Fears over Hurricane Gustav's potential to disrupt oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, a stronger U.S. dollar vs. the euro, and data on housing and from the Fed parlayed into markets closing at near opening levels. The S&P 500 was up 0.4 percent to 1271.51, pushed by a 2 percent rise in energy stocks in light of the higher crude prices. The Nasdaq, heavy on tech stocks, was down 2 percent to 2361.97; and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2 percent 11412.87. The S&P Case-Schiller report, released this morning, showed a record 17 percent year-on-year drop in June home sales. The Federal Reserve downgraded its economic forecasts for the rest of 2008 and 2009, predicting growth will be slower during the first half of next year. Oil closed $1.16 higher from yesterday at $116.27.
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced that it is tapping into a $1 billion credit line to ensure “full financial flexibility” and to “increase our cash balance as we approach the closing” of its merger with Minnesota-based Northwest Airlines.
Vice President Dick Cheney plans to visit the former Soviet republic of Georgia on a trip beginning next Tuesday. The itinerary includes Ukraine and Italy for a world leaders conference. Cheney is to be the highest-ranking dignitary to visit Georgia since the outbreak of the conflict over South Ossetia.
At the Democratic National Convention in Denver last night, Michelle Obama delivered a down-home message about her husband, Ill. Sen. Barack Obama, reflecting on the Democratic presidential candidate in his role as “a father, a husband, a person.” In an unscripted moment, Barack Obama asked their two daughters via telecast how he thought Michelle did in her speech. “I think she did good,” said 7-year-old Sasha. Said her big sister, 10-year-old Malia, “I think so, too.”
After a showing of a documentary video made in a tribute to Mass. Sen. Ted Kennedy, introduced by his niece, Caroline Kennedy, the politician gave a surprise speech at the Democratic National Convention. “My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it so wonderful to be here. And nothing—nothing—is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight,” Ted Kennedy told the crowd. The long-time senator is undergoing treatment for brain cancer.
A communications failure at a Federal Aviation Administration facility in Hampton, Ga., that sorts out flight plans has caused a series of flight delays across the country. There is a glitch in data transfer with a similar facility in Salt Lake City, preventing planes from taking off on time. Pilots are still able to communicate with ground officials.
Mich. Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced today that she is calling up Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to a hearing next Wednesday on his possible removal from office. Kilpatrick faces eight felony charges in connection with bearing false testimony at a trial of a city police officer last year and another lawsuit to settle them for a total of $8.4 million. He allegedly neglected to tell the City Council “of a side deal to hide damaging text messages that would expose his lies—and those of his chief aide, Christine Beatty,” writes the Detroit Free Press.
The FBI is investigating reports by Denver media organizations that 28-year-old Tharin Robert Garrell, who was arrested for drug and weapons violations, was part of a plot to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Garrell’s associate, Shawn Robert Adolf and Nathan Johnson have also been arrested in connection with the alleged plot.
U.S. Customs and Immigrations enforcement officials rounded up 350 employees early Monday at Howard Industries in Laurel, Miss., on the grounds that they were working in the country illegally. This is being called the largest raid on alleged illegal immigrants in the state in years.
Wildfires ravaged nine homes and burned 10 others in southeastern Boise, Idaho, Monday evening. Fire officials evacuated 50 homes as winds of 40 mph blew the fire from U.S. Bureau of Land Management property toward residential subdivisions.
Kentucky’s Supreme Court ruled that the University of Louisville is required to release the names of those donating to the institution’s foundation because “the public’s interest in how the institution’s fundraising arm operates outweighs concerns for donors’ privacy,” reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Antigovernment protesters in Thailand blocked roadways, got a state-run television station off the air and broke into federal buildings as part of their call for the ouster of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.
MTV Arabia plans to suspend broadcasting music videos during the holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to start next Monday. “Though part of a global brand, MTV Arabia is conscious of regional sensitivities,” said channel manager Samr Al-Mazouqi. “We are keen to respond to the needs and desires of viewers in the Middle East, the vast majority of whom will be fasting, spending time with family, and focusing on their spiritual lives.” The network plans to run reality programming and celebrity news.
Two men armed with AK-47 rifles fired “dozens of rounds of ammunition” at the car of Lynne Tracy, principal officer at the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan. Tracy’s driver immediately turned back, and no one was killed in the incident.
A U.K. government antiterrorism unit has been targeting the BBC and other British media groups hoping to push propaganda meant “to taint the al-Qaida brand,” according to a secret paper seen by staff of U.K. paper The Guardian. The unit also planned to have volunteers post targeted messages in Internet forums on new media Web sites.
Tropical Storm Gustav strengthened into a hurricane early today and could develop into a Category 2 storm by the time it reaches Haiti, which is in the path of the storm. According to Miami’s National Hurricane Center, Gustav has maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and is on track to also hit Cuba. Haitians were told yesterday to begin preparations to evacuate.
Geneva’s European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is set to roll out an experiment next month meant to simulate a mini-version of the “Big Bang” explosion that marked the start of the universe some 15 billion years ago. Test runs last weekend “went without a hitch,” said Lyn Evans on behalf of the organization.
Parents on either side of the debate as to whether or not to immunize their children are divided as to whether to let their children play together. “I’ve had people voice their opposition to me, that I’m ruining the herd immunity … that my child would put their child at risk,” says Chicago-area parent Karey Williams, who stopped having her daughter vaccinated at the age of one.
Major League Baseball is to permit umpires to consult video replay to make home run calls starting Thursday. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig formally announced the ruling at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Beijing Olympic gold medalists Rafael Nadal and Elena Dementieva, as well as former champions Lindsay Davenport and Svetlana Kuznetsova, won their first-round matches at the U.S. Open yesterday. Top-ranked women’s player Ana Ivanovic beat Vera Dushevina in three sets, hampered by an injured right thumb. Venus and Serena Williams sisters and Roger Federer are all set to play their first matches of the tournament today. Federer is going for his fifth consecutive U.S. Open title.
Andre R. Young Jr., the son of rap star and producer Dr. Dre, was found dead in his home in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles by his mother at 10:24 a.m. Saturday. The cause of death has not yet been determined pending the results of a “gamut of tests, including toxicology,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
Madonna’s “Sticky and Sweet” tour got underway in the Welsh capital of Cardiff yesterday, featuring a backdrop of flashing images of GOP presidential candidate Ariz. Sen. John McCain alongside those of Adolf Hitler and Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. “The comparisons are outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive all at the same time,” said McCain campaign spokesperson Tucker Bounds. Another image sequence showed Democratic candidate Ill. Sen. Barack Obama juxtaposed with Mahatma Gandhi, John Lennon and Al Gore.
Federal Judge Paul W. Bonapfel reported that someone had broken into his 14th-floor office at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Atlanta and eaten half an apple. In the following days, other staff members reported missing chocolate-chip cookies, a sandwich and dried soup. Pawprints pointed to a raccoon, named “Russell” in honor of the building, as the perpetrator. He was discovered caught in the building’s heating system, and is likely to be taken to nearby countryside.