Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Morning News Roundup (10 October)

Axis of Evil Update
  • “Nearly five years after President Bush introduced the concept of an ‘axis of evil’ comprising Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the administration has reached a crisis point with each nation.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • The one glimmer of good news, if you can call it that, is that the test itself seems to have been something of a fizzle, as the Los Angeles Times says in a story out front, and everyone else reports inside. With an additional day to pore over seismic and other data, analysts said it appeared that the that the underground explosion was exceedingly small (for a nuke, that is), perhaps around half a kiloton, which would make it about 3 or 4 percent of the size of the bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Most newbie nuclear powers start off with a 10- to 60-kiloton blast, says the NYT. North Korean emissaries are said to have told the Chinese that the bomb would be about four kilotons shortly before the test, according to the Washington Post, so it would seem that the test may have been technically disappointing. [Slate's Today's Papers]

  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Monday to impose retaliatory sanctions on world powers if the UN Security Council carries out threats to penalize Iran over its nuclear program, state media reported. Ahmadinejad did not specify what kind of tit-for-tat measures might be imposed and Iran has always insisted it will not use oil as a weapon in the standoff.

    But oil prices again spiked above $60 a barrel in Asian trade as market players expressed fears the announced test of a nuclear weapon by North Korea would stiffen Iran's resolve in its standoff with the West. [Beirut's Daily Star]

  • Juan Cole reprints a translated German interview with Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur for Torture, on the state of torture in Iraq:
    Every day about 100 people become victims of murder and torture in Iraq. During the time of the Saddam dictatorship the use of force was at least predictable ... Today it can strike anyone. There are no effective mechanisms to control it -- more and more it is the state itself engaged in torture.
    Nowak: The report of the [UN] support mission for Iraq concludes that the situation is very serious. In July and August 2006 alone, the bodies of 6500 persons were found who had been abducted and often very gravely tortured -- that is more than 100 people each day.
  • Hundreds of Iraqi army and police officers became violently ill after breaking their Ramadan fast Sunday evening at a base in southern Iraq, in what authorities are investigating as a possible mass poisoning attack. At least 10 people died and 1,200 were sickened at a base in Numaniyah after eating a chicken dinner that may have been laced with cyanide. [WaPo]

  • From the Reuters Iraq FactBox, a taste of the chaos:
    BAGHDAD - A bomb placed under a car killed 10 people and wounded four near a bakery in Baghdad's southern Doura district, an Interior Ministry source said.

    BAQUBA - Twelve people were killed in different districts of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

    BAGHDAD - A total of 60 bodies were found across Baghdad in the past 24 hours, an Interior Ministry source said. All of the bodies had gunshot wounds with some showing signs of torture.

    BAGHDAD - Gunmen in several cars kidnapped at least 11 worshippers on Monday as they were leaving a Sunni mosque in central Baghdad, police said.

Climate Crisis
  • “Hotter temperatures and higher sea levels” caused by climate change “could devastate Asian economies, displace millions of people and put millions more at risk from infectious disease,” Australia’s main research agency found. “Local and regional economies will be hit hard from chronic food and water insecurity and epidemic disease, as well as extreme weather events.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • In late September, as former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan spoke to a group of business executives in Massachusetts, a question was posed as to whether he’d like to see an increase in the federal gasoline tax, which has stood at 18.4 cents a gallon since 1993. “Yes, I would,” Mr. Greenspan responded with atypical clarity. “That’s the way to get consumption down. It’s a national security issue.”

    Mr. Greenspan isn’t the only Republican-aligned economist to have discovered, or rediscovered, a fondness for higher energy taxes since leaving government service. N. Gregory Mankiw, the Harvard economist who served as chairman of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005, favored a higher gas tax before going to Washington, and has been banging the drum loudly for it since he left. [NYTimes]

  • Global Footprint Network, a US academic group, has calculated that the day when we use more than our fair share of the Earth --­ when "humanity starts eating the planet" -- is October 9. In other words, assuming that the world has a certain quantity of natural resources that can sustainably be used up each year, yesterday was the date at which this annual capacity is reached. And environmentalists warn that just as a company bound for bankruptcy plunging into the red or a borrower " maxing out" on credit cards must face the consequences, so must man. [The Independent]

  • Italy's government has decreed that, starting from July 2007, new and old buildings being put on sale will need an energy saving certificate to cut energy use and carbon emissions. New buildings are expected to boost energy savings by 20-35 percent over three years by improving thermal insulation to retain warmth in winter. [Climate Ark]

Domestic Potpourri
  • Trailing Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell in the race for her U.S. Senate seat, Mike McGavick needed a boost before the election Nov. 7. Which is why Monday night at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, McGavick welcomed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Meeting with the media before Monday night's fundraising dinner, he answered questions relating to the administration's treatment of detainees and why no prosecutions have come forth. "I don't see the war on terror as a criminal-justice thing," said Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney. [Seattle P-I]

Big Blue Marble
  • “Several hundred” civilians in Darfur may have died last August in attacks carried out with the “knowledge and material support” of the government. “The attacks,” a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report said, “were massive in scale, involving a large number of villages, and were carried out over only a few days. Government knowledge, if not complicity, in the attacks is almost certain.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • GooTube? Maybe not:
    Google announced Monday afternoon that it would buy YouTube, the popular video-sharing Web site, for stock that it valued at $1.65 billion. Under the terms of the deal, YouTube will retain much of its identity and will keep its name and its office in San Bruno, Calif., more than 25 miles from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View.
    Behind the buzz of the high-priced deal come a number of gambles, including a large amount of copyrighted material on the site that attracted both viewers who shared the videos and lawyers who cried foul on behalf of the copyright holders. Clips of popular shows such as "South Park," "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "Laguna Beach" can be found on the site.

    Also a factor is the fickleness of YouTube's online audience, which could migrate elsewhere or become turned off by the large amount of corporate advertising making its way onto the site. A year after online star MySpace.com, a social networking site, was acquired by News Corp. for $580 million, the core audience has shifted from teenagers to people in their thirties. [NYTimes and WaPo]

And one more thing... the latest Sutton Impact at the Village Voice:

Sutton Impact @ Village Voice

[ posted with ecto ]


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