Campaign officials exonerate Palin
On the eve of a report on a legislative panel’s abuse-of-power investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, campaign officials released their own report clearing her of any wrongdoing.
Palin, running mate to Republican presidential nominee John McCain, is the subject of two inquiries into whether she abused her power by firing her public safety commissioner. The commissioner says he was dismissed for resisting pressure to fire Palin’s former brother-in-law, a state trooper.
Lawmakers are expected to release their findings today.
The report the McCain-Palin campaign released Thursday night says the firing was based on a budget dispute. Since then, the report says, the matter has been muddled with innuendo, rumor and politics.
Citigroup drops Wachovia talks
Wells Fargo emerged as the apparent victor in the battle for control of Wachovia Thursday night, after rival suitor Citigroup broke off talks with Wells Fargo and federal regulators but vowed to have its day in court.
While Citigroup said it plans to seek $60 billion in damages for breach of contract, it has decided not to challenge the Wells Fargo-Wachovia deal in court.
Wells Fargo said it expects the deal to be completed by the end of the fourth quarter. In a statement issued by the company, Wells Fargo Chairman Dick Kovacevich called the deal “an incredible fit.”
In a brief statement, the Federal Reserve said that it would “immediately” begin consideration of the request by Wells Fargo to acquire Wachovia.
U.S. journalists were held in Syria
The State Department says two American journalists who were detained by Syrian authorities have been released and are safe at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus.
A department spokesman said Thursday that Holli Chmela and Taylor Luck are in good condition and getting in touch with their families after being picked up while allegedly trying to illegally cross into Syria from neighboring Lebanon. Their disappearance earlier this month prompted the U.S. Embassy in Beirut to appeal for information about their whereabouts.
The pair worked for the English-language Jordan Times in Amman. They were reported missing by their families after they failed to return to Amman last weekend from a vacation in Lebanon. They last had been heard from on Oct. 1.
Vaccine reached one-fourth of girls
About a quarter of U.S. teenage girls received the controversial cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil in its first full year of distribution, federal authorities said Thursday.
“For a new vaccine, 25 percent is really very good,” Lance Rodewald, director of the division of immunization services at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at a telephone news conference releasing the data.
But immunologist W. Martin Kast of the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine said, “Twenty-five percent is not bad, but it’s not good either.”
He said data released earlier in the year by Gardasil’s manufacturer, Merck & Co., shows that only about 1 percent of Hispanic teenagers are receiving the vaccine, and “they are the population that needs it the most” because the frequency of infection is relatively high.
The vaccine protects against four strains of human papilloma virus that account for about 70 percent of all cases of cervical cancer in the United States.
From wire reports