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Great Britain plans to put children on “the front line of the battle to save the planet,” by making issues of sustainable development — such as energy saving and recycling — a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
INDIANA: State House “voted 71-29 Tuesday to raise the minimum wage to $7.50 an hour by September 2008.” Bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
MINNESOTA: “A committee in the Minnesota Senate unanimously approved a bill that would require utility companies to get at least a quarter of their energy from renewable sources.”
UTAH: State representative introduces a bill to ban abortion in Utah.
ARIZONA: Bill would require women to disclose their reasons for having an abortion, which doctors would then report to state officials.
THINK PROGRESS: Laura Bush defends President on global warming: “I don’t think that’s fair criticism”
WASHINGTON WIRE: New poll shows strong opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
THE INTERSECTION: IPCC weighs in on global warming and hurricanes.
E&P: A Molly Ivins retrospective.
“So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I’ve committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq.”
— President Bush, 1/10/07
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that “additional support troops would be deployed in the same proportion to combat troops that currently exists in Iraq. That approach would require about 28,000 support troops in addition to the 20,000 combat troops — a total of 48,000.”
— CBO, 2/1/07, on the actual number of troops that will be needed for Bush’s escalation plan
Politics with an Attitude: Everyone from Barack Obama to Stephen Colbert talks to Campus Progress. Right-wingers seem scared of us. Find out why here.
A report released yesterday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CB) shows that the real troop increase associated with President Bush’s escalation policy could be as high as 48,000, more than double the 21,500 soldiers that Bush has claimed. Moreover, despite administration assertions that the escalation would cost $5.6 billion, the CBO report estimates that “costs would range from $9 billion to $13 billion for a four-month deployment and from $20 billion to $27 billion for a 12-month deployment.” The new facts about escalation come just as Congress is set to receive a long-delayed National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq, the first such document from the U.S. intelligence community since 2002. According to the Washington Post, the NIE “outlines an increasingly perilous situation in which the United States has little control and there is a strong possibility of further deterioration.”
ESCALATING THE ESCALATION: Combat units being sent to Iraq need to be backed up by “substantial support forces, including personnel to staff headquarters, serve as military police, and provide communications, contracting, engineering, intelligence, medical, and other services.” According to the CBO, while the Pentagon has specified the number of combat troops being deployed as part of the escalation, it has “not yet indicated which support units will be deployed along with the added combat forces, or how many additional troops will be involved.” The CBO’s low estimate envisions at least 15,000 additional support personnel. The alternative scenario “would require about 28,000 support troops in addition to the 20,000 combat troops.”
CBO REPORT CONTRADICTS TESTIMONY: The CBO report appears to contradict testimony to Congress by Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker, who said at a Jan. 23 hearing that the 21,500 increase included four support battalions. “Right now, we do not anticipate there will be increased combat service support requirements over what is now embedded inside of the brigade combat teams we have.” But the CBO report considers Schoomaker’s claim and rejects it. “Army and DoD officials have indicated that it will be both possible and desirable to deploy fewer additional support units than historical practice would indicate,” the report states. “CBO expects that, even if the additional brigades required fewer support units than historical practice suggests, those units would still represent a significant additional number of military personnel.” An aide to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) echoed this point. “While Schoomaker initially said it wouldn’t take extra support troops, CBO doesn’t believe that is possible,” the aide said.
$200 BILLION MORE: New estimates of the cost of escalation come on top of the $379 billion that Congress has already appropriated for the Iraq war. Yesterday, the Bush administration announced it will request an additional $100 billion “to cover war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of this year,” about $80 billion of which will be spent on Iraq. “That would come on top of $70 billion Congress already approved for the wars this year.” For 2008, the administration will ask for an amount “larger than the $100 billion in the fiscal 2007 request,” Reuters reports.
TAKING AIM AT IRAN: Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski testified yesterday, “If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large.” Indeed, U.S. pressure on Iran has increased significantly in recent weeks. The U.S. government has accused Iran of “helping Iraqi militants make lethal bombs to attack US troops,” authorized the U.S. military to “kill or capture Iranian military and intelligence operatives inside Iraq,” raided an Iranian liaison office in Iraq and detained several diplomats, and dispatched a second U.S. naval carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf. This past week, the Bush administration said it was investigating whether Iranians had trained the attackers who killed five U.S. soldiers in Karbala. (No “direct evidence” exists, only a “working theory” that the Iranians were involved because the attacks were sophisticated. Former CIA official Bruce Riedel calls this argument “a little bit tenuous. The Iraqi insurgency has shown a great deal of sophistication over the last four years.”) For all this bluster, Iran is “mentioned but is not a focus” in the new Iraq NIE, and the Los Angeles Times reported that “[e]vidence of Iranian involvement in Iraq’s troubles is limited.” Moreover, as a New York Times editorial stated yesterday, while few doubt Iran’s malign intent in Iraq, “more threats and posturing are unlikely to get Iran to back down. If Mr. Bush isn’t careful, he could end up talking himself into another disastrous war, and if Congress is not clear in opposing him this time, he could drag the country along.”
