Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Morning News Roundup (31 October)

BushCo's Wars
  • “American units training the Iraqi police” believe “it may take decades” for Iraqi security forces to take control of the country. One U.S. Army captain overseeing police training said 70 percent of the Iraqi police force “has been infiltrated by militias.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • Growing numbers of American military officers have begun to privately question a key tenet of U.S. strategy in Iraq — that setting a hard deadline for troop reductions would strengthen the insurgency and undermine efforts to create a stable state.

    The Iraqi government's refusal to take certain measures to reduce sectarian tensions between Sunni Arabs and the nation's Shiite Muslim majority has led these officers to conclude that Iraqis will not make difficult decisions unless they are pushed. Therefore, they say, the advantages of deadlines may outweigh the drawbacks. [LATimes]

  • The WaPo's Anthony Shadid (also author of the book, Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War) from a long feature article from this last Sunday:
    It had been almost a year since I was in the Iraqi capital, where I worked as a reporter in the days of Saddam Hussein, the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and the occupation, guerrilla war and religious resurgence that followed. On my return, it was difficult to grasp how atomized and violent the 1,250-year-old city has become. Even on the worst days, I had always found Baghdad's most redeeming quality to be its resilience, a tenacious refusal among people I met over three years to surrender to the chaos unleashed when the Americans arrived. That resilience is gone, overwhelmed by civil war, anarchy or whatever term could possibly fit. Baghdad now is convulsed by hatred, paralyzed by suspicion; fear has forced many to leave. Carnage its rhythm and despair its mantra, the capital, it seems, no longer embraces life.

Climate Crisis
  • Climate change has been made the world's biggest priority, with the publication of a stark report showing that the planet faces catastrophe unless urgent measures are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Future generations may come to regard the apocalyptic report by Sir Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist at the World Bank, as the turning point in combating global warming, or as the missed opportunity.
    Across the world, environmental groups hailed the report as the beginning of a new era on climate change, but the White House maintained an ominous silence. However, the report laid down a challenge to the US, and other major emerging economies including China and India, that British ministers said cannot be ignored.

    Its recommendations are based on stabilising carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere at between 450 and 550 parts per million - which would still require a cut of at least 25 per cent in global emissions, rising to 60 per cent for the wealthy nations. [The Independent]

    Not surprisingly, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), “which holds around two thirds of the world’s oil reserves,” claimed the UK government’s recent report on the catastrophic economic effects of climate change has “no basis in science or economics.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • According to ABC, Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jay Rockefeller, (D-W.Va) have written to ExxonMobil demanding that the company "stop funding groups that have spread the idea that global warming is a myth and that try to influence policymakers to adopt that view."
    The ABC story also notes that the "letter comes as dozens of major U.S. companies, including Wal-Mart, Citigroup and GE — get set to gather in New York next week for the Corporate Climate Response conference. The conference provides a forum for companies to discuss their efforts to address global warming, a topic getting increased attention in boardrooms across the United States.[MoJo Blog]

Domestic Potpourri
  • President Bush said terrorists will win if Democrats win and impose their policies on Iraq, as he and Vice President Cheney escalated their rhetoric Monday in an effort to turn out Republican voters in next week's midterm elections.
    "However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses," Bush told a raucous crowd of about 5,000 GOP partisans packed in an arena at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, one of his stops Monday. "That's what's at stake in this election. The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq." [WaPo]

  • US Vice-President Dick Cheney has said that insurgents in Iraq have increased their attacks in order to influence the upcoming US mid-term elections. He blamed a recent rise in violence on al-Qaeda and others trying to "break the will of the American people". [BBC]

  • While there is no reported intelligence for Iraqi insurgents trying to sway the current election, the CIA did conclude that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda tried to manipulate the 2004 elections with the release of a videotape message. But the intelligence indicated that terrorists were trying to help Bush win re-election — not aid his opponents. Media Matters, citing Ron Suskind’s One Percent Doctrine, notes that CIA analysts concluded that bin Laden’s message in the days before the Nov. 2004 contest “was clearly designed to assist the President’s reelection.” [ThinkProgress]

  • Two former House committee investigators who were examining Capitol Hill security upgrades said a senior aide to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert hindered their efforts before they were abruptly ordered to stop their probe last year.

    The former Appropriations Committee investigators said Ted Van Der Meid, Hastert’s chief counsel, resisted from the start the inquiry, which began with concerns about mismanagement of a secret security office and later probed allegations of bid-rigging and kickbacks from contractors to a Defense Department employee. [Congressional Quarterly]

  • A senior Bush political appointee at the Interior Department has rejected staff scientists' recommendations to protect imperiled animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act at least six times in the past three years. In addition, staff complaints that their scientific findings were frequently overruled or disparaged at the behest of landowners or industry have led the agency's inspector general to look into the role of Julie MacDonald, who has been deputy assistant secretary of the interior for fish and wildlife and parks since 2004, in decisions on protecting endangered species. [WaPo]

Big Blue Marble
  • Six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme are to resume soon, China's foreign ministry has confirmed. Agreement came after an informal meeting in Beijing between North Korea, China and the US, the ministry said. [BBC]

[ posted with ecto ]


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