Justices to Hear Suit of Ashcroft Over Detention

WASHINGTON — Abdullah al-Kidd, born in Kansas and once a star running back at the University of Idaho, spent 16 days in federal detention in three states in 2003, sometimes naked and sometimes shackled hand and foot, but was never charged with a crime.

On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether he may sue John Ashcroft, the former attorney general, for what Mr. Kidd contends was an unconstitutional use of a law meant to hold “material witnesses.” Mr. Kidd says the law was used as a pretext for detaining him because he was suspected of terrorist activities.

What if the iPad were a PC?

“The iPad,” writes Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore in a note to clients issued Monday, “is driving a rapid, unprecedented shift in the structure of the computing industry.”

To illustrate that point, Whitmore has taken a chart of domestic PC market shares over the past seven quarters as measured by IDC, which doesn’t consider tablets to be personal computers, and redrawn it with the iPad added in (see table on right).

Citigroup’s Profit Soars As Credit-Loss Provisions Decline

Citigroup Inc. managed to grow its core businesses broadly in the third quarter. Revenue and profits rose from the year-earlier period despite wobbly capital markets as Chief Executive Vikram Pandit appeared to turn the ship in a new direction.

Rare Party Conference in N. Korea Raises Succession Questions

A big meeting of North Korea’s only political party could herald the beginning of the succession to a third generation of the Kim family in the reclusive Communist state.

Tokyo-Beijing Forum held to boost ties, strengthen feelings

TOKYO, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) — The 6th annual Tokyo-Beijing Forum, under the theme of “Asia’s future: Japan, China’s contribution”, was held Monday in Tokyo to promote understanding and strengthen ties between the two nations.

Present at the forum include Wang Chen, director of China’s State Council Information Office, Li Zhaoxing, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s National People’s Congress and Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku and former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuoda.

South Africa’s Zuma’s push leads to strike talks

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 30 (Reuters) – The South African government and unions representing 1.3 million striking state workers plan talks on Monday night following President Jacob Zuma’s order to ministers to negotiate immediately to end the walkout.

Union officials hoped the negotiations will lead to an improved offer to end the labour dispute that has closed schools, prevented treatment at hospitals and harmed investor sentiment towards Africa’s largest economy.

U.S. Stocks Rebound From Two-Week Loss on Merger Speculation

U.S. stocks rose on speculation takeovers will continue to accelerate and after two straight weekly losses left the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index trading at its cheapest compared with earnings prospects in six weeks.

Oil futures up on declining dollar, higher stocks

Crude oil for October delivery added 15 cents, or 0.2%, to $73.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

A losing dollar was also doing its part to support oil prices, which have closed lower for eight of the past nine sessions. The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 82.97, -0.09, -0.11%) , which compares the U.S. unit to a basket of six currencies, traded 0.1% lower at 82.99.

Copper Fluctuates in New York on Dollar Movement and U.S. Rebound Concern

Copper fluctuated in New York and London as the dollar swung between gains and losses and investors looked ahead to figures due this week that may signal a weakening U.S. economic rebound.

The U.S. Dollar Index, a six-currency gauge of the greenback’s strength, erased a drop of as much as 0.3 percent before slipping again. Reports this week may show that sales dropped for existing homes in the U.S. and were unchanged for new dwellings. The country is the world’s second-largest consumer of copper after China.

China Tops Japan as World’s No. 2 Economy

China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy last quarter, capping the nation’s three- decade rise from Communist isolation to emerging superpower.

Japan’s nominal gross domestic product for the second quarter totaled $1.288 trillion, less than China’s $1.337 trillion, the Japanese Cabinet Office said today. Japan remained bigger in the first half of 2010, the government agency said. Japan’s annual GDP is $5.07 trillion, while China’s is more than $4.9 trillion.

Fed plans mortgage payment disclosure rule

The provision, which is an interim rule that would take effect on Jan. 30, 2011, seeks to make sure borrowers are alerted to the risks of payment increases before they take out mortgage loans with variable rates or payments, such as adjustable rate mortgages.

Gates to Leave Pentagon by End of 2011

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Monday he will retire by the end of 2011, Fox News confirmed.

Gates, the only Bush holdover in President Obama’s Cabinet, made the announcement in an interview conducted at the Pentagon with Foreign Policy magazine on July 12 that was published Monday.

Gates has been expected to leave the administration before the 2012 election.

North Korea fires artillery into waters near border with South Korea

More than 100 rounds were fired in an incident that is expected to escalate tensions between the two countries. It comes a day after the North seized a South Korean fishing boat.

