McClatchy reports Obama sets a 18-month Iraq withdrawal timetable, with 50,000 troops to stay until the end of 2011. President Obama announced today all U.S. combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by August 31, 2010. However, up to 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq until December 31, 2011, the date the Bush administration set for withdrawal.
“The 18-month timetable for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq is two months longer than he promised during his campaign… Under Obama’s plan, a force of between 35,000 and 50,000 U.S. troops would remain in Iraq after Aug. 31, 2010, to train, equip and advise Iraqi forces, help protect withdrawing forces and work on counterterrorism.”
The Washington Post reports the U.S. economy shrinks by 6.2%.
The U.S. economy shrank by a larger-than-expected annualized rate of 6.2 percent during the final three months of 2008, the worst showing in about 25 years, according to a revised government estimate out today.
The new estimate of the fourth-quarter gross domestic product from the Commerce Department is far worse than the initial estimate of negative 3.8 percent, and also larger than the 5 percent drop in growth most analysts had anticipated.
It’s the largest contraction in one quarter since the first quarter of 1982, when the economy shrank by 6.4 percent.
Four at Four continues with Capitol coal and an octopus prankster.
The Guardian reports the Capitol Hill coal power plant targeted by environmentalists. The Capitol Hill Power Plant, a 99-year old coal-burning built to power Congress, is being targeted by environmentalists as symbolic of big coal’s influence over Congress. The “facility is no longer needed for electricity. Congress got hooked up to the city’s main electrical grid in 1952, and the plant is used only for heat and air conditioning for Congress and nearby official buildings.”
On Thursday, “more than 10,000 young people began converging on Washington – campus activists, union organisers, and even members of college sororities – to lobby members of Congress to reduce America’s reliance on coal.”
The La Times reports a two-spotted Octopus floods the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Staff reporting to work at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium yesterday were “caught by surprise when they were greeted by water lapping around the kelp forest display, the shark and ray tank and the rocky reef exhibit.”
The guest of honor in the aquarium’s Kids’ Corner octopus tank had swum to the top of the enclosure and disassembled the recycling system’s valve, flooding the place with some 200 gallons of seawater.
“It had grabbed the tube that pulls out the water and caused it to spray outside the tank,” said aquarium education specialist Nick Fash. Judging by the size of the flood, Fash estimated that the water flowed for about 10 hours before the first staff member, Aaron Kind, showed up for work…
The tiny octopus, which is about the size of a human forearm when its appendages are extended, floated lazily in the water that remained in its tank.