Thursday, November 09, 2006

Morning News Roundup (09 November)

The Morning After the Morning After
  • It looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be joining Speaker of the House Pelosi, thanks to vote counts holding up for Jon Tester in Montana and Jim Webb in Virginia. Tester declared victory yesterday over Jack Abramoff's good buddy, Conrad Burns:
    Burns’s ties to some of the ethical issues dogging Republicans in other races have hurt him. He received about $150,000 in donations from convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his clients and his associates, though he has since returned the money or given it to charity. Burns has also been bitten by the burgeoning use of online videos as political tools. Over the last few months, videos of Burns posted on have shown the 71-year-old lawmaker nodding off at a farm hearing and warning constituents about people who “drive taxicabs in the daytime and kill at night.”
    Good riddance.

  • And in Virginia:
    With control of the U.S. Senate hanging in the balance, (George) Allen dispatched teams of lawyers and operatives across Virginia in search of the votes he would need to win. Early in the day, Allen did not appear ready to relinquish his claim to an office he once saw as a springboard to the White House.
    But Webb continued to lead by approximately 7,300 votes with virtually all of Virginia's 2.3 million ballots counted Wednesday evening, and Republicans said there appeared to be little hope that glitches or math errors might uncover new GOP votes.
  • Demographics are shifting slightly:
    The House and Senate elections this week added at least five women to the next Congress, the only notable demographic shift in an otherwise dramatic political upheaval.

    For the most part, Congress will remain dominated by white men. In terms of racial demographics, neither body will see a change in numbers, but the influence of minority leaders could increase: Five blacks and one Hispanic are in line for House committee chairmanships.

    On the religious front, Democrats in Minnesota elected the House's first Muslim member. The number of Hispanic legislators remains unchanged, with 23 in the House and three in the Senate. Rep. Nydia M. Valazquez (D-N.Y.) is in line to be chairman of the House Small Business Committee.
  • About 24 percent of Americans under the age of 30, or at least 10 million young voters, cast ballots in Tuesday's elections that saw Democrats make big gains in Congress. That was up 4 percentage points from the last mid-term elections in 2002.
    Rock the Vote, a youth-and-civics group, said young voters favored Democrats by a 22-point margin, nearly three times the margin Democrats earned among other age groups and dealing a potentially decisive blow to Republicans in tight races. [Reuters via Yahoo!]

(Hat tip to FotF Madge for reminding me to include the gains for enviros in yesterday's election. I've been so busy lately that I haven't had time to focus on the green stuff, but I'm going to try to get that back in the coming weeks.)
  • Another note on Jon Tester -- he's an organic farmer (via a 2005 profile in New West, hat tip to Treehugger):
    “The handwriting was on the wall – we needed to add some value," Tester says. A woman had visited the farm from Eden Foods in Minnesota and told the Testers if they could grow her some organic Durham, she’s give them $7 a bushel. On top of that, the herbicide sprays were making them sick, and the seed treatments on conventional grain made Sharla especially sick, so the Testers took a chance, knowing that the butcher shop his parents had started and run for so many years would be a good fallback if the organic experiment didn’t pan out.

    Turns out, it worked so well that the butcher shop is all but closed now, just a side gig for friends, family and old customers who refuse to take their beef anywhere else. (The Testers have been cutting meat for a long time. In fact, that’s why Jon is missing a couple of fingers on his left hand.)
  • To the joy, delight and outright shock of environmentalists everywhere, six-termer Richard Pombo, the powerful chairman of the House Resources Committee, lost to wind power consultant Jerry McNerney. Looking for a referendum on how to treat Mother Earth? Try Pombo.

    Pombo's sins against the environment are well documented. Global warming, he declared, was a "myth." He worked to gut the Endangered Species Act, to permit drilling for oil off the California coast, to sell public lands to mining interests. He was supported financially by the oil, gas and timber industries, and seemed to relish making outrageous statements designed to drive environmentalists into apoplectic fits.
    When voters kept sending Pombo back to Washington, they were telling the entire world that the U.S. simply didn't just take climate change seriously, but that responsible environmental stewardship was irrelevant in the American realpolitik calculus. But now voters have spoken with a different voice. [How the World Works]

  • Jerry McNerney of California has just won a seat in the US Congress. The person he replaces, starting next January, and why Jerry won is less important than what he'll do once he arrives. One thing we know for certain, Jerry won't need a 'Think Tank' position paper, a government lab tour, nor a research staff of his own to figure out what wind energy is all about. He'll generate some credibility on his own. From his campaign site: - "In 1985, Jerry accepted a senior engineering position with US Windpower, Kenetech, and in 1994 Jerry began working as an energy consultant for PG&E, FloWind, the Electric Power Research Institute, and other utility companies. He is now the CEO of a start-up company that will manufacture wind turbines". [news]

  • Via McClatchy News:
    The changing cast of characters will play out in many ways:
    • The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil-and-gas drilling perennially championed by House Republicans won't go anywhere in the next Congress. Drilling off the coast of Florida or other states becomes a real long shot.

    • Other controversial ideas that Pombo once toyed with - such as selling 15 little-visited National Park Service sites, including playwright Eugene O'Neill's home in the California city of Danville - are down for the count.

    • The Endangered Species Act, which Pombo built his career on combating, has a new lease on life. The Democrat who's poised to become House Resources Committee chairman, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, voted against Pombo's Endangered Species Act legislation. The League of Conservation Voters gave Rahall a vote ranking of 92, compared with Pombo's score of 17.
  • From Grist, a catch-all wrap-up:
    "The American people's vision of a [different] energy future ... is the winner," said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, "and Big Oil is the big loser." (Well, except in California, where voters shunned a renewable-energy oil tax endorsed by the likes of Bill Clinton and Julia Roberts.) In Nairobi, Kenya, U.N. climate conference delegates celebrated: "This is good news for climate," said Hans Verolme of WWF, while Greenpeace's Steve Sawyer said the results show that "the U.S. is moving substantially in the right direction and climate is very much front and center on the political agenda in the U.S."

BushCo's Wars
  • Bomb attacks on markets in predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad killed at last 16 people, among 38 Iraqis killed or found dead across the country on Thursday in the latest outbreak of sectarian violence.

    Seven of those were killed when a car bomb detonated outside shops in northern Baghdad's Qahira district as noontime shoppers were gathering, said police Lt. Ali Muhsin. He said 27 others were injured and seven cars destroyed.

    Around the same time, a suicide boomer plowed his explosives-rigged vehicle into crowds gathered in Mission commercial complex for spare parts in Baghdad's downtown Karradah district, police Col. Abbas Mohammed Salman said. At least nine were killed and 27 wounded in that attack, he said. [AP via Yahoo!]

  • Corruption within the Iraqi government is costing the country billions of dollars, the US official monitoring reconstruction in Iraq has said. Stuart Bowen told the BBC that Iraq was facing a second insurgency of corruption and mismanagement. He said Iraqi government corruption could amount to $4bn (£2.1bn) a year, over 10% of the national income, with some money going to the insurgency. [BBC]

[ posted with ecto ]


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