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Top Stories

  • President-Elect Barack Obama (I still smile a little every time I see/hear that) will resign from his Senate seat effective Sunday, accelerating the scampering for a replacement.  Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich has said he will name a successor before the new year, but Obama's early resignation means that the Democrats will retain the majority in the Senate only if Joe POS Lieberman continues to caucus with the Democrats.  Surely Obama isn't doing him a favor by resigning early...making sure that the Democrats will need him around a bit longer, postponing at least any "punishment" for him being a POS and all.


  • CIA Director Michael V. Hayden showed glimpses of intelligence himself during a speech to the Atlantic Council, dealing with international affairs.

    CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said yesterday that al-Qaeda remains the single greatest threat to the United States but that Iraq is no longer the central front in the broader war on terrorism.

    No longer is, but never should have been...

    In his remarks yesterday, Hayden said the hunt for bin Laden was "very much at the top of CIA's priority list" and that "his death or capture clearly would have a significant impact on the confidence of his followers." There was some doubt whether bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, "could maintain unity in the ranks," he said.

    "The truth is," Hayden said, "we simply don't know what would happen if bin Laden is killed or captured, but I'm willing to bet that it would work in our favor."

    Even though the same man admits that largely isolated from the day-to-day operations of the organization he nominally heads...he still thinks it would be good if he was even more out of the way.

    Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, called yesterday for new intelligence leadership that will "work aggressively to ensure the safety and security of Americans without undermining our laws and Constitution." In going public, Feingold echoed the views of several other senators and House members on the intelligence panels who believe McConnell and Hayden gave excessive public support to Bush administration programs of enhanced interrogation for terrorism suspects.

    Ahh, Feingold.  Never get tired of hearing from that guy.

  • An Iranian diplomat was kidnapped in northwest Pakistan, the second attack on a foreigner in as many days.

    The Iranian and his Pakistani bodyguard were driving over a narrow bridge in Peshawar when two gunmen blocked their way with a car and opened fire, said Banaras Khan, a police investigator who cited a witness. The attackers fled with the diplomat, and the guard was killed.

    On Wednesday, gunmen shot and killed American aid worker Stephen Vance as he was traveling to work in Peshawar, a vital city for both the government and aid agencies where security has dramatically crumbled.

  • Citing continued rocket attacks from the vicinity, Israel tightened its grip on Gaza City, shutting down power and preventing fuel and humanitarian aid from entering.

    The truce began eroding last week when Israeli forces entered Gaza to try destroy what they said was a militants' tunnel. Eleven militants have been killed since and more than 130 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza at Israel. Israel has clamped a tight blockade on Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.

    "The rockets are a natural response to (Israel's) aggression," said Fawzi Barhoum of Hamas.

    Government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel wants quiet.

    "The current round of violence is the sole responsibility of Hamas, who through their aggressive acts have endangered the lives of too many Israeli and Palestinian civilians," he said.

  • Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and EU President Jose Manuel Barroso met in Nice, France to discuss trade, taxes...and Georgia.

    Mr Medvedev said he hoped for a fresh impetus to talks on a partnership and co-operation agreement, postponed by EU member states after the war in the Caucasus.

    But EU officials insist that the resumption of the talks, agreed earlier this week despite concerns from Lithuania, should not be seen as business as usual.

  • The US FDA has (finally) required importers of Chinese milk-based products to test for melamine, months after the discovery that milk and milk derivatives made in China were contaminated.

    Since September, FDA officials have recalled several products -- sold mainly in ethnic grocery stores -- due to possible melamine contamination. They chose to take broader measures yesterday based on the results of product testing and on information from food safety officials in other countries.

    FDA officials said they were taking action despite the small likelihood that melamine in processed foods is harmful, as was the case with infant formula in China. At least four infants have died and tens of thousands more have become sick. "The finished product is not going to cause the same adverse affects," Solomon said.


  • In Senate race new updates, an investigation by Geogia's Secretary of State revealed that 2,500 absentee voters were kept from voting, while Minnesota Senatorial hopeful Al Franken is requesting the names and addresses of voters whose absentee ballots were rejected.  Two counties refused to comply with his request, so he took legal action.

  • Even though the first reports raved mostly about the two standing ovations she got (one as she entered, one as she left, not because of anything she said or anything, also), some Republican Governors were actually quite irritated at the Republican Governors Association press conference, which quickly became a Sarah Palin press conference.

    The GOP governors spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity.

