician? "There are hundreds of plausible nominees for the title of America’s Second-Smarmiest Politician, but surely the top spot is un-contested. Americans of all political persuasions can come together in affirming one proposition: Public life would be improved by scrubbing Rep. Alan Grayson from it. This act of civic hygiene probably will be performed Nov. 2 by voters of Florida’s Eighth Congressional District. Polls indicate that a majority of them plan to deny Grayson, 52, a second term by electing his resonantly named opponent, Daniel Webster." (George Will @ Newsweek)

Would a G.O.P. Victory Help Obama in 2012? " The national angst that's driving this campaign isn't directed at Democrats so much as it is at Washington. If Republicans control one of the major levers of power over the next two years, the president will have a more influential foil to position against, and Democrats from the White House on down will be able to blame members of the opposite party for the gridlock." (Rick Klein @ ABC)

Tea Party Already Impacting '12: "The tea-party phenomenon is forcing possible Republican presidential candidates in 2012 to make early and potentially high-risk strategic gambles over how to harness the movement." (WSJ)

Pro-Republican Groups Prepare Big Push for Last Week of Campaign: " Officials involved in the effort over the midterm elections’ final week say it is being spearheaded by a core subset of the largest outside conservative groups, which have millions of dollars left to spend on television advertisements, mailings and phone calls for five potentially decisive Senate races, as well as the scores of House races. " (NY Times)

Dems Holding Edge in Two Key Mass. House Races -- Frank vs Bielat, Keating vs Perry: "In both races, however, supporters of the Republican nominees say they are more excited about the election, which often correlates to higher turnout on Election Day." (Boston Globe)

Election Day Could Bring Historic Split -- Democrats Lose House, Keep Senate: "That would represent a historic anomaly: Not since the election of 1930 has the House changed hands without the Senate following suit." (WaPo)

Jack Conway's College Days: "When Democratic Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway started attacking his opponent for the Kentucky Senate seat, Republican Rand Paul, for college-aged hijinks that involved smoking pot and “praying” to a god named Aqua Buddha, Conway’s old classmates took notice." (Daily Caller)

It's So Not '08: "On college campuses where Barack Obama made politics cool again, most students have moved on. They’ve quit bugging their friends about change, they’re no longer trying to sign up new voters and the knock-on-door day trips now draw only the most hard-core." (Politico)

No Kiddin', Sherlock: "With just nine days to go until the midterm election, the leaders of both parties claim they will have control of the House of Representatives when all the votes are counted. Someone is wrong." (ABC)

National Public Radio's Juan Williams shown in this April 2001 file photo has been fired for comments he made regaring Muslims, it has been reported on October 21, 2010. Williams, who appeared on the television show The O'Reilly Factor on October 18, 2010, made the following comment to Bill O'Reilly, Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous, Williams said. Before working for NPR, Williams spent 21 years at The Washington Post as an editorial writer and White House reporter. UPI/Bill Greenblatt/FILES Photo via Newscom

Juan Williams Fires Back: "To get fired obviously is no pleasure . . . But then to be called a bigot and the innuendo that I'm somehow unstable was, I thought, despicable." (CNN)
NPR’s C.E.O. Apologizes for Handling of Episode: "In the latest dispatch from the war between Juan Williams and NPR, Vivian Schiller, its chief executive, apologized to her colleagues for how she handled Mr. Williams’s firing for remarks he made about Muslims. But she did not apologize for the firing itself." (NY Times)

The 'Great Game' Bubbles Under Obama's India Trip: "Touted as a visit with an emerging economic power, U.S. President Barack Obama's trip to India in November will also be about how New Delhi deals with that elephant in the room - the Pakistan-Afghanistan conundrum." (Reuters)

That's Certainly Going to Bring a Big Hiccup in Her Career: "A teenager once known as "Hiccup Girl" is one of three people arrested for killing a 22-year-old St. Petersburg man Saturday night. . . . Mee made news across the world several years ago as the teenager who could not stop hiccupping. Her plight made national news because she kept hiccupping for weeks and weeks and nothing she tried would make them stop." (ABC)


Better Late Than Never: "Preparing for political life after a bruising election, President Barack Obama will put greater emphasis on fiscal discipline, a nod to a nation sick of spending and to a Congress poised to become more Republican, conservative and determined to stop him." (AP)

