Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Morning News Roundup (22 Nov)

BushCo's Wars
  • The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq's sectarian bloodbath.
    The U.N. tally was more than three times higher than the total The Associated Press had tabulated for the month, and far more than the 2,866 U.S. service members who have died during all of the war.

    The report on civilian casualties, handed out at a U.N. news conference in Baghdad, said the influence of militias was growing and torture continued to be rampant, despite the Iraqi government's vow to address human rights abuses. [WaPo]

  • Past surveys have hinted at this result, but a new poll in Iraq makes it more stark than ever: the Iraqi people want the U.S. to exit their country. And most Iraqis now approve of attacks on U.S. forces, even though 94% express disapproval of al-Qaeda.

    At one time, this was primarily a call by the Sunni minority, but now the Shiites have also come around to this view. The survey by much-respected World Public Opinion (WPO), taken in September, found that 74% of Shiites and 91% of Sunnis in Iraq want us to leave within a year. The number of Shiites making this call in Baghdad, where the U.S. may send more troops to bring order, is even higher (80%). In contrast, earlier this year, 57% of this same group backed an "open-ended" U.S. stay. [Editor & Publisher]

  • The Iraq Study Group is nearing completion of a first draft of its report. The co-chairmen, James Baker and Lee Hamilton, hope to complete it this weekend and give it to the eight other group members in time for a meeting next week. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is readying counterproposals for Bush “in case the Iraq Study Group comes up with ideas he does not like.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

Middle Eastern Sturm and Drang
  • OFTEN unfazed by political murders, Lebanese were shaken by the audacity of the assassins who gunned down the Industry Minister, Pierre Gemayel, as he drove on a main road in Beirut in an unmarked car. "It was like a cowboy movie," said a Lebanese security official at the scene on Tuesday. "The gunmen got out of a jeep, fired their weapons and sped off. " [Sydney Morning Herald]

  • For days, we had been debating whether it was time for another political murder to ratchet up the sectarian tensions now that the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora was about to fall. For days now, the political language of Lebanon had been incendiary, the threats and bullying of the political leaders ever more fearsome. Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Shia Hizbollah leader, had been calling Siniora's cabinet illegitimate. "The government of Feltman," he was calling it - Jeffrey Feltman is the US ambassador to Lebanon - while the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt was claiming Iran was trying to take over.

    Yesterday's assassination of Pierre Gemayel was a warning. It might have been Jumblatt, who has told me many times that he constantly awaits his own death, or it might have been Siniora himself, the little economist and friend of the also murdered former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

    But no. Gemayel, son of ex-president Amin Gemayel and nephew of the murdered president-elect, Bashir Gemayel - murder tends to run in the family in Lebanon - was no charismatic figure, just a hard-working unmarried Christian Maronite minister whose unrewarding task had been to call émigré Lebanese home to rebuild their country after Israel's bloody bombardment. [Robert Fisk in The Independent]

  • The assassination of Lebanese cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel on Tuesday has thrown that country further into yet more turmoil. The crisis is a further testament to the bankruptcy of George W. Bush's Middle East policy. Under the dishonest rhetoric of 'democratization,' what Bush has really been about is creating pro-American winners and anti-American losers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. Bush's vision is not democratic because he always installs a tyranny of the majority. The vanquished are to be crushed and ridiculed, the victors to exult in their triumph. It is like a Leni Riefenstahl film. [Juan Cole from his Informed Comment blog]

  • Gun battles have erupted after Israeli ground troops backed by tanks and armoured vehicles raided the northern Gaza towns of Beit Hanoun and Jebaliya.

    Palestinian sources said Israeli troops also stormed the house of a prominent Hamas official on Wednesday. [Al Jazeera]

  • The city of Seoul, Korea just tore down a massive urban highway carrying 160,000 cars a day. And the result was an absolute catastrophe: the city's economy soured, drivers were stranded in gridlock all day, and puppies and small children shed tears of remorse and longing for their lost highway.

    Just kidding. Really, the results were beautiful, everything went just swimmingly, and the project has gotten rave reviews from residents. [The Daily Score]

  • Generating more electricity than you know what to do with? Puget Sound Energy might like to buy some of it from you.

    There are some catches to the incentive program the Bellevue-based utility announced Tuesday: The electricity has to come from wind, solar or anaerobic digester systems and from customers already connected to Puget's system.

    Those consumers, businesses, government organizations, school districts and non-profits that qualify could receive 15 to 54 cents for every kilowatt-hour of power they generate and sell to Puget, with an annual cap of $2,000 per customer.
    Seattle City Light has a similar program. In fact, it is about to send out checks for $5,600 to a total of 21 customers who provided power from July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006. More customers have added solar systems since then, said Mike Little, the program's superintendent for Seattle City Light's energy conservation division. [Seattle P-I]

  • Before its launch, Americans were already opposed to the idea of the English Al Jazeera network. But after being on the air for a week, the station has been receiving praise from American viewers and news media for its wide scope, unique perspective and its cold shoulder approach to the salacious OJ Simpson book release story.
    In the Hartford Courant, Roger Catlin acclaims Al Jazeera’s "sleek presentation, with lush electronic fanfare." (But can anyone really top CNN Headline News' dramatic theme song?) More importantly, Catlin gives the station a thumbs up for its "solid, sober international reports from the Darfur region of Sudan in Africa to Baghdad, Iraq." [MoJo Blog]

  • After the recent years of debate over the appropriate role of creationism-cum-intelligent-design teaching in public schools, it's very clear that there's a conspiracy at National Geographic! Or, perhaps, an effort to educate people as to what evolution means as opposed to how evolution is depicted as a cartoon strawman by those who like to pretend it's a rough "theory."
    National Geographic has written quite a lot lately about evolution in not too subtle terms. Their latest effort is a TV special that will run on their cable channel in December called In the Womb: Animals. It looks super cool, for starters, showing dolphins learning to swim in the womb and elephants using their trunks before birth. Here's the key point, though: "And watch as fetal features reveal their evolutionary path of these animals when the elephant develops ducts normally found in freshwater fish, and when dolphins show early signs of legs." [Glenn Fleishman]

And one more thing... the latest Sutton Impact with a timely compare and contrast:

Sutton Impact @ Village Voice

Well, really just one more thing... an ad from Adbusters for Buy Nothing Day (coming this Friday, aka Black Friday):

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