Thursday, November 16, 2006

Morning News Roundup (16 November)

Quote of the Day

BushCo's Wars
  • President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make "a last big push" to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration's internal deliberations.
    Point one of the strategy calls for an increase rather than a decrease in overall US force levels inside Iraq, possibly by as many as 20,000 soldiers. This figure is far fewer than that called for by the Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain. But by raising troop levels, Mr Bush will draw a line in the sand and defy Democratic pressure for a swift drawdown.
    Point two of the plan stresses the importance of regional cooperation to the successful rehabilitation of Iraq. This could involve the convening of an international conference of neighbouring countries or more direct diplomatic, financial and economic involvement of US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
    Point three focuses on reviving the national reconciliation process between Shia, Sunni and other ethnic and religious parties. According to the sources, creating a credible political framework will be portrayed as crucial in persuading Iraqis and neighbouring countries alike that Iraq can become a fully functional state. [The Guardian]

  • At a Senate hearing yesterday, CentCom commander Gen. John Abizaid publicly said for the first time “that the American position in Iraq had been undermined by the Bush administration’s decision not to deploy a larger force to stabilize the country in 2003.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • Four more U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, the U.S. military said on Thursday, bringing to at least 10 the number killed over the past two days in gun battles and roadside bomb blasts around the country. [Reuters]

  • Just a day after sitting down for an interview with the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan commission tasked with charting a new course for the U.S. in Iraq, President Bush has announced his own, hastily-thrown-together review. The new internal review is set to present its findings at just about the same time the Iraq Study Group plans to reveal its recommendations next month. Money quote:
    [T]he administration is basically trying to do in one month what the ISG has done over eight months.
    In other words, Bush needs some recommendations that he wants to hear. [Foreign Policy's Passport]

  • While American commanders have suggested that civil war is possible in Iraq, many leaders, experts and ordinary people in Baghdad and around the Middle East say it is already underway, and that the real worry ahead is that the conflict will destroy the flimsy Iraqi state and draw in surrounding countries.
    In Damascus, a Syrian analyst close to the Assad government warned that other countries would intervene if Iraq descended into full-scale civil war. "Iran will get involved, Turkey will get involved, Saudi Arabia, Syria," said the analyst, who spoke on condition he not be identified further. [WaPo]

Climate Crisis
  • Sweden, Britain and Denmark are doing the most to protect against climate change, but their efforts are not nearly enough, according to a report released Monday by environmental groups. The United States -- the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases -- ranked at 53, with only China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia doing worse.
    About one-quarter of the energy consumed in Sweden in 2003 came from renewable sources -- more than four times as much as the European Union average of 6 percent. In Stockholm, one-quarter of city buses run on ethanol or biogas. [CNN]

  • Bush has contended that the Kyoto Protocol would be too expensive to implement and continues to shirk his campaign commitment to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. "If the USA, currently among the bottom five, were to exercise an international climate policy stance as progressive as the UK, it would move up more than 30 places," notes the Climate Action study, "but because of their adverse position in national and international climate policies the United States blows this chance." Annual federal spending for research energy and development has fallen from an inflation-adjusted peak of $7.7 billion in 1979 to just $3 billion in the current budget. Bush has "sought an increase to $4.2 billion for 2007, but that would still be a small fraction of what most climate and energy experts say would be needed." In contrast, funding for military research has increased 260 percent and is now at more than $75 billion a year. [Center for American Progress' Progress Report]

Giving France a Bad Name
  • [I]n many respects Mr Bush would appear to fit more snugly into the French political tradition than his own. His championing of military interventionism, absolutism and national exceptionalism has uncanny echoes of Napoleon, Louis XIV and Charles de Gaulle.
    Mr Bush’s “transformational” policies in the Middle East bear a striking resemblance to Napoleon’s attempts in the 1790s to export the French revolution’s values at the point of a bayonet, aiming to overturn oppressive autocracies in central Europe.

    The US president, who included the existentialist Albert Camus on his summer reading list, has also shown a particularly French trait in glorifying theory over practice. Whereas most US presidents have fought wars against other countries, Mr Bush has launched a war against an “abstract noun”: terror. No wonder some left-bank intellectuals, including Bernard-Henri Lévy and André Glucksmann, have been gushing in their admiration for such intellectual audacity. [from the registration-required Financial Times; excerpt from the European Tribune]

  • A research group has filed a complaint against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., accusing the retailing giant of misleading consumers by labeling nonorganic food as organic. Mark Kastel, co-director of the nonprofit institute, said he and other researchers visited at least a dozen Wal-Mart stores in four states throughout the Midwest to see how organic items were selling.

    But they found problems, he said, such as dairy coolers stocked with regular yogurt - by brands that also make organic varieties - near signs that say 'organic.' Similar, misleading labels were found on produce and throughout aisles, he said. Kastel said the company has not provided adequate training to managers to make sure the food meets government guidelines. [AP]

  • A town that formerly stood up for its Christian community members' convictions concerning alcohol by not allowing beer and wine sales in convenience and grocery stores will now do so. Despite 40 days of prayer and fasting by area ministers and churches opposing the move, a ballot initiative approving the alcohol sales passed in Burleson, Texas, last week. Reversing a vote in 2004 on the same question, more than 3,100 voters approved the sale of alcohol in convenience stores in Burleson. [Agape Press via Pam's House Blend]

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