Content Section
  1. About Time Obama: Blago Should Resign AP

    1. Obama: Blago Should Resign

    Rod Blagojevich is now officially under the presidential bus. According to his spokesman, Barack Obama believes that the Illinois governor should resign. “The president-elect agrees with Lt. Governor Quinn and many others that under the current circumstances it is difficult for the Governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois,” spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Gibbs also said that the Illinois General Assembly should implement a process to appoint a new senator, rather than leaving it up to Blagojevich.

    December 10, 2008 9:31 AM

  2. Developing Jesse Jackson Jr. is Candidate #5 Ron Edmonds/AP

    2. Jesse Jackson Jr. is Candidate #5

    After initial reports this morning that Jesse Jackson Jr. is “Senate Candidate #5,” who allegedly offered Rod Blagojevich up to a million dollars in exchange for Barack Obama’s Senate seat, the Illinois Congressman’s lawyer has confirmed the report. According to the FBI affidavit, Blagojevich "stated he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided ROD BLAGOJEVICH" with something "tangible up front." In a press conference afternoon, Jackson Jr. denied any wrong doing. "I reject and denounce pay-to-play politics, and have no involvement whatsoever in any wrongdoing," Jackson said. "I did not initiate or authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to Gov. Blagojevich at any time." He added: “I am not accused of any misconduct."

    December 10, 2008 6:59 AM

  3. Appointments

    3. Obama Names Energy Team

    Talk about qualified. Barack Obama has named a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to be his energy secretary. Steven Chu, a Chinese-American professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California-Berkeley, won the Nobel Prize in 1997 for his work in the "development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light." Officials tell the Wall Street Journal that he's likely to focus on basic science and nuclear weapons while Carol Browner, Obama’s new his "energy czar," will work on renewable energy and energy efficiency policy from the White House. Obama also tapped Lisa Jackson, an environmental-policy official in New Jersey, to head up the EPA, and Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley to chair his Council on Environmental Quality. Taken together, the appointments signal the President elect's commitments to combating climate change and boosting energy efficiency.

    December 10, 2008 2:46 PM

  4. Be Afraid

    4. Did the CIA Miss Iran's Bomb?

    When the National Intelligence Estimate reported last year that Iran had abandoned its nuclear program, it was praised for challenging the Bush administration’s hawkish line. But it turns out, writes Edward Jay Epstein in The International Herald Tribune, that it may have been wrong. The CIA’s report was based on Iran’s termination of a program known as Project 1-11, but the reason Iran may have ended it is that it found other ways of building nuclear warheads. A.Q. Khan and a Russian scientist both helped Iran to work around Project 1-11, and it extracted uranium ostensibly for civilian purposes that could be used in a weapon. It now has enough material to, with further enrichment, build a nuclear bomb. “America's new president will have to confront the reality that Iran now has the capability to change the balance of power in the Gulf, if it so elects to do so, by building a nuclear weapon.”

    December 10, 2008 9:26 AM

  5. The Meltdown

    5. AIG Adds $10 Billion Debt

    More disturbing news on the financial black hole known as AIG: The Wall Street Journal reports that the insurance giant "owes Wall Street's biggest firms about $10 billion for speculative trades that have soured." AIG has maintained that its trades helped other financial institutions to insure their holdings, but this is evidence that it was also gambling with its own capital. It now needs to pay off those debts, but the terms of the $150 billion bailout the AIG has received do not cover them: The bailout purchased bad securities to ease AIG's struggles, but these trades were purely speculative, with no underlying securities to purchase. The Fed has no immediate plans to aid AIG in paying off these debts.

