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What's on Rachel's Radar


As you know, we set a big goal: 100,000 calls to Congress placed or committed to in a single day by OFA supporters and allied organizations. By 2:30 p.m., you had crushed it. So, we gulped and said let's go for 200,000, not knowing what would happen. But the calls just kept pouring in -- keeping phones ringing off the hook in congressional offices in D.C. and your representatives' district offices around the country.


Since last Wednesday morning, Ron’s Home & Hardware has received roughly 240 orders for five-pound bags of rock salt. While buyers were scattered around the country, each requested the same delivery address in Portland, Maine – one of six state offices for U.S. Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe.


FRANKEN: I think we disagree on whether health care reform, the health care reform that we’re talking about in Congress now should pass. You should that the way we’re going will increase bankruptcies. I want to ask you, how many medical bankruptcies because of medical crises were there last year in Switzerland?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number in front of me, but I can find out and get back to you.

FRANKEN: I can tell you how many it was. It’s zero. Do you know how many medical bankruptcies there were last year in France?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number, but I can get back to you if I like.

FRANKEN: Yeah, the number is zero.


The new Quinnipiac Poll suggests that conservative U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio is making gains in Florida. The new results among GOP primary voters, with trend lines:

Gov. Charlie Crist (R-Fla.) – 50 (-5)
Marco Rubio – 35 (+9)


"Sometimes Democrats can be their own worst enemies, Democrats are an opinionated bunch ... y'all are thinking for yourselves," he said. "I like that in you, but it's time for us to make sure that we finish the job here. We are this close and we've got to be unified”… He blasted the GOP for rooting for him to fizzle out on Olympic push: "I mean who's against the Olympics? What's up with that? That's a sad thing, isn't it? I don't care if you're Democrat or Republican - it's the Olympics! Come on."


Sent out under a cover letter from former Congressman David Funderbruk (R-N.C.), the literature starts by raising the frightful specter of private medical data become widely accessible to the public.  "How would you like it if your doctor, your clinic, or other healthcare providers -- without either your knowledge or consent -- gathered up your, along with your family's medical history, and sent your most intimate conversations to a central data bank in Washington D.C. to become a part of the largest computer network ever created?" Funderburk writes.


The actress, famous for her portrayal of Austin Power's sidekick and as Roller Girl in the film Boogie Nights, isn't the only famous character in the spot. also solicited the work of Yaniv Raz (Graham's boyfriend and director of, among other things, Things Fall Apart) to put together the spot. The voice over, meanwhile, is that of acclaimed actor Peter Coyote.


"So if there are members of the financial industry in the audience today, I will ask that you join with us in passing what are necessary reforms -- don’t fight them, join us on it," Obama said at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraiser.


Blogger-activist Mike Stark caught up with Vitter and asked him about his position. “Have you commented? What did you have to say about it?” asked Stark. Vitter simply smiled, stepped into the elevator, and allowed the doors to close.



At Ambassador Eikenberry’s request, Kerry makes an unscheduled visit to the presidential palace to meet with Karzai… Kerry then goes back to the palace to find that Karzai is, once again, refusing to accept the new election results.  This prompts a series of crisis meetings with Karzai, Kerry, UN officials, and a flurry of phone calls to Washington – to Secretary of State Clinton and Richard Holbrooke.  As the unwitting press corps waits for the 12:00 pm press conference, Karzai appears to be backing out of the deal.  As the afternoon drags on, Kerry takes a walk with Karzai on the presidential compound for another more one-on-one talk.  The two men visit a mosque on the presidential compound and then return to the palace.  Karzai agrees, once again, to accept the updated election results and the run-off election.   At 4:50 pm, they walk out before the camera to announce the agreement -- nearly 4 hours late.


The task was left to Mr. Kerry and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who have experienced their own frustration at the polls, and used those scars in dealing with Mr. Karzai.  In one personal moment during a weekend of long dinners and walks in the garden of the sprawling, heavily fortified presidential palace in Kabul, Senator Kerry recounted his experience in the 2004 presidential election, including the lingering questions about ballots cast in Ohio that helped decide the vote against him.  “I told him, ‘sometimes there are tough things,’ ” Mr. Kerry said in an interview on Tuesday.


In early June, Abu Tayyeb reappeared and announced that the American government was offering to trade the seven remaining Afghan prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for us. I told him that was ridiculous.  For months, Abu Tayyeb had been vastly exaggerating my value. He falsely claimed that the American diplomat Richard C. Holbrooke had freed Serbian prisoners in 1995 to win my release in Bosnia, where I was arrested while reporting on war crimes against Muslims.  He insisted that I was best friends with Mr. Holbrooke, now the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As the battle raged, intelligence officials said suspected U.S. missiles had killed two militants in a neighboring region -- a potentially troubling strike because it hit territory controlled by another militant faction the army has coaxed into neutrality during its offensive.

Taliban guerrillas recaptured the birthplace of the Pakistani Taliban leader from the Pakistani army Tuesday, inflicting the heaviest military losses so far in Pakistan's high-stakes offensive in South Waziristan, a refuge for Pakistani extremists, Afghan insurgents and al Qaida.

Police Col. Sherzad Mofari says Wednesday's blast targeted the Kirkuk home of cameraman Orhan Hijran, who works for Baghdad-based television station Al-Rasheed. He says the blast killed Hijran and wounded correspondent Mohammed Shahid of Cairo-based Al-Baghdadiyah.

