December 7, 2008

Caroline Kennedy could fill Hillary Clinton's Senate Seat

The New York Times and CNN both reported Friday on the likelihood of whether Caroline Kennedy would fill Hillary Clinton's soon-to-be-vacant NY senate seat.

The Times reports that Caroline Kennedy's cousin, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., said he believe she is considering the idea.

"A lot of people the last couple of weeks have urged her to do it," Kennedy said.

New York Governor, David A. Paterson, will be the one to choose who is best suited to fill Clinton's seat come January.

Paterson confirmed that Caroline Kennedy has been in contact with him about the position.

“The conversation was informational,? Paterson said. “She did not express an interest in the Senate, but we talked about the Senate, so I got that she was just trying to get some information to determine whether or not she would like to have an interest in it. And that was it.?

The Times also points out that the seat was once filled by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, and her appointment to the job would continue a long legacy of the Kennedy family in politics.

They also cite that many feminist groups have contacted Paterson, asking him to put a female into Clinton's seat.

Women they support include Rep. Caroline B. Maloney, who represents Queens and part of Manhattan, and Kirsten E. Gillibrand from upstate NY.

CNN points out that Kennedy typically shies away from the limelight, and her interest in the seat still remains unclear.

They also site her endorsement of Barack Obama during this campaign, and the idea that his election may have reenergized her interest in politics and a desire to be part of this new American political team.

November 30, 2008

Holiday Sales Up From Last Year...So Far

CNN and The Wall Street Journal both posted articles Saturday covering this holiday season's retail shopping revenue.

The Journal writes that, while shoppers still turned out in droves for this year's Black Friday bargains, the mood is tempered by cautious buying and many families cutting back.

Stores are doing what they can to lure shoppers into their stores, offering many more deals than they have in years before. Macy's New York store offered 200 door-buster specials this year, compared to 25 offered last year.

Many other drastic discounts could be found at national chains. Walmart offered $128 Blu-Ray movie-disc player, which sold for $400 a few months previous.

Retailers fear that shoppers may have already concluded their holiday shopping this weekend, instead of just beginning it. Many people commented on their attempts to cut back this year.

Pamela Usen, a hospital nurse whose work hours were cut recently, said she told her children they would only be allowed two gifts this year.

CNNMoney reported that this weekend's holiday shopping is still up slightly from last year despite many people's fears that this year would be the lowest seen in decades.

The National Retail Federation (NRF), an industry trade group, said shoppers spent $41 billion in the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend. The average shopper spent $372.57, up 7.2% from the $347.55 spent last year.

NRF president Tracy Mullin said the sales are not expected to continue at such a high rate, but it does signal that shoppers are possibly not cutting back as much as previously thought.

The NRF predicts that shopping this holiday season will rise 2.2%.

ShopperTrak RCT, a retail industry research firm, said that Black Friday sales rose 3% this year, to about $10.6 billion nationwide.

"Under these circumstances, to start off the season in this fashion is truly amazing and is a testament to the resiliency of the American consumer, and undeniably proves a willingness to spend," the firm's co-founder, Bill Martin, said in a statement.

November 23, 2008

Palin Pardons Turkey as Man Slaughters Birds Behind Her

The Canadian Press and The BBC both reported Friday on an incident where former VP candidate Sarah Palin spoke of pardoning a turkey before next weeks Thanksgiving holiday while a man slaughters several birds behind her.

The BBC article included the following quotes:

"This was neat," she told reporters, referring to her "pardon" of a turkey.
"I was happy to get to be invited to participate in this. For one, you need a little bit of levity in this job... It's nice to get out and... participate in something that isn't so heavy-handed politics that it invites criticism."

They also point out that turkey pardoning is a common yearly custom that the president and other elected officials take part in.

They also make light of the fact that most turkeys aren't lucky enough to be pardoned, explaining to readers that the turkey is the main course in American Thanksgiving dinner.

The Canadian Press reports that interview took place near Triple D Farm & Hatchery outside Wasilla.

Palin didn't comment on the slaughter taking place near her, but did say that she was happy her son's Stryker brigade is relatively safe in Iraq .

