Monday, November 13, 2006

Morning News Roundup (13 November)

Iraq's Bloody Weekend
  • Two suicide bombers detonated explosives Sunday as a crowd of men gathered in front of a police recruiting center in central Baghdad, killing at least 35 people and wounding 56 in one of the deadliest suicide attacks in Iraq this year. At Baghdad's Yarmouk Hospital, young men with bandaged limbs lay in small beds, writhing in pain. Some said they had come from as far away as the southern city of Basra to join the police force because they were unemployed and needed to feed their families. [WaPo]

  • Four British servicemen were killed and three others “very seriously” injured in Iraq yesterday when a makeshift bomb exploded near their boat as they patrolled a river in Basra. Yesterday’s bomb attack was one of the worst on British forces since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and came as millions took part in Remembrance Sunday commemorations for the nation’s war dead. [London Telegraph]

  • From Juan Cole's Informed Comment:
    CBS News and the Associated Press report that on Saturday:

    '(CBS/AP) Sunni gunmen ambushed a convoy of minibuses at a fake checkpoint on the dangerous highway south of Baghdad, killing 10 Shiite passengers and kidnapping about 50. Across the country at least 52 other people were killed in violence or were found dead, five of them decapitated Iraqi soldiers. Police said the mass kidnapping and killing was near the volatile town of Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad in the so-called Triangle of Death.'

    Aljazeera adds:

    'In Baghdad, eight people died and at last 38 were wounded when two bombs hidden under parked cars exploded among midday shoppers in downtown Baghdad's Hafidh al-Qadhi square. Police and medical workers said at least 38 others were injured . . . Thayer Mahmud, a police lieutenant, said his men found 25 corpses dumped in several parts of the capital in the 24 hours than began at 6 pm on Friday.'

  • Baghdad's morgues are full.

    With no space to store bodies, some victims of the sectarian slaughter are not being kept for relatives to claim, but photographed, numbered and quickly interred in government cemeteries. Men fearful of an anonymous burial are tattooing their thighs with names and phone numbers.
    While no one knows how many Iraqis have died, daily tallies of violent deaths by The Associated Press average nearly 45 a day. About half of them are unidentified bodies discovered on city streets or floating in the Tigris River. [CNN]

Diplomatic Pouch
  • Democratic leaders in the Senate vowed on Sunday to use their new Congressional majority to press for troop reductions in Iraq within a matter of months, stepping up pressure on the administration just as President Bush is to be interviewed by a bipartisan panel examining future strategy for the war.
    “We need to begin a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq in four to six months,” Carl Levin (D-MI) said in an appearance on the ABC News program “This Week.” In a telephone interview later, Mr. Levin added, “The point of this is to signal to the Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over and that they are going to have to solve their own problems.” [NYTimes]

  • British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the international community on Monday to engage Iran and Syria to advance the peace process in the Middle East. Blair said the outcome of the Iraq war was central to bringing peace to the Middle East, and the world must make clear to Syria and Iran how they can assist in the process as well as the consequences of hindering it. [WaPo]

  • Israel's PM Ehud Olmert will visit President Bush at the White House today. They're both in political trouble domestically, which demands, writes Jackson Diehl, that they emerge from meetings today with some bold new plan for peace. With the old alliance on shaky ground, Olmert tells NBC that he'd accept direct talks between the US and Iran over Iran's nuclear program, and Josh Bolten hinted on the Sunday shows yesterday that the US may be willing to sit down with Iran over Iraq. [Foreign Policy's Passport]

Don't Forget Afghanistan
  • Insurgent activity in Afghanistan has risen fourfold this year, and militants now launch more than 600 attacks a month, a rising wave of violence that has resulted in 3,700 deaths in 2006, a bleak new report released Sunday found.
    The violence "threatens to reverse some of the gains made in the recent past, with development activities being especially hard hit in several areas, resulting in partial or total withdrawal of international agencies in a number of the worst-affected provinces."

    The report said that the rising drug trade in Afghanistan is fueling the insurgency in four volatile southern provinces. The slow pace of development is contributing to popular disaffection and ineffective implementation of the drug fight, it said. [AP via Yahoo!]

