Good evening, everyone!

International Developments

❖ “Afghanistan should be left ‘to get on with things’–British ambassador: Sir Richard Stagg suggests process of withdrawal could be accelerated, and says Taliban are ready to talk.” Interactive map showing casualties and deaths of Americans in Afghanistan by state.

International Finance

Iceland shines! While bankers were being bailed out elsewhere, Iceland arrested theirs. Now Iceland’s “economy is recovering faster than the EU and the United States.”

❖ “A European Union advisory group says that Europe’s banks should be split into separate legal entities, in order to protect ordinary retail banking from risky trading.”

❖ It’s only six months now before “Italy’s unelected technocrat Prime Minister, Mari Monti, is to exit his post. Business leaders in particular are concerned that Monti’s exit might mean Berlusconi’s re-entry.

TX Republican House member Kay Granger, chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Relations, placed a hold on $450 million in economic aid for Egypt. The State Department will be working with Congress to free the money.

Money Matters USA

The US debt: Total US debt in 2011 was $14.294 trillion; $5.4 trillion in US Treasury bonds owned by other countries–China owns $1.14 trillion (down 12.6% over last year), Japan $1.1 trillion; US debt is a little over 60% of the GDP; etc.

❖ The slow-down in US manufacturing, part of a world-wide trend, doesn’t indicate a collapse, but “definitely flat-lining.” Index of activity at manufacturers did creep to 51.5 recently, but the average for 2011 was 55.2; “Sales have tanked”; factories added about 5,000 jobs each month this summer, compared to 19,000/month in 2011; manufacturing jobs have decreased from 17 million in 2000 to less than 12 million now.

New study, covering 1949 – 2008, confirms several things: 1% increase in Republicans in the House is correlated with 0.8% rise in income of the top 1%; “1% decrease in union membership was linked to a more than” 0.4% increase in the top 1%’s income share; Democrats do produce a more egalitarian system; presidents don’t seem to matter as much as Congress.

Politics USA

YouTube will live-stream the presidential debates.

❖ The Commonwealth Fund has weighed in with its study of President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s health care plans. Romney’s “would leave 72 million Americans without insurance by the year 2022, while Obama’s would leave 27.1 million uninsured.

FL Republican House member Allen West earlier ran an ad against his opponent, Democrat Patrick Murphy, using Murphy’s mugshot from a 2003 drunk-disorderly arrest. Murphy has retaliated with an ad about West being “found guilty of aggravated assault and relieved of his [Army] command” for firing a gun next to an Iraqi’s head in 2003.

$526,000 will be spent in AZ by the Democratic Senatorial Congressional Committee for ads for Democrat Richard Carmona in his Senate race against Republican Representative Jeff Flake.

❖ KKKKarl’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS are using $16 million in anti-Obama ads “on TV and radio spots in eight presidential battleground states and four Senate contests.” One American Crossroads’ ad–which for $11 million is running in CO, FL, IA, NC, NH, NV, OH and VA–shows where Obama promised unemployment would be (5.5%) and where it is (8.1%).

❖ Too early to get too deep into the polls, but this one certainly stands out: Obama leads Romney 73-21 percent among Latino voters. Not sure how that’ll translate in terms of votes, though, since only half of Latinos eligible to vote in 2008 did so (compared to 65% for African-Americans, 66% for whites). Latino registered voters declined 600,000 between 2008-2010, also.

❖ President Obama will establish the Cesar Chavez National Monument at the National Chavez Center in Keene, CA.

❖ According to “Fox Business,” big money donors are “diverting their cash away from [Romney] and toward Republican candidates for the House and Senate.”

George Will Wisdom: “Obama is winning because he’s black.”

❖ During the Scott Brown – Elizabeth Warren debate last evening, Brown was booed when he called Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a “model justice.” Video.

WI Republican Gov Scott Walker “is on the prosecution witness list for a second criminal trial of one of his top aides.” It’s an embezzlement case from the time when Walker was Milwaukee County Executive, and the second time Walker’s been on a witness list.

❖ What do pollsters do? Testimony by Harrison Hickman (Al Gore in 2000, John Edwards in 2004 and 2008) at Edwards’ trial is revealing. Hickman “cherry-picked public polls to make the candidate seem viable,” circulated info he knew wasn’t accurate among Edwards’ staff who wanted “some good news,” etc. He didn’t prefer Mason-Dixon, Strategic Vision, Insider Advantage, Zogby, Research 2000 and ARG polls.

Working for A Living

American Airlines filed for bankruptcy last December to “restructure” its union contracts, and ended up with give-backs, except from the pilots. In early September, a bankruptcy judge threw out the pilots’ contract and ever since “the pilots have been essentially sabotaging the airline” to the point that half of all AA flights are delayed. US Airways wants to merge with AA, but AA’s executives are wary since they might lose their jobs.

Walmart’s contractor, RoadLink, employs warehouse workers who are upset about unsafe working conditions, wage theft and sexual harassment. Around 600 people participated in a sit-in at the Elwood, IL site yesterday, including “local unions and community groups.” The police were called and, after a display of force (even brought in the LRAD unit), arrested 17 of the protestors.

❖ Despite a court order and AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees)’s direction to them to comply with it, Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept workers are continuing their strike. A lawyer for the local said, “I think the workers feel like they are in a fight for their lives.” Their picket line continues to be honored.

Planet Earth News

Half of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef coral disappeared in the past 27 years–climate change.

Mixed Bag

DNA has now been used to exonerate 300 prisoners in the US. The latest, Damon Thibodeaux, was also the 18th prisoner on death row to be exonerated. Attorney Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project, together with two other ex-prisoners, was on hand to congratulate Thibodeaux.

Latin America

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has prostate cancer. Surgery is scheduled for Wednesday and he says his chances of recovery are 97%.

Army and Navy troops are patrolling the poorest areas of Rio to “make sure the vote goes off peacefully in high-risk areas where drug traffickers and vigilante groups are still active.”

Break Time

Droney