    December 10, 2008 2:42 AM

  6. Heh

    6. Blagojevich and the Grinch

    Given the recent revelation of Patti Blagojevich's rather adult vocabulary (she was caught on tape dropping several F and S bombs), it might come as a surprise that she runs a Children’s Reading Club in Illinois that touts the importance of "building a good vocabulary." Just one week before her husband's was busted trying to sell Barack Obama's vacated Senate, she selected the club's December pick: How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Given her husband's recent indictment, it's safe to assume that the First Lady's Christmas season has been somewhat jeopardized. What's not clear is who plays the role of the Grinch in her real-life drama. Is it hard-nosed US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, reported whistle blower Rahm Emanuel or Barack Obama, who made a phone call a few months ago that may have led to Blagojevich's downfall?

    December 10, 2008 3:03 PM

  7. Revivals Britney's Back

    7. Britney's Back

    The last few attempted comebacks by Britney Spears have gone through fits and starts, but her latest album undeniably proves she is back. Circus tops the Billboard music charts this week after selling 505,000 copies. Circus is her fifth number one album and makes her the first artist to break the half-million mark in the first week. Oops! I Did It Again still remains her top seller, with 1.3 million sold. If all breakdowns have similar effects on sales, then twenty bucks says Madonna will “accidentally” shave her head by the end of the week.

    December 10, 2008 9:01 AM

  8. True Crime

    8. Actor Stabs Self on Stage

    A recent Austrian production of Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart featured a surprise ending: The prop knife for the final scene, in which a character stabs himself in the neck, was replaced with a real one. The audience applauded what it presumed to be a special effect as blood spurted from actor Daniel Hoevels’ neck. Only when Hoevels was lying prone during the ovation did the audience realize something was wrong. The knife was purchased at a local store and still had a price tag on it. Hoevels survived, and appeared on stage with a bandage on his neck the next night. No arrests have been made.

    December 10, 2008 7:55 AM

  9. Novel

    9. What Obama Can Learn From Cricket

    Forget building a basketball court in the White House. What the President-elect Obama really needs is to commune with cricket, writes Michael Fullilove in The Financial Times. Cricket is about internationalism, featuring teams in important geopolitical hotspots like India, Zimbabwe, and Pakistan. “Cricket requires patience and discipline”—just what Obama will need in a frighteningly complex world. Moreover, “in foreign policy as in cricket, you cannot win a match with a single swing, regardless of the beauty of your cover drive.” Perhaps this explains Bush’s Iraq policy: He was trying to the longball.

    December 10, 2008 6:04 AM

  10. Second Acts

    10. From the Jungle to Paris

    Wilson Bueno Largo, the 28-year-old member of the FARC guerrillas known by the nom de guerre "Isaza", spent the last 12 years in the jungle, lost an eye to war, and escaped almost two months ago with a kidnapped congressman in his arms. Today, thanks to an asylum offer from the French government, the ex-guerrilla and his girlfriend Lilia, another former member of the FARC, have traveled to Paris. They were escorted by Ingrid Betancourt, the Colombian politician who was freed this year after six years under the FARC's captivity and has just finished a tour of Latin American countries this week. With half a million dollars of reward money in his pocket, Bueno Largo has claimed, "We are awaiting a wonderful future".

    December 10, 2008 6:29 AM

  11. Television

    11. The End of Primetime As We Know It?

    Jay Leno’s move from late-night to primetime might effectively change the DNA of network television. As The Los Angeles Times notes, scripted TV has become prohibitively expensive to produce, and not even a mega-grosser like Seinfeld can pay for all the flops. Moreover, DVRs have eliminated the effectiveness of 30-second commercials. Moving Leno to primetime—alongside game show and reality shows—could point toward a cheaper way for the networks to do business. (An NBC executive called Leno’s show “somewhat digital-video-recorder-proof.”) As for scripted fare, well, it must look for a home on HBO and basic cable.

