Thursday, September 28, 2006

Morning News Roundup (28 September)

Majority Opinion
  • 70: The percentage of Americans who oppose the use of U.S. ground troops in Iran. Only nine percent favored U.S. air strikes on selected targets in Iran, while 45 percent said the U.S. should increase diplomatic our efforts with allies. [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • The Iraq war has acted as a "recruiting sergeant" for extremists in the Muslim world, according to a paper prepared for a Ministry of Defence thinktank, which also said the British government sent troops into Afghanistan "with its eyes closed".

    The MoD was quick to play down the significance of the report. However, the study reflects what the MoD, military commanders, and the Foreign Office, have been saying in private. What is embarrassing is the timing of the leak, a day after Tony Blair's defence of Britain's military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. [news]

  • A U.N. report released on Wednesday said the Iraq war provided al Qaeda with a training centre and recruits, reinforcing a U.S. intelligence study blaming the conflict for a surge in Islamic extremism.

    "New explosive devices are now used in Afghanistan within a month of their first appearing in Iraq," said the report. "And while the Taliban have not been found fighting outside Afghanistan/Pakistan, there have been reports of them training in both Iraq and Somalia."

    Al Qaeda, it said, "has gained by continuing to play a central role in the fighting (in Iraq) and in encouraging the growth of sectarian violence, and Iraq has provided many recruits and an excellent training ground," it said.

    The report said that al Qaeda's influence may soon wane in Iraq, citing some fighters' complaints that they were unhappy to learn upon arriving in the country that they would have to kill fellow Muslims rather than foreign fighters or could serve their cause only as suicide bombers. [The Scotsman]

BushCo's Wars.
  • A quarter of a million Iraqis have fled their homes and registered as refugees in the past seven months, data released on Thursday showed, amid an upsurge in violence that has accompanied the Ramadan holy month. The sectarian killing continued in Baghdad, where police said they had found the bodies of 40 victims -- bound, tortured and murdered -- in the last 24 hours. [Reuters]

  • Senior U.S. military commanders are questioning whether Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has the political will to weed out official corruption and tackle the brutal militias that are threatening to plunge Iraq into civil war.

    The questions come as sectarian violence and the spread of militias have replaced the insurgency as the biggest challenge to U.S. efforts to bring security to Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. The major militias are arms of political parties inside Iraq's fragile coalition government and have widely infiltrated the security forces, placing Maliki, who has vowed to disarm the militias, in a delicate political position. [WaPo]

  • About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces -- up from 47 percent in January -- and slightly more than that want their government to ask U.S. troops to leave within a year. The Iraqis also have negative views of Osama bin Laden, according to the early September poll of 1,150, done for University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes. [AP via Yahoo!]

  • U.S. troops on Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan have seen a threefold increase in attacks since a truce between Pakistan and pro-Taliban tribesmen, said a U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    He said the Sept. 5 peace pact has contributed to the Taliban's resurgence and that ethnic Pashtun rebels no longer are fighting Pakistani troops but are using the North Waziristan border region as a control hub for launching attacks in Afghanistan. [WaPo]

Climate Crisis
  • The explosive growth of the Chinese economy over the past seven years has been linked with a rise in emissions of man-made methane--the second most important greenhouse gas and, molecule for molecule, it is about 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide in its ability to exacerbate global warming.

    Levels of methane in the atmosphere have risen since the Industrial Revolution but in recent years they appeared to have stabilised, leading scientists to believe that the gas may not be so critical in terms of global warming. The study found the prolonged drying of many wetland regions in the world - caused by draining and climate change - appears to have resulted in a reduction in the release of methane. They also found that during the 1990s, the release of man-made methane was also stemmed by more efficient methods of extracting natural gas. However, the study indicated how the growth of Asian economies, and resulting rises in fossil fuel use, has led to an upturn in man-made emissions of methane since about 1999. [The Independent]

  • Saying Seattle must lead the world in battling the globe-warming gases that spew from our cars and furnaces and power plants, Mayor Greg Nickels today unveiled the most comprehensive plan to date to reduce Seattleites' impact on the climate.

    The 34-page list of actions Nickels is proposing range from the very specific -- spending $530,000 over the next two years to save natural gas in city buildings, for instance -- to aspirations whose outcome the city can't control, such as persuading the Legislature to follow California's lead and cap so-called "greenhouse gases." [Seattle P-I]

Domestic Potpourri
  • Former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani said yesterday, “The idea of trying to cast blame on President Clinton [for 9/11] is just wrong for many, many reasons, not the least of which is I don’t think he deserves it.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • Describing himself as a "a Republican for the old reasons," former senator John C. Danforth is promoting a new book -- Faith and Politics --that describes religion as a divisive force in the United States today and accuses the religious right and its political supporters of creating a sectarian party.

    The GOP leadership habitually strives to please its base at the expense of meaningful compromise, he maintains, proving to be neither humble Christians nor effective politicians. His reasoning holds that social conservatives cannot prevail because a majority of Americans do not share their views or appreciate their style.
    Richard Land, a prominent conservative at the Southern Baptist Convention, said in an interview earlier this year that Danforth is "what was wrong with the Republican Party and why they were a minority party." [WaPo]

Big Blue Marble
  • Two days of talks between Iran and the European Union in Berlin have ended without agreement on how to resolve the dispute about Iran's nuclear programme. But both sides reported progress and said they would talk again. The EU's Javier Solana said talks would be held next week, possibly by phone. [BBC]


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