Gas-Trick

Gas-Trick

Gas-Trick

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Aug. 24 2005 3:59 AM

Gas-Trick

Citing a "confidential draft proposal," the New York Times' lead says New York and eight other Northeastern states are near agreement to freeze power-plant emissions and then reduce greenhouse gas levels by 10 percent by 2020. The plan comes after the Bush administration decided not to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants. The Times says a few Western states, including California, are considering following their Eastern brethren. The Los Angeles Times'lead reports that a few nonprofit organizations, headed by lobbyists and funded by industry, have been quietly donating money to Gov. Schwarzenegger—in one instance being so kind as to cover the governor's rent in Sacramento. The groups aren't required to disclose their contributors or contributions. But as the LAT notes, the group's industry backers have had plenty of business before the governor's office. (The paper briefly mentions that other elected politicians have had similar deals.) USA Todayleads with the Army speeding up plans to replace the Humvee. The new vehicle, which could be ready by 2008, will be designed from the ground up to operate in IED-heavy areas (read: Iraq. Humvees weren't designed to face bombs and other front-line threats). The Washington Postleads with Virginia Sen. John Warner making noise that the Pentagon "rigged" the national base-closing plan to move jobs away from the D.C. area. A DoD official said the Pentagon simply decided that breaking up the concentration of personnel in D.C. made sense in terms of money and security.

The LAT, WP, and USAT all front the White House unveiling its proposal to increase—ever so slightly—fuel economy standards for light trucks and SUVs. The plan is complex, replacing a uniform standard with a series of six grades depending on the size of the truck or SUV. As NYT previewed last week, large SUVs would have to meet a lower MPG standard than the current overall truck average. The biggest SUVs would be exempt from standards altogether. The best summary comes from Knight Ridder, which points out that the plan was based on a recent study by the National Academy of Science. The chairman of that panel said the standards "should have been pushed farther." (The other papers operate on autopilot, featuring oh-so-revealing competing quotes from enviro-types and industry officials.)

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The LAT's headline doesn't exactly catch the subtlety of the fuel story: "U.S. PROPOSES HIGHER FUEL STANDARDS FOR LIGHT TRUCKS." Most of the papers aren't much better—except for the Wall Street Journal: "NEW FUEL-ECONOMY RULES HELP THE BIGGEST TRUCK MAKERS."

The NYT says below the fold that a top Justice Department official has been demoted after he objected to political appointees reportedly burying data on racial profiling at traffic stops. The official had been head of Justice's statistics division. One statistician in the department said the numbers office has always been a source of tension for all administrations, which all want to play up good numbers and play down bad ones. But, the stats person added, "in this administration, those tensions have been even greater, and the struggles have been harder."

The NYT off-lead notices that it's not just the frozen-out Sunnis who are angry about the draft Iraqi constitution. Secular Iraqis are complaining that it's just too darn Islam-centric. "This is the future of the new Iraqi government—it will be in the hands of the clerics," said one secular Shiite politician. "I am not going to stay here."

The LAT looks at the scenarios in which the draft constitution could be defeated in a referendum. (TP asked about that yesterday.) The Times also notices yet another group that's making noise about opposing the draft: Moqtada Sadr's outfit. (Yes, he's still around.) Assuming a joint effort with Sunnis, said one Sadr aide, "we are confident we can deliver three provinces" needed to defeat the draft.

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A spokesman for Iraq's prime minister suggested the naysayers should, basically, stuff it: "The draft that was submitted is approximately the draft that will be implemented."

President Bush dubbed Monday's faux delivery of the draft an "amazing event." Then he put the squeeze on Sunnis. "The Sunnis have got to make a choice," he said. "Do they want to live in a society that's free, or do they want to live in violence?"

The Post fronts a fascinating report from Iraq's Camp Bucca, where hundreds of Iraqi detainees built a 360-foot tunnel and almost made it out. "We started doing some math calculations," said one American officer. "They moved 100 tons of soil in about eight weeks." The story includes plenty of interviews with former detainees who explained how the prisoners organized themselves along military and religious lines.

Everybody notes that Israeli forces cleared out the last two remaining settlements to be evacuated, both in the West Bank. Officials had expected violent resistance, but the protesters backed down in the face of thousands of soldiers. "Game over," said one border police officer.

A front-page Post piece says many biologists believe the "seas have reached a tipping point" with "scores" of species on the brink of extinction. The WP says in the last 300 years scientists have seen just 21 marine species go extinct, but 16 of them have been since 1972. "The question is, are humans a major new force causing marine extinctions?" asked one researcher. "The evidence, and projections scientists are making, suggest that the answer is yes."

Everybody mentions Pat Robertson's suggestion for a new approach to relations with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," said Robertson on his TV show. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war." The White House and some evangelical leaders criticized Robertson. But not everybody was so quick to judge. The NYT notes, "Leaders at the Traditional Values Coalition, the Family Research Council and the Christian Coalition ... were too busy to comment."