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)