Singapore Exchange Buys Australia's Main Stock Market ASX: "Singapore Exchange will buy Australia’s main stock exchange operator, ASX, for about 8.4 billion Australian dollars ($8.3 billion), the companies said Monday. The deal is the first major consolidation of Asia-Pacific exchanges and will result in $30 million in cost savings." (Reuters)


Karzai Confirms Getting Money from Iran: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai says that once or twice a year Iran gives his office $700,000 to $975,000 for official presidential expenses. He says the U.S. has known about the Iranian assistance for years and that Washington also gives the palace 'bags of money.'" (AP)

Civil War at Wikileaks: "At least a dozen key supporters of the website are known to have left in recent months. They say Wikileaks has ignored reams of new exposés because so much attention has been paid to the Iraq and Afghan conflicts." (UK's Independent)

Iraq's Supreme Court to Parliament -- Get Off Your Asses! " Iraq's highest court on Sunday ordered the country's idled parliament back to work, in a ruling that could help break the seven-month deadlock in the negotiations to form a new government." (LA Times)

Haiti Cholera Outbreak Inches Toward Refugees: "A cholera outbreak that already has left 250 people dead and more than 3,000 sickened is at the doorstep of an enormous potential breeding ground: the squalid camps in Port-au-Prince where 1.3 million earthquake survivors live. Health authorities and aid workers are scrambling to keep the tragedies from merging and the deaths from multiplying." (CBS)

Seoul Sends 5,000 Tons of Rice to North Korea: "Seoul's stance on aid to North Korea remains that overall inter-Korean relations must first be considered before large-scale food and fertilizer aid is resumed. However the South Korean government has been allowing smaller-scale shipments including rice and other necessities by aid groups." (Arirang)

Five Killed In Blast At Pakistan Shrine: "A bomb blast at a Sufi shrine in east Pakistan has killed at least five people during morning prayers. Police said an explosive device was planted on a motorbike in the city of Pak Pattan in the Punjab province." (Sky News)

Tech, Science

Online Tracking Company RapLeaf Profiles Users by Name: "Rival tracking companies also gather minute detail on individual Americans: They know a tremendous amount about what you do. But most trackers either can't or won't keep the ultimate piece of personal information—your name—in their databases. The industry often cites this layer of anonymity as a reason online tracking shouldn't be considered intrusive." (WSJ)


Friday, October 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:

AFSCME President Gerald McEntee speaks at a American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) rally in support of health care reform at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington on August 31, 2009. Congress is expected to resume the health care debate when it returns from a rancorous recess after Labor Day. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg Photo via Newscom

Public-Employees Union, the Campaign's Big Spender: "The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is now the biggest outside spender of the 2010 elections, thanks to an 11th-hour effort to boost Democrats that has vaulted the public-sector union ahead of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and a flock of new Republican groups in campaign spending." (WSJ)

Clinton to the Rescue of Michigan Dems: "Former President Bill Clinton will campaign Sunday in Detroit, Ann Arbor and Battle Creek with several Democratic candidates." (AP)

Young Voters Not Engaged: "Democrats face a big hurdle in motivating young voters to go to the polls this November, according to two new surveys." (WaPo)

Kansas Governor’s Race Seen Redefining G.O.P.: "If Sam Brownback, a United States senator and, briefly, presidential candidate, is elected governor in two weeks as nearly everyone expects, Kansans are anticipating the type of conservative revolution that those living elsewhere already assumed had swept through this state long ago. Mr. Brownback’s ascent would be the culmination of a civil war that has raged here for decades between moderates and conservatives in the state’s Republican Party." (NY Times)

Prop. 19 Going Up in Smoke? "Calculating a trendline from all surveys on the initiative suggests that about 46 percent of Californians plan to vote in favor of Proposition 19 — a yes vote would legalize marijuana in the state — but 47 percent plan to vote no. This reflects a reversal from before, as the ballot measure had led in most surveys prior to this month." (Nate Silver @ NYT)

Fiorina's Contrast in Images: " Getting to know the person friends call "the real Carly," meanwhile, can be a confounding task. Stung by several episodes in her life, including the unraveling of her first marriage and the brouhaha surrounding her firing from Hewlett-Packard, where she was chief executive, president and chairman, she is private and guarded." (LA Times)