Climate Crisis
  • The world's oceans are becoming more acidic, which poses a threat to sea life and Earth's fragile food chain, a climate expert said Thursday. Oceans have already absorbed a third of the world's emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming, leading to acidification that prevents vital sea life from forming properly.

    "The oceans are rapidly changing," said professor Stefan Rahmstorf on the sidelines of a U.N. conference on climate change that has drawn delegates from more than 100 countries to Kenya. "Ocean acidification is a major threat to marine organisms." Fish stocks and the world's coral reefs could also be hit while acidification risks "fundamentally altering" the food chain, he said. [AP via Yahoo!]

  • The growth in global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels over the past five years was four times greater than for the preceding 10 years, according to a study that exposes critical flaws in the attempts to avert damaging climate change.

    Data on carbon dioxide emissions shows that the global growth rate was 3.2 per cent in the five years to 2005 compared with 0.8 per cent from 1990 to 1999, despite efforts to reduce carbon pollution through the Kyoto agreement. Much of the increase is probably due to the expansion of the Chinese economy, which has relied heavily on burning coal and other fossil fuels for its energy.

    Dr Mike Raupach, chair of the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of researchers who compiled the latest figures, warned yesterday that emissions were spiralling out of control. "This is a very worrying sign. It indicates that recent efforts to reduce emissions have had virtually no impact on emissions growth and that effective caps are urgently needed," he said. [The Independent]

  • In its just-released World Energy Outlook (WEO-2006), the International Energy Agency forecasts that under a business-as-usual reference scenario, world primary energy demand would increase by 53% between now and 2030, and global carbon dioxide emissions would reach 40 Gt, a 55% increase over today’s level. More than 70% of the increase in demand will come from developing countries, led by China and India. World oil demand reaches 116 million barrels per day in 2030, an increase of 38% from 84 mb/d in 2005 [Green Car Congress]

  • From a New Oxford American Dictionary press release announcing the word of the year (really, it should be phrase of the year):
    What do Al Gore, Rupert Murdoch, and the Rolling Stones have in common? They are all advocates of being "carbon neutral," the New Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year for 2006.

    Being carbon neutral involves calculating your total climate-damaging carbon emissions (your "carbon footprint"), reducing them where possible, and then balancing your remaining emissions, often by purchasing a carbon offset: paying to plant new trees or investing in "green" technologies such as solar and wind power.

    The rise of carbon neutral reflects the growing importance of the green movement in the United States. It's more than a trend, it's a movement, which is why the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary have declared carbon neutral the word of the year for 2006. It will be added to the next update of the dictionary, due in early 2007.

    CSA (community-supported agriculture) makes it as a runner up.

Domestic Potpourri
  • From Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report:
    I believe it’s important that Americans appreciate the democratic process, but this seems to have “soft bigotry of low expectations” written all over it. From yesterday’s presidential radio address:
    One freedom that defines our way of life is the freedom to choose our leaders at the ballot box. We saw that freedom earlier this week, when millions of Americans went to the polls to cast their votes for a new Congress. Whatever your opinion of the outcome, all Americans can take pride in the example our democracy sets for the world by holding elections even in a time of war.” (emphasis added)
    We should be “proud” that the federal government didn’t cancel our elections? That the Bush administration didn’t use the war as an excuse to interrupt the democratic process?

  • Congressional Democrats say they will press new legislation next week to restore the power of a federal agency in charge of ferreting out waste and corruption in Iraq and greatly increase its investigative reach. The move would nullify a Republican-backed provision, slipped into a huge military authorization bill, that set a termination date for the agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The agency’s findings have consistently undermined Bush administration claims of widespread success in the reconstruction of Iraq. [NYTimes]

  • President Bush will not relent in his defense of John R. Bolton, his nominee for U.N. ambassador, despite unwavering opposition from Democrats who view Bolton as too combative for international diplomacy. [WaPo]

And one more thing... check out this week's faux, satirical President's Weekly Radio Address (QuickTime soundfile will play) to see how last week's election results are affecting Dear Leader. Hi-frickin'-larious.

[ posted with ecto ]


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