News Buzz: Obama Mocks McCain, Hurricane Ike Targets Houston, Retail Sales Slump

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Obama Mocks McCain as Computer Illiterate
John McCain is mocked as an out-of-touch, out-of-date computer illiterate in a Barack Obama television commercial out Friday as the Democrat begins his sharpest barrage yet on McCain's long Washington career. The new fighting spirit comes as McCain has been gaining in the polls and some Democrats have been expressing concern the Obama campaign has not been aggressive enough. Obama's campaign says the escalation will involve advertising and pushes made by the candidate, running mate Joe Biden, and other surrogates across the country.

Ike Strands Freighter in Gulf; Houston Braces
A sprawling and strengthening Hurricane Ike steamed through the Gulf of Mexico on Friday on a track toward the nation's fourth-largest city, where authorities told residents to brace rather than flee. The Coast Guard scrambled to respond to a predawn distress call about a 584-foot bulk freighter with 22 people aboard that broke down in the path of the storm about 90 miles southeast of Galveston. The Category 2 storm with its 105-mph winds could cause 50-foot waves and made rescue by ship impossible, Petty Officer Patrick Kelley said.

Retail Sales Slide, Producer Prices Drop in August
Wholesale prices plunged in August by the largest amount in nearly two years, reflecting a steep drop in energy prices. But in less positive news, retail sales remained in the doldrums in August. The Labor Department reported Friday that wholesale prices fell 0.9 percent last month, nearly double the 0.5 percent decline that economists had been expecting. The price moderation followed three months in which wholesale costs had shot up at levels exceeding 1 percent a month as energy costs surged.

Survey Finds Holes in U.S. Disaster Preparedness
In a disaster such as an earthquake or terrorist attack, nearly two thirds of U.S. parents would disregard orders to evacuate and would rush to pick up their kids from school, according to a new survey. The survey found that 63 percent of parents would ignore orders to evacuate and instead attempt to reunite with their children, possibly hindering rescue efforts by adding to traffic congestion.

Source: Associated Press