Thursday, December 07, 2006

Morning News Roundup (07 December)

FYI - I'll be on the road through the weekend and won't have the opportunity to do much posting, so things will be slim on the blog.

BushCo's Wars
  • While US politicians were mesmerized by the Iraq Study Group report, the Iraqis went on with their bloody civil war. See the next entry for the hyperlink. [...] Iraqi guerrillas killed 10 US troops on Wednesday, among the largest one-day totals in the past three years. Reuters reports major civil war violence in Iraq on Wednesday. The usual daily harvest of some 60 bodies showed up in the streets of the capital, and there were several deadly mortar attacks and bombings. [Juan Cole's Informed Comment]

  • The surging violence in Iraq has created what is becoming the biggest refugee crisis in the world, a humanitarian group said today. A report (pdf) by Washington-based Refugees International said an influx of Iraqis threatened to overwhelm other Middle Eastern countries, particularly Syria, Jordon and Lebanon. Last month, the UN estimated that 100,000 people were fleeing the country each month, with the number of Iraqis now living in other Arab countries standing at 1.8 million. [The Guardian]

  • President Bush “may not be in much of a hurry to accept [ISG co-chairman Jim] Baker’s ideas about [Iraq] — or much else. Asked if Baker would help implement the report, a spokesman for Mr. Bush said, ‘Jim Baker can go back to his day job.‘” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • American troops in one of the most dangerous corners of Iraq welcomed plans for change Wednesday as the Pentagon prepared for a new chief and a bipartisan commission urged a new war strategy. But many of the soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment were skeptical they'll be going home anytime soon, despite a high-level U.S. panel's recommendation that most combat troops leave Iraq by early 2008.

    "There's no way we're leaving in two years, no matter what any recommendation says," Spc. Eisenhower Atuatasi, 26, of Westminster, Calif., said. He thought 2012 was more realistic. [AP via WaPo]

  • Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, signaled this week that he'll join prominent Democrats in seeking to restore legal rights to hundreds of suspected terrorists confined at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere. While the measure to restore the right of habeas corpus has almost no chance of passing before Congress adjourns later this week, the message is clear: When Democrats take over in early January, the issue could resurface. [McClatchy News]

  • This bill, particularly in its current form, has no chance of passing. In October, Specter introduced an amendment to the Military Commission Act prior to its enactment which would have deleted from the bill the provision abolishing habeas corpus. That amendment failed 51-48. Specter then proceeded, the following day, to vote for the MCA even though it abolished habeas corpus rights.

    Now that the MCA and its habeas-eliminating provision has been signed into law, repealing it is close to impossible under the circumstances (but not outright impossible - see below). Not only would the Specter-Leahy bill need to attract 60 votes in order to overcome a Mitch McConnell-led filibuster, it would need 66 votes in order to override what would, without question, be President Bush's second veto. [Glenn Greenwald]

Climate Crisis
  • I love it when two of my obsessions come together (via Treehugger):
    David James, one of England’s more outspoken and articulate footballers (soccer to North Americans), has issued an eco-challenge to the football industry. Football clubs are big business and many can afford to start thinking about the environment. He thinks that they should be a driving force for change. Many top football stars drive over-priced sports cars. James says that “a cool footballer driving an eco-friendly car would popularise the eco-friendly lifestyle”. [...] He quotes several examples of football clubs that have embraced greener ways: Manchester City has installed wind turbines to power the stadium. They also source local produce for their kitchens and have tried to improve the recycling of drinks bottles at training grounds.

  • Housebuilders in the UK will be forced to build "zero carbon" homes within 10 years, under an ambitious scheme to tackle climate change announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown. Under the plans, all new homes will have to generate enough energy through devices like wind turbines and solar panels to cancel out their overall emission of greenhouse gases. [The Guardian]

  • In a "sneak peak" revealing a grim side effect of future warmer seas, new NASA satellite data find that the vital base of the ocean food web shrinks when the world's seas get hotter. And that discovery has scientists worried about how much food marine life will have as global warming progresses. The data show a significant link between warmer water — either from the El Nino weather phenomenon or global warming — and reduced production of phytoplankton of the world's oceans, according to a study in Thursday's journal Nature. [AP via Yahoo!]

  • Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) ended his tenure as chairman of the environment committee yesterday “with a final hearing aimed at spanking the press for its coverage of climate change.” One of Inhofe’s invited witnesses proclaimed, “We sit here scared to death of something that really doesn’t exist.” Incoming chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) pushed back: “Attacking the press doesn’t make the truth go away.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • Puget Sound Energy is proposing what it calls the largest solar-power facility in the Northwest. The Bellevue utility says the 500-kilowatt project would generate enough electricity for 300 homes, when the sun is shining. The utility says that would double the amount of electricity generated by solar power in Washington. [Seattle P-I]

Misc.
  • The first public meeting of a Bush administration "civil liberties protection panel" had a surreal quality to it, as the five-member board refused to answer any questions from the press, and stonewalled privacy advocates and academics on key questions about domestic spying.

    The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which met Tuesday, was created by Congress in 2004 on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, but is part of the White House, which handpicked all the members. Though mandated by law in late 2004, the board was not sworn in until March 2006, due to inaction on the part of the White House and Congress.

    The three-hour meeting, held at Georgetown University, quickly established that the panel would be something less than a fierce watchdog of civil liberties. Instead, members all but said they view their job as helping Americans learn to relax and love warrantless surveillance. [Wired]

  • Christianist conservatives are up in arms over Mary Cheney's pregnancy (via AP/Yahoo!):
    Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America described the pregnancy as "unconscionable."

    "It's very disappointing that a celebrity couple like this would deliberately bring into the world a child that will never have a father," said Crouse, a senior fellow at the group's think tank. "They are encouraging people who don't have the advantages they have."

    Crouse said there was no doubt that the news would, in conservatives' eyes, be damaging to the Bush administration, which already has been chided by some leaders on the right for what they felt was halfhearted commitment to anti-abortion and anti-gay-rights causes in this year's general election.

    Carrie Gordon Earll, a policy analyst for the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family, expressed empathy for the Cheney family but depicted the newly announced pregnancy as unwise.

    "Just because you can conceive a child outside a one-woman, one-man marriage doesn't mean it's a good idea," said. "Love can't replace a mother and a father."

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