GOP Latinos Poised for Big Wins: "The nation's fastest-growing voting bloc - nearly half the voters in New Mexico, for instance, are of Latino origin - has largely shunned the GOP in recent years. Yet those Republican hopes may be difficult to realize, if only because the GOP's anti-immigration rhetoric is a primary reason Latinos have turned away from the party." (WaPo)

Obama to Seattleites: "'We need you fired up,' Obama told a packed crowd inside a basketball arena here at the University of Washington to rally for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). He added: 'We are grinding it out. We are doing the hard, frustrating, inch-by-inch, day-by-day, week-by-week work of bringing about change.'" (WaPo)

Struggles to Win Women Back: "Yet despite 22 months of such gender-specific policy moves – and a recent push to energize disenchanted women voters — Obama has steadily lost ground with women, the Democratic Party’s biggest constituency. Their lack of enthusiasm has imperiled a crop of 2010 Congressional candidates, complicated Obama’s own path to victory in 2012 – and resulted in the president making the kind of explicit, 11th hour appeal to women voters that he made here Thursday." (Politico)

In Two Years, a Fearful Turn in Obama's Speeches: "With the 2008 Democratic primary race all but won, Barack Obama appeared at a massive outdoor rally here and delivered a message that was unique by the cutthroat standards of American political campaigns. 'We're not going to worry about what other folks are doing, Obama told a crowd of 75,000 at the waterfront event in May 2008. 'We're going to try to focus on what we think we can do for America.' Obama returned to Portland on Wednesday night and delivered a different sort of speech. His message of national unity and reconciliation had been replaced by a stark warning against cynical Republican tactics, vague threats to America's political system and the urgent need to keep the GOP marginalized. There was less hope, more fear." (LA Times)

O'Donnell -I Can Win': "A defiant Christine O'Donnell implored supporters to get out and vote on Election Day, claiming her upstart candidacy is surging against Democratic nominee Chris Coons." (The Hill)

It's Not the Foreign Companies: "The recent allegations from President Obama and others that foreign money has ended up in the chamber’s coffers miss a larger point: The chamber has had little trouble finding American companies eager to enlist it, anonymously, to fight their political battles and pay handsomely for its help." (NY Times)

Hopefuls Laying Low: "With less than two weeks before the midterm elections, candidates all across the nation are doing . . . not much of anything? Congressional hopefuls from California to Delaware are shunning the traditional trappings of campaigns, avoiding public events, debates and other venues where they can't control the action. Many are keeping their schedules secret and limiting their in-person appearances and have canceled interviews on national television in favor of smaller, friendlier venues. " (WaPo)

Do All These Expensive Campaign Ads Matter? Experts are divided on how much the barrage matters in elections. (McClatchy)
Dems Losing Gender War: "For years, Democrats have patted themselves on the back for being the self-appointed party of women.  While Republican women have watched enviously, over the years the left has elected more women to Congress, marketed them skillfully in glossy magazines by using a complacent and willing network of women's media and has been able to galvanize support from liberal women by relying on organizations like EMILY's List, which recruits female Democratic candidates who support abortion. In 2010, that's changing.  If you haven't read the headline now sending shivers down every feminist's back, here it is: 2010 is the year of the Republican woman." (Andrea Tantaros @ NY Daily News)


NPR CEO Apologizes For Juan Williams Remark: After her comment late yesterday that now-former NPR news analyst Juan Williams should have kept his feelings about Muslims between himself and "his psychiatrist or his publicist." (NPR) -- JUAN WILLIAMS: I Was Fired for Telling the Truth (Fox News) -- Pitfalls of the 'Insta-opinion' Age: "Journalists like Juan Williams, fired Wednesday, are laboring under increasing demands to share their personality and opinion while at the same time abiding by traditional ethics rules." (CSM) -- Mickey Kaus: Should NPR CEO Fire Herself? -- Howard Kurtz: "I suspect that if he’d said the same thing to Charlie Rose, rather than on the O’Reilly Factor, he’d still have his radio job." (Daily Caller)

Pentagon Makes It Harder to Discharge Gays: "Any service member who is suspected to be gay can't be kicked until the case is heard by the head of his or her service (i.e. the Navy, Army, or Air Force Secretary) and two other top officials in the Pentagon -- all of whom are political appointees." (Fox News)