    December 10, 2008 4:40 AM

  12. Broadway

    12. Spike-the-Play

    Even playwrights play favorites. According to the New York Post, David Mamet wanted nothing to do with the Broadway debut of American Buffalo, which closed November 23 after a weeklong run. “He never attended a rehearsal, didn't see a performance, and refused to do any press for it,” reports the Post. "In my 30-year career, I have never met a playwright who had so little to do with his play," says Ben Sprecher, one of the producers. "David Mamet was nowhere near this production." His other Broadway production, a revival of Speed-the-Plow, is enjoying a good run; a recent Times article written by Mamet lauded the show. One theory of his disinterest in Buffalo relies on the money: sources say royalties from his early works (including Buffalo) go to his ex-wife because of a divorce settlement.

    December 10, 2008 8:57 AM

  13. Novel Calling In “Gay” Ricardo Moraes/AP

    13. Calling In “Gay”

    The latest grassroots effort to protest Proposition 8: calling in gay. According to The Los Angeles Times, the novel idea was floated by Joel Stein, a Times columnist, back in November. Stein took as his inspiration the Great American Boycott, from 2006, when Latino immigrants stayed home from work and nearly shut down the Los Angeles restaurant business. Stein proposed a similar off-day—“a day that fashion would not move forward,” as he put it. Those calling into work today are encouraged to donate their time to worthy causes.

    December 10, 2008 4:52 AM

  14. Mysterious

    14. White Powder Mailed to Govs

    Watch out Maryland and Massachusetts: So far this week, suspicious white powder has been mailed to the governors’ offices of Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, and Montana. Also, Alabama, Alaska, and Rhode Island. The mailings all seem to originate from Texas, and the powder is not believed to be toxic. Eight of the letters were received on Monday, while Alaska’s was intercepted on Tuesday and Maine’s was discovered today.

    December 10, 2008 8:19 AM

  15. Memories

    15. Parties of Christmas Past

    Remember back before the recession, when holiday parties were all eating free food while drunk, wandering around a lavish party space while getting drunk and embarrassing yourself in front of your boss, drunk? Alley Insider does, and they’ve assembled a handy guide to the halcyon parties of yesteryear, back when employees were allowed to (gasp!) bring a guest. Everyone from Google to Goldman to our very own IAC is included, but the saddest part of the great holiday party die off is that the cart wheeling Santas employed by News Corp for its party last year will be out of work. Pour a little eggnog out for them.

    December 10, 2008 4:54 PM

  16. Intriguing

    16. The Bailout in 20 Years

    How does Tom Friedman feel about the auto bailout? "[It] will be remembered as the equivalent of pouring billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the mail-order-catalogue business on the eve of the birth of eBay. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into the CD music business on the eve of the birth of the iPod and iTunes. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into a book-store chain on the eve of the birth of Amazon.com and the Kindle. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into improving typewriters on the eve of the birth of the PC and the Internet." Friedman looks at The Better Place electric car company which will sell miles to electric cars, "the way you now buy an Apple cellphone and the minutes from AT&T." The system will be up and running in Denmark and Israel by 2011.

    December 10, 2008 2:14 AM

  17. Books Garcia Marquez's New Book AP

    17. Garcia Marquez's New Book

    Book lovers and magical realists everywhere will be happy to hear that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is working on a new novel. Garcia Marquez's last book, Memories of My Melancholy Whores, was published in 2004. Marquez apparently took a sabbatical from writing in 2005, which he says was the first year of his life in which he didn't write a word. Now, his friend Plinio Apuelo Mendoza says Marquez is writing the new book, which is a love story, with his customary perfectionism. "He has four versions of it," Apuelo said. "He has told me now that he was trying to get the best from each of them."

    December 10, 2008 1:55 AM

  18. International

    18. Dire Straits in Congo

    Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson arrives in Congo and, trying to calculate the number of deaths over the past decade, writes, "We know that the events are approaching a holocaust scale when the margin of error is measured in millions." Looking forward, he writes that "Security in eastern Congo is the prerequisite for political progress." He sees one solution: "a capable, hard-hitting European military force, supported by the United States, which would stabilize the situation, give the [U.N.] peacekeeping force some breathing room and put a limit on [rebel leader] Nkunda's ambitions." Sadly, such a step seems "unlikely." Britain and Germany in particular have opposed the deployment of such a force.

