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EARLYBIRD

Top News

McCain accepts nomination with pledge for change, Detroit's Kilpatrick resigns, Abramoff receives reduced sentence, Pakistan protests cross-border raids, Woodward alleges U.S. spied on al-Maliki, stocks plummet.

• "Emphasizing his faith and service to his country, John McCain accepted the Republican nomination for president Thursday night with 'humility and confidence,' assuring a packed crowd at the Xcel Energy Center that he, not Democratic rival Barack Obama, has the experience necessary to lead the nation in a time of war," National Journal reports.

• McCain "accepted the Republican presidential nomination Thursday with a pledge to move the nation beyond 'partisan rancor' and narrow self-interest in a speech in which he markedly toned down the blistering attacks on Senator Barack Obama that had filled the first nights of his convention," the New York Times reports. McCain "firmly signaled that he intended to seize the mantle of change Mr. Obama claimed in his own unlikely bid for his party's nomination."

 

• In an an address "that was interrupted by boisterous applause and occasional protests, McCain said his record demonstrates a dedication to remaking Washington and an instinct for putting the people's interests over party loyalty," the Washington Post reports. "McCain has spent nearly 26 years in Congress and, at 72, would be the oldest president elected to a first term, but he presented himself as an agent of revival for a political system in disarray."

• Earlier, "Cindy McCain made the case for John McCain's presidency by reflecting on her husband's personal narrative, her family history and her own philanthropic endeavors," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Although afforded the opportunity to introduce herself to a country still largely unfamiliar with her, Mrs. McCain devoted much of her time in the spotlight to explaining why her husband is most qualified to lead the country."

• "Police arrested scores more people Thursday night after another series of tense showdowns with protesters on the final night of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul," the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. "The arrests ended with more than 200 demonstrators, squatting with their hands on their heads, taken into custody on the Marion Street bridge."

 

• "It may have been in vogue in Alaska forever, but drilling for oil has never been so hot with Republicans as it was on the floor during the final night of the Republican National Convention," AP reports. "The skyrocketing cost of a tank of gas is surely a factor. But the issue shot to prominence this week when GOP presidential nominee John McCain named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate."

• Obama "said Thursday that Republicans at their national convention are attacking him to avoid talking about the sagging economy and housing problems," AP reports. "'You're hearing an awfully lot about me -- most of which is not true -- but you're not hearing a lot about you,' Obama said. 'You haven't heard a word about how we're going to deal with any aspect of the economy that is affecting you and your pocketbook day-to-day. Haven't heard a word about it. I'm not exaggerating. Literally, two nights, they have not said a word about it.'"

• "News executives Thursday tried to shake off the excoriations of the media emanating from the Republican National Convention, defending their coverage of" Palin "as responsible and evenhanded," the Los Angeles Times reports. "While top television network officials and newspaper editors largely dismissed the critiques as partisan rhetoric, some fretted that charges of media bias had reached a new and disturbing level."

• "Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman [ID-Conn.] is among several national security experts helping brief" Palin "on foreign policy issues as she prepares to hit the campaign trail while cramming for a debate with her Democratic opponent, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), in less than a month, according to officials from Sen. John McCain's campaign," the Washington Post reports.

 

• McCain's "advisers are working on strategies for a McCain White House to avoid legislative gridlock if Democrats, as is likely, deepen their control of Congress," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Campaign strategists for the U.S. Republican candidate say a President McCain would start with issues on which he and Democrats largely see eye-to-eye, including promoting renewable energy and curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, and try to break Democratic party unity on more contentious issues."

Nation: Kilpatrick Resigns, Faces Jail Time

• Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick "resigned Thursday, bringing an ignominious end to what once seemed like a career without limits," the Detroit Free Press reports. "In a standing-room-only Detroit courtroom, Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to felony charges in his perjury case and no contest in his assault case, ending his steadfast refusal to resign amid a scandal that only grew in intensity over the past eight months."

• "The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Ike has weakened to a Category 3 storm in the Atlantic," AP reports. "But forecasters say Hurricane Ike, which had been a Category 4 storm, is still a dangerous hurricane. ... Meanwhile, Southeast saw residents head inland to avoid drenching rains of Tropical Storm Hanna."