New Bush Exhibit Opens Rift: "“Breaking New Ground: Presenting the George W. Bush Presidential Center,” an exhibit set to open this weekend on the campus of Southern Methodist University, prominently features the handgun taken from Saddam Hussein and the loudspeaker used to address rescue workers at the World Trade Center in September 2001. The choice of mementos, emphasizing some of the more controversial foreign policy aspects of the Bush presidency, has reinvigorated opposition to the center’s presence at the university." (NY Times)

Toxic Powder Sent to Arizona Rep Raul Grijalva: "Staffers checking mail in the congressman's Tucson, Arizona, office Thursday found a white powdery substance and drawings of two swastikas inside an envelope." (CNN)


Fed Officials at Odds on Further Easing: "Two top U.S. Federal Reserve officials gave competing views on the need for more monetary stimulus to the U.S. economy, continuing a public debate over further easing even as the core view at the U.S. central bank appears to favor such a move." (Reuters)

G-20 Proposal on Curbing Trade Imbalances Faces Opposition: "A proposal among the Group of 20 industrial and developing nations to target cuts in current-account imbalances, meant to avert a "currency war," is itself running into opposition from big exporting nations." (WSJ)

Credit Cards to Get Bells and Whitles: "Next month, Citibank will begin testing a card that has two buttons and tiny lights that allow users to choose at the register whether they want to pay with rewards points or credit, at most any merchant they please. Other card issuers are testing more newfangled cards, including some that can double as credit and debit cards, and cards with fraud protections baked right into the plastic." (NY Times)


UK Weapons Inspector David Kelly's Death Secret Files Released -- He Killed Himself: "Wounds to the body of weapons inspector David Kelly were ''typical of self-inflicted injury', according to previously secret medical documents released today. . . .  Dr Kelly's body was found in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003 after he was identified as the source of a BBC story claiming the Government "sexed up" its dossier on Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction." (Daily Telegraph) -- Live Coverage @ The Guardian --  Full Report @ UK's Ministry of Justice website

U.S.-Led Afghan Reconstruction Projects Halted: "U.S.-funded development firms are beginning to shut down massive reconstruction projects because the Afghan government has refused to rescind a ban on their use of private security guards, according to U.S. officials and aid workers here. The decision to start shuttering the projects, collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars, could have far-reaching effects on the U.S.-led military campaign against the Taliban, disrupting a central component of the strategy to counter the insurgency at a critical moment in the war." (WaPo)

Pakistani Troops Linked to Abuses Will Lose U.S. Aid: "The Obama administration will refuse to train or equip about a half-dozen Pakistani Army units that are believed to have killed unarmed prisoners and civilians during recent offensives against the Taliban, senior administration and Congressional officials said Thursday." (NY Times)

Reza Taghavi Back Home: "A 71-year-old Iranian-American businessman imprisoned for more than two years in Tehran returned to the U.S. Thursday night. " (WSJ)

French Police Move to Break Blockade: "Security forces scuffled with strikers on Friday morning as they lifted a blockade of a major refinery near Paris and the government moved to accelerate a Senate vote on pension reforms that have sparked weeks of strikes and demonstrations. " (NY Times)

Mubarak to Run for 6th Term: "The next president is President Hosni Mubarak," Alieddin Hilal, a spokesman for Mubarak's National Democratic Party, said in an interview on Alhurra. (McClatchy)

Tech, Science

Facebook Doesn't Ask, But Tells: "Facebook's privacy problems continue this week after researchers discovered that Facebook may inadvertently be outing gay users to its advertisers." (Ars Technica)

Enough Water on the Moon to Consider Space Station: "The amount of water discovered on the moon last year when scientists purposely slammed a rocket into the lunar south pole may be enough to help set up a space fueling station, according to latest data from the mission." (Bloomberg)

Media, Entertainment

Who's on the First Week of Conan? "The lineup of celebrity guests for the first week of Conan O'Brien's TBS talk show was announced Thursday, with one notably open slot: the first guest. Voting to determine whom that will be is still underway." (Celebritology 2.0 @ WaPo)


Thursday, October 21, 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:

WASHINGTON - JUNE 22: Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) participates in a Senate-House Conference Committee meeting on Capitol Hill, June 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. The Conference Committee is discussing the Senate and House versions of the financial regulatory reform bill in hopes of a compromise that both houses will accept. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Nobody Is Safe: "How Republicans are forcing Democrats to spend money in previously 'safe' districts." (Slate)

Key Senate Battles Tighten: "Key Senate races are tightening as candidates on both sides make unexpected gains, suggesting that the final days in the battle for control of the chamber could be as volatile as any in recent memory." (WSJ)

McCain Violating McCain-Feingold? " In a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee alleged that television ads aiding two House candidates from Arizona violate the McCain-Feingold law, the 2002 legislation that sought to restrain campaign spending and contributions. . . .  The McCain campaign flatly rejected the allegations, releasing documents showing that it reported the ads to the Senate earlier this week as "independent expenditures." Such expenses are not treated like contributions under campaign laws. The DCCC complaint suggested that the McCain campaign had not taken that step." (WaPo)

Obama Trying to Save the Senate. The House? Not So Much: "A review of Mr. Obama's travel schedule in the weeks leading up to the election show that he's focused primarily on Senate and gubernatorial races as he jets around the country to raise money and gin up the base." (Fox News)

Moms for Pot: "Need more proof that California's marijuana legalization proposition is gaining mainstream traction? Look no further than West Hollywood, where a group of mothers from A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing) are campaigning in support of Proposition 19." (Fast Company)

You're Backed! "The reports to the Federal Election Commission, which covered from Sept. 1 to Oct. 13, included a $50,000 donation by none other than Donald J. Trump, the real estate developer, who previously had not had much of a reputation as a major financial backer of Republican politics." (Fox News)

Doubters of Obama's Change Also Skeptical of Climate Change: " Those who support the Tea Party movement are considerably more dubious about the existence and effects of global warming than the American public at large, according to a New York Times/CBS News Poll conducted this month. The survey found that only 14 percent of Tea Party supporters said that global warming is an environmental problem that is having an effect now, while 49 percent of the rest of the public believes that it is. More than half of Tea Party supporters said that global warming would have no serious effect at any time in the future, while only 15 percent of other Americans share that view, the poll found." (NY Times)

Democrats Call Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, and Others Stupid: " Republicans say this strategy will work about as well this year as it did when used against Ronald Reagan." (Politico)

Hollywood Backs Harris as Cooley Pulls Away: "At this point in the campaign for California Attorney General, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, the Democrats' nominee, was supposed to be choosing a designer to make over her new Sacramento office following her sure win in November. Instead, every reliable poll has her far behind Steve Cooley, Los Angeles County's top prosecutor and her Republican opponent. How this reversal occurred in one of the bluest of blue states is a case study in the real nature of California's electorate." (LA Weekly)


Gallup Poll finds Obama at New Low: "Barack Obama averaged 44.7% job approval during the seventh quarter of his presidency. . . . For the first time, more Americans view the president unfavorably (50%) than favorably (47%), and his favorable rating is the lowest of his presidency. . . . The Oct. 14-17 Gallup poll also finds that, at this point in his presidency, 39% of Americans believe Obama deserves re-election and 54% say he does not. Earlier this year, between 46% and 48% of Americans said Obama should be re-elected. The current results for Obama are remarkably similar to what Gallup measured for Clinton in October 1994." (Gallup)

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: NPR host Juan Williams poses with his wife on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

NPR Fires Juan Williams for Muslim Comments: "NPR News has terminated the contract of longtime news analyst Juan Williams after remarks he made on the Fox News Channel about Muslims: 'I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.'"

Court Makes DADT the Rule Again for Now: "A federal appeals panel on Wednesday temporarily blocked a lower court ruling that halted enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning openly gay and lesbian soldiers from the military. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave the government the delay it sought in challenging a federal judge's order last week to stop enforcing the policy around the world."

