Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Morning News Roundup (23 January)

A quick one today as I've got a schload of work... but first off, Oscar nominations are announced and Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth is nominated for Best Documentary, along with the Iraq War-themed My Country, My Country and Iraq in Fragments as well as the religiously themed Jesus Camp and Deliver Us from Evil.

BushCo's Wars
  • President Bush will deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday night to a nation that's strongly opposed to his plan for increasing troops in Iraq and deeply unhappy with his performance as president, according to a CBS News poll.

    Mr. Bush’s overall approval rating has fallen to just 28 percent, a new low, while more than twice as many (64 percent) disapprove of the way he's handling his job. [CBS News]

Climate Crisis
  • The House Democrats had not quite finished their "100 hours" agenda when they met in the Capitol basement Thursday morning, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) was already looking ahead. As her colleagues ate bagels and turkey sausage, she warned that their next challenge would be a lot tougher than popular issues such as student loans and ethics reforms. For her next act, she planned to take on global warming.

    Democrats, she explained, had to show a sense of urgency about the carbon emissions that threaten the planet, and so she was creating a select committee on energy independence and climate change to communicate that urgency. The new committee, she said, would help the caucus speak with one voice -- even if it trampled the turf of existing committees.
    The strict emissions cuts that Pelosi supports had no chance in the GOP Congress, but they still face an uphill climb. Carbon-reliant industries including coal, oil, agriculture and manufacturing will resist any strong legislation, a position that will pose serious dilemmas for Democrats in districts where those industries and their unions hold sway. Some representatives of low-income minority districts are also concerned that a climate bill would slap heavy energy costs on their constituents.

    Even if Pelosi manages to finagle a bill through the House, there is the problem of the Senate, where global-warming skeptic James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) has lost his chairmanship to climate-conscious Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) but has threatened a filibuster. And President Bush seems unlikely to sign anything too far-reaching. [WaPo]

Domestic Potpourri
  • Sightline's Daily Score blog takes a look at unemployment rates in states that have passed increases in the minimum wage:
    In 1990 Oregon boosted its wage 45 cents above the prevailing federal wage. Its unemployment rate then rose by 1.1 points. Bad, right? Well, not really, because the national rate rose even faster: by 1.4 points during the same period. So Oregon managed to increase its minimum wage and and still do a better job of maintaining employment than the country as a whole.

    The same thing has happened in other states too. In 1999, California, Connecticut, and Delaware all raised their wages. Unfortunately, unemployment went up in all three states. But just like in Oregon, the national unemployment rate rose even faster during the same period. So the three generous states still outperformed the national unemployment rate change.
    There are happier stories too: when Massachusetts raised its wage by 50 cents above the federal floor in 1996, its unemployment dropped 2.7 percent during the same period that federal unemployment declined by only 1 percent. And when Illinois gave low-income workers a small boost in 2004, its unemployment rate dropped by a half point at a time when the national rate stayed virtually unchanged.

Obama Watch
  • Last week, Fox News and other Rupert Murdoch outlets amplified a right-wing report alleging that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) attended an Islamic “madrassa” school as a 6-year-old child. One Fox News caller questioned whether Obama’s schooling means that “maybe he doesn’t consider terrorists the enemy.” Fox anchor Brian Kilmeade responded, “Well, we’ll see about that.”

    Commenting on this report today, Wolf Blitzer said that CNN had done “what any serious news organization is supposed to do in this kind of a situation”: actually investigate and learn the facts. CNN’s Senior International Correspondent John Vause filed a report from Indonesia. Watch it at ThinkProgress.

Big Blue Marble
  • The view of the US's role in the world has deteriorated both internationally and domestically, a BBC poll suggests. The World Service survey, conducted in 25 nations including the US, found that three in four respondents disapproved of how Washington had dealt with Iraq.
    The number of those who said the US was a positive influence in the world fell in 18 nations polled in previous years. In those countries, 29% of people said the US had a positive influence, down from 36% last year and 40% two years ago. [news]

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