• "Suicides among active-duty soldiers this year are on pace to exceed both last year's all-time record and, for the first time since the Vietnam War, the rate among the general U.S. population, Army officials said yesterday," the Washington Post reports. "Failed relationships, legal and financial troubles, and the high stress of wartime operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are the leading factors linked to the suicides, Army officials said."

Washington: Abramoff Given Reduced Sentence

• "Jack Abramoff, the powerhouse Washington lobbyist who admitted running a wide-ranging corruption scheme that ensnared lawmakers, Capitol Hill aides and government officials, yesterday received a reduced sentence of four years in prison because of his cooperation with federal investigators," the Washington Post reports. "Abramoff, 49, already has served nearly two years for his conviction in a related Florida fraud case. The sentence yesterday by U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle means that the former Republican lobbyist will likely remain in prison until 2012."

• House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., "has earned more than $75,000 in rental income from a villa he has owned in the Dominican Republic since 1988, but never reported it on his federal or state tax returns, according to a lawyer for the congressman and documents from the resort," the New York Times reports. Rangel's attorney "said the congressman did not realize he had to declare the money as income, and was unaware of the semiannual payments from the resort because his wife, Alma, handled the family finances and conferred with their accountant, John Viardi, on tax matters."

Afghanistan & Pakistan: Cross-Border Raids Draw Protest

• Pakistan's Parliament "condemned a U.S.-led attack in Pakistani territory after the government summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest the unusually bold raid in a troubled border region," AP reports. "In news likely to stoke more anger, intelligence officials said a missile strike was suspected in a blast Thursday that killed at least four people in North Waziristan, part of the tribal belt where Osama bin Laden and his deputy are thought to be hiding. Previous such strikes have been blamed on the U.S."

• "Even as angry protests spread in Pakistan, Pentagon officials said Thursday that the number of cross-border commando missions may grow in coming months to counter increasing violence in Afghanistan," the Los Angeles Times reports. "The developments threatened to aggravate U.S.-Pakistani tensions just before the country's presidential election Saturday, in which attitudes toward the United States are likely to be a key issue."

• "Asif Ali Zardari is known as a polo-loving playboy who tainted the governments of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, with corruption scandals that landed him in jail. Saturday, he is likely to become president of Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state sliding deeper into turmoil," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• The New York Times and Washington Post also have profiles of Zardari.

• Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai "paid a condolence visit Thursday to a remote western region that was the scene of a controversial American-led operation last month, pleading for forgiveness and assuring villagers that those responsible for civilian deaths would be punished," the Los Angeles Times reports. "The president's visit to the Shindand district of Herat province underscored the lingering ill will over the Aug. 22 airstrike, official accounts of which remain at wide variance."

Iraq: U.S. Spied On Al-Maliki, Woodward Alleges

• "The United States would carry out a modest shift of American forces from Iraq to Afghanistan by early next year under a confidential recommendation to President Bush by the Pentagon's top civilian and military leaders, according to Bush administration officials," the New York Times reports. "The number of American combat brigades in Iraq would shrink to 14 in February from 15, according to the recommendation. All told, the number of American forces in Iraq, currently about 146,000, would drop by nearly 8,000 by March."

• "The Bush administration has conducted an extensive spying operation on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his staff and others in the Iraqi government, according to a new book by" journalist Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reports. "The book also says that the U.S. troop 'surge' of 2007, in which President Bush sent nearly 30,000 additional U.S. combat forces and support troops to Iraq, was not the primary factor behind the steep drop in violence there during the past 16 months."

• "The Iraqi government is seeking to buy 36 advanced F-16 fighters from the U.S., say American military officials familiar with the request, a move that could help reduce its reliance on U.S. air power and potentially allow more American forces to withdraw from the country than had been proposed," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "If it clears hurdles in Washington, the multibillion-dollar deal would give the Iraqi government a powerful new weapon to use against the country's Shiite and Sunni insurgents. But the rapid rebuilding of Iraq's military forces with U.S. equipment such as F-16s could also be viewed with concern by other countries in the region, because of the placement of advanced weaponry in the hands of a nascent government of a country still struggling for stability."