Bill Clinton Fumbled the Nuclear Football: "Gen Hugh Shelton, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, said in his new memoir, Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior that 'the codes were actually missing for months. That's a big deal -- a gargantuan deal.' A similar claim was made by Lt Col Robert Patterson, a former aide, in a book published seven years ago." (Daily Telegraph)

Posse Comitatus Not for Cyberattacks: "The Obama administration has adopted new procedures for using the Defense Department’s vast array of cyberwarfare capabilities in case of an attack on vital computer networks inside the United States, delicately navigating historic rules that restrict military action on American soil. " (NY Times)


Futures Pointing Up Today: "Stock index futures pointed to a higher start on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq 0.3-0.4 percent higher at 0903 GMT." (Reuters)

Foreclosure Problem 'Not Systemic': "A federal probe investigating five large mortgage servicers has found some improper foreclosures, but officials have yet to find systemic, "structural" problems with processing, according to the U.S. Housing Secretary." (Money)

Geithner's Goal -- Rebalanced World Economy: "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he would use weekend meetings of G-20 finance ministers to advance efforts to "rebalance" the world economy so it is less reliant on U.S. consumers, to move toward establishing "norms" on exchange-rate policy, and to persuade others the U.S. doesn't aim to devalue its way to prosperity." (WSJ)

Europe Snubs Keynes: "Across Europe, where the threat of a double-dip recession remains palpable, governments from Germany to Greece are slashing public outlays. But even as students and workers in France clash with the police and block fuel shipments to protest a rise in the retirement age, the debate in Europe is more on how fast to cut government spending rather than whether such reductions are the right thing to do under the circumstances." (NY Times)

Toyota Recalls 1.5m Cars Mostly in US and Japan: "Toyota has recalled more than 1.5 million vehicles worldwide to fix a brake fluid leak it warned can gradually diminish braking performance. . . . The fault could cause brake fluid to leak from the brake master cylinder, which would lead the brake warning lamp to light up, Toyota said." (Sky News) -- Reuters: "Toyota's U.S. sales unit said separately it would recall 740,000 Avalon, Highlander, Lexus GS300, IS250 and IS350 cars to replace a brake master cylinder seal because there was a possibility that some brake fluid could leak from the cylinder, causing the brake warning lamp to light up."

Sex Sells: For $13 million, if it has a .com appended. (The Register)

China 'Cools' to 9.6% GDP Growth: "China's gross domestic product rose 9.6% from a year earlier in the third quarter, slowing from 10.3% growth in the second quarter, official data issued Thursday show, as the government withdrew stimulus and took measures to cool sectors such as the property market." (WSJ)


Afghanistan Surge Working: "A series of civilian and military operations around the strategic southern province, made possible after a force of 12,000 American and NATO troops reached full strength here in the late summer, has persuaded Afghan and Western officials that the Taliban will have a hard time returning to areas they had controlled in the province that was their base."

Iran Getting Creative Fending Off Sanctions: " Iran is secretly trying to set up banks in Muslim countries around the world, including Iraq and Malaysia, using dummy names and opaque ownership structures to skirt sanctions that have increasingly curtailed the Islamic republic's global banking activities, U.S. officials say." (WaPo)

Day 10 -- French Protesters Block Airport, Roads: "We're ready to continue striking every day and go all the way." (MSNBC)

Media, Entertainment

Bob Guccione Dies: "Penthouse, founded in 1965, was a kind of dirtier distant relation of the relatively classier Playboy." (Speakeasy @ WSJ)


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

THAT'S A SIGN OF DOOM if there is one: Cindy Sheehan goes Republican. Cindy Sheehan!

BIG SHUFFLE in Spain's government -- just three days ago, Zapatero had forcefully said in a party rally that he would just change Labor minister Celestino Corbacho, and not because of the 20% unemployment but because he's going to run in Catalonia's regional election next month. Current interior minister gets a big promotion:
Perez Rubalcaba, considered an effective leader of the government and police campaign against the armed Basque separatist group ETA, is no stranger to the prime minister's sprawling compound on the western outskirts of Madrid. He worked there years ago as an aide to then Socialist Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez.
Indeed: he was the government spokesman (equivalent to US' press secretary) during the years of the dirty war and death squads against ETA. True, he's doing a pretty good job nabbing ETA terrorists now, but he's still the image of someone who was lying through his teeth during one of the darkest episodes in Spain's post-Franco democratic era. He famously uttered the historic sentence that "There's no evidence that there's a dirty war against ETA, and will never be" only months after the interior minister Barrionuevo, his number 2, Vera, and his number 3, Sancristóbal,were sent to prison for organizing the extra-judicial killings from their official compounds. Oh well.

I'm going to miss Moratinos, though. They guy was a walking joke.