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1:50 AM ET, December 17, 2008


 Top Items: 
Jackson, Jr. an informant to Blago investigations  —  SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (CNN) — Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. — who was cited in a criminal complaint against Rod Blagojevich — has been an informant for at least a decade with the U.S. Attorney's office, and has informed on the embattled governor of Illinois …
Charles Thomas / WLS-TV:
Jackson, Jr. may have been working with feds to investigate gov.  —  Jackson has been fighting for his reputation since the federal complaint revealed his supporters were willing to raise money for the governor, if Jackson was appointed to the Senate.  —  The new information appears …
Jackson Jr. talked to feds on Blagojevich
Discussion: Political Machine
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System:
For immediate release  —  The Federal Open Market Committee decided today to establish a target range for the federal funds rate of 0 to 1/4 percent.  —  Since the Committee's last meeting, labor market conditions have deteriorated, and the available data indicate that consumer spending …
Edmund L. Andrews / New York Times:
Fed Cuts Benchmark Rate to Near Zero  —  WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve entered a new era on Tuesday, setting its benchmark interest rate so low that it will have to reach for new and untested tools in fighting both the recession and downward pressure on consumer prices.
Bloomberg:   Fed Cuts Rate to as Low as Zero, Shifts Policy Focus
Monica Davey / New York Times:
Blagojevich Impeachment Inquiry Stalls  —  SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A committee of the Illinois House considering evidence and testimony in an impeachment inquiry against Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich adjourned its first day of hearings after about an hour on Tuesday, after the governor's lawyer …
Bob Cusack / The Hill's Blog Briefing Room:   Rove Blasts Obama On Senate Seat Scandal
Ben Smith / Ben Smith's Blogs:
Newt denounces Blago attacks  —  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is denouncing Republican attempts to link President-elect Barack Obama and disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.  —  Senator John McCain Sunday distanced himself from Republican National Committee attacks on Obama …
The Huffington Post:
Gingrich Rips RNC For Its Blagojevich Attacks  —  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sent a rather scathing letter to Mike Duncan on Tuesday, accusing the RNC chairman of engaging in “a destructive distraction” by attempting to tie Barack Obama to Rod Blagojevich.
Joe Gandelman / The Moderate Voice:
Gingrich Echoes McCain: Denounces RNC Obama Blagojevich Linkage Campaign
J. Taylor Rushing / The Hill:
GOP probes Holder's role in Elian Gonzales case  —  Senate Republicans have requested information about Attorney General nominee Eric Holder's role in the Elian Gonzales controversy as part of a broad probe into his tenure with the Clinton administration and potential ties to presidential scandals during that era.
Discussion: Hullabaloo and Balloon Juice
Marc Ambinder:
Where Republicans Can Pick A Fight
Discussion: Spin Cycle
Michael Calderone / Michael Calderone's Blogs:
NBC's Whitaker on press corps: 'We're going to have to get tougher'  —  During today's press conference, President-elect Obama brushed off a question from Tribune reporter John McCormick about the Blagojevich scandal, and what interaction any advisers had with the Illinois Governor.
Jello Biafra / Firedoglake:
Jello Biafra Writes An Open Letter To Barack Obama  —  (Jello Biafra's 1979 mayoral campaign against Diane Feinstein was the first I ever worked on, which probably says a lot.  We're proud to publish his open letter to Barack Obama — jh)  —  My Friends (couldn't resist, I had to say it),
Discussion: Jules Crittenden and The Sideshow
Ed Morrissey / Hot Air:
Video: Joe Scarborough rips the Tanning Bed Media  —  Via the Newsbusters, Joe Scarborough belatedly discovers the vast difference in how the media treated Barack Obama and Sarah Palin in this election.  As I mentioned a number of times, the national media rushed to Wasilla to cover …
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:
Statement Regarding Madoff Investigation  —  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  —  2008-297  —  Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2008 — Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox issued the following statement today concerning its ongoing investigation in the case of SEC v. Madoff:
Jeff Zeleny / The Caucus:
Vilsack Picked for Agriculture Secretary  —  CHICAGO - President-elect Barack Obama has settled on Tom Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, as his Agriculture Secretary.  The announcement will be made here on Wednesday morning, according to Democrats familiar with the decision …
Discussion: CNN and The New Republic
Washington Post:
Vilsack and Salazar Nominations Expected Weds.
Discussion: TalkLeft and Los Angeles Times
Ezra Klein / American Prospect:
HOW WE KILLED ZARQAWI.  —  Reuel Marc Gerecht still thinks life is an episode of 24.  “If you had been confronted on 7 September 2001 with a captured Khalid Shaykh Muhammad or Abu Zubaydah,” he says in response to Andrew Sullivan, “and you knew that a major, mass-casualty terrorist strike …
Michael Sneed / Chicago Sun Times:
Rahm's calls on tape  —  The Blago scandal . . .  Sneed hears rumbles President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is reportedly on 21 different taped conversations by the feds — dealing with his boss' vacant Senate seat!  —  A lot of chit-chat?  —  Hot air?  —  Or trouble?
Discussion: Emptywheel and NO QUARTER
James Pethokoukis / Capital Commerce:
The 10 Dopiest Business and Economy Leaders of 2008  —  ¡Ay, caramba!  In a year when Wall Street imploded, the Big Three automakers neared collapse, and the economy plunged into its worst downturn in at least a generation, finding business and economy “leaders” who messed up badly isn't too hard.
Ben Smith / Ben Smith's Blogs:
Clinton chides supporters on Kennedy  —  Hillary Clinton has told her supporters not to involve her in their efforts to stop Caroline Kennedy's path to the U.S. Senate, a person familiar with replacement discussions said.  —  The move clears a major obstacle between Kennedy and the seat.
Christine Harper / Bloomberg:
Goldman Sachs's Tax Rate Drops to 1%, or $14 Million  —  A A A  —  Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which got $10 billion and debt guarantees from the U.S. government in October, expects to pay $14 million in taxes worldwide for 2008 compared with $6 billion in 2007.
Discussion: Firedoglake and The Big Picture
NY Daily News:
State budget unveiled, full of new taxes and cuts  —  ALBANY - Gov. Paterson released a $121 billion slash-and-burn budget Tuesday morning that slams New Yorkers with 88 new fees and taxes - even on their iPods.  —  Calling the budget the “greatest economic and fiscal challenge of our lifetimes …
Scott Payne / The Moderate Voice:
The Ineffable Likability of Bush  —  His polling is among the worst of any president.  He was used as a whipping post by all sides in the recent presidential election.  And there are innumerable people, websites, and Facebook groups devoted to counting down his last days in office.
Ali Frick / Think Progress:
Juan Williams: Iraqi Protesters Are ‘Ingrate[s]’ Who Should Appreciate U.S. Invasion  —  Last night on “The O'Reilly Factor,” host Bill O'Reilly slammed Muntader al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush, and said that if he had been there, he “would have physically taken the guy down.”
Discussion: Hullabaloo
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 More Items: 
George Packer In / New Yorker:
Gary Andres / Weekly Standard:
Do You Tattoo?  —  According to Pew Research, nearly …
Discussion: and Reason
Josh Marshall / Talking Points Memo:
Discussion: Newsalert
John Gapper / John Gapper's Business Blog:
Eliot Spitzer shows his face in Chinatown
 Earlier Items: 
Anna Mulrine / US News:
U.S. Military to Launch Pilot Program to Recruit New Local Afghan Militias
Bonnie Malkin / Telegraph:
Australian couple served with legal documents via Facebook
Discussion: TalkLeft and Silicon Alley Insider
Serious security flaw found in IE