    December 10, 2008 2:25 AM

  19. Chilling Abdul on Idol Suicide Chris Pizzello/AP

    19. Abdul on Idol Suicide

    The suicide of American Idol contestant Paula Goodspeed outside of Paula Abdul's home hinted at the dark side of reality television, and it turns out that the show's producers may have purposefully orchestrated her humiliation: In an interview with Barbara Walters on Sirius XM radio on Monday night, Abdul said that American Idol's producers knew that Goodspeed had stalked her (she maintained a restraining order against her intermittently for 18 years) and, in fact, allowed her to audition precisely for that reason. "It's fun for them to cause me stress," Abdul said. "This was something that would make good television." Abdul said that she protested Goodspeed's appearance on the show, but that the producers selected her "for entertainment value." Goodspeed apparently found Abdul's house, outside of which she killed herself, by following her home after an audition. When Walters asked why Abdul remains on a program that jeopardizes her safety, Abdul said, "I'm under contract."

    December 10, 2008 2:18 AM

  20. Tragic

    20. Special Forces Kill 6 Afghan Policemen

    U.S. Special Forces troops killed six Afghan policemen and a civilian today in what military officials are calling a "tragic case of mistaken identity." The Americans were fighting militants near a checkpoint in Qalat, a city in southern Afghanistan. The policemen apparently mistook the Americans for the Taliban and began to fire on them. A U.S. helicopter then fired on the policemen's position. Thirteen others were wounded in the fight. As the BBC notes, "[S]o-called friendly fire incidents between US or NATO and Afghan forces happen frequently."

    December 10, 2008 2:16 AM

  21. Unnecessary Roughness

    21. NFL Sacks 150 Jobs

    In what NFL commissioner Roger Godell might call unnecessary roughness, the global economic slump is causing the NFL to cut staff by 150 employees and freeze salaries through 2009. The staff reductions will come from the league’s New York City headquarters, production facilities for NFL Films in New Jersey, and NFL Network and NFL.com offices in L.A. The announcement comes after the league announced that it has cut expenses to save “a significant amount of money” in October. “These are difficult and painful steps but they are necessary in the current economic climate,” Goodell said in a memo. “I would like to be able to report that we are immune to the troubles around us, but we are not.”

    December 10, 2008 2:31 AM

  22. Fallout

    22. Administration's First Big Test

    Not that Obama didn’t have a lot on his plate, but the fall of Blagojevich offers the first big test of his administration. Politico notes that Obama can hardly duck the issue, as he did yesterday, with both Blagojevich and Rep. Charlie Rangel facing ethics probes. In a wonderfully cranky column, The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass blasts the national media for their idealization of Obama and Chicago. “They've been clinging to the ridiculous notion that Chicago is Camelot for months now, cleaving to the idea with the willfulness of stubborn children,” writes Kass. “It must help them see Obama as some pristine creature, perhaps a gentle faun of a magic forest, unstained by our grubby politics…” Best line of the morning goes to Timothy Egan: “The surprise is that he didn’t offer to sell out exclusive rights to deep-dish pizza.”

    December 10, 2008 2:22 AM

  23. Turncoats Plumber Throws McCain Under the Bus Carolyn Kaster/AP

    23. Plumber Throws McCain Under the Bus

    Of all the McCainiacs to throw their former leader under the Straight Talk Express, this was the most unexpected, and perhaps the cruelest. Joe the Plumber—who is sometimes called Joe Wurzelbacher—told radio host Glenn Beck that he was “appalled” by McCain during the campaign. Joe had apparently asked McCain about the $700 billion bailout back in the fall. “I asked him some pretty direct questions,” the Plumber said. “Some of the answers you guys are gonna receive—they appalled me, absolutely. I was angry. In fact, I wanted to get off the bus after I talked to him.” However, it seems the Plumber is merely stepping off one bus to board another. He told Beck that Sarah Palin was “absolutely the real deal.”

