900 Pound Gorilla Alert-January Jobs Report released 8:30am ET tomorrow-numbers aren’t expected to be pretty. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s still the matter of that pesky stimulus bill being hammered out in the Senate.
ECONOMIC STIMULUS UPDATE-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor earlier tonight: "It’s 6:15 at night and I hope that within 12 hours we can have a piece of legislation that we can be proud of." Well any thoughts that an all-nighter would be pulled and a deal announced in the wee hours of the morning are gone now. The Senate just voted to wrap for the night and continue again in the morning. Let’s get back to that "we" that Harry Reid mentioned. It’s clear that the "we" Reid spoke of will not be the 80 yea votes of bi-partisan teamwork that the President had envisioned. Jon Karl, reporting for WORLD NEWS, said "After weeks of trying to woo Republicans, President Obama is taking a harder line-with an op-ed in the Washington Post and in a speech at the Energy Department." Obama’s message? "We can’t delay and we can’t go back to the same worn-out ideas that led us here in the first place," the President said at the Energy Department today. Back in the Senate where Karl tells us "tempers are flaring on the Senate floor", a party-line vote defeated a Republican alternative offered by John McCain that would have relied heavily on tax cuts to halve the cost of the stimulus bill. Karl tells us that there’s still "a bipartisan group of 17 Senators (meeting) to cut billions of dollars out of the bill." Which leaves us in limbo still, and the President’s timetable potentially jeopardized. Karl: "Democrats are hoping to eek out the narrowest of victories in the Senate. Even if they do, there are more hurdles ahead, as they try to work out differences between the bill passed in the House and this, more costly bill, in the Senate."
"SULLY"/AUDIO TAPES OF US AIR "MIRACLE FLIGHT" RELEASED-"Sully" Sullenberger has rightly been called a hero for his miraculous landing of an aircraft on the Hudson River that resulted in 0 fatalities. The audio tapes released today of his conversations with Air Traffic Controllers show he appeared to be "calm, cool and collected" as well. Lisa Stark, filing for WORLD NEWS, gave us the tick-tock. "Within two minutes, as the jet climbs through 3000 feet-Captain Chesley Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles see birds fill their windshield." Sullenberger talks with Departure Control, telling them "hit birds…we’ve lost thrust in both engines. We’re turning back towards LaGuardia". After realizing they won’t make it that far, they discuss an emergency landing at Teterboro. "Departure Control: You can land runway one at Teterboro.
Sullenberger: We can’t do it. We’re gonna be in the Hudson."
No sense of alarm in his voice-as Stark said on WORLD NEWS, Sullenberger was "remarkably calm" delivering the potentially catastrophic news. Gibson brought up that very point to ABC NEWS Aviation Analyst John Nance after Stark’s piece saying "that is so dramatic because everybody, everybody is so calm." Nance replied that "the amazing thing is that it really isn’t amazing when you look at how controllers and pilots are trained. We are trained to be very calm, no matter what’s thrown at us, because you’ve got to get information across in a very precise way."
SCOTUS JUDGE RUTH BADER GINSBURG-Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had surgery today for what is described as "early-stage pancreatic cancer". She is expected to remain hospitalized for 7-10 days. Jan Crawford-Greenburg said the cancer was caught "during a routine screening late last month. She is vigilant about getting these screenings because she had colon cancer about ten years ago." What’s the prognosis? Better than it usually is. Pancreatic cancer is a difficult cancer, Dr. Tim Johnson told Charles Gibson on WORLD NEWS, because "there’s no good screening test for it, and by the time people have symptoms, it’s almost always too late." Johnson ironically credits Ginsburg’s earlier Colon Cancer for "saving her life now, because during the routine screening, the doctors found this very small tumor in the pancreas before it caused any pain."
Gibson did play "what if" with Greenburg in talking about a potential Supreme Court opening. Gibson noted that Ginsburg is the only female on the court. Crawford-Greenburg said "if she is the first justice to retire, I think it’s almost certain that Barack Obama would nominate a woman to replace her. We’re not going to go back to the day when there are nine men on the Supreme Court. And keep in mind Charlie, she is a liberal. Barack Obama would be replacing her with another liberal. It wouldn’t change the balance of the Supreme Court."
TIME TO PAY THE PIPER-The fall-out from Michael Phelps recent Cheech & Chong moment has cost him a big endorsement and some time out of the water. The Kellogg Company released a statement which read in part "Michael’s most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg. His contract expires at the end of February and we have made a decision not to extend his contract." A short while ago USA SWIMMING announced that Phelps would be suspended from competition for three months. The Colorado Springs, CO organization also said it was suspending its financial support to Phelps for the same three-month period, beginning today. A USA SWIMMING statement released tonight also said in part "Michael has voluntarily accepted this reprimand and has committed to earn back our trust."
DISMISSED-Late word tonight from Luis Martinez that charges have been dropped against a suspected mastermind of the deadly bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. The attack on the warship in Yemen’s Port of Aden killed seventeen sailors and injured some 40 others. The unusual move is a result of the executive order by President Obama to halt all court proceedings at the Navy detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba so that the legal cases against terrorist suspects being held there can be reviewed. Jake Tapper advises that tomorrow President Obama will explain the dismissal of charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri when he "meets with the families of victims of terrorist attacks on 9/11 and on the U.S.S. Cole, where he will assure them that this step is not being done to be lenient towards al-Nashiri." In fact, al-Nashiri will remain in custody and new charges could be brought against him later. Al-Nashiri claims he only confessed to some of the charges because he was tortured. President Obama wants to close the Guantanamo detention center and the review is aimed at determining the best way to proceed. (thanks to Ed Bailey for this entry)
BARRY BONDS- Prosecutors trying to prove Barry Bonds lied when he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs may have a harder time than they thought. At a federal hearing in San Francisco today, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said her "preliminary thoughts" were to exclude from trial three 2000-2001 positive drug tests that prosecutors say belong to Bonds unless there is a direct link that the urine samples came from the former San Francisco Giants slugger. That could be tough-the only person who can do that seems to be Bonds’ personal trainer, Greg Anderson. Anderson refused to talk to the Federal Grand Jury about Bonds and spent a year in jail while refusing to say a word. That doesn’t seem to have changed-Anderson’s attorney Mark Geragos said that Anderson won’t testify at Bond’s upcoming trial in March (skedded to start March 2nd). No date was set for the judge to render her final opinion on the evidence.