Yes, the Alito hearing is big. Bigger than Big. So BIG that some (and you know who you are) fear it threatens to swallow all of Booman Tribune in its monstrous gullet, leaving behind only the foul trace of an indigestible civil un-libertarian after one last, fetid belch from deep within its bloated belly. Oh the inhumanity!

Yet, take heart dear readers, there is news today that doth not speak the name “Scalito.” News to amuse, and news to dismay. News both foreign and domestic, without a hint of bloviating Senators, or weasely non-answer answers from rabbity eyed appellate court justices. News that knows not the taint of judicial robes. Yes dear reader, I bring you the OTHER NEWS!

And it begins . . . . after the fold,

in Iran of all places, where the US and the Europe (Both Old Europe and New) have not taken kindly to the resumption of Iran’s nuclear program:

Iran’s move is a “serious escalation” of its nuclear standoff with the West, and if it continues to defy world opinion, the U.N. Security Council will have no choice but to impose sanctions, said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. . . .

Iran would be committing a serious mistake if it ignored the international community on its nuclear program, said French President Jacques Chirac. . . .

Already, all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have each separately sent to Iran a diplomatic communiqué — known as a ‘demarche’ in international parlance — warning the Islamic Republic that it could face sanctions should it go forward with its nuclear program. The permanent members are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China. . . .

“We are working very closely with Russia, China, France and Britain on sending a clear message to the Iranians,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister is claiming that US backed Taliban groups “kidnapped nine Iranian border guards late December.”

‘The kidnappers of the nine Iranian border guards … belong to the groups influenced by the ideology of the Taliban. America cannot directly confront Iran and instead uses such groups against it,’ Pour-Mohammadi told the official IRNA news agency.

* * *

Moving on to the war in Iraq, President Bush today had a stern warning for Democrats in a report by David Sanger of the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 – President Bush issued an unusually stark warning to Democrats today about how to conduct the debate on Iraq as midterm elections approach, declaring that Americans know the difference “between honest critics” and those “who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people.”

In a speech here to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Mr. Bush appeared to be issuing a pre-emptive warning to critics at a time when Democrats are divided between those who say the United States should begin a troop withdrawal now and those who have criticized Mr. Bush but say the United States should stay in Iraq as long as necessary.

In some of his most combative language yet directed as his critics, Mr. Bush said Americans should insist on a debate “that brings credit to our democracy, not comfort to our adversaries.”

COMMENT: Sadly, Mr. Bush did not indicate whether a “debate which brings credit to our democracy” would include a pledge by his adminsitration to finally tell the truth about the information contained in the Downing Street Memos, the outing of Valerie Plame, the torture at Abu Gharaib and elsewhere, US trained and supported Shi’ite death squads, or his proposal to bomb Al Jazeera (among other scandals). I can only assume that he would prefer his “critics” simply stopped talking about all of those concerns.

* * *

In Spain, officials arrested 20 people whom they claimed had ties to the Iraqi insurgency:

Police on Tuesday arrested 20 people suspected of recruiting fighters and raising money for the Iraqi insurgency, the interior minister said.

Police broke up two well-organized and interconnected cells, one based in Madrid and the other in the Barcelona-area town of Vilanova i la Geltru, Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso told a news conference. . . .

Last month, Spanish authorities arrested 16 people suspected of recruiting insurgents to stage attacks in Iraq, Chechnya and Kashmir. Two other suspects surrendered.

COMMENT: I wonder if Bush is doing a better job for jihadist recruiting than he is for the US military?

* * *

Back in the USA, former President Clinton joined a group welcoming home about 600 troops returning from Iraq after his plane was delayed while refueling on the ground in Bangor Maine:

“Thank you for your service,” Clinton said as he shook hands and hugged many of the soldiers. He autographed hats, cards and other items. . . .

Clinton had some fun when Army Spc. Joshua Ruschenberg used a cell phone provided by troop greeters to call his sister-in-law, Shancy Garrison, in North Carolina. He handed over the phone to the former commander in chief.

“Hi, Shancy, it’s Bill Clinton,” the former president said into the phone.

COMMENT: Can you ever see George Bush doing something like this after he leaves the Presidency?

Oh and just for the record, Paul Bremer, former chief potentate of all Iraq (i.e., head of the Coalition Provisional Authority) now says (in an article in the Financial Times) that he was used as the administration’s “fall guy” for its botched policies in Iraq, claiming there never was any plan to deal with the problems that arose following the US invasion. Read Jerome’s diary for the whole down and dirty.

PS. Still nothing from Bremer on where all the money went.

* * *

In Business News, the DOW pulls back a little from the 11,000 mark it reached yesterday, perhaps in response to concern over what China’s plans for its dollar holdings really are.

In technology news, Apple unveils its new Intel chip based computers. Good news for Apple shareholders, since their stock price rose today.

On the down side, 2 more security bugs are discovered in the Microsoft’s Windows operating system:

Less than a week after Microsoft released a patch to fix a security breach in its Windows operating system, antivirus companies warned Tuesday about two additional bugs related to image files.

The newly discovered issues, while not as critical as the earlier flaws, can cause programs to crash and lead to what security experts call a denial-of-service attack.

“It is not quite the same vulnerability as last time,” said Craig Schmugar, virus research manager at McAfee AVERT Labs. “Code execution is not possible, so hackers cannot use it to install everything from spyware to viruses on a system. But they can still affect one or two programs on the machine.”

COMMENT: Microsoft Windows has security flaws? You’re right, it isn’t really news, is it?

* * *

Finally, for all you hurricane buffs (and who isn’t these days, especially if you live near the Gulf Coast) interesting news from NASA:

Lots of Lightning in 2005 Hurricanes Baffles Scientists

The boom of thunder and crackle of lightning generally mean one thing: a storm is coming. Curiously, though, the biggest storms of all, hurricanes, are notoriously lacking in lightning. Hurricanes blow, they rain, they flood, but seldom do they crackle.

Surprise: During the record-setting hurricane season of 2005 three of the most powerful storms—Rita, Katrina, and Emily—did have lightning, lots of it. And researchers would like to know why.

* * *

It’s tempting to think that, because Emily, Rita and Katrina were all exceptionally powerful, their sheer violence somehow explains their lightning. But Blakeslee says that this explanation is too simple. “Other storms have been equally intense and did not produce much lightning,” he says. “There must be something else at work.”

It’s too soon to say for certain what that missing factor is. Scientists will need months to pour over the reams of data gathered in this year’s campaign before they can hope to have an answer.

COMMENT: Don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll find a way to blame this on liberals and environmentalists somehow.

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