Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Shantytown tragedy: Massive boulders crashed down on an Egyptian shantytown Saturday on the outskirts of the capital, killing at least 24 people, authorities said. Rescuers were digging by hand to reach any survivors. At least eight boulders, some the size of small houses, fell from the towering Muqattam cliffs and buried about 50 homes in the massive Manshiyet Nasr slum, one of many densely populated shantytowns ringing the city of 17 million.

The USS Mount Whitney arrives in Georgia: The flagship of the U.S. Navy's Mediterranean fleet arrived in the Georgian port of Poti on Friday. The Mount Whitney was the first U.S. naval ship to travel to the port since Georgia fought a short war with Russia last month. Poti was bombed by Russian forces and several Georgian ships were sunk. Harbor master Vakhtang Tavberidze said Friday the ship had anchored just offshore from the port. U.S. officials said the ship was bringing humanitarian aid for Georgians.

Get out while the gettin' is good: A strengthening Hurricane Ike loomed over this low-lying island chain Saturday as a dangerous Category 4 storm, prompting thousands of people to evacuate while those staying behind hunkered down and hoped for the best. As the massive gray wall of clouds approached from the east, people poured into the main supermarket in Providenciales, expecting that power would be knocked out and that food would suddenly become scarce.

Hanging on by the skin of his mink teeth: Rep. Don Young's lead over Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell in the Republican primary for Alaska's seat in the U.S. House swelled to 239 votes early this morning with the count of absentee and questioned ballots from the last three House districts, all in Anchorage. Altogether, elections workers reviewed and counted about 25,000 questioned and absentee ballots on Friday. The first batch of returns posted on the division of elections Web site about 5:15 p.m. showed Young's 151-vote lead shrinking to about 129 votes. But as the night wore on, his margin expanded to 172 votes, and the last returns posted about 12:30 a.m. had Young with 48,006 votes to Parnell's 47,767 -- the 239 vote margin. Fuckin' A--an Alaska story with Sarah "Failin" in it.

Whoa, it ain't dead yet! Microsoft Windows XP - the operating system that will not go away is now getting a third lease on a life and could be extended even further. Microsoft is finding itself between a rock and a hard place when it comes to Windows XP and its life expectancy. The company had planned on dumping XP and forcing the masses into using their latest flagship operating system known as Vista. But a strange thing happened. Thanks to Asus and their popular Eee mini-laptops, Microsoft had to adjust how their Windows XP was to be deployed in order to counter Linux from being installed on these pint size laptop offerings. Not only did Asus get the ball rolling, but now other manufactures, including Dell, are entering into this new explosive market place.

Asteroid fly-bys are cool as fuck: The Rosetta deep space probe successfully passed close to an asteroid 250 million miles from Earth, the European Space Agency said Friday night. In a mission that may bring man closer to solving the mystery of the solar system's birth, the craft completed its flyby of the Steins asteroid, also known as Asteroid 2867 - now in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter - at around 3:15 p.m. EDT. As planned, the spacecraft's signal was lost for about 90 minutes as engineers turned it away from the sun and because the craft was moving too fast for its antennas to transmit. The resumption of the craft's signal transmission was greeted with cheers from ESA engineers and technicians.

It was the abject lying, is what you're saying? The government’s planned takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, expected to be announced on Sunday, came together after advisers poring over the companies’ books for the Treasury Department concluded that Freddie’s accounting methods had overstated its capital cushion, according to regulatory officials briefed on the matter. The proposal to place both companies, which own or back $5.3 trillion in mortgages, into a government-run conservatorship also grew out of deep concern among foreign investors that the companies’ debt might not be repaid. Falling home prices, which are expected to lead to more defaults among the mortgages held or guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie, contributed to the urgency, regulators said.

I might watch Woodward on 60 Minutes on Sunday night. The problem is, how can you believe him anymore? It's not like he hasn't been caught being used by the very people he's writing about.

Democrats in a McSame cabinet? Republican John McCain told his party at his nominating convention that he doesn't work for the party - he works for the people. And McCain, who courted the idea of tapping a former Democrat for his running mate, friend Joe Lieberman, says he can promise that, as president, he will have some Democrats working in his Cabinet. That's not the sort of talk his party wanted to hear, necessarily, at its convention. He told fellow Republicans that he is a "maverick,'' and that is not always a compliment. But it could be the sort of thing that independent voters - and Democrats still smarting over the loss of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries - want to hear. "I don't know how many,'' McCain says of Democratic Cabinet members, in an interview with CBS News' Face the Nation that will air on Sunday morning. "But I can tell you, with all due respect to previous administrations. It is not going to be a single, 'well we have a Democrat now.' Oh, goody! Now can we go back to having our patriotism insulted and our affiliation with the Democratic Party compared to wanting the terrorists to win, please? Seems to me if McCain wants to consolidate his base, he'd keep that kind of talk to himself.

Doubts about the Anthrax case? You don't say...A month after the F.B.I. declared that an Army scientist was the anthrax killer, leading members of Congress are demanding more information about the seven-year investigation, saying they do not think the bureau has proved its case. In a letter sent Friday to Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Democratic leaders of the House Judiciary Committee said that “important and lingering questions remain that are crucial for you to address, especially since there will never be a trial to examine the facts of the case.” The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, committed suicide in July, and Mr. Mueller is likely to face demands for additional answers about the anthrax case when he appears before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on Sept. 16 and 17.