Sunday, February 13, 2005

Stories inside this morning's Times, possible Senate investigation, Dean as DNC chair, Castro thinks US is plotting, Wind Power

There are some strong stories inside the paper this morning. Carol e-mailed to note Douglas Jehl's story [A8] "Senate May Open Inquiry Into C.I.A.'s Handling of Suspects:"

The Senate intelligence committee is moving toward adoption of a plan to conduct a formal inquiry into the Central Intelligence Agency's handling of suspects captured in the American effort to curb terrorism, Congressional officials from each party said this week.
The inquiry would be the first by Congress to address the C.I.A.'s conduct in what has remained a shadowy corner of American counterterrorism efforts. The agency is believed to be holding at least three dozen senior members of Al Qaeda at secret sites around the world, and former intelligence officials say it has been involved in the extrajudicial handing over to third countries of scores of other suspects, in an arrangement known as rendition.
The C.I.A.'s inspector general is already conducting several reviews of the agency's detention and interrogation practices in Iraq and Afghanistan, including several episodes in which prisoners have been injured or killed in C.I.A. custody, intelligence officials have said. However, no C.I.A. review is known to be under way into the renditions or the treatment of prisoners at the secret sites, where those being held by the agency include Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, regarded as the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The top Republican on the panel, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, confirmed in an interview on Friday that he and his staff were reviewing a proposal submitted by the top Democrat, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, which called for a formal investigation into detention, interrogation and rendition. Mr. Roberts said he was not sure that a formal investigation was warranted, but he suggested that the two sides could agree on a review.

Carol: Pat Roberts may not be sure, but I am. We need an investigation and we need it right now.

Brad e-mailed asking that we highlight Anne E. Kornblut's A14 article "Democrats Elect Dean as Committee Chairman."

Brad: I don't know that I'm impressed with Kornblut's article, I do know it's nice to not have to suffer through Adam Nagourney's uninformed opinions passing off as facts. I also want to point out another thing we are winning. The grass roots wanted Howard Dean and we got him. We wanted someone to sign Stephanie Tubbs Jones's petition and Barbara Boxer did. We wanted someone to ask hard questions of Alberto Gonzales and Barbara Boxer and John Kerry did. The momentum that went into the 2004 election hasn't subsided and we haven't stopped caring. Yeah it's hard, daily life, but we're not zoning out on MTV Cribs and The Simple Life we're staying focused and active. If we can carry this energy through the next four years we may be able to not just ward off the attempts by the Bully Boy but be able to set up some major changes.
I doubt D.C. insiders are too thrilled with MoveOn or any of us but right now, they can't ignore us. And if we stay strong, vocal and focused we can move mountains.

Francisco highlights an article that I'm not finding in my copy of the paper (it may have run yesterday or I may just be missing it -- which wouldn't be the first time) by Reuters entitled
"Castro Warns U.S. Against Plot on Chávez:"

"I say to world public opinion: if they assassinate Chávez, the responsibility will fall squarely on the president of the United States, George W. Bush," Mr. Castro said.
The Cuban leader, who was the target of C.I.A. assassination plots after his 1959 revolution steered Cuba toward Communism and the Soviet Union's sphere of influence, offered no evidence that Mr. Chávez's life was in danger.

Francisco: I'm nervous about asking you to highlight this after the quejar that greeted the opinion that maybe a woman whose family fled a nation should disclose that when doing a story on someone's views about that nation or maybe not even having story written by that woman.
But Chávez was duly elected and we tried to oust him before so I want to say atención!

I agree with Francisco this is worthy of noting.

Woody e-mails asking if it's okay to highlight Matthew Wald's "Wind Power Is Becoming a Better Bargain." It's more than fine to highlight anything you see in the Times. Woody's a new member so that might be what he's asking about. But if he's noting the reaction to yesterday's piece, let me note again that only Frank in Orlando complained. Two people asked questions and I take responsibility for that, I obviously wasn't clear in my post. But we can and will highlight any story in the Times. (That goes for Iraq. You can highlight them and we'll link to them. I'm just not going to spend my time going over them because I think we need to know whether they are reported as witnessed or reported as told to. I noted the headline to Dexter Filkins' article this morning because it applied to something Judith Miller had stated on The Chris Matthews story. I didn't weigh in on Filkins' article itself. But you're welcome to highlight anything. If you provide comments for quotation, we'll highlight those as well.)

From Wald's story:

Wind energy makes up a small fraction of electric generation in this country, but the rising price of natural gas has made wind look like a bargain; in some cases, it is cheaper to build a wind turbine and let existing natural gas generators stand idle. Giant, modern wind farms like the New Mexico Wind Energy Center here may become more common if prices continue to rise.
The center, 150 miles east of Albuquerque, opened in the summer of 2003 and is one of the largest in the country. The power is bought by the state's largest utility, Public Service of New Mexico, and provides about 4 percent of that company's electricity over the course of a year. In March, when demand is low and winds are usually strong, the project generates 10 percent of the electricity the company supplies. The state has established a goal of using 10 percent renewable energy by 2011. The governor, Bill Richardson, a former secretary of energy, has said that New Mexico could become "the Saudi Arabia of renewables."
Across the country, the increase in gas prices has made a fundamental difference in the purchasing decisions of utility companies, said Michael A. O'Sullivan, senior vice president of FPL Energy, which owns and operates the New Mexico center.
"Gas prices helped get - pardon the pun - the wind at our backs," he said in a telephone interview from the company headquarters in Juno Beach, Fla. At $6 per million B.T.U.'s, the standard unit in which gas prices are quoted, the fuel needed to produce a kilowatt-hour costs more than 5 cents at an inefficient gas plant, and more than 4 cents at the most efficient plants.
Last fall, Congress restored the Production Tax Credit, worth 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour after taxes, for wind energy projects completed by the end of 2005. Counting that credit, Mr. O'Sullivan said, his company sells wind energy for 3 to 5 cents a kilowatt-hour.
The tax credit and steeper natural gas prices are driving the increased interest in wind energy. But there are problems, even supporters say.