    December 10, 2008 1:48 AM

  24. Diplomacy Obama to Talk to Muslims Scott Olson/Getty

    24. Obama to Talk to Muslims

    The Los Angeles Times has scored Obama’s first post-election newspaper interview. What does the president-elect have to say? Most interesting are his comments on potentially giving a speech in an Islamic capital. “This is something that I talked about doing in the campaign and it's something that I intend to follow through on. What the time frame is, how we structure that, you know, is something that I will determine with my national security team in the coming weeks and months. But I think we've got a unique opportunity to reboot America's image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular. So, we need to take advantage of that and the message I want to send is that we will be unyielding in stamping out the kind of terrorist extremism that we saw in Mumbai. We will be at the same time unrelenting in our desire to create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership with countries and peoples of goodwill who want their citizens and ours to prosper together. And I think that the world is ready for that message.”

    December 10, 2008 6:07 AM

  25. Heh

    25. James Frey Works for Free

    Residual guilt from an Oprah-lashing manifests itself in unexpected ways. James Frey, bestselling author of A Million Little Pieces and Bright Shiny Morning, is voluntarily acting as an intern at Gawker. After emailing writer Shelia McClear one line—"I'll come intern for a day”—he appears to followed through. Frey is dispensing donuts to editors and answers to commenters about interning for a site he says “hated” him. Other recent celebs-turned-photocopying experts include singer Ryan Adams for Blackbook and hockey player Sean Avery for Vogue.

    December 10, 2008 8:51 AM

  26. Seen This?

    26. Assisted Suicide TV

    British channel surfers will have the option to watch some rather disturbing footage tonight: the last 40 minutes of Craig Ewert's life, which are included in Canadian filmmaker John Zaritsky's film The Suicide Tourist. Ewert, 59, suffered from motor neurone disease and died after taking a mixture of sedatives and turning off his life support machine. His wife was there alongside him and kissed him goodbye, wishing him "a safe journey." Ewert committed suicide at a clinic in Switzerland, where euthanasia is legal. Ewert said, "I am tired of the disease but I am not tired of living. I still enjoy life enough that I would like to continue but the thing is that I really cannot. If I opt for life then that is choosing to be tortured rather than end this journey and start the next one."

    December 10, 2008 4:24 AM

  27. Juicy

    27. Judith Regan v. News Corp.

    What comes around, goes around? Judith Regan, the would-be publisher of O.J. Simpson’s If I Did It, settled the lawsuit over her termination with former employer News Corp. for $10.75 million, but she apparently didn’t learn any lessons. The lawyers who won her that hefty sum ended up suing her, complaining that she fired them in order to avoid paying them legal fees. The lawyers worked for 1,240 hours on Regan’s case, only to be notified by new lawyers on December 14 that their services were no longer needed. Regan settled with them in January for an undisclosed sum. This all is coming to light as the head of the law firm, Marc Dreier, goes on trial for fraud in an unrelated case.

    December 10, 2008 5:54 AM

  28. Bailout Can Bush Deliver the Auto Bailout? Charles Dharapak/AP

    28. Can Bush Deliver the Auto Bailout?

    Democrats and the White House have agreed on an auto bailout, with one hang-up on greenhouse emissions laws remaining. Now, can they get the votes? Due to a procedural rule, the bill needs 60 votes in the Senate to pass. There are 50 Democrats, not counting Barack Obama, who resigned his seat. "But it was unclear if the lame duck White House would have the leverage to cajole lawmakers into supporting the measure," The New York Times notes. Senators like Richard Shelby, Tom Coburn, and Jim DeMint are expected to oppose the bill. John Kerry was asked to delay an international trip because the Democrats need his vote.

    December 10, 2008 1:24 AM