Thursday, October 05, 2006

Morning News Roundup (05 October)

L'Affair Foley
  • The source who in July gave news media Rep. Mark Foley’s (R-Fla.) suspect e-mails to a former House page says the documents came to him from a House GOP aide. The whistleblower was a paid GOP staffer when the documents were first given to the media, but no longer works in the House. These revelations mean that Republicans who are calling for probes to discover what Democratic leaders and staff knew about Foley’s improper exchanges with under-age pages will likely be unable to show that the opposition party orchestrated the scandal now roiling the GOP just a month away from the midterm elections. [The Hill]

  • A longtime chief of staff to disgraced former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) approached House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's office three years ago, repeatedly imploring senior Republicans to help stop Foley's advances toward teenage male pages, the staff member said yesterday.

    The account by Kirk Fordham, who resigned yesterday from his job with another senior lawmaker, pushed back to 2003 or earlier the time when Hastert's staff reportedly became aware of Foley's questionable behavior concerning teenagers working on Capitol Hill. [WaPo]

  • In Minnesota, Democrat Patty Wetterling, a child-safety advocate seeking the seat of a departing Republican, is using the scandal around former Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley to blast the House majority in a television advertisement. She is running an uphill campaign in a Republican-leaning district and has lagged behind her opponent, a state legislator, in polls throughout the campaign. But a Reuters survey released yesterday suggests the scandal has transformed the race to essentially a tie. [Wall Street Journal via TPM Muckraker]

BushCo's Wars
  • The number of planted bombs is "at an all-time high," said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, a military spokesman, defying American efforts to stanch the vicious sectarian bloodshed in Baghdad that threatens to plunge the country into civil war. U.S. military officials said the surge in violence could be partly attributed to the increased exposure of American forces as they patrol the dangerous streets of Baghdad to try to quell reprisal killings between Shiites and Sunnis.
    Caldwell also announced yesterday that an entire Iraqi police brigade -- comprising an estimated 800 to 1,200 officers -- had been pulled out of service and placed under investigation for alleged complicity with death squads.
    Seventy-four soldiers and Marines were killed in Iraq in September, representing the highest monthly toll since April, when 76 died, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count. [WaPo]

  • A U.S. intelligence report finds that sectarian death squads have taken control of hospitals and morgues in Iraq, reports Lara Logan of CBS News. Secret documentation by the U.S. Military shows that sectarian militias use Hospitals for command and control centers. The militias often kill Sunni patients, some "dragged from their beds." Ambulances are used to transport hostages, weapons, and to escape from coalition troops. [RawStory]

  • The Guardian reports that Iraq's education system in large swathes of the country is in danger of collapse. In many universities, sectarian militias have established themselves. Professors have been assassinated and large numbers have been forced to flee abroad. Women have been ordered to veil. Often classes are missing large numbers of students because it is time-consuming or dangerous to travel from home to the university, because of checkpoints. Classes are often nevertheless too crowded because of the small number of teachers left. Similar problems plague the K-12 schools. [Juan Cole's Informed Comment]

  • Toyota and Honda are in a fight not just to make their hybrid technology cheaper, but lighter. Toyota, for example, plans to reduce the weight of its hybrid powertrain by 50% in the next 3 years. Additionally, Toyota hybrid technology adds on average $4000.00 to the cost of a vehicle, within 3 years Toyota plans to reduce this price to $1900.00 according to AutoBlog. [HybridCarBlog]

  • At the Paris Motor Show, Toyota's chief executive for Europe, Tadashi Arashima, has ruled out diesel hybrids (for now). "Already the diesel [price] premium is quite high, then you'd have to pay a hybrid premium, so we're not seeing that there's a market," he said. This will certainly disappoint many people who have been dreaming of diesel hybrids (running on biodiesel!) for a long time, but it might also be an opportunity for other automakers if it turns out that Toyota is wrong. [Treehugger]

Domestic Potpourri
  • The “Care Crisis"—the absence of anyone to care for America’s children, elderly and disabled—has turned into the new millennium’s version of the “Problem That Has No Name,” Child care is part of that larger Care Crisis. It is the 800-pound elephant that sits in Congress, our homes and offices—gigantic, but ignored.

    And, it keeps getting worse. According to a new 50-state report on child care policies just released by the National Women’s Law Center, the Bush administration has successfully dismantled government services for children. State funds for child care assistance have fallen for the fifth year in a row. The problem will soon become catastrophic when large numbers of single mothers bump up against their five-year life limit on welfare. [Ruth Rosen at TPM Cafe]

Big Blue Marble
  • Outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases in northern and southern India left ordinarily overburdened hospitals and clinics swamped with patients yesterday, and officials reported at least 87 deaths. The surging cases of dengue in the north and chikungunya in the south were reported as the annual monsoon season tapers off across much of the subcontinent, leaving behind countless small pools and puddles of dirty, stagnant water where infectious mosquitoes breed. [BoGlobe]

Obama Watch
  • Ask Washington insiders about Sen. Barack Obama's presidential hopes, and you'll get a pat response: great idea, a cycle or three from now--or maybe this time as veep. But they need to get out more. I’ve talked to Democrats in 10 cities in the last four months and found Obama fever throughout the Democratic Party. Besides an online Al Gore boomlet, no one else raises a reaction anything like it. More impressively, there's now a distinct possibility that Obama may seize the moment and run in '08. A close associate introduces a note of caution: “I’d put the chances right now at no better than 50 percent,” he told me Tuesday, as Obama taped Oprah’s show in Chicago. Fifty percent? For Obama-hungry Democrats, those are much better odds than they’ve assumed. Whatever happens in the midterms, ’08 could get very exciting, very fast. [Jonathan Alter at Newsweek]

[ posted with ecto ]


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