Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Iraq seeks relief from war reparations due Kuwait Iraqi Finance Minister Baqir Jabr Al-Zubaidi was in Kuwait Sunday to discuss relief and discuss modified payments of debts and compensation for Saddam Hussein's 1991 invasion of that country. Kuwait was awarded $8.3 billion for losses and damage sustained in the invasion and occupation, and Iraq has paid a little more than half of the U.N. judgment through a U.N.-administered compensation fund fed by Iraq's oil sales.

We hope this signals a country getting back on it's feet Italian Ambassador to Baghdad Maryso Melanie met with Finance Minister Al-Zubaidi last week to speed up a loan of $400 Million Euros for the purchase of Italian machinery and agricultural equipment for rural Iraqis, an important step toward regaining some degree of self sufficiency. During the meeting Al Zubaidi explained that the government is eager to open avenues of cooperation with Italy in all fields, particularly the rehabilitation of infrastructure and implementation of projects which will contribute significantly to improving Iraqi agriculture. (Here is a link to a previous post on Iraqi agriculture as a way to combat insurgency.)

Two weeks ago, the wingnuts would have gone apoplectic over this statistic In 2006 50.4% of babies born to women under 30 were born to mothers who were not married to the child's father. It is the first time that number has crossed the 50% threshold. Information like that used to fill the air with dire warnings about American culture going to hell on a handcar from the likes of Wildmon and Dobson and Schlafly. Five will get you ten that not a peep is heard this time around.

MSNBC caves After just two months MSNBC is taking Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews out of the anchor chair for the networks election coverage and replace them with the pathetic supplicant David Banality Gregory.

Ted Kennedy plans January return to the Senate It has been speculated that he might return to Washington this week as the embarks on the bi-annual pre-election legislative sprint, but his medical team has determined that it is in his best interest to continue to receive radiation and chemo treatments at Mass General.

White House successfully stalls on turning over documents A federal appeals court granted the White House an extension in turning over documents to a House committee investigating the wrongful termination of nine U.S. Attorneys in December 2006. The House Judiciary Committee had set last Thursday as the deadline for former Chief of Staff Josh Bolton to turn over the documents. The stay indicates that the court will probably allow Hariet Miers, former White House counsel to avoid testifying this Thursday.

Top General in Afghanistan wants to investigate killings of civilians: Citing "emerging evidence," the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan asked for an investigation into reports that more than 90 Afghan civilians died in a recent U.S. military operation in western Afghanistan. Gen. David McKiernan did not specify what new evidence had emerged in the the August 22 counter-insurgency operation, which took place in the Shindand District in the Herat province.

Did you know that the response to Hurricane Gustav is still ongoing? The federal government is "working with great urgency" to restore one-third of the households in Louisiana that still have no power days after after Hurricane Gustav, the chief of Homeland Security said Friday. With Hurricane Ike possibly heading toward the Gulf Coast, the lack of electricity could greatly complicate possible evacuations. "One of the concerns we had ... was making sure we got enough power up, particularly in the gas stations, so that if people did need to leave again, they could gas their car up and they could go," Chertoff said Friday.

What's next for China after the Olympics? Space! China will launch its third manned space mission in late September, featuring its first-ever space walk, a state news agency said. The Shenzhou 7 launch is to take place between Sept. 25 and 30, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late Saturday. The spacecraft will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gansu province, the agency said, citing a spokesman from the center. It will carry three astronauts into space, one of whom will conduct a space walk, the report said, citing Zhao Changxi, a senior scientist with the project.

With what? On the eve of a European Union shuttle mission to convince Russia to pull its troops back to prewar positions, Georgia's president vowed Sunday to regain control of two breakaway provinces with the help of "the rest of the world." A month after the Aug. 7 outbreak of war in the region and weeks after a cease-fire was approved, Russian troops remain entrenched deep inside Georgian territory. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due in Moscow on Monday at the head of an EU delegation charged with reducing tensions and ensuring Russian compliance with the cease-fire terms, which include withdrawing its troops to positions held before the fighting broke out. Russia says those troops are peacekeepers and that they are allowed under the accord. Despite the presence of Russian troops on Georgian soil, President Mikhail Saakashvili said the West would help his country regain control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the separatist regions of Georgia recognized as independent nations by Moscow last month. "Our territorial integrity will be restored, I am more convinced of this than ever," Saakashvili said in a televised appearance. "This will not be an easy process, but now this is a process between an irate Russia and the rest of the world." Makes you wonder what Cheney promised them, doesn't it?