After many false starts, Al Jazeera reports that its English-language service is ready to launch tomorrow. The new channel will feature some old journalism hands, such as as former ABC correspondent Dave Marash and BBC vet David Frost. It will also introduce a newly minted correspondent, Josh Rushing, better known as the sympathetic Marine PR flack from the 2004 documentary "Control Room." Our Dan Schulman just profiled him in our current issue. Check it out. The Pentagon has, so far, not announced any plans to bomb your local cable affiliate.
(And check out Rushing's new website: Looks like someone just got his honorary kaffiyeh from the Anderson Cooper Correspondence School for Correspondents.)
The Senate Committe on Environment and Public Works, chaired by global warming-denier James Inhofe, is up in arms over a kids' book. The book, Tore and the Town on Thin Ice, was created by the U.N. to bring the depressing message of manmade climate change to young readers. The committee's resident children's book reviewer summarizes:
The book is about a young boy named Tore [rhymes with "Gore?"] who lives in an Arctic village. Tore loses a dog sled race because he crashes through the thinning ice allegedly caused by manmade greenhouse gas emissions. The book features colorful drawings and large text to appeal to young children.
After the boy loses the dog sled race, he is visited by "Sedna, the Mother of the Sea" in a dream. The "Sea Mother" Goddess informs Tore in blunt terms that the thinning ice that caused his loss in the dog sled race was due to manmade global warming.
"I'm the one who created and cares for the sea creatureswhales and walruses, seals and fish," the "Sea Mother" explains to Tore. The "Sea Mother" then tells the boy she will educate him about the reason the ice is thinning.
It concludes with this ominous anti-freedom message:
The book ends with a section answering the question "What can you do?" The book's answer includes such suggestions as "join or create an environmental club," "only drive cars if you must," and "write to your political leaders."
The book itself is actually pretty lameembarassingly earnest and numbingly dullbut not because it gets the science wrong or sends the wrong message. (Check it out for yourself here [PDF].) If Inhofe and Co. want to pan it, fine. That they're using their remaining time heading a Senate committe going after a cheesy kids' book says a lot about just how much legitmacy the global warming "skeptics" have left.
OK, I know that's really two words. The folks at the New Oxford American Dictionary (think of them as the OED's much hipper cousins) have declared "carbon neutral" their word of the year. The definition, please:
Being carbon neutral involves calculating your total climate-damaging carbon emissions, reducing them where possible, and then balancing your remaining emissions, often by purchasing a carbon offset: paying to plant new trees or investing in "green" technologies such as solar and wind power.
While this term has been on the lips of the likes of Al Gore for a while, it hardly has the currency of last year's winner, "podcasting." Which makes this a significant choice. As NOAD editor Erin McKean explains:
"All the Oxford lexicographers look forward to choosing the Word of the Year. We know that people love fun, flashy words like truthiness or the latest Bushism, but we are always looking for a word that is both reflective of the events and concerns of the past year and also forward-looking: a word that we think will only become more used and more useful as time goes on."
"Carbon neutral" beat out another socially responsible contender, "CSA" (community sponsored agriculture), as well as "Islamofascism." And my favorite, "elbow bump".
Conservative wunderkind Grover Norquist continues to insist that the GOP can reclaim its former glory if it can get past its silly associations with endless war, incomptence, and hypocrisy. Last week, he said this meant doing away with pesky little matters like Bush and Iraq. Now, reports the Finanical Times, he's got some more wisdom for glum Republicans:
"Bob Sherwood's seat [in Pennsylvania] would have been overwhelmingly ours, if his mistress hadn't whined about being throttled," said Mr Norquist. Any lessons from the campaign? "Yes. The lesson should be, don't throttle mistresses."
Sherwood, of course, was the (married) Pennsylvania congressman who allegedly choked his girlfriend. Aside from that, he was the perfect candidate.
Despite short-term setbacks, Norquist said, the conservative movement is "perfectly healthy. No one is losing because they favor tax cuts, are pro-life, pro-gun or pro-growth.
"In two years, there is no George W. Bush and almost no Iraq war as presently constructed," Norquist said.
"And Democrats will be standing there, naked to the winds, having been forced by Nancy Pelosi to vote for tax increases, gun control and impeaching the president," he added, referring to the future speaker of the House.
Visions of disrobed Democrats aside, note how Norquist's smugness actually reveals his eagerness to get beyond Iraq and George W. Bush (echoing the neocons' new favorite theme). Yet somehow I suspect Republicans are going to have to confront those two issues in 2008 before they can get back to the business of being "real" conservatives. If only the Bush legacy could be drowned in the bath tub before then!