Friday, October 13, 2006

Morning News Roundup (13 October)

The Declining Fortunes of President Furious McChimpy
  • President Bush's job-approval rating fell, with 34% of Americans voting him "excellent" or "good," down from 38% in September, according to a new Harris Interactive poll.
    With less than a month to go before the midterm congressional elections, 47% of registered voters said they would vote for a Democratic candidate, compared with 35% who said they would pick a Republican candidate. When asked about recent Capitol Hill scandals involving charges of corruption and sexual improprieties, 64% said they believed those activities were the just the "tip of the iceberg," compared with 25% who believed they were "isolated incidents." [Harris Poll via WSJ]

  • President Bush finds the world around him increasingly "unacceptable."

    In speeches, statements and news conferences this year, the president has repeatedly declared a range of problems "unacceptable," including rising health costs, immigrants who live outside the law, North Korea's claimed nuclear test, genocide in Sudan and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
    [A] survey of transcripts from Bush's public remarks over the past seven years shows the president's worsening political predicament has actually stoked, rather than diminished, his desire to proclaim what he cannot abide. Some presidential scholars and psychologists describe the trend as a signpost of Bush's rising frustration with his declining influence.

    In the first nine months of this year, Bush declared more than twice as many events or outcomes "unacceptable" or "not acceptable" as he did in all of 2005, and nearly four times as many as he did in 2004. He is, in fact, at a presidential career high in denouncing events he considers intolerable. They number 37 so far this year, as opposed to five in 2003, 18 in 2002 and 14 in 2001. [WaPo]

BushCo's Wars
  • Britain's top military commander, Richard Dannatt, said Friday that in some parts of Iraq the "mere presence" of British troops "does exacerbate" violence and that "time is against us" in Iraq. But he also said Britain stood "shoulder to shoulder with Americans and their timing and our timing are one and the same."

    Dannatt gave a series of radio and TV interviews one day after he was quoted by the Daily Mail newspaper as saying British troops should "get ourselves out sometimes soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems."

    In that interview, the army general said "we weren't invited" into Iraq but rather "kicked the door in" and that "whatever consent we may have had in the first place" from the Iraqi people "has largely turned to intolerance." [WaPo]

  • Internal military documents released Thursday provided new details about the Defense Department’s collection of information on demonstrations nationwide last year by students, Quakers and others opposed to the Iraq war. The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show, for instance, that military officials labeled as “potential terrorist activity” events like a “Stop the War Now” rally in Akron, Ohio, in March 2005.
    The documents indicated that intelligence reports and tips about antiwar protests, including mundane details like the schedule for weekly planning meetings, were widely shared among analysts from the military, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security. “There is simply no reason why the United States military should be monitoring the peaceful activities of American citizens who oppose U.S. war policies,” said Ben Wizner, a lawyer for the A.C.L.U. [NYTimes]

  • Trash collectors “have one of the most dangerous jobs in Baghdad,” frequently killed by hidden insurgent bombs, or by insurgents seeking to keep the collectors from finding the bombs. As a result, garbage is now “ubiquitous” in Baghdad, “especially in dangerous neighborhoods, blanketing street medians, alleys and vacant lots in stinking, fly-infested quilts.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

Climate 'n' Energy
  • With bright sunny mornings and balmy afternoons, this year's autumnal weather (in Britain) has been more typical of Greece or Spain. The average daily temperature has climbed to 13.3C, two degrees warmer than usual, and is on course to be the hottest October on record. [The Independent]

  • Failing to fight global warming now will cost trillions of dollars by the end of the century even without counting biodiversity loss or unpredictable events like the Gulf Stream shutting down. But acting now will avoid some of the massive damage and cost relatively little, said the study commissioned by Friends of the Earth from the Global Development and Environment Institute of Tufts University in the United States.
    The study said the cost of inaction by governments and individuals could hit 11 trillion pounds a year by 2100, or six to eight percent of global economic output then. [Reuters via Climate Ark]

  • Consumers are ready to buy plug-in hybrids, according to the CEO of the country's largest dealer networks. AutoNation has thrown its support behind plug-in hybrids by joining the Plug-In Partners, a group of municipalities that will buy plug-in hybrids when they are available.

    The group has more than 60 cities waving their open wallets at auto makers, and getting a company that controls more than 300 dealerships to testify provides clear evidence that cars that can run on electricity for up to 50 miles will be a hit with consumers. [Wired's Autotopia]

Domestic Potpourri
  • The Times and the Post both have matter-of-fact run-downs of (former chief of staff to Mark Foley and Tom Reynolds) Kirk Fordham's testimony Thursday before the House Ethics Committee. The juicy details were behind closed doors. But the essential story is this: he said under oath what he told the FBI and the press last week -- that he warned Denny Hastert's Chief of Staff about Foley three years ago, that (Scott) Palmer went as far as to meet with Foley and that Palmer told Fordham that he'd discussed the matter with Speaker Hastert.

    That leaves two possibilities. Fordham is lying. Or the story put together by Hastert's staff two weeks ago is bogus, Palmer is lying and Hastert is lying. Real life seldom leaves such cut-and-dry alternatives. But in this case both sides have dug themselves in on very specific and unambiguous versions of what happeend. [Talking Points Memo]

  • A study of Washington and 27 other metropolitan areas by the Center for Housing Policy found that the costs of one-way commutes of as little as 12 to 15 miles -- roughly the distance between Gaithersburg and Bethesda -- cancel any savings on lower-priced outer-suburban homes.

    Barbara J. Lipman, an author of the study, said that people tend to focus on all the zeroes that differentiate the price of a closer-in house from one in the outer suburbs, but they don't realize how much they're spending on commuting costs, such as gas, tires and insurance. [WaPo]

[ posted with ecto ]


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