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EARLYBIRD

Top News

Banks spend big on lobbying, world's governments act to protect banking, actors union requests federal mediator, Shiite leaders unwind Iraq security deal.

• "A U.S. military 'Red Team' charged with challenging conventional thinking says that words like 'jihad' and 'Islamist' are needed in discussing 21st-century terrorism and that federal agencies that avoid the words soft-pedaled the link between religious extremism and violent acts," the Washington Times reports. "The report, 'Freedom of Speech in Jihad Analysis: Debunking the Myth of Offensive Words,' was written by unnamed civilian analysts and contractors for the U.S. Central Command."

• "One of the White House's top economic advisers said on Sunday that parts of the country are experiencing a recession," The Hill reports. "'Some parts of the country... have much higher rates of unemployment and we are seeing what I think anyone would characterize as a recession in certain parts of the country,' Ed Lazear, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on CNN."

 

• "Voting in the presidential election starts today in the District of Columbia," the Washington Post reports. "According to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, any registered voter can cast a walk-in absentee ballot at board headquarters until Nov. 3."

Congress: Banks Spend Big To Lobby Despite Hard Times

• "The nation's biggest financial institutions... continued spending heavily to lobby lawmakers and regulators as the government scrambled to assemble its Wall Street rescue plan, congressional filings suggest," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "Merrill Lynch & Co., soon to be acquired by Bank of America Corp.; Morgan Stanley; and Wells Fargo & Co. all either maintained or stepped up expenditures on lobbying in the quarter ended Sept. 30, according to congressional disclosures filed ahead of the Monday deadline."

• "Confronted with a hugely expensive economic crisis, Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike have elected to pay the bill mainly by borrowing money rather than cutting spending or raising taxes," the New York Times reports. "But while the borrowing is relatively inexpensive for the government in a weak economy, the cost will become a bigger burden as growth returns and interest rates rise."

 

• "Textron company officials had expected to retain the troubled multi-billion contract for the Army's Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) despite delays and high costs in the program," according to quarterly earning statements reviewed by The Hill. "The Pentagon and the Army announced late Thursday that it will terminate the contract with Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron, for the ARH."

• "Since Oct. 1, new federal rules make it easier for households with income from combat pay, retirement accounts or education savings to be eligible" for food stamps, USA Today reports. "States are allowed to adjust eligibility rules, and more are doing so."

Economy: World's Governments Take Action To Protect Banking

• "Just days after governments around the world passed ambitious rescue packages, some companies and countries once seen as far removed from the financial crisis are being pressed to take additional measures," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

• "The unregulated market where protection against financial defaults is bought and sold will be tested in the coming weeks as never before, as countless claims are settled on a series of expensive corporate casualties at the heart of the credit crisis," the Washington Post reports. "Potentially, hundreds of billions of dollars of these contracts are coming due."

 

• "When Apple Inc. reports quarterly results Tuesday, investors will be looking for new clues about the health of consumer spending," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "Apple has seemed relatively unaffected by the slowdown so far, which hit business spending on technology first."

• "The great unwind in the secretive hedge fund world caused by steep losses has contributed to the megapain in the stock market," USA Today reports. "Wealthy folks and big investors yanked a record $31 billion to $43 billion out of hedge funds in the third quarter, according to estimates from tracking firms Hedge Fund Research (HFR) and TrimTabs."

• "Two years ago, when the economy was booming and home-building was thriving," day laborers "were working every day," the New York Times reports. "Now, they are lucky if they work twice a week, many of them say."

• "Fear is running high on Wall Street. Just look at the Fear Index," the New York Times reports. "With all those stomach-churning free falls and sharp reversals in the stock market recently, traders are keeping a nervous eye on an obscure index known as the VIX," the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index.

Nation: Actors Union Requests Federal Mediator To Avoid Strike

• "In a compromise struck between divided camps within the actors union, the national board of the Screen Actors Guild called for bringing in a federal mediator to break the logjam in contract talks with the Hollywood studios, putting off more drastic plans to seek strike authorization from members," the Los Angeles Times reports.