Palin said she was lucky to have the chance to pardon one of Alaska's turkeys.

The turkey was pardoned near a bloody tub where Triple D employees worked to fill orders in time for Thanksgiving.

November 16, 2008

Obama's First Interview since Election

The New York Times and CNN both featured stories on their homepages covering President elect Barack Obama's first interview since the victory.

CNN reports that Obama spoke of how he will focus on stimulating the economy when he takes office. He stated in the interview that the most important thing to work on is avoiding a deepening recession.

Obama cited that he feels it is important to provide financial assistance to the struggling auto industry, saying that their possible collapse would be a disaster in today's economic crisis.

CNN also listed the other priorities Obama intends to take on, once in office. He plans to step up the search for Osama Bin Laden, saying that he is not only a major symbol of Al Qaeda, but is leading an organization, which is planning attacks against the US.

Obama also spoke of his plans to shut down Guantanamo Bay, saying that he wishes to restore America's "moral stature."

The NY Time's story focuses more on the personal topics covered in Obama's recent 60 Minutes interview.

Michelle Obama, who was also present in the interview, spoke of her first realization that her husband would be the president, "But I remember, we were watching the returns and, on one of the stations, Barack's picture came up and it said, 'President-Elect Barack Obama. ' And I looked at him and I said, 'You are the 44th President of the United States of America. Wow. What a country we live in.'"

Both said, however, that the reality that Obama will actually become president in January has not really set in yet.

November 9, 2008

Possible Obama Cabinet Choices

The Washington Post and CNN have continuing reports on possible picks for President Elect Barack Obama's cabinet.

The post reports that three key Bush appointees are going to remain at their posts.

They suggest that Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen will remain in their posts for at least the first year or two of Obama's term.

They comment on the delicate balance Obama must strike between his promise to break from Bush's policies and also creating a bipartisan team to foster a smooth transition.

They state that Bernanke is the key feature in the transition as he is a leading expert on the Great Depression, and is expected to lead the nation out of the current economic downturn.

The CNN article focuses on Obama's potential reappointing of Robert Gates.

Initially Gates appeared to be unwilling to continue in his post under a new administration saying, "The circumstances under which I would do that are inconceivable to me."

Now he appears to be more willing to consider the option, telling a CNN reporter, ""I've learned never to say never."

Those closest to Gates believe if the job is offered and he takes it, he will end up staying less than a year.

November 2, 2008

Palin Hurting McCain Ticket, Polls Suggest

Multiple polls suggest that Sarah Palin's addition to the Republican ticket may be hurting more than it is helping, both CNN and The International Herald Tribune report.

A CNN poll shows that Palin's approval has dwindled significantly since the GOP convention in September. 57 percent of those polled said that Palin does not have the qualities necessary to become president, that is up 8 points since September.

Her approval in relation to Joe Biden has also declined since September. Previously, 53 percent of those polled said they would vote for Palin over Biden, and now, Biden holds a 12 point lead over Palin if a separate vote were taken for vice president.

If voters were allowed to vote for president independent from the vice presidential candidates, Obama would only hold a 4 point lead over McCain. The Obama-Biden ticket currently holds an 8 point lead over McCain-Palin, suggesting that Palin's presence on the ticket is taking 2 points away from McCain.

A New York Times/CBS News poll shows similar results, showing that 59 percent of voters believe Palin is unqualified to be president. This number is up 9 points since last week.

The poll also said voters are much more confident in Obama's ability to choose qualified people to serve in his administration.

The International Herald Tribune article also points out that polls are showing the race has become more polarized with about half of each candidate's supporters saying they are "scared" of what the other candidate would do if elected.

October 26, 2008

Powder Mailed to banks in Hoax

Letters containing suspicious powder were mailed to more than 50 financial institutions last week, CNN reported.

"Steal tens of thousands of people's money and not expect repercussions. It's payback time. What you just breathed in will kill you within 10 days. Thank [word redacted] and the FDIC for your demise," said one letter.

The powder contained in the letters was harmless, according to the FBI.

The letters were received in 11 states and the District of Colombia. They were all sent from Amarillo, Texas.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is offering a reward of $100,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible.

