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Legacy Content / EARLYBIRD

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Mukasey collapses during speech, Democratic leaders want plan from automakers, U.S. troops may seek warrants before Iraq pact takes effect, offshore drilling program held up in courts, fear of deflation spreads, U.N. to reinforce peacekeepers in Congo.

November 21, 2008

• "Attorney General Michael Mukasey was rushed to the hospital after collapsing and losing consciousness on Thursday night during a speech to the Federalist Society at a D.C. hotel," the Washington Times reports. "Mr. Mukasey, 67, was rushed to George Washington University Hospital from the ballroom of the Wardman Park Marriott in Northwest."

• "The senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee," Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, on "Thursday called for a criminal investigation into whether the CIA lied to Congress and withheld information from the Justice Department during its inquiry into the 2001 shoot-down of an American missionary plane by the Peruvian air force with help from a CIA spotter plane," AP reports.

• "For the first time, a federal judge ordered the release" Thursday "of detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay after evaluating and rejecting government allegations that five men were dangerous enemy combatants," the Washington Post reports.

 

• "President George W. Bush, struggling to get ahead of a global financial crisis, hopes to win more converts for an action plan designed to demonstrate that governments have the will and the means to halt the turmoil," AP reports. "Embarking" today "on what could be his final overseas trip as president, Bush was headed to a summit of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Lima, Peru."

• "With no end in sight to economic bad news," Bush "is about to ensure that millions of laid-off workers won't see their unemployment checks disappear as the year-end holidays approach," AP also reports. "Bush is expected to sign into law an extension of jobless benefits as early as" today.

• "The Bush administration is finalizing changes to the Endangered Species Act that would ensure that federal agencies would not have to take global warming into account when assessing risks to imperiled plants and animals. The proposed rule changes, which were obtained by The Washington Post, are under review by the Office of Management and Budget and are close to being published in the Federal Register."

Congress: Democratic Leaders Want Plan From Automakers

• "Democratic leaders shelved plans for an auto industry bailout Thursday, telling Detroit's Big Three to come up with a business plan after Thanksgiving if they want billions in aid," The Hill reports. "'We want them to get their act together,' said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), at a hastily arranged news conference on Thursday afternoon."

• "Rep. Henry Waxman's successful coup against Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell on Thursday... steers the Democratic agenda sharply left," The Hill reports. "The 137-122 vote to hand Waxman (Calif.) the gavel dealt a serious challenge to the Democrats' seniority system and put key aspects of President-elect Barack Obama's agenda in the hands of a liberal, aggressive and activist chairman."

• "'Uncle Ted' Stevens, an old-style Senate giant and the chamber's longest-serving Republican, delivered his swan song address and yielded the floor for the final time Thursday," AP reports. "He was saluted by his colleagues as a staunch friend and teacher."

• "With health care reform at the top of" Obama's "agenda next year, Democrats who have salivated over the opportunity to revamp the nation's health care system for decades are having to walk a fine line as they seek to work together on what promises to be a historic legislative endeavor," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Of course, playing nice doesn't necessarily come naturally to some of the key players in the debate, and many of them have a storied history of attempting to elbow others out of the way."

• "Senate Republicans will not stand in the way of nominations made by" Obama, "despite the bruising campaign and the prospect that they will have severe ideological differences with the picks, according to senior GOP lawmakers and their aides," Roll Call (subscription) also reports. "Nevertheless, Senators plan to scrutinize the nominees closely, and they warn Obama not to put forward people with the type of obvious flaws and damning histories that have plagued failed nominations in the past."

• "The pile of disputed ballots in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race is growing at a pace sure to dwarf the 215-vote margin prior to the recount, making it tough to tell whether" incumbent Norm Coleman (R) or challenger Al Franken (D) "is gaining an edge as the recount progresses," AP reports.

