Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Fifteen days on, McCain gets Missouri's eleven EV's It was really close - only 3632 votes separated them, and keep in mind that Bush won Missouri in 2000 by 80,000 votes.

Waxman wins the first round in his bid to unseat John Dingle as chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce committee when he won the support of the Democratic Steering Committee.

Cole bows out of NRCC Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole has stepped aside and will not seek another term at the helm of the republican congressional committee, clearing the way for Texas Rep. Pete Sessions to step into the position.

Huckabee takes a shot at Palin “What John McCain did for her was to give her the capacity to sort of leapfrog over the process and get right to the center stage,” he told a group of reporters this morning at breakfast. “By naming her (his running mate) he was able to put her in a position where she did have to go through the bruising process of the primaries. Many of us had been out there for 15 months … she walks into the hot spotlight and she’s a blank slate nobody knows so Republicans are fired up.” Watching those two go after one another in a very un-christianlike way in 2012 is gonna be a hoot. Buy your popcorn futures now.

Here is some more vindication for Howard Dean and the 50 State Strategy Barack Obama won Salt Lake County, Utah. It is the first time in decades that a Democratic presidential candidate has won the states most populous county. For perspective, consider that Bush took the county by a 20-point margin.

If Teddy had his druthers Hillary Clinton would stay put in the Senate and be the driving force behind health care reform, and he has already asked her to lead a working group to explore reforming insurance coverage as a means to achieve comprehensive healthcare reform.

Say hello to the basement: Wall Street hit levels not seen since 2003, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling below the 8,000 mark, as the fate of Detroit's Big Three automakers and the economy disheartened investors. Stocks finished at their lows of the session after the automakers pleaded for relief during a second day of hearings in Washington. The heads of General Motors Ford and Chrysler are asking for a massive infusion of cash to prevent millions of layoffs and stave off bankruptcy.

Where the hell does the word "ecoterrorism" come from? The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of four alleged environmental extremists accused of sabotage attacks in five Western states - including a 1998 firebombing at a Colorado ski resort that caused $12 million in damage. The four are believed to be members of a radical environmental group known as "The Family" that is blamed for a series of arson attacks, vandalism and other crimes in Oregon, Washington, California, Wyoming and Colorado from 1996-2001. They've been quiet for over seven years and haven't been caught--are they a bigger priority than actual fucking "terrorists?" Apparently so. Now, yes--they should be caught. But come on. Priorities, people. Priorities.

Can we bring them back? Scientists are talking for the first time about the old idea of resurrecting extinct species as if this staple of science fiction is a realistic possibility, saying that a living mammoth could perhaps be regenerated for as little as $10 million. The same technology could be applied to any other extinct species from which one can obtain hair, horn, hooves, fur or feathers, and which went extinct within the last 60,000 years, the effective age limit for DNA. Though the stuffed animals in natural history museums are not likely to burst into life again, these old collections are full of items that may contain ancient DNA which can be decoded by the new generation of DNA sequencing machines. If the genome of an extinct species can be reconstructed, biologists can work out the exact DNA differences with the genome of its nearest living relative. There are talks on how to modify the DNA in an elephant's egg so that after each round of changes it would progressively resemble the DNA in a mammoth egg. The final-stage egg could then be brought to term in an elephant mother, and mammoths might once again roam the Siberian steppes.

Hedge Funds take a beating: September was a world-class bad month in Hedgistan, and it looks as if October has been no kinder. With continued losses at many funds and investors increasingly leery of risk, the thinning of this herd will continue...Hedge funds capped their worst two months in at least eight years in October, as global declines in stocks and commodity prices curbed returns and investor withdrawals cut assets, according to Eurekahedge Pte. The Eurekahedge Hedge Fund Index, tracking more than 2,000 funds that invest globally, dropped 4.5 percent last month after falling 5 percent in September, the Singapore-based data provider said. October's drop, based on 71 percent of constituent funds reporting as of today, pushed the index down 12 percent on the year, the worst since Eurekahedge began publishing data in 2000.

Unsold goods are piling up in Long Beach, California: It's always a bit dangerous to generalize from one data point, even if if it is a big data point, like Long Beach, one of America's most active commercial ports. Nevertheless, the New York Times uses it to present a vivid image of the economic, and in particular, trade slowdown. One focus is how imported cars are being warehoused there, indicating that even more competitive automakers have more pain to come. I dimly recall that when Daimler bought Chrysler (admittedly billed as a merger of equals that turned out otherwise) one of the reasons Chrysler decided to give up its independence was that the auto industry, globally, had production capacity vastly in excess of any reasonable demand scenario. And as has been visible for quite some time in the US, automakers have responded by using cheap financing as a means to get consumers to turn their cars in much faster than they ever did historically (when I was a kid, you bought a car and expected to keep it for, say, 6-10 years, depending on how heavily you drove it).

Proof of dark matter? Maybe. A balloon-borne instrument soaring high over Antarctica has found potential evidence of a large clump of mysterious dark matter relatively close to our solar system, scientists said Wednesday. It detected an unexpected amount of very high energy cosmic-ray electrons coming from an unknown source within about 3,000 light-years of the solar system.

Arlen Specter has a keen grasp of the obvious Specter, who has been pretty vocal about criticizing the Bush administration, and who is also the ranking republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said today that he is ready to move forward on confirming Barack Obama's choice for Attorney General, saying he hopes that the selection will "reprofessionalize" the Justice Department. "This business of wiretapping is not in order in accordance with Constitutional rights and where you have the immunity granted to the telephone companies," Specter told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Wednesday. "That is still a festering wound and some speculation as to whether that will be asserted by a new administration."

Too funny! Bill O'Reilly's website has a recommended holiday reading list.