Monday, December 04, 2006

Morning News Roundup (04 Dec)

  • John Bolton is to resign as ambassador to the UN. Bolton's nomination has languished in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for more than a year, blocked by Democrats and several Republicans. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a moderate Republican who lost in the midterm elections Nov. 7 that swept Democrats to power in both houses of Congress, was adamantly opposed to Bolton. [WaPo]

Iraq's Civil Wars
  • Nine U.S. troops died in Iraq during the weekend, including five killed by roadside bombs, the U.S. military reported Sunday. [CNN]

  • More than 50 people were killed in three car bomb blasts in the centre of the Iraqi capital on Saturday. At least 90 were wounded when the cars exploded in quick succession in a busy shopping area of the city. [BBC]

  • The overwhelmingly Shiite Muslim military force at the forefront of U.S. and Iraqi plans to secure one of the nation's most fractious provinces is accused of arresting hundreds of Sunni men on little or no evidence, threatening to rape a suspect's wife to coerce a confession, and intimidating its commander's critics, according to interviews with Iraqi and U.S. officials.
    Brig. Gen. Shakir Hulayl al-Kaabi, commander of the division, oversees a mostly Shiite force in an area where at least half the population is Sunni. The American officers who previously worked with him have been reported as saying they tried to have him removed for refusing orders and acting on a sectarian agenda. Sunni leaders say his men are waging a campaign of collective punishment because of vicious Sunni insurgent attacks against Shiites and U.S.-led forces.

    Despite the laundry list of accusations against al-Kaabi, the Shiite-led government in Baghdad keeps promoting him. With U.S. forces planning to hand over full military control of Diyala and other provinces this spring, the experience of the 5th Division is viewed by many as a harbinger of deep troubles to come as American troops gradually move on. [McClatchy News]

  • Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, has said Iraq is in the grips of a civil war and many people are worse off now than under Saddam Hussein. Annan, who leaves office on December 31, described Iraq as being in an extremely dangerous situation and again questioned the ability of Baghdad's leadership to solve the civil strife by themselves. [Al Jazeera]

  • President Bush and his top advisors fanned out across the troubled Middle East over the last week to showcase their diplomatic initiatives to restore strained relationships with traditional allies and forge new ones with leaders in Iraq.

    But instead of flaunting stronger ties and steadfast American influence, the president's journey found friends both old and new near a state of panic. Mideast leaders expressed soaring concern over upheavals across the region that the United States helped ignite through its invasion of Iraq and push for democracy — and fear that the Bush administration may make things worse.
    President Bush's summit in Jordan with the Iraqi prime minister proved an awkward encounter that deepened doubts about the relationship. Vice President Dick Cheney's stop in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, yielded a blunt warning from the kingdom's leaders. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's swing through the West Bank and Israel, intended to build Arab support by showing a new U.S. push for peace, found little to work with. [LATimes]

  • The Iraqi government is in danger of being brought down by the wholesale smuggling of the nation's oil and other forms of corruption that together represent a "second insurgency", according to a senior US official. Stuart Bowen, who has been in charge of auditing Iraq's faltering reconstruction since 2004, said corruption had reached such levels that it threatened the survival of the state.
    Mr Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (Sigir), cites Iraqi figures showing that the "virtual pandemic" of corruption costs the country $4bn (£2.02bn) a year, and some of that money goes straight to the Iraqi government's enemies. A US government report has concluded that oil smuggling abetted by corrupt Iraqi officials is netting insurgents $100m a year, helping to make them financially self-sustaining. [The Guardian]

BushCo's Torturin' Ways
  • I've honestly run out of adjectives to use when discussing the Bush administration's treatment of U.S. citizen Jose Padilla. Last month, I wrote about the torture -- there is no other accurate word for it -- to which Padilla alleges, quite credibly, he was subjected over the 3 1/2 years of his lawless detention. Today, The New York Times describes the apparently jarring video showing a completely dehumanized Padilla being transported from his black hole to a dentist visit. The article includes an assessment from a psychologist describing how Padilla's humanity has basically been extinguished by his treatment. Digby says everything that needs to be said about how depraved this specific behavior is. And any decent human being can see that for themselves. It is as self-evident as anything can be. [Glenn Greenwald]


  • I know that all the tough guys on the right will say that Padilla is just being a typical whining malcontent but I have a feeling that most of them would crumble into blubbering babies after five minutes in his position. This treatment is extremely inhumane. They basically blinded, deafened and then isolated him, essentially destroying his mind. There is no reason on earth to put those goggles and earphones on him to go to the dentist in the prison in South Carolina except to keep him from ever feeling like a normal human being, part of the natural world. It's sick. [Digby]

Climate Crisis
  • Every schoolchild in Scotland will be offered the chance to see An Inconvenient Truth under a plan presented by energy company ScottishPower. "ScottishPower, which has also given copies of Mr. Gore’s book…to hundreds of its staff, plans to pay for cinema screenings for older children in primary schools and all secondary pupils." [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • In an abrupt about-face, Burbank and several other Southern California cities are joining with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in abandoning plans to renew long-term contracts for coal-fired electricity from a Utah power plant. In forsaking their largest power source, the cities will be gambling on the availability of adequate alternative energy from cleaner sources by 2027, after their current contracts with the Utah facility expire. [LATimes]

  • Hydroelectric power plants - hailed as providers of clean energy - could be dangerous contributors to climate change. This is the startling claim of scientists who say that the dams the plants use produce large amounts of methane, one of the most potent causes of global warming. At a meeting of Unesco in Paris this week, scientists from France and Brazil will present evidence to show that organic matter is often trapped in reservoirs when dams are built. This matter then decays with the result that the water emits carbon dioxide and - more importantly - methane, a gas that has 20 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide. [The Guardian]

Church Politics
  • An Episcopal diocese in California overwhelmingly passed a series of resolutions yesterday that position it to secede from the Episcopal Church and affiliate with conservatives in the global Anglican Communion.

    If the Diocese of San Joaquin affirms the move in a second vote next year, the small diocese, with 48 parishes and 7,000 members, would be the first to try to break from the Episcopal Church, which has been torn by conflict since the consecration of a gay bishop in 2003. Until now, only individual parishes have severed ties. [NYTimes]

  • Two of the country's largest and most historic Episcopal congregations -- both in Fairfax County -- will vote next week on whether to leave the U.S. church on ideological grounds and affiliate instead with a controversial Nigerian archbishop.
    Some conservatives in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion, believe the church abandoned Scripture by installing a gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003, among other things. Those feelings of alienation were strengthened when Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -- who supports the New Hampshire bishop -- was elected this summer to lead the national church.
    Although some orthodox congregations have been leaving since 2003 -- as some did in the 1970s, when ordinations of women began -- advocates think they are getting closer to creating a new, U.S.-based umbrella organization that would essentially compete with the Episcopal Church. And the two Fairfax churches are on the vanguard of the movement, which could lead to massive changes in the 226-year-old denomination, years of painful litigation or both. [WaPo]

Big Blue Marble
  • President Gloria Arroyo declared a state of national calamity yesterday as the Philippines began taking stock after Typhoon Durian, which pummelled the the country last Thursday triggering landslides that are feared to have killed more than 1,000 people. Whole villages and farming communities - mainly in Albay province south-east of the capital Manila - were left buried under tons of black, suffocating sludge. [The Independent]

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At 10:25 AM, Blogger Draculich said...

Regarding "Big Blue Marble"...

MacArthur's great grandson among those who fled the typhoon

Full story here


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