Iraq: U.S. Troops May Seek Terror Arrest Warrants Early

• "Some U.S. troops in Iraq could begin applying for warrants before detaining terrorist suspects or searching Iraqi homes as soon as Dec. 1 -- a month before they might become required to do so under a new status-of-forces agreement," the Washington Times reports. "Military sources, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic, said at least some units of the 4th Infantry Division in Baghdad would begin obtaining warrants from Iraqi legal authorities next month."

• "U.S. forces said Thursday that they had killed an Iraqi insurgent leader responsible for the death of a 20-year-old Army reservist," Matt Maupin, "who became a focus of national attention in the United States during the four years he was missing in action," the Washington Post reports. "U.S. soldiers fatally shot Hammadi Awdah Abd Farhan during a gun battle Nov. 11 that broke out as they entered a house in western Baghdad searching for him, the military said in a statement."

• "The Iraqi parliament began its debate on a security pact between the U.S. and Iraq Thursday, after a shoving match involving a legislator opposed to the pact had delayed the start the day before," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Critics of the agreement tried to further put off discussion Thursday, shouting and banging on tables."

• "Followers of a Shiite cleric on Friday stomped on and burned an effigy of" Bush "in the same central Baghdad square where Iraqis beat a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein with their sandals five years earlier," AP reports. "Chanting and waving flags, thousands of Muqtada al-Sadr's followers filled Firdous Square to protest a proposed U.S.-Iraqi security pact that would allow American troops to stay for three more years."

Nation: Offshore Drilling Program Held Up In Courts

• "The Bush administration's authorization of a major new offshore oil drilling program in the Arctic Ocean was dealt a serious setback Thursday when a federal appeals court ruled the plan did not adequately consider the effect on bowhead whales and the native villagers who make their living from the frigid coastal waters," the Los Angeles Times reports.

• "As much as Warren," Mich., a suburb of Detroit, "tries to embrace the coming holidays as normal, things here are anything but merry for local residents -- about a quarter employed by U.S. automakers -- as they wait uneasily for word from Washington about a possible bailout plan that could save their flagging industry. Or without it, bring about its demise," the Washington Times reports.

• Florida "Gov. Charlie Crist [R] urged the Legislature on Thursday to allow double-digit tuition increases at all of Florida's 11 public universities as a way of blunting the impact of state-ordered budget cuts imposed over the last two years," the New York Times reports. "The proposal from Mr. Crist, who in the past has opposed raising tuition, would give individual universities the power to increase it up to 15 percent annually until Florida's in-state tuition rate reached the national average, now about $6,500 a year."

• "Boulder County, Colo., officials acted illegally when they turned down a local church's request to double its size, but their decision was not motivated by religious bias, a federal jury decided this week," the Los Angeles Times reports. "The verdict is a victory for supporters of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which prohibits local governments from placing a 'substantial burden' on the right to practice religion."

Economy: Credit Markets Jam Up As Fear Spreads

• "The financial system, which had recently shown glimmers of improvement, is unraveling again," the Washington Post reports. "After a few weeks in which credit started flowing more freely through banks, giving relief to financial markets, prices continued to plummet" Thursday "for all but the safest investments, dragged down by fears of a deeper and longer recession than even many pessimists had expected."

• "With the stock market plunging and the credit market entering a new freeze, cries are being heard for a new government intervention to prop up major financial institutions before" Obama "takes office," the New York Times reports. "'We can't get from here to Feb. 1 if the current "who's in charge?" situation continues,' said Robert Barbera, the chief economist of ITG, an investment firm, arguing that Congress should adopt a stimulus package, including temporary tax cuts, as rapidly as possible."

• "A whiff of deflation is in the air," the Washington Post reports. "Oil prices" Thursday "slid below $50 a barrel to the lowest level since May 2005; stores are advertising sales on the eve of what should be peak holiday shopping season; and worldwide demand for items as varied as steel, petrochemicals and clothing plunged in October."