Will Colombia’s Santos slay fiscal deficit dragon?

BOGOTA, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Wall Street has greeted Colombia’s new President Juan Manuel Santos as a champion of the markets who promises to improve the country’s finances by reining in the central government’s chronically high deficit.

But investors will watch closely for proof that Santos, who was sworn in on Saturday [ID:nN07219451], is serious about clamping down on the structurally high spending that has mired Colombia’s credit rating in junk bond territory for more than a decade.

BP and U.S. Agree on Oil Spill Compensation Fund

Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. completed negotiations with BP Plc over the company’s agreement to establish a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Justice Department.

The negotiations followed an agreement made between the London-based company and President Barack Obama on June 16.

BP gears up for two-phase effort to plug Gulf oil well

One of two efforts to seal the ruptured BP oil well in the Gulf once and for all could begin as early as Monday night, officials said.

The “static kill” involves pouring mud and cement into the well from above — a process that had been delayed while debris from a tropical storm was cleared out.

“I do have a lot of confidence we’ll be successful,” Doug Suttles, the oil giant’s chief operating officer, said Sunday.

China’s Geely Completes Volvo Buy

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s Geely on Monday completed its purchase of Ford Motor Co’s Volvo unit, marking China’s biggest acquisition of a foreign car maker and reflecting the nation’s rapid rise in the auto world.

Zhejiang Geely, parent of Hong Kong-listed Geely Automobile <0175.HK> said on Monday it paid $1.3 billion in cash and issued a $200 million loan note to Ford. That represents $300 million less than the earlier headline of $1.8 billion, but Ford said it would get a further “true-up” payment later in the year.

With the deal now done, the real challenge for Geely will lie ahead as it aims to restore Volvo to long-term profits. Volvo Cars posted revenue of $12.4 billion in 2009 by selling 334,000 cars, but it recorded a pretax loss of $653 million.

Obamacare Only Looks Worse Upon Further Review: Kevin Hassett

One of the more illuminating remarks during the health-care debate in Congress came when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told an audience that Democrats would “pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it, away from the fog of controversy.”

That remark captured the truth that, while many Americans have a vague sense that something bad is happening to their health care, few if any understand exactly what the law does.

To fill this vacuum, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the top House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, asked his staff to prepare a study of the law, including a flow chart that illustrates how the major provisions will work.

Health Care Bill Gets Plug from Andy Griffith

Here are two indisputable facts: on July 30, 1965, the Andy Griffith Show was one of the most popular television shows being broadcast at the time. And, on that same date President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965, which introduced the nation to a new program called Medicare. The first two social security card recipients were Harry and Bess Truman.

So, it seems fitting that Andy Griffith, now most certainly the age of many Medicare recipients, is a spokesperson for Medicare’s $700,000 ad campaign, preceding the open enrollment period by several months.

President Obama Heads to Michigan to Hail Auto Industry Recovery

President Barack Obama heads to Michigan today to tout the revival of the auto industry after his administration controversially bailed out General Motors and Chrysler last year using tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.

Obama will visit General Motors and Chrysler assembly plants in the Motor City area and meet with workers. The GM plant produces the new Chevrolet Volt rechargeable electric car and is one of nine plants that the company will keep open during the standard two-week summer shutdown. The Chrysler plant makes the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and just added a second shift and 1,100 new jobs.

Lawmakers Consider Ending Citizenship for Children of Illegal Immigrants

The federal court decision blocking key provisions of Arizona’s immigration law from taking effect could light a fire under lawmakers considering an alternative — and some say radical — approach to reining in illegal immigration.

Lawmakers since last year have been kicking around a proposal to bar U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants from becoming U.S. citizens. Such a move, which has been ridiculed by legal scholars, would be a drastic reinterpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

Wikileaks — White House: Don’t post more secret war papers

WASHINGTON — The White House is imploring the website Wikileaks not to post any more classified documents about the Afghanistan war, saying U.S. national security and Afghan lives are at risk.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs says the leak of some 90,000 secret military documents already has jeopardized the lives of Afghans working with the U.S. and its war allies. Gibbs says the Taliban has declared it will comb the documents for the names of people who have cooperated with international forces in Afghanistan.

New home sales rebound 24%

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — New home sales rebounded in June from the record low hit the previous month but remained sluggish.

New home sales increased 23.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 330,000 last month, up from an downwardly revised 267,000 in May, the Commerce Department reported Monday. Sales year-over-year fell 16.7%.


