Friday, November 17, 2006

Morning News Roundup (17 November)

BushCo's Wars
  • The Bush administration is preparing its largest spending request yet for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a proposal that could make the conflict the most expensive since World War II. The Pentagon is considering $127 billion to $160 billion in requests from the armed services for the 2007 fiscal year, which began last month, several lawmakers and congressional staff members said. That's on top of $70 billion already approved for 2007. [USA Today]

  • You think you know the insurgency? You don't. It's becoming muddier by the day. And one sign the sectarian violence will only get worse: The Iraqi government yesterday issued a warrant for the arrest of one of the country's top Sunni clerics, accusing him of inciting terrorism. The cleric, Harith al-Dhari, called the move politically motivated. [Foreign Policy's Passport]

  • Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced legislation yesterday that would amend the existing law governing military tribunals of detainees. Among other things, the bill “seeks to give habeas corpus protections to military detainees” and narrow the definition of “unlawful enemy combatant” to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States. [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • The U.S. military called no witnesses, withheld evidence from detainees and usually reached a decision within a day as it determined that hundreds of men detained at Guantanamo Bay were "enemy combatants," according to a new report. The analysis of transcripts and records by two lawyers for Guantanamo detainees, aided by more than two dozen law students, found that hearings that determined whether a prisoner should remain in custody gave the accused little opportunity to contest allegations against him.

    "These were not hearings. These were shams," said Mark Denbeaux, an attorney and Seton Hall University law professor who along with his son, Joshua, is the author of the report. [AP via International Herald Tribune]

Climate Crisis
  • Hasta la vista, baby!
    In an interview with Fox and Friends this morning, outgoing Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works James Inhofe (R-OK) argued that the current wave of unprecedented warming is due to “natural changes.” “God’s still up there,” Inhofe said, and to the extent there is warming going on, it is “due to the sun.” He added, “George Soros, the Hollywood elitists, the far left environmentalists on the committee that I chair — all of them want us to believe the science is settled and it’s not. [ThinkProgress]

  • Signs of warming continue in the Arctic with a decline in sea ice, an increase in shrubs growing on the tundra and rising concerns about the Greenland ice sheet. "There have been regional warming periods before. Now we're seeing Arctic-wide changes," James Overland, an oceanographer at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, said Thursday. For the past five years, it was at least 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above average over the Arctic over the entire year, he said. [AP via Yahoo!]

Domestic Potpourri
  • The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as "demeaning to women."
    The appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, was the latest provocative personnel move by the White House since Democrats won control of Congress in this month's midterm elections. President Bush last week pushed the Senate to confirm John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations and this week renominated six candidates for appellate court judgeships who have previously been blocked by lawmakers. Democrats said the moves belie Bush's post-election promises of bipartisanship. [WaPo]

Big Blue Marble
  • Sudan says it welcomes the United Nations' support for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur but denies the UN will take command. Sudan has always rejected plans to replace the AU force with a larger, stronger UN mission. On Thursday, UN chief Kofi Annan had said a compromise had been reached for a planned hybrid UN-AU force, to break the deadlock over Darfur mission. More than 200,000 people have died in three years of conflict in the region. [BBC]

  • The Senate gave overwhelming approval late Thursday to President Bush’s deal for nuclear cooperation with India, a vote expressing that a goal of nurturing India as an ally outweighed concerns over the risks of spreading nuclear skills and bomb-making materials.
    The agreement, negotiated by President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India in March, calls for the United States to end a long moratorium on sales of nuclear fuel and reactor components. For its part, India would divide its reactor facilities into civilian and military nuclear programs, with civilian facilities open to international inspections. [NYTimes]

  • Israel's Defence minister Amir Peretz yesterday pledged that Palestinian militants would pay a "heavy price" after a woman was killed and one of his own bodyguards severely wounded in a Qassam rocket attack launched from Gaza.

    The woman, Fa'ina Slotzker, 57 became the ninth Israeli to be killed by a Qassam since 2000 when the rocket landed on a walkway less than 150 yards from Mr Peretz's home in a residential area of the border town of Sderot. A 17 year old male youth was seriously injured last night in a later rocket attack on the town centre. [The Independent]

  • The new James Bond movie shook up the U.K. box office during its first day of release on Thursday, earning more than any other film in the spy franchise, distributor Columbia Pictures said. "Casino Royale," which marks the 007 debut of Daniel Craig, sold 1.7 million pounds ($3.2 million) worth of tickets. In all, two-thirds of all movie tickets sold in Britain were for "Casino Royale." [WaPo]

    [PS] Going to see it tonight, and am very excited.

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