This is an OPEN THREAD. Here are four stories in the news at 4 o’clock to get you started. Every vibration awakens all others of a particular pitch.
The Washington Post reports on a shootout in Baghdad. “A U.S. State Department motorcade came under attack in Baghdad on Sunday, prompting security contractors guarding the convoy to open fire in the streets. At least nine civilians were killed, according to Iraqi officials. ¶ The shootout occurred in the downtown neighborhood of Mansour at midday after an explosion detonated near the convoy, police said. In response, the security contractors ‘escalated the force to defend themselves,’ a U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad said. ¶ Iraqi officials alleged that the response by the security company, which was not named, involved excessive force and killed innocent civilians. The Iraqi government will investigate the incident and ‘probably will withdraw the authority for this security company in Baghdad,’ said Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman.”
“The security company contractors opened fire randomly on the civilians,” he said. “We consider this act a crime.”
BBC News puts a name on the private security company: Blackwater USA. “Iraq has cancelled the licence of the private security firm, Blackwater USA, after it was involved in a gunfight in which at least eight civilians died.
The Iraqi interior ministry said the contractor, based in North Carolina, was now banned from operating in Iraq. ¶ The Blackwater workers, who were contracted by the US state department, apparently opened fire after coming under attack in Baghdad on Sunday… ¶ The interior ministry’s director of operations, Maj Gen Abdul Karim Khalaf, said authorities would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force. TPM Muckracker speculates if Blackwater USA will actually leave Iraq? “However, it’s unclear how the Interior Ministry would expel Blackwater. Unlike other private U.S. security firms in Iraq, as of May, Blackwater hadn’t registered with the Iraqi government to operate in Iraq. The Coalition Provisional Authority — the now-defunct occupational government — issued a decree in 2004 (pdf) immunizing security contractors from Iraqi prosecution and placing their operations under the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities.”
The New York Times reports on George W. Bush’s nomination of Michael Mukasey to be the next Attorney General. “‘Judge Mukasey is clear-eyed about the threat our nation faces,’ Mr. Bush said in the Rose Garden of the White House, with Mr. Mukasey by his side. He called the retired judge ‘a sound manager and a strong leader.'” Hopefully Mukasey recognizes both foreign and domestic threats to the United States, but I doubt it.
From January 2, 1998 “The Mayor, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, took a 59-word oath administered by his longtime friend U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey, who presided over the bomb conspiracy trial of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine others convicted in the case. Giuliani’s wife, Donna Hanover, and their two children, Andrew and Carolyn, stood at his side.” BBC News.
Earlier the Washington Posts noted that Mukasey is conncted to Giuliani’s presidential campaign. “Both Mukasey and his son, Marc, are connected with Rudolph W. Giuliani’s presidential campaign, as members of the Republican candidate’s justice advisory committee”, but the paper expunged reference of it in this morning’s rewrite. However, ABC News confirms this and adds “The two are longtime friends and Mukasey’s son Marc works at Bracewell & Giuliani.” Why any Democrat would let anyone connected to a Republican’s presidential campaign anywhere near to the
Justice“Election Fraud” Department is beyond me? But, according to the NY Times, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said “Judge Mukasey seems to be the kind of nominee who would put rule of law first and show independence from the White House, our most important criteria… He’s a lot better than some of the other names mentioned and he has the potential to become a consensus nominee.” The White House strategy has always been to offer horrible candidates first, so the second choice always seems better. After six plus years of this game, you’d think the Democrats would have finally gotten a clue by now. The day Mukasey gets confirmed, I’m thinking about calling the 2008 presidential election for Giuliani.
The Star Tribune reports the mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota is ’embarrassed’ by bridge impasse. “Headed to a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting this weekend to talk about the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said he found himself filled with dread and embarrassment. ¶ ‘I’m going to have to walk in there and tell them that our state is doing nothing’ on bridge repair, he said. ‘Other states are taking this seriously, but our state, where people died, is doing nothing.'” “So why couldn’t Pawlenty and DFL† leaders make it happen? Taxes, as has so often been the case, proved a major stumbling block. Even though [Republican Governor Tim] Pawlenty said he would consider a nickel-a-gallon increase, he wanted an offsetting cut in income taxes. That would have provided money for roads and bridges, but would have reduced funds for health care and schools — unacceptable to DFLers.” Oh, Grover “drown it in the bathtub” Norquist is involved too. † DFL or Democratic-Farmer-Labor is the name of Minnesota’s Democratic Party. (Hat tip to count.)
Lastly, The Guardian reports that the British government has been told that investment in cycling could save Britain more than £520 million. “Encouraging more cyclists on to Britain’s roads could save the taxpayer more than £520m and fight climate change, according to a government-backed cycling group. ¶ Cycling England says a 20% increase in bicycle journeys would lower healthcare costs and reduce congestion. It adds that by making a £70m annual investment in cycling initiatives the government could cut up to 54m car journeys a year by 2012 and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 35,000 tonnes. ¶ The report says that an adult who swaps a car for a bicycle on a return journey of 2.5 miles – the average cycle trip – will generate annual savings of £137.28 through reduced congestion. A regular cyclist saves the NHS £28.30 a year.”
So, what else is happening?