Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

We need to hear less about the body count, more about the efforts to get the Afghans on their feet: A series of operations by U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan targeted an al Qaeda leader and a bomb-making cell, killing 19 militants, the coalition said. Afghan police meanwhile said Saturday they had investigated unconfirmed reports that civilians may have been killed and found that only militants died. The operations took place Friday in Nangarhar and Khost provinces, volatile regions along the Pakistan border. In the deadliest operation, the coalition said it killed 10 militants during a strike against a bomb-making cell under the command of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a fierce militant leader believed to operate out of Pakistan.

We saw this coming: Bolivian President Evo Morales on Saturday suspended operations by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, an agency he has accused of spying and helping to destabilize his government. Morales announced the indefinite cutoff in a speech in which he said his government has wiped out more than 12,300 acres of illegally planted coca this year. Coca is the raw material for cocaine, but Bolivians use it in its natural form as a traditional tea or chew.

Rebels demand talks: The rebel general besieging Congo's eastern provincial capital said Thursday that he wants direct talks with the government about security and his objections to a $5 billion deal that gives China access to the region's mineral resources. Gen. Laurent Nkunda said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that the reason he called a cease-fire Wednesday as he reached the gates of Goma was to try to stop chaos in the city. He said he wants U.N. peacekeepers to help refugees return home. Nkunda, leading a Tutsi rebellion in eastern Congo, said the government is not protecting the country's Tutsi minority. He said he turned down a government offer of $2.5 million to stop fighting because he could not abandon his mission to protect Congo's people.

Chrysler doesn't see many buyers out there: In crises past, Chrysler has somehow managed to stamp out a blockbuster hit vehicle to pull itself away from the cliff's edge. But as it faces a possible sale to another automaker and what may be the most serious problems in its 83-year history, industry analysts say there's nothing in the current product portfolio that looks like a savior. Chrysler's U.S. sales are down 25 percent through September, the worst decline of any major automaker. Losses are mounting: well over $1 billion for the first half of the year. Things are so bad that Chrysler LLC wants to shed a quarter of its salaried work force, and its owner, Cerberus Capital Management LP, is talking with General Motors Corp. and others about a sale.

Feds want to ban Avandia: The government should ban the diabetes drug Avandia because of a wide variety of life-threatening risks, including heart and liver damage, a consumer group said Thursday. The consumer group, Public Citizen, filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration to have Avandia taken off the market. It was the second setback in as many weeks for the GlaxoSmithKline medication, which at one time had shown great promise in reducing the blood sugar levels of people with Type 2 diabetes. Last week, the American Diabetes Association and a European counterpart jointly released updated treatment guidelines for doctors that pointedly recommended against using Avandia.

Kuwaiti investors stung by their own government: When Arab leaders assured their citizens that the financial troubles of the West would hit only lightly here, electronics dealer Mishal al-Fadli took Kuwait's government at its word. As the global crisis built in September, Fadli sold his two electronics stores and mortgaged his house. He invested everything, $800,000, in futures contracts. "The minister of finance advised us investors to get involved. He said the economy is strong, it'll go up," Fadli recounted. This week, Fadli wandered the floor of the Kuwait Stock Exchange with just 24 Kuwaiti dinars, or about $90, left to his name, he said. He has five children younger than 10 and mortgage payments coming due. "Within a month, if I don't pay, I'm out on the streets," Fadli said. Behind him, a man who had lost $80,000 in savings in the stock market shouted grievances against Kuwait's leaders. Investors with equally devastating losses surrounded the man, applauding.

Clemson beats Boston College, snapping 50-year losing streak The Clemson Tigers last defeated the Golden Eagles on the gridiron since 1958 - They pulled out a 24-21 victory, but one might say just barely, and only after they squandered a 17-0 halftime lead.

Punk'd The Masked Avengers, a Montreal comedy duo called up Sarah Palin and had her convinced that one of the pranksters was French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Hilarity ensued as they talked about hunting and shooting and clubbing baby seals and sex with Italian pop star Carla Bruni, real-life wife of the French president.

The question is, can anyone afford it right now? Washington has asked Australia, New Zealand and the European Union if they could replace Japan in supplying energy aid to North Korea, South Korea's foreign minister was quoted as saying Saturday. The idea was to be discussed at six-party talks on disarming North Korea, which are expected to take place in mid-November, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yu Myung-Hwan said.

Trouble in the charity world: The American Lung Association is dissolving its Northwest affiliate and wants the rogue group to hand over ownership of its multimillion-dollar Seattle headquarters, which it sold for $10. The national charity sent a cease-and-desist letter to regional affiliate American Lung Association of the Northwest, the ALA told The Associated Press on Friday. The letter demanded that the regional affiliate stop using the American Lung Association name, turn over its financial assets and take steps to get the building back. "We took these steps in order to protect these assets, which were intended for the purpose of advancing the mission of the American Lung Association," Carrie Martin, a spokeswoman for the national association, said in an e-mail. The affiliate represents the organization in Alaska, Washington and Idaho. The national group, founded in 1904, notified the affiliate in September that it had 30 days to fix alleged violations of the organization's policies.

Tragic A 12 year old boy was fatally shot while trick-or-treating in South Carolina on Friday night. The boy, his father, and siblings approached a house that had the light on when the suspect inside opened fire, mortally wounding the boy and injuring his father and brother. The 22-year-old suspect is in custody. Please, please, please FSM, don't let him be a repatriated combat vet...

India and China affected by economic crisis India cut its main short-term lending rate today, and China announced that it was bracing for an economic slowdown. As the global economy shuddered, British PM Gordon Brown set out for the Persian Gulf region to plead with oil-rich states to pour money into stabilizing the world financial system and help afflicted countries.

Prisons go green Inmates of the minimum-security Cedar Creek Corrections Center 25 miles from Olympia, Washington are raising bees, growing organic produce, composting 100% of the facilities food waste, and even recycling shoe scraps that are made into playground turf. In the process they are saving money and energy. "It reduces cost, reduces our damaging impact on the environment, engages inmates as students," said Eldon Vail, secretary of the Washington Department of Corrections, which oversees 15 prisons and 18,000 offenders. "It's good security."

FEMA official criticizes response to Ike A top official of the Federal Emergency Management Agency admits that the agency was sluggish in its response to Texans affected by Hurricane Ike's devastation, according to a published report. Deputy FEMA Administrator Harvey E. Johnson Jr. said he intends to improve the help that the agency provides to Texans whose home were damaged or destroyed by the September hurricane. He said FEMA will deploy mobile homes to the hardest-hit areas more rapidly, review rules that might be causing premature denials of assistance and provide more resources to Texas.

Can we just come on out and say it - values voters are ignorant imbeciles who shouldn't leave the house without a helmet, they are such an addle-pated lot. Will anyone else be as glad to see those dumbfucks laughed at, mocked, ridiculed and hounded out of public life as I will be?