By Mark Memmott

There have been more attacks on military sites in Pakistan today, as we just reported, and a loud explosion has been heard in the city of Peshawar. We'll keep an eye on events there as the day continues.

The economy will be in the news again this morning. At 8:30 a.m. ET, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the September consumer price index -- the most-watched measure of inflation at the consumer level. And at 9:30 a.m. ET, stocks resume trading on Wall Street. Will the Dow Jones industrial index move even higher after cracking the 10,000 mark yesterday?

Also today, President Barack Obama visits New Orleans for the first time since taking office last January. At an early afternoon town hall meeting, he'll get a chance to hear directly from residents about how the long, slow recovery from 2005's Hurricane Katrina is going.

The Times-Picayune asked locals about what things they think the president should see. As the newspaper says:

Though most New Orleans-area residents were heartened by the news that Obama would be making his first presidential visit to the region Thursday, nine months into his first term, there also has been carping that his itinerary is on the light side.

From WWNO in New Orleans, Eileen Fleming reports that some local officials wish Obama was spending more than a few hours in their battered region:

Other stories making headlines include:

-- The Associated Press -- "Italy Denies Paying Off Taliban In Afghanistan": "The Italian government denied a newspaper report Thursday that its secret services paid the Taliban thousands of dollars to keep an area in Afghanistan controlled by the Italians safe. Premier Silvio Berlusconi's office called the report in the Times of London 'completely groundless.' The defense minister said the paper published 'rubbish.' "

Times of London -- "Berlusconi Attempts To Duck Afghanistan Bribe Scandal": "Silvio Berlusconi today sought to duck the blame for a series of secret Italian payments to Taliban fighters that left French soldiers exposed in Afghanistan. The Italian prime minister denied any knowledge of money paid to Afghan warlords in an apparent attempt to divert attention over the clandestine deals to his predecessor's administration. The Times has learned that when French soldiers arrived to assume control of the Sarobi area, east of Kabul, in mid-2008, they were not informed that the departing Italians had kept the region relatively peaceful by paying local Taliban fighters to remain inactive.

Update at 9:25 a.m. ET. The Associated Press now reports that:

In Kabul, a U.S. spokesman for NATO forces in Afghanistan denied the allegations. "We don't do bribes," Col. Wayne Shanks said. "We don't pay the insurgents."

-- Morning Edition -- Zazi Allegedly Made Contact With Top Al-Qaida Operative. "The man arrested last month for allegedly plotting to blow up targets in New York contacted one of Osama bin Laden's right-hand men, U.S. intelligence officials say." NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports:

-- The New York Times -- "Public Option Is Next Big Hurdle In Health Debate": "As the White House and Congressional leaders turned in earnest on Wednesday to working out big differences in the five health care bills, perhaps no issue loomed as a greater obstacle than whether to establish a government-run competitor to the insurance industry."

-- NPR News -- Foreclosures Rose 5% From Summer To Fall. NPR's Jack Speer reports:


categories: Afghanistan, Business, Economy, Foreign News, Morning Roundup

7:45 - October 15, 2009