Nov 8 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* The subprime storm that has pummeled Wall Street got worse, with two large financial firms reporting losses related to the corner of the mortgage market. American International Group Inc’s (AIG.N) net income fell 27 percent, hurt by a $2.68 billion write-down. Morgan Stanley (MS.N) disclosed a $3.7 billion hit from subprime exposures in the current quarter.
* Democrats enter 2008 with powerful advantages. Americans by 50 percent to 35 percent prefer that a Democrat succeed U.S. President George W. Bush, according to a WSJ/NBC poll, but Senator Hillary Clinton is still vulnerable.
* The U.S. is recalling over four million Chinese-made Aqua Dots toys after reports of children being sickened by a chemical contained in beads they swallowed.
* Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) posted a 37 percent jump in profit and a 17 percent increase in sales in its fiscal first quarter, yet the computer-networking giant disappointed investors by offering no change to its forecast.
* The Bush administration blocked a Marine Corps lawyer from testifying before Congress that severe interrogation techniques had derailed his prosecution of a suspected al Qaeda terrorist.
* Italy’s Enel SPA (ENEI.MI) is investing up to $6 billion in Russia to tap the country’s vast power market, but the move carries risks.
* TiVo Inc (TIVO.O), a provider of digital video recorders, is pushing a new service that offers advertisers detailed profiles of its users’ TV-watching habits.
* Merck & Co’s (MRK.N) canceled experimental HIV vaccine may have made recipients more susceptible to HIV infection, data suggest. This has prompted researchers to warn participants in other trials that similarly made vaccines for a range of other diseases might also increase their susceptibility to HIV.
* The International Energy Agency said in its annual forecast that several factors, including the soaring cost of oil, will contribute to a boom in coal.
* The House approved legislation to ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, setting the stage for election-year debate in the U.S. Senate.
* General Motors Corp’s (GM.N) $38.96 billion third-quarter net loss underscores a tough reality for the auto maker: Despite two years of restructuring, it can’t seem to keep its turnaround on track.
* Kraft Foods Inc KFT.N, bowing to pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz, is nominating two independent members endorsed by Peltz to its board. Peltz has for months been pressing the world’s second-largest packaged food company to focus on its strongest brands.
* News Corp’s NWSa.N profit fell 13 percent in its fiscal first quarter after a gain on a sale in the year-earlier period, but operating income rose 23 percent on strong box-office results for films such as “The Simpsons Movie” and “Live Free or Die Hard,” as well as higher earnings from cable-TV networks.
* BNP Paribas SA (BNPP.PA) unveiled a 21 percent jump in third-quarter net profit, as the French bank weathered the recent credit crisis better than some of its European and U.S. counterparts.
* Freddie Mac FRE.N and Fannie Mae FNM.N, prodded by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, agreed to appoint independent examiners to look at whether they have done enough to protect mortgage investors from the risks of inflated home appraisals, particularly on loans from Washington Mutual Inc (WM.N).
* Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto escalated her confrontation with the government by calling on Pakistanis to rise against the imposition of emergency rule by President Pervez Musharraf.
* Worker productivity soared while labor costs declined in the third quarter, suggesting that inflationary pressures from the labor market remain contained. The Labor Department reported that U.S. nonfarm business productivity — the amount of output per hour of work — grew at a 4.9 percent annual rate from July through September, the fastest pace in four years.