Monday, January 22, 2007

Morning News Roundup (22 January)

Climate Crisis
  • Global warming is destined to have a far more destructive and earlier impact than previously estimated, the most authoritative report yet produced on climate change will warn next week.

    A draft copy of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by The Observer, shows the frequency of devastating storms - like the ones that battered Britain last week - will increase dramatically. Sea levels will rise over the century by around half a metre; snow will disappear from all but the highest mountains; deserts will spread; oceans become acidic, leading to the destruction of coral reefs and atolls; and deadly heatwaves will become more prevalent.

    The impact will be catastrophic, forcing hundreds of millions of people to flee their devastated homelands, particularly in tropical, low-lying areas, while creating waves of immigrants whose movements will strain the economies of even the most affluent countries. [The Guardian]

  • This morning, on the eve of the president's State of the Union speech, an all-star team of chief executives is descending on Washington to make the case for a comprehensive climate approach built around a cap-and-trade system. The team includes four large power utilities as well as the chemical company DuPont; the aluminum giant Alcoa and the oil major BP. Naturally it features General Electric, the leading industrial cheerleader for climate regulation.

    The CEOs' visit raises awkward questions for the Bush administration. Team Bush appears to believe that a cap-and-trade system would burden business, but business leaders are saying they want cap-and-trade enacted.
    [...]
    The chief executives are in Washington today because they aren't even trying to influence the White House. As they planned their visit over the past weeks, they were barely in touch with the Bush team because they assumed Bush to be irrelevant. Just a few days ago, the planners of the visit realized that they were inadvertently trampling on the State of the Union. But by then it was too late. Would 10 chief executives rearrange their schedules to accommodate a lame-duck president? Forget it. [Sebastian Mallaby in the WaPo]

  • Per The Independent 'A leading climatologist on the Weather Channel in the United States [Heidi Cullen] has caused a squall in the industry by arguing that any weather forecaster who dares publicly to question the notion that global warming is a manmade phenomenon should be stripped of the American Meterorological Society Seal of Approval'. "It's like allowing a meteorologist to go on-air and say that hurricanes rotate clockwise and tsunamis are caused by the weather," she wrote in her internet blog. "It's not a political statement... it's just an incorrect statement." One commenter on Heidi's blog characterized her as a "Climate Hawk." Is that like a Neo-Climatologist? [Treehugger]

Iraq's (Decidedly Uncivil) Civil War
  • At least 78 people were killed and more than 150 wounded Monday after two nearly simultaneous bombs struck a predominantly Shiite commercial area in central Baghdad in the deadliest attack in two months, officials said. The U.S. military reported the deaths of two Marines in a particularly bloody weekend for American forces in Iraq — a total of 27 dead in just two days.

    Monday's first blast, a parked car bomb, tore through stalls of vendors peddling DVDs and secondhand clothes shortly after noon in the Bab al-Sharqi market between Tayaran and Tahrir squares — one of the busiest parts of Baghdad. Seconds later, a suicide car bomber drove into the crowd. [AP via Yahoo!]

  • AP reports that US military intelligence has convinced Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that the Mahdi Army of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr contains groups acting as death squads, and that al-Maliki's support for it is isolating him in the (largely Sunni) Arab world.

    Muqtada and his followers lie low in times when they are under direct military pressure, which is why the Sadrists in parliament and the cabinet have gone back to work and stopped their boycott of the al-Maliki government, and are storing their arms in their closets. But what happens a year from now when they can come back out? [Juan Cole's Informed Comment]

BushCo's Wars
  • 33 percent: President Bush’s approval rating according to a Washington Post-ABC poll. “Only two presidents” — Richard Nixon and Harry Truman — “have had lower approval ratings on the eve of a State of the Union speech.” 71 percent of Americans think the country is heading in the wrong direction. [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