Obama, Republicans to duel over tax cuts

Both the White House and Republicans in Congress are eager to join the battle that’s likely to dominate debate in September: cutting taxes.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stuck to President Obama’s guns Sunday when he told NBC’s Meet the Press that the administration still wants to extend most of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts — but let them expire for the wealthiest Americans.

PRECIOUS METALS: Comex Gold Pulls Back After Home Sales Data

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Gold futures have pulled back as sharply stronger U.S. housing data follow as-expected European bank stress test results to sap the fear factor that recently drove the yellow metal to record highs.

The most-actively traded gold contract, for August delivery, was recently down $5.90, or 0.5%, at $1,181.90 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“You’re seeing people come out of some of the safe haven instruments and back into equities,” said Charles Nedoss, senior market strategist with Olympus Futures in Chicago.

Political

British Prime Minister to Meet with Obama

Washington (CNN) — Prime Minister David Cameron makes his first White House visit as Britain’s leader Tuesday.

There will be a number of difficult issues on the agenda, ranging from Afghanistan to the early release from prison of the Libyan convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie airplane bombing that killed 270 people.

But Cameron and Obama also have much in common, although they represent different parts of the political spectrum.

Economy

Senate could extend jobless benefits, Times says

The US Senate is expected to break a stalemate today over extending unemployment benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans, The New York Times is reporting.

The debate has been stalled since June, with Democrats being one vote short of Senate approval.

Today Carte Goodwin is scheduled to be sworn in to succeed Robert C. Byrd, the Democratic Senator from West Virginia who died last month. Along with the support of Senators Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe, both Maine Republicans, Senate Democrats believe they have the 60 votes needed to prevent a Republican filibuster of the measure, The Times is reporting.

Business

Bank bonus tax cost Goldman Sachs $600m

Alistair Darling’s one-off bank bonus tax cost Goldman Sachs $600m (£395m), the Wall Street bank said today as it revealed that its wage and bonus bill reached $9.2bn in the first half of the year – $235,000 per employee.

The firm also took a $550m hit from its record-breaking settlement with the securities and exchange commission over its Abacus collateralised debt obligation, which Goldman admitted had contained some misleading sales material.

Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s chairman and chief executive, acknowledged that activity had dropped off in the second quarter of the year, a trend that has been reported by other US investment banks.

Environment

Oil giant falls short on spills

Exxonmobile failed to meet its target to reduce oil spills in 2009, according to its annual Corporate Responsibility Report.

The number of non-marine spills from the company’s operations was 241 over the year, up from 211 in 2008. Its environmental framework required it reduce the number of spills in the course of the year.

The report says the company, which is the world’s largest oil producers, has introduced a number of measures to redress the failure, the majority of which transfer responsibility to staff. It highlights the need to reduce human error, increase training and inspections.

Unemployment rate falls, but momentum weak in job market

The nation’s unemployment rate fell in June, though hiring by the private sector remained soft, according to a government report Friday. The figures suggest the economic recovery is moving forward this summer, but with weak momentum in the job market.

The jobless rate was 9.5 percent last month, down from 9.7 percent in May, a surprising decrease that came as hundreds of thousands of workers dropped out of the labor force. Private employers added 83,000 jobs in June, more than double the rate in May but still below the six-figure job creation numbers that would suggest a strong recovery in employment.

‘Game Changer’ Rule Looms For Health Insurers

One number in the health-care overhaul law could dramatically alter the health-insurance landscape.

How federal regulators interpret a metric known as a medical-loss ratio could affect players from industry giant UnitedHealth Group Inc. down to specialized companies such as American National Insurance Co. Plans could be forced to pay out millions in rebates, while others may be driven out of the market.

The medical-loss ratio measures how much of premiums insurers pay out for medical care versus administrative costs. The new law requires that insurers use at least 80% of the premiums from individuals and small businesses to pay for medical care and profit-taking, and 85% of premiums from larger employers.

Study: High-Fructose Diets May Raise Blood Pressure

July 1, 2010 — Foods and beverages with high amounts of fructose from added sugar may increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

A type of sugar, fructose is a key ingredient in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Added sugars are found in processed foods such as candy, cookies, and cakes, as well as soda.

For the study, data on 4,528 U.S. adults were collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2003-2006. Fructose intake was calculated based on self-reported diet information. Those participants who reported eating or drinking 74 grams of fructose or more per day (which the study equates to 2.5 sugary soft drinks per day) had a higher risk of high blood pressure than their counterparts who got less fructose. The findings took into account factors such as age, smoking history, physical activity level, and salt and alcohol intake.