Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Synchronized bombings rock western India At least 29 people were killed and another 88 were injured when perhaps 16 small blasts tore through the western city of Ahmedabad on Saturday evening. It was the second synchronized bomb attack in India in two days.

There is a Limbaugh counterweight
and it is Black Radio. African-American radio hosts and commentators are aggressively advocating for Mr. Obama’s election on black-oriented radio stations daily. For the last two decades, Limbaugh and scads of copycats have been wildly successful at driving republican voters to the polls. This year, urban stations could have a similar impact among Democrats.

I wanted to do more with this, but I just didn't have the time--it's a big deal when banks fail:Federal banking regulators closed 28 branches of 1st National Bank of Nevada and First Heritage Bank, operating in Nevada, Arizona and California. The banks - owned by Scottsdale, Arizona-based First National Bank Holding Co. - closed Friday and were scheduled to reopen on Monday as Mutual of Omaha Bank branches, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said. The FDIC said the takeover of the failed banks was the least costly resolution and all depositors - including those with funds in excess of FDIC insurance limits - will switch to Mutual of Omaha with "the full amount of their deposits."

The Mugabe death watch keeps ticking, and it really is past the point for him to go:President Bush signed an executive order on Friday to expand sanctions against individuals and organizations in Zimbabwe associated with what he calls the "illegitimate" regime of President Robert Mugabe. Mr. Bush's action was meant to send a strong message that the U.S. will not permit individuals closely linked to Mugabe to operate in U.S. financial markets. "No regime should ignore the will of its own people and calls from the international community without consequences," Bush said in a statement. The president said he took steps to extend sanctions as a result of the Mugabe regime's continued "politically motivated violence" and the African leader's decision to disregard calls from the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the United Nations to halt the attacks. Here's hoping someone ends the misery of Zimbabwe soon and knocks off Mugabe in a hail of bullets--death is too good for him, but it'll help.

Relief is on the way: Congress approved mortgage relief for 400,000 struggling homeowners Saturday as part of an election-year housing plan that also aims to calm jittery financial markets and bolster the sagging economy. President Bush said he would sign it promptly, despite reservations. The measure, regarded as the most significant housing legislation in decades, lets homeowners who cannot afford their payments refinance into more affordable government-backed loans rather than losing their homes. It offers a temporary financial lifeline to troubled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - pillars of the home loan market whose losses have sparked investor fears - and tightens controls over the two government-sponsored businesses.

It's not about the ideology, it's about the money: Along with Colombia’s successes in fighting leftist rebels this year, cities like Medellín have staged remarkable recoveries. And in the upscale districts of Bogotá, the capital, it is almost possible to forget that the country remains mired in a devilishly complex four-decade-old war. But it is a different story in the mountains of the Nariño department. Here, and elsewhere in large parts of the countryside, the violence and fear remain unrelenting, underscoring the difficulty of ending a war fueled by a drug trade that is proving immune to American-financed efforts to stop it. Soaring coca cultivation, forced disappearances, assassinations, the displacement of families and the planting of land mines stubbornly persist, the hallmarks of a backlands conflict that threatens to drag on for years, even without the once spectacular actions of guerrillas in Colombia’s large cities.

These are the last days in the city of Pompeii...Citing threats to public security and to the site itself, the Italian government has for the first time declared a yearlong state of emergency for the ancient city of Pompeii. Nearly 2,000 years after Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii under pumice and steaming volcanic ash, some 2.6 million tourists tramp annually through this archaeological site, which is on Unesco’s World Heritage list. Frescoes in the ancient Roman city, one of Italy’s most popular attractions, fade under the blistering sun or are chipped at by souvenir hunters. Mosaics endure the brunt of tens of thousands of shuffling thongs and sneakers. Teetering columns and walls are propped up by wooden and steel scaffolding. Rusty padlocks deny access to recently restored houses, and custodians seem to be few and far between.

Coming soon, to a town near you? California on Friday became the first state to ban trans fats from restaurant food, following several cities and major fast-food chains in erasing the notorious artery-clogger from menus. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that will ban restaurants and other retail food establishments from using oil, margarine and shortening containing trans fats. In a statement, Schwarzenegger noted that consuming trans fat is linked to coronary heart disease. "Today we are taking a strong step toward creating a healthier future for California," he said. Violations could result in fines of $25 to $1,000. Food items sold in their manufacturers' sealed packaging would be exempt.

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