Friday, October 10, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Sarah-geddon has some radical nutjobs for friends Sarah Palin can run away from the Alaskan Independence Party, but she can't really hide. Too many people know the open secret and are willing to regale reporters with the tales of culture wars, anti-tax fervor and secessionist pipedreams. "Her door is always open" to the sort of people a responsible elected official should at least shun, and probably have investigated.

Treasury says it will buy bank stakes: The Treasury Department confirmed Friday evening that it will buy stakes in major U.S. banks and financial institutions, announcing the bold move as leaders of the world's leading industrialized democracies agreed to guidelines for joint action but stopped short of taking coordinated steps sought by investors worldwide. The revelation that Treasury will take nonvoting stakes in U.S. banks adds to a growing list of unprecedented government interventions into private financial institutions not seen since the Great Depression.

Aleutians volcano sterilizes island: The surprise eruption of Kasatochi Volcano in the central Aleutians this summer turned a small green island rich with seabirds and ocean mammals into a sterile gray lump, scientists say. Tens of thousands of fledgling auklets and petrels perished in their rocky nests, as Kasatochi erupted for the first time in centuries, smothering under a deep blanket of ash anything that couldn't flee. "Probably 20 percent of auklet chicks were still in their crevices and hadn't left," said Jeff Williams, a Homer-based biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "They were most likely entombed." A couple hundred adult sea lions still encircle the island, but all the year's pups have disappeared, Williams said.

HUD has a role in helping Americans--thank God Alphonso Jackson is gone: Whether their home loan is through Countrywide, another mortgage company or bank, homeowners can get free counseling to help them avoid foreclosure. An $8.4 billion legal settlement was agreed to this week to benefit those with certain types of Countrywide mortgages. But housing counselors say many other lenders, too, have started offering options that may enable people to keep their homes. "There are more lenders who are backing off and trying not to foreclose now," said Martha Lucey, president of ByDesign Financial Solutions. ByDesign is nonprofit agency that provides free foreclosure prevention and housing counseling in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties. Its counselors offer unbiased advice and are certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Homeowners concerned about keeping up with their mortgage payments can get free advice from ByDesign and other HUD-certified counselors in private meetings, by phone, over the Internet and at assorted workshops throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley. And while this is a California-centric story, there is a growing need for more of these programs all over the country, and let's hope they actually work.

Just another day for the Appeaser in Chief: President Bush is set to remove North Korea from the U.S. list of terrorist-sponsoring nations as early as Saturday in an end-of-term bid to save a deal to eliminate the secretive communist nation's nuclear weapons program, State Department officials said Friday. The move was being finalized Friday after consultations with U.S. ally Japan, which opposes the action, and what appears to have been a fierce internal debate within the Bush administration, said the officials, who requested anonymity because the announcement hasn't been made yet. Bush agreed earlier this year to remove North Korea from the terrorist list as part of a pact to freeze its nuclear weapons work, account for nuclear facilities and eventually eliminate its small nuclear arsenal. Had the actual diplomacy been done years ago, we wouldn't be at this stage. Remember what John Bolton used to be? He was on the original delegation to the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear program back in 2003. He was removed from the delegation because he insulted Kim Jong Il.

Provincial elections due next year in Iraq: Iraq's presidency council passed a critical law Wednesday to organize provincial elections that were originally scheduled for Oct. 1 and now are likely to be held sometime early next year. Approval of the law fulfills a major U.S. government benchmark and marks an important advance in the political sphere, which has lagged behind improvements in security. Despite the law's stated deadline of Jan. 31 for elections in 17 of Iraq's 18 provinces, there may be a further postponement, according to the Independent High Electoral Commission.

Powell's word? Not so much: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday praised Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' sense of honor at his trial on corruption charges, calling his reputation for honesty and integrity "sterling" in the quarter-century they've known each other. "As we say in the infantry, this is a guy you take on a long patrol," said the retired four-star Army general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Just don't expect him to use the Internet on that long patrol...

Sarah-geddon likes pork just fine, if the largess is going to her church, at least She pissed a lot of people off by cutting funding from projects all over the state, but saw to it that her church got a chunk of money for a youth center.

We don't ever want to hear wingnuts whine about "socialism" ever again Treasury will start buying stock in troubled banks to bolster them, rather than just assume the toxic debt from bad mortgages. For years and years, as we cautioned against the deregulation fever that caused this mess, we were scoffed at and derided as socialists. Now the very thing that our tormentors were championing brought to pass that which they accused us of wanting. Dumbasses. Greedy dumbasses. And now, because the greedy dumbasses ran amok, we all own a couple of fucking banks, a couple of mortgage companies and an insurance company. Feeling railroaded?

I can remember when this meant something--and it should mean something once again: Finland's ex-president Martti Ahtisaari won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to build a lasting peace from Africa and Asia to Europe and the Middle East. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it honored Ahtisaari for important efforts over more than three decades to resolve international conflicts. "These efforts have contributed to a more peaceful world and to 'fraternity between nations' in Alfred Nobel's spirit," the committee said in announcing the prize. By selecting Ahtisaari, 71, for the prize, the Nobel committee returned its focus to traditional peace work after tapping climate campaigner Al Gore and the U.N. panel on climate change last year.

G-7 leaders cinverge on Washington to meet this weekend to deal with the widening world-wide economic crisis.

Phillies win game two of the N.L.C.S., beating the Dodgers 8-5 to take a two game lead on the road to Dodger's Stadium, where the series resumes Sunday night.