• "Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will suspend foreclosure sales and evictions on certain properties until after the holiday season, as they prepare to implement a previously announced loan-modification program," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The temporary foreclosure suspension announced Thursday applies to 10,000 borrowers with Fannie-owned mortgages and 6,000 with Freddie-owned mortgages in occupied single-family and two- to four-unit properties with foreclosure sales scheduled between Nov. 26 and Jan. 9."

• "Citigroup's crisis deepened on Thursday as its shares continued to slump in spite of a planned investment of about $250m by Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, its largest individual investor," the Financial Times reports. "The 26.4 per cent fall in the shares, which closed at $4.71 in New York, prompted Citi's directors and executives to look at strategic options, includes selling part or all of the company."

• "Crude-oil prices sank below $50 a barrel, and the average cost of a gallon of gasoline at the pump hovered just above $2, a free fall in prices that is reverberating through the economy," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The sudden reversal -- the fastest and sharpest since 1980, when the government began tracking monthly gasoline prices -- is bringing relief to some and complicating business for others."

World: U.N. To Reinforce Peacekeepers In Congo

• "The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to reinforce the beleaguered U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, approving the temporary deployment of more than 3,100 additional personnel to help protect hundreds of thousands of civilians," the Washington Post reports. "The council's vote came weeks after rebel leader Laurent Nkunda launched a major offensive that has driven more than 250,000 civilians from their homes and brought about the collapse of the government's army in eastern Congo."

• "Humanitarian aid officials fear that rich nations will slash foreign aid budgets next year because of the financial meltdown, putting at risk millions of vulnerable people in need of life-saving assistance," the Washington Times reports. "'The global financial crisis has raised inevitable concerns that there could be a decline in humanitarian funding for 2009. I urge member states and private donors not to let that happen,' said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in launching an appeal for $7 billion."

• "For the second time this week, Israel on Thursday resisted a plea by" Ban "to ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip and urged the world to condemn Palestinian rocket attacks instead," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Gazans have endured shortages of electricity and some staples since a 5-month-old cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the enclave, began to unravel Nov. 4."

• "A new study of the global future by American intelligence agencies suggests that Al Qaeda could soon be on the decline, having alienated Muslim supporters with indiscriminate killing and inattention to the practical problems of poverty, unemployment and education," the New York Times reports.

• "With the United States reevaluating strategy in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is telling allies that additional U.S. forces planned for the war must be shared across the region taking the brunt of the fighting," AP reports.

• "Indian police have arrested nine people, including an army lieutenant colonel, a Hindu nun and a monk who heads a monastery, in connection with a bomb blast in a Muslim market during the holy month of Ramadan," the Washington Times reports. "The investigation marks the first official confirmation of a Hindu terrorist cell in the nation of more than 1 billion where minority Muslims have been accused of orchestrating dozens of bombings in recent years."

• "Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, mindful that Russians have already been traumatized by two financial crises in the last two decades, tried to assure the country on Thursday that it would be able to weather the current one," the New York Times reports. "In a keynote speech to the governing party congress, Mr. Putin announced tax cuts to stimulate the economy and increased spending on social programs."

• "The Suez Canal, the international waterway crucial to Egypt's economy, faces the threat of a dramatic decline in traffic as shipping companies shift to other sea routes to avoid Somali pirates," the Financial Times reports.

• "China has further tightened control in its ethnic Tibetan region in recent weeks, exile groups say, even as it was ostensibly negotiating in good faith with the Dalai Lama's envoys," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Stepped-up patrols and increased paramilitary presence in Lhasa, the regional capital, and along major transport arteries coincide with a strategy meeting attended by exiles in northern India this week, members of exile groups say."

Transition: Hectic Jan. 20 Looms For D.C.

• Washington, D.C., has cleared the way for residents to rent their homes for the inauguration, while Metro will run extra trains. Read more in Lost In Transition, NationalJournal.com's blog on the changeover.

Commentary: The Mighty Fall

• Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section has comment on Stevens' farewell to the Senate and Dingell's defeat in a House power struggle.

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