Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Morning News Roundup (05 December)

BushCo's Wars
  • Hours after his meeting yesterday with President Bush, powerful Shiite polititian Abdul Aziz al-Hakim gave a speech denying that “Shiite militias are fueling the sectarian strife” and issuing “one of the starkest criticisms of U.S. military strategy by an Iraqi leader." [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • “The Army and Marine Corps have sunk more than 40 percent of their ground combat equipment into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Replacing, repairing, and upgrading combat equipment will cost at least $17 billion annually for several more years; before the war, “the Army spent $2.5 billion to $3 billion a year on wear and tear.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • At least 36 people have been killed in shootings, mortar and bomb attacks in Baghdad, Iraqi officials have said. In northern Baghdad, at least 15 people died and several were injured when gunmen attacked a bus carrying civilian employees of a Shia religious group. Shortly afterwards, at least 15 people were killed and some 25 wounded in three car bomb blasts near a petrol station in a south-western district. [BBC]

Climate Crisis
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency has called upon the top 500 companies listed on the Fortune Index to pledge to double their current levels of green power purchasing by the end of 2007. So far only 40 of the 500 companies have signed up to the EPA's Green Power Challenge which tracks the purchasing of electricity from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas and low-impact hydro. [Edie News Centre]

  • The world's largest alliance of international agricultural research centers has announced it is embarking on a new effort to intensify and streamline research to reduce developing countries' vulnerability to climate change caused by global warming. Adding urgency to the researchers' action plan is a new study that forecasts a 51 percent decrease by 2050 in the amount of India's most favorable wheat-growing land. According to a study from one of the research centers, Can Wheat Beat the Heat", sustained periods of hotter, drier weather will dramatically shrink India's breadbasket and diminish yields, placing at least 200 million people at greater risk of hunger. [TerraDaily]

  • Hydrogen-powered cars that do not pollute the environment are a step closer thanks to a new discovery which promises to solve the main problem holding back the technology. Whilst hydrogen is thought to be an ideal fuel for vehicles, producing only water on combustion, its widespread use has been limited by the lack of a safe, efficient system for onboard storage.

    Now scientists at the University of Bath have invented a material which stores and releases hydrogen at room temperature, at the flick of a switch, and promises to help make hydrogen power a viable clean technology for the future. They hope to have the fully-working prototype ready within two to three years. [SpaceMart]

Obama Watch
  • As he opened his remarks Friday at a World AIDS Day summit at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, Republican Sen. Sam Brownback said he was feeling a little more "comfortable" than he did the last time he shared a stage with Barack Obama. "We were both addressing the NAACP," Brownback explained. "They were very polite to me … [but] I think they kind of wondered, 'Who's this guy from Kansas?' And then Barack Obama follows, and they're going, 'OK, now we've got Elvis.'"

    Figuring their joint appearance at an Orange County evangelical church finally put the shoe on the other foot, Brownback turned to Obama and said, "Welcome to my house." The audience of evangelicals howled with laughter. But when Obama had the chance to speak a few minutes later, he returned to what Brownback had said: "There is one thing I've got to say, Sam: This is my house, too. This is God's house." [Salon]

  • Anther twist in the Jim Webb/Dear Leader confrontation from last week (see previous posts here and here) via ThinkProgress:
    (A)ccording to Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), Bush was told that Webb’s son had a recent brush with death in Iraq and was warned to be “extra sensitive” when talking to the Sen.-elect. ThinkProgress yesterday spoke with Moran’s office and confirmed the congressman’s statement, first reported by hcc in VA:
    Not only did Bush know about it, he was specifically briefed on the incident before meeting with Webb, and was cautioned to be extra sensitive in speaking with Webb about his son.
    After such a briefing, Bush perhaps shouldn’t have been so surprised about Webb’s unwillingness to chit-chat about his son.

  • "Oh, tabernacle!" The man swore in French as a car splashed through a puddle, sending water onto his pants. He could never be quoted in the papers here. It is too profane.

    So are other angry oaths that sound innocuous in English: chalice, host, baptism. In French-speaking Quebec, swearing sounds like an inventory being taken at a church.

    English-speaking Canadians use profanities that would be well understood in the United States, many of them scatological or sexual terms. But the Quebecois prefer to turn to religion when they are mad. They adopt commonplace Catholic terms -- and often creative permutations of them -- for swearing. [WaPo]

Happy News
[Mrs. F noted that the news of late has been a bit grim, so we're returning to our favorite source of gleeful news for a reprieve]
  • Imagine sending holiday greetings with the simple click of a mouse, without leaving the house. The U.S. Postal Service makes it possible through its online CardStore, where customers can chose from more than 50 holiday card designs, upload an address book, add postage and hit the send button. The Postal Service takes care of the rest. [HappyNews.com]

  • One of America's most popular television advertising campaigns hopes to lead by the nose this holiday season. Beginning December 4th, GOT MILK?-branded chocolate chip cookie scented bus shelters will spring up in California to treat commuters to an unexpected multi-sensory experience. Instead of tantalizing taste buds with mouths stuffed ofgooey brownies or fudge, GOT MILK? will tickle olfactory nerves with the smell of chocolate chips to reinforce that milk is essential for holiday treats. [HappyNews.com ]

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