Thursday, December 28, 2006

Morning News Roundup (28 December)

Well, it's been awhile, but here's a short one to get back into practice for the new year...

Iraq's (Decidedly Uncivil) Civil War
  • A top deputy of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was killed Wednesday during a raid by U.S. and Iraqi troops in the southern holy city of Najaf, sparking protests from Sadr's followers and complicating an already tense relationship with the powerful anti-American leader.

    Hurling rocks and shouting expletives, thousands of angry Sadr loyalists marched through the streets of Najaf after Sahib al-Amiri was shot and killed by a U.S. soldier during an early morning raid. "Agents and stooges!" protesters shouted at Iraqi soldiers and local authorities. [WaPo]

  • The U.S. military reported the deaths of seven GIs today. Also, two Latvian soldiers were killed and three were injured in a roadside bomb attack, and seven Britons were injured in a separate bombing. Meanwhile, 134 Iraqis were killed and 38 were wounded in violent attacks. []

  • Check out this account of an NBC cameraman shooting footage of an Al-Qaida in Iraq parade in Baqouba and nearly paying for it with his life... only to be asked to shoot more footage.

Climate Crisis
  • China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and six other ministries jointly issued a preliminary report on the country’s first national assessment of climate change and its impacts. The main conclusions of the report include:

    • Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities is leading to the increasingly serious problem of global climate change. In addition to the increases in average annual temperature, average annual precipitation may increase. Regional differences in precipitation patterns will become more obvious, and the north will likely show a marked increase in rains.

      However, with the average increase in temperatures also comes an increase in evaporation, further aggravating the water shortages in the north. Extreme weather and climate events will increase in the future.

    • China’s agricultural and water resources, forests and other natural ecosystems are vulnerable to the effects of global climate change. The report highlights the vulnerability of the coastal zone and coastal ecological systems to the adverse effects of global climate change, and notes that these may be exacerbated by natural disasters.

    • The report asserts that developing with global climate change policies and measures to achieve sustainable development in China is of great significance, and must be tackled by government at all levels. [Green Car Congress]

  • Jamais Cascio, former managing editor over at Worldchanging and current proprietor of Open the Future, recently got to wondering: with all the recent hubbub surrounding carbon footprints, credits and offsets, what do everyday, common items contribute to our warming globe? He started with an American institution: the cheeseburger, and, after a little digging and number-crunching he came up with 6.3 to 6.8 pounds (2.85 to 3.1 kg) of carbon emissions per burger. This includes a myriad of factors, from growing the feed for the cattle for the beef and cheese, growing the produce, storing and transporting the components, as well as cooking them all. [Treehugger]

Domestic Potpourri
  • Former vice presidential nominee John Edwards said Thursday that he is a candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, promising "a grass roots, ground-up campaign where we ask people to take action." Clad in blue jeans, an open-necked shirt and with his sleeves rolled up, Edwards chose the backyard of a victim of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans' devastated 9th Ward for his unorthodox announcement.
    In his message to supporters, Edwards listed five priorities to change America. Among them: "Guaranteeing health care for every single American," "Strengthening our middle class and ending the shame of poverty," "Leading the fight against global warming," and "Getting America and the world to break our addiction to oil." [NYTimes]

  • Despite the celebrity appeal of Clinton and Obama, Edwards begins the campaign well-positioned to compete for the nomination. He tops public opinion polls of Democrats in Iowa, which will hold the first caucuses of 2008; retains a base in South Carolina, whose primary he won in 2004; and has built good relationships with organized labor in Nevada, which is scheduled to hold the second caucus next year.

    The one question mark among the early states is New Hampshire, which holds the nation's first primary. Edwards finished fourth there in 2004, but aides claim he has improved his standing in the nearly three years since. Another question surrounding Edwards's candidacy is whether he will be able to compete against Clinton and Obama in fundraising. [WaPo]

Big Blue Marble
  • Around two million Muslim faithful have been heading from Mecca to the valley of Mina as the annual hajj pilgrimage got under way in Saudi Arabia amid heavy security. Draped in white robes, the pilgrims walked or boarded buses to Mina, five kilometers (three miles) east of the holy city of Mecca, to begin tracing the journey made by Prophet Mohammed more than 1,400 years ago.
    Thousands of Saudi security forces have been deployed along the routes to be used by the pilgrims and official media said security and health authorities are mobilized to ensure the safety of the faithful during often risky rituals, with dozens of field hospitals and clinics set up in the area. The last hajj in January was marred by a deadly stampede which killed 364 people in Mina during a ritual which involves casting stones at pillars representing Satan. [Agence France Presse]

And one more thing... Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw announcing the death of Gerald Ford back in 1996:

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Go to the Cracks in the Facade main page.



At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen the SNL clip posted various places--so damned funny. "Sad news out of Michigan tonight...."


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