Only 651 Days 'Til Election 2008
  • New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is in it to win, just like Hillary, and MoJo Blog offers up some of his burnished credits:
    Richardson may be the most qualified man in America to be president: he has been a Congressman, a cabinet secretary, an abassador to the U.N., and (obviously) a governor. He ran the Democratic Governors Association during the last campaign cycle, when Dems picked up six state houses. His experience with foreign affairs is vast, including negotiating with Saddam Hussein for the release of two hostages in 1995 and brokering a cease-fire in Darfur earlier this month. If unable to secure the Democratic nomination, Richardson would be a great candidate for VP or Secretary of State. He would also be the first Hispanic president in American history, and is wildly popular in a border swing state.
  • Mrs. Clinton's decision to enter the presidential race online and conduct a "national conversation" in live video Internet chats before heading to campaign isn't the conventional route taken by presidential hopefuls. This year, however, candidates are making extra efforts to win the favor -- and money -- of keepers of Web logs, or bloggers, and other Internet activists. Mrs. Clinton's embrace of the Internet shows how seriously candidates are taking the power of the online activist community.
    [...]
    Other Democrats are taking the Internet announcement route this year. Yesterday, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson took the presidential plunge online in a video recorded in English and Spanish. Last week, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama announced his bid online. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards went to New Orleans for his official announcement, but his Internet site posted a preannouncement video and subsequently posted several more. [Wall Street Journal (free article)]

  • ThinkProgress has a summary of the Web activity of all the presidential hopefuls, and it's the Dems who are out in front with new media.

Misc.
  • Amazon's Al Dente blog (which focuses on foodie topics) covers the recent episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations (man, I wish the new season were available on iTunes), which made a stop here in the Pacific Northwest.
    Bourdain starts out in Portland at an "anarchist" doughnut shop called Voodoo Doughnuts. I'd never heard of this hole in the wall, but you can bet I'll be stopping in on my next Rose City visit. This place does crazy things with doughnuts. I mean, crazy! First, the glazed doughnut topped with Froot Loops caught my eye. They also had some sort of gingerbread man voodoo jelly donut--stabbed in the heart with a pretzel stick with glorious magenta goo spilling out.
    [...]
    But, apparently it was the bacon maple bar that stole his heart (possibly in more ways than one). Yes, this taste-tempting treat is simply a maple bar topped with bacon--of which he said "only late-hour Elvis on medication would eat this" and "I'm really ashamed of myself for liking this." Apparently not too ashamed, since he went back the next day for another, only to find the shop closed for the day.
  • The Commonwealth Bank in Australia has used Apple's second-generation iPod nano to compare global currencies and purchasing power in 26 different countries, according to one report. A CommSec iPod Index based on January 2007 prices compared Apple's 2GB second-generation iPod nano in U.S. dollars to the cost in other countries, revealing that Brazilians pay the most for the 2GB player ($327.71) while Canadians pay the least ($144.20). [MacNN]

  • (John) Mellencamp, whose 21st album, “Freedom’s Road,” arrives in stores tomorrow, had long expressed objections to the use of pop songs in advertising. But he said a turning point for him came last year, after he heard “Highway Companion,” the latest album by his contemporary Tom Petty. He liked it and thought the single “Saving Grace” would be a hit, but then never heard the song on the radio or saw it on the video channels. Fearing a similar fate for his own music, Mr. Mellencamp said he decided to accept Chevrolet’s offer to use “Our Country,” which he had been performing live for a few years and appears on the new album, as the theme for its Silverado truck.

    “The bottom line is, I’m a songwriter, and I want people to hear my songs,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not suggesting it for anybody else. This is just what I did this time to reinvent myself and stay in business. Sometimes I get sad about it really. I still don’t think that people should sell their songs for advertising.”

    Mr. Mellencamp has caught flak from some of his fans, and the Silverado spot, which has been in heavy rotation on sports broadcasts since it was first shown during last fall’s World Series, has spawned some controversy. The ad mixes images of the Statue of Liberty and Rosa Parks with footage from Hurricane Katrina and the Vietnam War. A columnist at Slate.com called the commercial’s blend of patriotism and tragedy, in service of selling a product, “exploitative” and “wrong. [NYTimes, hat tip to Wardo]


Here's the original Chevy ad, followed by one of many parody videos on the Web:




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