World: Cheney In Ukraine, Rice In Libya

• Vice President Dick Cheney "met with top Ukrainian leaders Friday, calling their country's relationship with the United States 'very important,' as Washington sought to reassure its allies in former Soviet states following Russia's war with Georgia," AP reports. "Sitting down with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Cheney praised the changes he saw since he was last in Ukraine 20 years ago. ... Yushchenko, meanwhile, emphasized that he shared the United States' critical view of Russian military intervention in Georgia."

• "When Condoleezza Rice spends a few hours in Libya and shakes hands with Moammar Gadhafi, she will close a nearly three-decade era of bitter animosity between the United States and the North African nation that has sometimes gotten personal," AP reports. "As the first secretary of state to visit the former pariah, oil-rich country in more than a half-century, Rice's visit Friday represents a foreign policy success for a Bush administration badly in need of one in its final months."

• "Syria's leader said Thursday he offered a proposal for peace with Israel but also refused to break off ties with Hezbollah and militant Palestinians -- a key Israeli demand," AP reports. "President Bashar Assad also said indirect negotiations with Israel were on hold until that country chooses a new prime minister and that direct talks would have to wait until a new U.S. president takes office."

• "Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, warned Iran on Thursday that it was taking a big risk by seeking to obtain a military nuclear capability, saying that one day it could find Israel had decided to attack," the Financial Times reports. "In one of the most explicit warnings to Tehran by a western leader, Mr Sarkozy said: 'One day, whatever the Israeli government, we could find one morning that Israel has struck.'"

• "The Polish prosecutor's office is investigating allegations that there was a CIA prison in Poland where al Qaeda suspects were questioned and guards might have used methods close to torture, the prime minister's top adviser said on Friday," Reuters reports. "Polish media reported earlier on Friday that a classified note written by the Polish secret service had proved the existence of a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency base in Poland."

• "A Chinese government committee said Thursday that a rush to build schools during the country's recent economic boom might have led to shoddy construction that resulted in the deaths of thousands of students during a devastating earthquake in May," the New York Times reports. "Until now, officials in Beijing and in southwest China's Sichuan Province, which suffered the most damage, had said the sheer force of the 7.9-magnitude quake caused the collapses."

• "More than eight million people -- nearly half of the population -- have registered to vote in war-ravaged Angola, a country with an abundance of oil, diamonds and grinding poverty that is holding its first election in 16 years on Friday," the New York Times reports.

• "A federal corruption and foreign bribery probe into the liquefied natural-gas construction industry reaches beyond Nigeria to a slate of projects in Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, according to Justice Department documents filed in a Houston federal court," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The central figure in the case is former Halliburton Co. executive Albert J. "Jack" Stanley, who was convicted of bribing Nigeria officials after pleading guilty Wednesday. Mr. Stanley also had a central role in winning contracts to build multi-billion dollar facilities in Malaysia, Yemen and Egypt, according to the documents."

Economy: Stocks Take Steepest Fall In Months

• "The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 344.65 points, or 3%, to 11188.23, its lowest close since July 28," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The blue-chip index has fallen in three of the last four sessions and its fall Thursday was its worst in both point and percentage terms since June 26. The Dow industrials returned to bear-market territory; the average is off 21% from its record close of 14164.53 hit on October 9, 2007."

• "So what pushed the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index down 3 percent, its worst daily performance in three months?" the New York Times asks. "'Boy, it's hard to say,' Douglas M. Peta, a market strategist at J.& W. Seligman, said after the market's close. 'All of us were scratching our heads. Why today?'"

• "Oil prices continued their decline Friday as market participants remained focused on how a global economic slowdown continues to chip away at demand for energy," CNNMoney.com reports.

Commentary: The McCain Event

• John McCain capped his long road to the Republican presidential nomination last night with a return to the "maverick" image that fueled his 2000 run, but pundits aren't sure which version of the Arizona senator is the one they buy. Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section has details.

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