Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Morning News Roundup (03 January)

The Hanging
  • An Iraqi observer at Saddam's execution, prosecutor Munqidh Faraon, maintains that two senior Iraqi government officials took the footage with their cell phones. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has launched an investigation. But national security adviser Muwaffaq al-Ruba'i admits that the footage, which includes Shiite sectarian chanting and taunting, is extremely damaging to the government. [Juan Cole's Informed Comment]

  • An investigation of a circus crime run by clowns is not likely to discover that it was the guy with the giant round red nose that did it, but it's a sure bet that whoever the real culprit was, he was wearing big floppy shoes. [Atrios]

    The Reuters news agency, meanwhile, reported that U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad had urged Maliki to postpone the execution for two weeks until after the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha but that he relented after Maliki produced documents legally authorizing the execution. U.S. officials declined to comment on the report. [WaPo]

BushCo's Wars
  • According to a spate of leaks to the US media, Mr Bush is looking at a proposal to increase the number of US troops by between 20,000 and 30,000 as a short-term boost to the existing 140,000 level, with the aim of stabilising the violence in Baghdad and surrounding provinces.

    But criticism of the planned “surge” in US forces is growing from within his own party as the death toll of US troops in Iraq rises. In the past two days, a number of prominent Republican senators, including Arlen Specter and Richard Lugar, the outgoing chairmen of the Senate judiciary and foreign relations committees, have voiced strong scepticism about an increase in troops. [Financial Times]

  • A “troop surge” in Iraq could trigger a surge in oil prices, too, says Joseph Quinlan of Bank of America. Quinlan, chief market strategist of global wealth and investment management, figures the strategy change could “push oil prices closer to $70 a barrel, in the near-term, knocking the wind out of the financial markets and global economy.” In addition to adding billions to the war’s cost, sending more troops to Iraq would also deepen the divide between Democrats and Republicans, possibly affecting “other issues like trade relations with China, energy policies, health care reform and other key subjects of critical interest to the financial markets.” [WSJ's Washington Wire]

Climate Crisis
  • Wal-Mart is determined to push compact fluorescent light bulbs into at least 100 million homes. And its ambitions extend even further, spurred by a sweeping commitment from its chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr., to reduce energy use across the country, a move that could also improve Wal-Mart’s appeal to the more affluent consumers the chain must win over to keep growing in the United States.

    “The environment,” Mr. Scott said, “is begging for the Wal-Mart business model.” [NYTimes]

  • In Silicon Valley, climate change is pretty much taken as a given. It's part of the tech industry's shift in recent years toward the green end of the spectrum. This year, Silicon Valley delegates -- in a combination of good will and self-interest -- will be fanning out across the country to preach on the issue to the unconverted.

    Just last week, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a regional business booster association founded in 1977 by David Packard, of H-P fame, announced a 12-point campaign called Clean and Green that takes traditional regional planning issues, such as ride-sharing and mass transit, and frames them in the context of global warming. [Wall Street Journal (free article)]

Domestic Potpourri
  • Lawmakers in Massachusetts, “the only state where same-sex marriage is legal, took a first step toward banning it” yesterday, “when legislators voted to advance a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • The Justice Department has declined to provide documents on the CIA's detention and interrogation of terror suspects that were requested by a Democratic Senator. In a letter to incoming Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Justice Department said it "was not in a position" to give him copies of the the two documents he had requested in November. [TPM Muckraker]

  • In what has become an annual tradition of prognostications, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Tuesday God has told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in "mass killing" late in 2007.

    "I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he said during his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."
    In May, Robertson said God told him that storms and possibly a tsunami were to crash into America's coastline in 2006. Even though the U.S. was not hit with a tsunami, Robertson on Tuesday cited last spring's heavy rains and flooding in New England as partly fulfilling the prediction. [AP via Yahoo!]

And one more thing... Keith Olbermann's latest special comment, this time on Dear Leader's new focus on sacrifice:

This is where we stand tonight with the BBC report of President Bush's "new Iraq strategy" and his impending speech to the nation, which it quotes a senior American official, will be about troop increases and "sacrifice."

The President has delayed, dawdled, and deferred for the month since the release of the Iraq Study Group.

He has seemingly heard out everybody… and listened to none of them.


Sacrifice, Mr. Bush?

No, sir, this is not "sacrifice." This has now become "human sacrifice."

And it must stop.

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