Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Net Neutrality advocates prominent on Obama transition team Susan Crawford, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, and Kevin Werbach, a former FCC staffer, organizer of the annual tech conference Supernova, and a Wharton professor, have been tapped to head up the FCC review team for the Obama-Biden transition. Both are well-regarded experts on telecommunications issues, and both have been highly critical of Bush's telecom policies. In addition, both have a long record of persuasive and vocal advocacy of Net Neutrality.

Gregory Craig to be White House Counsel High-powered Washington lawyer Gregory Craig, who headed up President Clinton's impeachment defense team, will be White House counsel in the incoming Obama administration. Interesting bit of trivia: Craig played the role of McCain in Obama's debate prep sessions.

Lungren will challenge Boehner for leadership California Representative Dan Lungren announced that he will challenge minority leader John Boehner for the Milority Leader position next week in the lame duck session. "If we don't admit our difficulties and address them aggressively, we not only run the risk of becoming a permanent congressional minority but we will do a disservice to our nation," Lungren says in the letter. "If we choose by inaction to ignore the real challenges we face, then paraphrazing President Reagan, we deserve to be relegated to the trash heap of history."

In Myanmar, the crime fits the punishment In a country where owning an unauthorized cellphone or distributing a homemade video without government clearance can land you in prison, judges are using a slew of laws to justify harsh sentences for persons involved in the protests against the government that were led by Buddhist monks in 2007.

Mudflats saw Walt Monegan today--check it out: I wanted to thank him for his service to the state. I wanted to tell him I though he really got the short end of the stick. I wanted to tell him that I appreciate all he was doing for the Troopers, and for rural Alaska, and that I was sorry he never had the chance to make his plans a reality. I wanted to ask him if he needed anything….I don’t know what it would be, but I, like so many others wish I could do something.

Daycare centers are beginning to empty across the country: The nation's economic troubles play out one family at a time at the New Horizons Learning Center in this struggling city two hours northwest of Chicago. Some parents have been laid off and must pull their children out of the day care center until they can find a job. Others' employment hours have been cut, so they reduce their kids' attendance to a few days a week. Financial strains prompt one mother to pay with a postdated check. Another chooses to work in the middle of the night - after putting her kids to bed - because of the extra dollar per hour that shift brings. And the stress shows on the faces of the children who can't understand why their friends, without explanation, stop coming. "They act out more, cry a lot more," said Diane Kesterton, director of New Horizons, where a 38-child enrollment has been halved to 19 in just three months. "They don't know what's happening, they're confused."

Tragedy in West Africa: A collision between a passenger bus and a truck killed more than 60 people Saturday in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, officials said. Fire swept through the bus after the pre-dawn crash on a thoroughfare west of the capital, Ouagadougou, regional official Maize Compaore said. At least 60 people were dead and others were injured. "It's terrible, incredible," she said by telephone.

Routine, and necessary: Space shuttle Endeavour's astronauts unfurled a 100-foot, laser-tipped pole and surveyed their ship for any launch damage Saturday while drawing ever closer to their destination, the international space station. At least two pieces of debris were spotted Friday night in launch photos, Mission Control reported, and engineers were poring over the images to determine whether anything hit Endeavour.

Storms hit North Carolina: A cluster of strong thunderstorms swept across central North Carolina early Saturday and spawned tornadoes, killing two people. A child was also missing. A woman was found dead in her wrecked home and her son was missing in the community of Kenly, which is about 35 miles southeast of Raleigh, said state police spokeswoman Patty McQuillan. The boy's father was taken to a hospital with injuries. In neighboring Johnston County, authorities said a child also was killed. Kenly suffered "complete devastation," resident Michael Barnes Sr. told CBS affiliate WRAL. "It looks like a war zone." Officials said the severe storm affected half a dozen counties, knocking down tress and power lines. A number of homes and buildings were damaged or destroyed.

Not a bad idea, actually: Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called for a strategic partnership with the United States to confront 21st century challenges, saying he found president-elect Barack Obama's foreign policy "refreshing". The leader of the world's most populous Muslim nation said such a relationship would have to be for the long term and based on "equal partnership" and "common interests" with strong people-to-people content.

Egad: Gunfire erupted in the storied Waldorf-Astoria hotel during a brazen robbery attempt Saturday at a lobby jewelry store, wounding a security guard and sending guests diving for cover. The 54-year-old guard was shot in the chest but was expected to survive, and a suspect was in custody, police said. Charges were pending. Hotel guest Christine Cataldo said she was looking at a display of engagement rings near the entrance to the store, Cellini Jewelers, when she heard the first shot.

Somali port falls: A radical Islamic group seized another Somali port town Saturday, consolidating its control over a southwestern region that borders the Somali capital. Amin Adan, a resident of the port town of Barawe, said that fighters of al-Shabab took control without a fight because the government's allies left as soon as they heard the fighters were on their way. "We don't know whether it is a tactical retreat," Adan told The Associated Press by phone from Barawe, 110 miles (180 kilometers) southwest of Mogadishu. Barawe is near Merka, a key port town with an airstrip that al-Shabab seized earlier this week; both are in the region of Lower Shabelle, which surrounds Mogadishu.