Under the Radar
SCIENCE — OIL LOBBY OFFERS $10,000 PAYMENTS TO GLOBAL WARMING DENIERS TO REBUT THE FACTS: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most authoritative group on global warming, reports today that human activities were “very likely” the main cause of warming in the past 50 years. The Guardian reports that there is a well-heeled orchestrated movement going on below the radar to confuse the public about the IPCC’s report. The oil lobby is so desperate to push back on the new climate change study that it has been offering to pay global warming skeptics to speak out. The Guardian reports, “Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world’s largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today. … The letters were sent by Kenneth Green, a visiting scholar at [American Enterprise Institute], who confirmed that the organisation had approached scientists, economists and policy analysts to write articles for an independent review that would highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the IPCC report.“ AEI has received more than $1.6 million from ExxonMobil. As Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth noted, there have been no peer-reviewed scientific articles published in recent years that express any doubt that humans are contributing to climate change. Yet more than 50 percent of news media coverage of the issue includes the oil industry’s position on the subject.
MILITARY — DEFENSE DEPARTMENT TINKERS WITH U.S. TROOP CASUALTY COUNT: The New York Times reports today, “Statistics on a Pentagon Web site have been reorganized in a way that lowers the published totals of American nonfatal casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.” On Monday, the Defense Department’s website listed a total of 47,657 “nonmortal casualties” in Iraq. But on Tuesday, “the same page no longer showed a total for nonmortal casualties. The bottom line is now ‘total — medical air transported,’ and the figure is 31,493.” The new figure no longer includes minor injuries, gastrointestinal illnesses, or mental illnesses. Paul Sullivan of Veterans for America “said the changes actually meant the Pentagon was trying to conceal the rising toll of injuries and illness.” Earlier this week, the Veterans Affairs Department also revised the casualty number on its website at the request of the Defense Department.
ENVIRONMENT — CHENEY SET TO VISIT GLOBAL WARMING HOT SPOT: Vice President Cheney’s determination to ignore global warming will soon be put to the test. The White House has announced that Cheney will travel to Australia and Japan this month “to discuss issues of mutual interest including Asian security and the global war on terror.” A few days ago, the Washington tipsheet The Nelson Reported revealed, “The Vice President and Mrs. Cheney will visit Japan as part of an Asian tour which will take them to Tasmania for fly fishing, sources confirm.” Cheney’s fishing trip will show him the impact of climate change first-hand. The warming of Tasmania’s waters has led to “exceptionally rare” development of coral reefs and “the invasion of about 30 species of fish from warmer areas.” In December, arid lands fueled the worst wildfires in years, 15 of which raged across state forests and burned more than 280,000 hectares. Extreme weather patterns have turned the country into a “freak show. In 2006, every month except “September saw a long-term monthly rainfall or temperature record broken. May saw the lowest temperature for the month ever recorded. June experienced the lowest total rainfall. October set records for the hottest day, coldest night, warmest night and lowest rainfall.”
A new international climate report reveals that “there can be no question that the increase in greenhouse gases are dominated by human activities.” White House official Sharon Hays called the report “significant,” but stopped short of saying whether it would change President Bush’s policy on greenhouse gas emissions.
-1 percent: The personal savings rate for Americans, now at the “lowest level since the Great Depression.” Economists “warn that the phenomenon exists at a particularly bad time with 78 million baby boomers approaching retirement age.”
The Senate’s vote yesterday to increase the minimum wage included $8.3 billion in tax cuts to small businesses. Since the minimum wage was last raised 10 years ago, Congress has given small businesses $36 billion in tax breaks.
“President Bush’s 2008 budget will call for the largest Pell Grant increase in three decades,” following proposals by the House and the Senate to raise it. The maximum Pell Grant “has remained at $4,050 a year since 2002, lagging behind tuition increases and inflation.”
“The U.S. military drive to train and equip Iraq’s security forces has unwittingly strengthened anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia.” Sadr’s militias have heavily infiltrated the Iraqi police and army units that U.S. troops have trained.
Federal Judge Reggie Walton agreed to let prosecutors show video clips of a former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan telling reporters in 2003 that former vice presidential aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby “had nothing to do” with leaking information about the wife of a Bush administration critic. See our video compilation HERE.
The Washington Post’s David Ignatius on how the Libby trial reveals a “failed cover-up”: “The White House was worried that the CIA would reveal that it had been pressured in 2002 and early 2003 to support administration claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. … The machinations of Cheney, Libby and others were an attempt to weave an alternative narrative that blamed the CIA.”
And finally: Wolfowitz gets some decent socks. “The fashion police came to the rescue of World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, who made worldwide headlines by revealing his holey socks at a mosque in Turkey last weekend.” See the photographic evidence here. “A Gold Toe rep delivered 21 pairs of dress socks to his office yesterday (labeled ‘rush delivery’), Turkish sock manufacturers mailed a dozen pairs, and employees also presented him with a pair.”