Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Morning Quick Hits

Every year, the cost of fighting wildfires gets more expensive
The Forest Service has struggled for years to make ends meet and the funding struggles are only getting worse as fire seasons grow longer and the blazes more intense in forests stressed by global warming. This years fire season is just now nearing it's peak, and the Forest Service has already spent nearly 75% of their annual fire suppression budget. Fire suppression now consumes nearly half of the Forest Service budget, whereas in 1991, only 13 percent of its budget was spent fighting fires. As the costs have grown, so has the toll on the agency's other programs. To pay for its fire programs, the Forest Service has raided accounts used for everything from reforestation to fish and wildlife to building campgrounds and trails. In theory, those accounts are expected to be repaid. In practice, it's not that easy..."The whole damn thing is imploding," said Casey Judd, business manager of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, in Inkom, Idaho. The group represents firefighters in five federal agencies.

Khartoum threatens Peacekeepers in Darfur
The Sudanese government is threatening to expel the peacekeeping forces from the country if the president, Omar al-Bashir is indicted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges. "We are telling the world that with the indictment [of] al-Bashir we can't be responsible for the wellbeing of foreign forces in Darfur," Bona Malual, a presidential adviser, said in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, on Friday..."After that we may ask them to withdraw from our territory."

It went beyond "cash for access"
Steven Payne, the lobbyist caught up in that scandal, has been captured on a covertly recorded video indicating that he helped to obtain a United Nations travel document for one of his clients. The document he helped to obtain for the billionaire son-in-law of the president of Kazakhstan is not a passport, but according to a UN spokesman it confers “privileges which are akin to those of representatives of governments” on the bearer when traveling abroad.

The Taliban is taking a "lesson learned" from the Iraqi insurgents
Call it their Baghdad strategy. They are closing in on Kabul, but not in order to overrun the capital. Instead they are bent on terrorizing its residents and driving away investors. It's working.

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