Most of the letters have been sent to branches of JP Morgan Chase.

The Washington Post reported that the letters had been sent to banks in Arizona, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Ohio, Colorado, Illinois, VIrginia, Texas, and Georgia.

One letter addressed to the chief executive of JP Morgan Chase in New York, threatened a series of attacks "ending in an Oklahoma City-like bombing."

October 19, 2008

Powell Endorses Obama

Former Secretary of State for George W. Bush announced Sunday on Meet the Press that he will be voting for Sen. Barack Obama, CNN Reported.

Powell cited that he is concerned about the direction of the Republican party, saying that it has "moved more to the right than I would like to see it."

Powell also stated that he thinks the McCain campaign's attempts to link Obama to 1960s radical William Ayers are "inappropriate."

Obama responded to Powell's endorsement at a rally in North Carolina Sunday by saying, "I have been honored to have the benefit of his wisdom and counsel from time to time over the last few years, but today, I am beyond honored and deeply humbled to have the support of General Colin Powell."

Powell has met with both candidates during their campaigns and says he believes both are qualified to be president.

"It isn't easy for me to disappoint Sen. McCain in the way that I have this morning, and I regret that," Powell said.

Powell said he has no plans to campaign for Obama.

The lede on a Fox News story reporting Powell's endorsement frames the story in a different way.

"Colin Powell, the man who delivered to the United Nations the U.S. case for war against Iraq, announced Sunday that he is going to vote for Barack Obama for president," begins the Fox News report.

McCain responded to Powell's endorsement on Fox News Sunday.

"Well, I have always admired and respected General Powell. We are longtime friends. This doesn't come as a surprise. But I am also very pleased to have the endorsement of four former secretaries of state ... and I am proud to have the endorsement of well over 200 retired army generals and admirals," McCain said.

Fox News also cited Powell's mention of the U.S. reputation abroad being affected by the election.

"It troubled me. We have two wars. We have economic problems, we have health problems. ... Those are the problems the American people want to hear about, not about Mr. Ayers, not about who's a Muslim and not a Muslim. Those kind of images going out on Al Jazeera are killing us around the world," Powell said.

October 11, 2008

US Removes N Korea From Terror List

The U.S. removed North Korea from a terrorism blacklist Saturday after they gave into nuclear inspection demands. The Washington Post reported.

The Post reported that the move was intended to salvage a faltering disarmament accord before Bush leaves office.

Many conservatives have criticized North Korea's removal from the list, saying that it sends the wrong message to other adversaries of the U.S., such as Iran and Syria.

Under the agreement, North Korea will allow experts to take samples and conduct tests at all of North Korea's declared nuclear sites. Mutual consent is necessary for inspections to be performed at undeclared sites.

The Post pointed out the skepticism of various leaders regarding this plan.

"Verifying North Korea's nuclear proliferation will be a serious challenge. This is most is the most secret and opaque regime in the entire world," said Patricia McNerney, assistant secretary for international security and nonprofileration.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said he will not support the move unless North Korea consents to intrusive inspections of all of its sites, and expressed concerns that Japan was not appropriately consulted in this decision.

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama supported the move saying it was "an appropriate response" as long as it is made clear to North Korea that there will be consequences if they do not cooperate.

Fox News posted basically the same AP story online Saturday, but changed the byline, added a few of their own comments and removed some others.

Most notably, they omitted any information regarding Barack Obama's opinions on the move, still leaving in John McCain's reaction, and also including quotes from a statement he made Friday.

"I expect the administration to explain exactly how this new verification agreement advances American interests and those of our allies before I will be able to support any decision to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism," McCain said in a statement late Friday.

The Fox News story also included a quote by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee:

"With today's action, the administration has given up a critical instrument of leverage," Ros-Lehtinen said. "By rewarding North Korea before the regime has carried out its commitments, we are encouraging this regime to continue its illicit nuclear program and violate its pledge to no longer provide nuclear assistance to extremist regimes."

October 5, 2008

Great Lakes Compact is Made Official

President Bush signed the Great Lakes Compact into law Friday, further protecting the world's largest source of freshwater, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Efforts to increase regulations protecting the Great Lakes have been in the works for nearly a decade now, after a Canadian business owner attempted to have shipments of Great Lakes water shipped to Asia.

