Thursday, February 23, 2006

Morning copy 02.23.2006

The situation in Iraq

The destruction of the shrine housing the 10th and 11th Imams continues to escalate sectarian tensions in Iraq.

Iraq's main Sunni Muslim bloc pulled out on Thursday of negotiations for the formation of a new government, blaming the ruling Shi'ite alliance for sectarian violence that has killed dozens of Sunnis in the past 24 hours.
The Independent:
In a number of respects civil war in Iraq has already begun. Many of the thousand bodies a month arriving in the morgues in Baghdad are of people killed for sectarian reasons. It is no longer safe for members of the three main communities ­ the Sunni and Shia Arabs and the Kurds ­ to visit each other's parts of the country.

"Iraq is in a Weimar period like Germany in the 1920s which will either end with the country disintegrating or in an authoritarian government taking power," said Ghassan Atiyyah, an Iraqi political commentator.
Dan Murphy in the Christian Science Monitor:
"The war could really be on now,'' says Abu Hassan, a Shiite street peddler who declined to give his full name. "This is something greater and more symbolic than attacks on people. This is a strike at who we are."
The Boston Globe:
Near Basra, mobs set fire to the seventh-century tomb of Talha bin Obeid-Allah, companion of the Prophet Mohammed.

''Their blood will not go in vain," said Tariq al-Hashemi, head of the main Sunni political party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, referring to Sunnis who were killed. ''We will punish and pursue those who committed the aggression."
Port security

The New York Times:
It is clear that the questions involving the Dubai company, Dubai Ports World, have become a proxy for long simmering debates about security and a battleground for resurgent tensions between the White House and Congress. In the end, as Mr. Bush has discovered, the politics of globalization are local and emotional.
The New York Times: "U.S. Sees Emirates as Both Ally and, Since 9/11, a Foe"

The Baltimore Sun: "Fears are misplaced, security experts say"

The Los Angeles Times:
An Arab company's bid to take over management of cargo terminals at half a dozen U.S. ports has become a rallying point for critics seeking tougher port security and greater scrutiny of foreign investment.

But trade and security experts said criticism of the deal involving government-owned Dubai Ports World was misguided because the U.S. government, not terminal operators, was responsible for security at the ports. In addition, they said, foreign companies already control a large share of the U.S. cargohandling business.
The Washington Post: "Ports Debate Reawakens Foreign-Investment Jitters"

The New York Times: "Dubai Sees Bias Behind Storm"

The Baltimore Sun: "Bigotry seen in opposition to deal"

The Washington Post:
The U.S. government reviews business transactions with national security implications and decided after a 23-day review by mid-level officials that Dubai Ports World posed no threat . McClellan said Bush learned about the sale in recent days, after it had been widely reported.
The Los Angeles Times:
The White House failed Wednesday to placate its Republican critics, who pressed ahead with legislative plans to delay — and perhaps thwart — the port deal. Their efforts are a direct affront to Bush's vow to veto such a measure and a sharp departure from the unity that has typified relations between the administration and GOP congressional leaders.
The Baltimore Sun (Very interesting point):
The virulence of the reaction to the deal, criticized by top Republicans and Democrats in Congress and elsewhere, is in large part a product of Bush's success at hammering his opponents as weak on national security, say strategists and analysts.

The president's approach has left other politicians - especially those running for re-election this year - scrambling to display their anti-terrorism credentials
The A.P.:
The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

"They're not lax but they're not draconian," said James Lewis, a former U.S. official who worked on such agreements. If officials had predicted the firestorm of criticism over the deal, Lewis said, "they might have made them sound harder."
Hamas, the U.S. and democracy

The New York Times: "Iran Pledges Financial Aid to Hamas-Led Palestinians"

The A.P.
: "Saudis refuse to join U.S. isolation of Hamas"

Bloomberg News:
Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chastised her Egyptian hosts when she visited Cairo eight months ago, saying democracy advocates ``are not free from violence'' in a country ruled since 1981 by President Hosni Mubarak.

In the Egyptian capital this week, Rice told reporters: ``We can't tell Egypt what its course can be or should be.''

The shift in tone signals that the U.S. is in a bind. Its immediate need is to blunt the power of Hamas, the foe of Israel that triumphed in Palestinian elections last month, and ensure that Hamas's patron Iran doesn't meddle in the Palestinian territories. The U.S. wants Egypt's help and is easing demands on the 77-year-old Mubarak for more democracy in the most populous Arab country.
Disaster response

The Washington Post:
The White House is scheduled to release a report today calling for the military to be more closely involved in handling large natural disasters as part of a plan to improve the government's emergency response operations, which were exposed as fatally flawed after Hurricane Katrina.
The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 — The nation must revamp the way it responds to major disasters or terrorist attacks, according to a new White House report that calls for more stockpiling of emergency supplies, a better-defined role for the military and a more concerted push to evacuate hospitals and nursing homes.
Domestic politics

The Washington Post:
South Dakota lawmakers yesterday approved the nation's most far-reaching ban on abortion, setting the stage for new legal challenges that its supporters say they hope lead to an overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON -- Senator John McCain, the rebellious Republican and leading 2008 presidential prospect, kicks off a national campaign in Miami today promoting an issue that is likely to further alienate him from his party's conservative voters: allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the country legally as ''guest workers" who could earn US citizenship.
Bob Novak:
The cream of Washington's lobbyists gather next Monday evening on Capitol Hill, paying at least $1,000 apiece, to listen to Sen. Ted Stevens, the doughty and defiant president pro tempore of the Senate. In the climate of lobbyist and earmark reform, they will hear plenty.
The Hartford Courant:
Should Gov. M. Jodi Rell accept deeply discounted heating oil for Connecticut's poor if it comes - via a gubernatorial rival - from the government of Venezuela's socialist president, Hugo Chavez?

It is a delicate question that Rell soon must answer thanks to a deal arranged by one of her Democratic opponents, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.


Blogger zen said...

For those who did not see the civil war in Iraq before, they should be shaking off the slumber right abut now. The sad reality is that US forces are caught right in the middle of what is surely to be a prolonged, bloody mess. Some say freedom is messy, but I doubt this is what many American's signed up for. If you think the poll numbers and support for the war is low now, just wait till the violence sky-rokets and the infant government continues to disintergrate.

Support our trOOPS.

With the tension and anxiety that the rampant violence in the world instills in the public psyche, Bush betting the farm on our port security, will not be an easy pill to swallow. What astounds me is that the president just found out about the deal, and yet backs it to the point of threatening his first ever veto. If it walks and talks like a duck...basically saying something seems odd here. The complete disparity between the 'tough on security' posture and the lack of security stance is blatant and quite frankly offensive.

1:01 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

zen, this was a very fine comment.

unfortunately, i think it will be proven correct as well.

1:23 PM  

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