Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Morning News Roundup (15 November)

BushCo's Wars
  • Even by Baghdad standards it was an audacious kidnapping: Twenty pickup trucks carrying as estimated eighty gunmen, all wearing the blue and black camouflage uniforms of Iraqi Interior Ministry troops, pulled up to the four-story building of Ministry of Higher Education in the Karada district of central Baghdad just after 9 a.m. Tuesday.
    According to Iraqi government officials, who moved quickly to suspend university classes to protest the kidnapping, academics are prime targets for gunmen because they rarely have personal protection.

    Despite the dangers, they continue to express relatively liberal political views in classrooms and in public -- particularly against what many of them see as emerging Islamic fundamentalism. Statistics show more than 150 academics have been killed since the Iraq war began. [MSNBC's Blogging Baghdad]

  • A day after a mass kidnap from a Baghdad ministry raised fears Iraq's sectarian militias are out of control, government leaders gave sharply differing accounts on Wednesday of whether dozens of hostages were still missing.

    The minister whose staff were targeted said up to 80 were still unaccounted for, possibly held by Shi'ite militia, but the government spokesman said only two to five people were missing. [Reuters]

  • Tuesday's incident was a well-orchestrated reminder of how challenging basic security remains in Iraq at a time when U.S. officials are pressing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to assert more control. The abductions came on a day when at least 117 people were killed in car bombings, clashes and other violence around the country. [WaPo]

  • "Three Americans killed yesterday, four British; 150 Iraqis taken out of that building and kidnapped; 1,800-plus went through that one Baghdad morgue but that doesn't count all the dead," (incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid recounted. "My displeasure with the president, he doesn't understand the urgency of this. It's all victory for him, but I don't know what that means anymore in Iraq. I do know what we are doing now doesn't work." [WaPo]

  • Foreign Policy's Passport blog agrees with Michael Kinsley in its assessment of the experts called to consult with James Baker's Iraq Study Group: "those hoping that the commission will come up with some creative, miracle solution to the mess in Iraq are likely to be severely disappointed. In fact, aside from a few Iraqi government officials and Pentagon generals, it doesn't appear that the commission has spoken with anyone whose views are not widely available in the op-ed pages of the New York Times and Washington Post." Yes, George Will and Tom Friedman were called, but here's excerpts from a list at the Passport post of folks who weren't called:
    1. Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad, perhaps the one U.S. official who has addressed the Iraq debacle with some candor and foresight -- and certainly the one official history will look kindly upon.

    4. Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher. The views of Team Clinton don't appear very welcome.

    6. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The former commanders in chief (one of whom actually won a war and flew 58 combat missions in WWII) remain on the sidelines.

Climate Crisis
  • U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticized a "frightening lack of leadership" in fighting global warming on Wednesday and urged top emitters led by the United States and China to do more to curb greenhouse gases. "Climate change is not just an environmental issue, as too many people still believe. It is an all-encompassing threat," he said. The talks are seeking ways to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the main U.N. plan for fighting climate change, beyond 2012. [Reuters]

  • Conservative staff members in the Senate have already started attacking Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the incoming chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, as “radical,” “extreme,” and “out there.” In one of her first “extreme” moves, Boxer plans to hold hearings on global warming. [ThinnkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • The film and television industry and associated activities make a larger contribution to air pollution in the five-county Los Angeles region than almost all five other sectors researched, according to a two-year study released Tuesday by the University of California at Los Angeles. Although Hollywood seems environmentally conscious thanks to celebrities who lend their names to various causes, the industry created more pollution than individually produced by aerospace manufacturing, apparel, hotels and semiconductor manufacturing, the study found. [AP via CNN]

  • The British Government is to set five-yearly targets for reducing Britain's carbon dioxide emissions in an attempt to head off the mounting pressure for a law to enforce year-on-year cuts. Under a climate change Bill announced in the Queen's Speech today, ministers will promise to monitor annually progress towards the five-year milestones, in order to deliver a 60 per cent reduction on 1990 levels by 2050.

    But the Government is under intense pressure to go further and it faces the embarrassing prospect that its Bill could be beefed up during its passage through Parliament. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will hold talks aimed at strengthening the measure in the House of Lords, where they can defeat Labour by joining forces. [The Independent]

Domestic Potpourri

Big Blue Marble
  • Congressional leaders requested a secret intelligence assessment of India's nuclear program and its government's ties to Iran in January amid concerns about a White House effort to provide nuclear technology to New Delhi. Ten months later, as the Senate prepares to vote on nuclear trade with India, the intelligence assessment has yet to be seen on Capitol Hill. [WaPo]

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