Governors of the eight Great Lakes states met in Milwaukee in 2005 to come up with a new set of rules regulating the distribution of water outside of the Great Lakes Basin. After the governors agreed on a plan, it still needed to be approved by eight state Legislatures and Congress.

This process took nearly two years, but the U.S. House of Representatives cleared the bill with a 390-25 vote last month.

Supporters of the compact have been voicing their concerns that arid regions in the wester United States would target this water source, CNN reports.

Some environmentalists believe the pact may not be strong enough, pointing out an allowance in the law that is designed to accommodate bottled water companies.

CNN also points out a United Nations report that suggests two-thirds of the world may lack ready access to fresh water by 2025.

September 28, 2008

VP Debate Takes Place Thursday Night

Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin will debate in St. Louis, Missouri Thursday, CNN Reports.

Palin has remained largely shielded from the media since becoming the vice presidential nominee, doing only three interviews with national press.

Biden, on the other hand, has done almost 100 interviews since becoming the nominee, and has spent several years on the national political stage.

This has created much anticipation for the debates, as Palin has been largely criticized for her performance in those interviews.

Palin has received criticism for appearing to not know what the Bush Doctrine was in an interview with Charlie Gibson. She has also drawn criticism for her comments claiming that her state's proximity to Russia improves her foreign policy credentials.

Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN contributor said that "public opinion is turning on Palin."

Begala claims that Palin has lost her confidence since the Republican National Convention, and that could affect her in the upcoming debate.

Fox News points out that even some conservative commentators are beginning to criticize Palin.

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker wrote an article in which she says she can no longer defend Palin.

"Palin's recent interviews ... have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League," she wrote. "No one hates saying that more than I do."

FOX News analyst Bernard Goldberg said some of the criticism of Palin is unfair, but also that her latest interview made him believe Parker "may be right" in saying that Palin is out of her league.

The Fox News article also points out that Biden has been making many mistakes in recent weeks as well, and that some believe his mistakes are excused while Palin is chastised.

September 21, 2008

Wall Street Bailout

The Bush Administration announced that they could spend up to $700 million to bail out our struggling financial system, The New York Times reports.

This amount could go higher, but that would require additional legislation.

The $700 million is in addition to the $110 billion already pledged to bail out AIG, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

It is likely that American taxpayers will be footing the majority of the bill for the cost of this rescue.

According to the New York Times, congressional leaders are describing this latest action as better than the alternative of complete inaction. Leaving things as they are could further endanger the retirement savings and investments of Americans.

It is unknown how much this will cost the average taxpayer,
CNN reports.

The government hopes to buy failing mortgages at below-market rates and eventually sell them for a gain when the market recovers.

This move will likely require Congress to raise the ceiling on the nation's debt level. The current proposal calls for the debt to be increased from $10.6 trillion to $11.315 trillion for the fiscal year of 2009.

September 14, 2008

Hurricane Ike Hits Texas Coast

Hurricane Ike, a category 2 storm, hit the Texas coast early Saturday, CNN reported.
Although the city of Galveston ordered an evacuation before the storm hit, nearly 2,000 people had to be rescued from the storm.
Wanda Collins was one of the residents who chose to stay behind. She has lived in her home for almost 30 years, but was still surprised by the amount of flooding caused by Ike.
The storm destroyed many of her belongings.
"I've never seen water like this," Collins said.
At least 9 deaths have been reported so far. Galveston County sheriff Greg Hayes said three bodies were found in the water near Galveston bay.

The BBC reported that Hurricane Ike has halted more than one fifth of oil production in the U.S., causing 17 refineries in Texas to close down during the storm.
The EPA has waived clean air regulations for states affected by the storm, in order to curb fuel disruption.
Meanwhile in Haiti, hundreds have died as a result of the storm, and 33 tons of UN aid were delivered on Friday.
"The smell of the dead is very unpleasant in Gonaives. The death toll could be even higher," Haitian Police commissioner, Ernst Dorfeuille, said.