• "Parents and children might rush through their days in different directions, but the American family is as tight-knit as in the last generation -- or more so -- because of the widespread use of cellphones and the Internet, according to a new poll," the Washington Post reports. "In what was described as the first detailed survey of its kind... researchers reported that family life has not been weakened, as many had feared, by new technology."

• "When a 1991 cholera outbreak that killed thousands in Peru was traced to plankton blooms fueled by warmer-than-usual coastal waters, linking disease outbreaks to epidemics was a new idea," the Washington Post reports. "Now, scientists say, it is a near-certainty that global warming will drive significant increases in waterborne diseases around the world."

Iraq: Shiite Leaders Unwind Security Deal

• "Hopes that a security agreement between Iraq and the United States could be concluded swiftly receded Sunday as several of the leading Iraqi political parties, including some that had negotiated the agreement, appeared to back away from quick approval," the New York Times reports. "In a public statement... the United Iraqi Alliance, which represents several powerful Shiite parties that back the government, said it could not endorse the pact as written and wanted amendments."

• "Real-time streaming video of Iraqi and Afghan battle areas taken from thousands of feet in the air can follow actions of people on the ground as they dig, shake hands, exchange objects and kiss each other goodbye," the Washington Post reports. "The video is sent from unmanned and manned aircraft to intelligence analysts at ground stations in the United States and abroad."

• "As members of the al-Fatla tribe finished their Ramadan feast this month... the quiet of their village was ruptured by the screeching tires of police trucks," USA Today reports. "The tribe believes the raid was part of a power struggle between two Shiite parties before January's provincial elections, which could significantly redraw Iraq's political map -- or set off a new wave of violence."

• "Call it distrust, fear, wariness or suspicion. Even now, with violence down about 80% in the last year, the sense of uncertainty is epidemic among Iraqis," the Los Angeles Times reports.

World: China Announces Land-Use Reforms

• "After days of uncertainty, the governing Communist Party on Sunday announced a rural reform policy that for the first time would allow farmers to lease or transfer land-use rights, a step that advocates say would raise lagging incomes in the Chinese countryside," the New York Times reports. "The new policy" coincides "with the 30th anniversary of the land reforms enacted by the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, which were considered the first critical steps in the policies that have fueled China's rapid economic growth."

• "Taliban fighters stopped a bus traveling on Afghanistan's main highway through a dangerous part of the south, seized about 50 people on board and killed about 30 of them, officials said Sunday," the Washington Post reports. "A Taliban spokesman asserted responsibility for the attack but said fighters killed 27 Afghan soldiers."

• "Two Taliban gunmen on a motorcycle killed a British woman aid worker in the Afghan capital on Monday, accusing her of spreading Christian propaganda," Reuters reports.

• "A regional official in Somalia accused Islamist rebels Monday of killing a U.N. employee in the latest assassination targeting aid workers," Reuters reports. "Unidentified gunmen shot dead Muktar Mohammed Hassan, a local man working for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in the southern town of Hudur Sunday."

• "South Korea's ministry responsible for ties with the North said on Monday no unusual activity was observed in North Korea on the day media said Pyongyang might make an important announcement," Reuters reports. "Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said on Saturday North Korean diplomats had been told to stay close to their missions and await an important message, which could be about (Kim Jong-il's) health or ties with the South."

• "Amid its first economic slowdown in three years, India is getting ready to shoot the moon," the Wall Street Journal reports. "On Wednesday, the country is scheduled to launch its first unmanned moon mission, when lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 blasts into space aboard an Indian-made rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in the country's south."

Campaigns: Record Millions Pour Into Obama War Chest

Barack Obama raised a record $150 million in September on the backs of small donations, fundraising success that may sound the death knell for public financing in its current form. Earlybird's Campaign News section has more.

Commentary: Taxing Joe The Plumber

• Which candidate's tax plan is better for regular Americans like Joe Wurzelbacher? Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section has some opposing opinion.

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