    One called it awkward: "I’m sure you could see it on some of our faces."

    Another Republican governor eyeing a presidential run in 2012 told CNN the event was "odd" and "weird," and said it "unfortunately sent a message that she was the de facto leader of the party."

    There has been palpable tension among some GOP governors gathered in Miami that Palin has been sucking up all the media oxygen.

    Suck it.  Suck it dry.
    I'm talking about the oxygen, you pervs.

  • Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) told reporters that the bailout for the auto industry lacks sufficient votes to pass, citing a complete lack of support from Republicans.

    Dodd's assessment is significant because Democratic leaders in the House and Senate want to vote on a bill giving the Treasury Department authority to spend funds from the Troubled Asset Recovery Program, or TARP, on the auto industry.

    Dodd also told reporters that the Treasury department "confirmed" to him that it already has authority to use the TARP funds for the auto industry. For that reason, Dodd said, Democrats should consider waiting for President-elect Obama to take office so Treasury can act without legislation.


  • Millions of people in southern California participated in a massive earthquake drill.

    The controlled chaos was all part of a mock "Big One" — an earthquake drill billed as the largest in U.S. history and aimed at testing the preparedness of governments, emergency responders and residents.

    At 10 a.m., a cast of millions dropped to the ground, covered their heads and held onto furniture. Local television stations interrupted their regular programming to announce the drill and covered it as they would a major earthquake, though with continual reminders that the emergency wasn't real.

    Thursday's drill was based on a fictional magnitude-7.8 event on the southern San Andreas Fault. If such a quake occurred today, scientists estimate it would kill 1,800 people and cause $200 billion in damage. Some high-rises would fall, sections of freeways would crumble and gas pipes would crack.

  • Five of the most successful (and subsequently the wealthiest) hedge fund managers appeared before the House of Representatives...and tended to agree with Congress that the practice needs more oversight.

    Many of the people crowding the room expected a slugfest, given the growing calls on Capitol Hill for hedge funds, those private investment vehicles, to disclose their investments and business practices. So it came as something of a surprise when the managers agreed, more or less, with the lawmakers. All five managers — Philip A. Falcone, Kenneth C. Griffin, John A. Paulson, James Simons and George Soros — said they would support new rules that would require their industry, controlling nearly $2 trillion, to disclose more of its secrets.

    The hearing was crammed with some of the same policy makers who have criticized people who presided over the financial boom that has become a painful bust. But aside from some grumblings about how much money hedge fund managers make, the sharpest remarks were directed not at John Paulson and the other hedge fund billionaires, but at Henry M. Paulson Jr., the secretary of the Treasury.

Bottom Stories

  • The "Top Secret" code names of the President-Elect (that's Barack Obama) and his family have been revealed.

    Barack Obama is called Renegade, while his wife Michelle is Renaissance, and their daughters Rosebud and Radiance.

    They will replace Trailblazer (President George W Bush) and his wife Tempo in the White House on 20 January.

    When 19-year-old Karenna Gore's father became vice-president in 1993 she had to choose her own name.

    In 1997, she wrote: "Ever since four years ago, when I was put on the spot and told 'two syllables' and 'It has to start with an s,' I have been cringing in the back seat when identified as 'Smurfette'."

    Al Gore frequently told people his code name was Al Gore because he was so boring. However, the Washington Post reported that he was initially called Sawhorse but eventually became Sundance for unknown reasons.

    Not a bad bottom story...kinda cute actually...but I'll never be able to hear the expression "Uptempo" again, and keep a straight face.

  • A study comparing the alcohol tax rate to the number of deaths caused by or related to alcohol consumption in Alaska suggests that higher alcohol taxes can save lives.  The same results were found in a similar study in Finland.  Well, if I had known that paying $20 for a bottle of Kahlua could save a life I would have bought more a long time ago.  Instead I'll just be happy with my cheap beer.

By the numbers

  • Bush has about 67 days (!) left to finish what he started (whatever that is), before letting Obama/Biden have a turn on the merry-go-round.

  • The Operations in Iraq have cost $571,000,000,000, as the race to one trillion dollars of war continues in the country that is no longer the front of the war on terror.

  • In the same time, the national debt has soared from $6,400,000,000,000 to $10,651,700,000,000, an increase of more than 4.25 trillion dollars.  Of debt.  In about five years.

Have a good one.

Originally posted to Sidof79 on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 09:08 PM PST.

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