From 2005 to July 2008, Razo worked in Iraq as a logistics specialist for three U.S. companies, according to the complaint. It alleges that during that period he requested tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from Iraqi subcontractors for lining up construction contracts. The subcontractors sent some of the money to Razo's North Carolina bank account via wire transfers, according to the allegations.

Federal authorities say they have foiled plots to launch terrorist attacks inside and outside the United States with the arrest this morning of a 27-year-old man in Sudbury.  According to a federal official, one man is in custody and two others have been implicated in the plots.  Federal officials say they plan to announce details at a press conference this morning at U.S. Attorney's office in Boston. || Also here.

We are delighted to announce that Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari has arrived in London in time to witness the upcoming birth of his first child. The editors of Newsweek, Maziar, and his bride Paola Gourley would like to thank the thousands of friends, colleagues and well-wishers around the world whose support over the last few months has helped to make this moment possible. Your efforts have been invaluable, and the family is deeply grateful. They ask only that they be allowed some time alone together now after their long and trying separation.

An Iranian-American scholar who was jailed during the protests following Iran’s disputed presidential election has been sentenced to at least 12 years on charges of acting against national security, Iranian state media reported Tuesday.  Kian Tajbaksh, a sociologist and urban planner with a doctorate from Columbia, was arrested July 9 and testified during a mass trial of opposition supporters in August.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday that Iranian negotiators had agreed to a draft of an agreement to ship much of its stockpile of nuclear fuel to Russia, but cautioned that it would have to be approved by Friday in both Tehran and Washington. || Also here.

The campaign, Close Gitmo Now, includes a relatively modest $100,000 ad buy on cable channels Wednesday, its message exhorting Congress to reject the ''failed Bush-Cheney policies.''

The military can comply with a White House order to empty the detention center and clear all 221 war-on-terror captives off this remote base "with 10 days notice,'' the prison camps commander said Tuesday… He ticked off such requirements as enough airplanes to move them elsewhere and ferry runs across the bay that separates the prison camps from the Navy base landing strip where C-17 Globemaster aircraft shuttle the captives away.

Our process works, and I don't see anything out there that would merit calling for a moratorium on the Texas death penalty. It's fair and appropriate, and we will continue with it.

Federal agents have seized six computers, two cameras, two cellphones and hundreds of files from a Los Alamos, N.M., physicist who for two decades has criticized the government’s nuclear agenda as misguided.  A Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman in Albuquerque, Darrin E. Jones, said that the action on Monday was part of “an ongoing federal investigation” and that he could provide no details.  The physicist, P. Leonardo Mascheroni, said he was told that the seizures were part of a criminal investigation into possible nuclear espionage. Dr. Mascheroni also declared his innocence.  “If I were a real spy,” he said Tuesday in a telephone interview, “I would have left the country a long time ago.”

The dispute centers on Dr. P. Leonardo Mascheroni, a physicist who was dismissed from Los Alamos in 1988 amid a scientific dispute over how to advance laser fusion, which seeks to use concentrated beams of light to harness the same kind of nuclear energy that powers the sun, stars and hydrogen bombs. The work, much of which is secret, has been pursued for decades by the Los Alamos laboratory, in New Mexico. Dr. Mascheroni had worked at Los Alamos for nine years before his dismissal after being judged a security risk. Ever since, Dr. Mascheroni has unsuccessfully fought the dismissal, saying he was treated unfairly and that the real reasons for his dismissal were his outspoken criticism of the laboratory's laser fusion program and his advocacy of an unorthodox approach.

Kuwait's highest court granted women the right to obtain a passport without their husband's approval, the case's lawyer said Wednesday, in the latest stride for women's rights in this small oil-rich emirate. || Also here.

Taser International is advising police agencies across the nation not to shoot its stun guns at a suspect's chest. The Arizona-based company says such action poses a risk -- albeit extremely low -- of an ''adverse cardiac event.'' The advisory was issued in an Oct. 12 training bulletin. It marks the first time that Taser has suggested there is any risk of a cardiac arrest related to the use of its 50,000-volt stun guns.

Vic Mizzy, whose infernally catchy themes for the television comedies “The Addams Family” and “Green Acres” are as entrenched in the memories of Americans who grew up in the 1960s as any pop tune or protest anthem, died on Saturday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 93.

"A number of recent news reports have included an erroneous assertion by Larimer County (Colo.) Sheriff Jim Alderden that the American Civil Liberties Union is representing the Heene Family of Fort Collins, Colo., which is reportedly being investigated for allegedly perpetrating a 'balloon boy hoax' for publicity purposes. Neither the ACLU nor the ACLU of Colorado has any involvement in the representation of the Heene family."


Controversial Fox News host Glenn Beck is now travelling with an armed guard. Guests at the other day's preview of Broadway musical "Memphis" noticed Beck was closely accompanied -- even to the men's room -- by a bodyguard with a gun partially concealed under his jacket.


Eau de Bureau? The FBI Recreation Association, which sells official FBI merchandise here and at FBI field offices, is selling an official FBI cologne called "Integrity." "For the first time ever, a terrific, light spicy fragrance for the FBI's man of distinction is now being offered at the RA Services Desk. Purchase a bottle for the man in your life. Only $36.99 a bottle," the Web site says, our former colleague Allan Lengel reports on his law enforcement blog,