Friday, February 24, 2006

Morning copy 02.24.2006

Lock down in Iraq (for some)

An extended curfew was in place today to keep Sunni and Shiite from mixing after Friday prayers.

The Times of London:
"So civil war is a possibility, but it's far from certain. The majority of Iraqis, Sunni and Shia, don't hate each other. If you look at the amount of provocation that Iraqis have suffered over the past three years, it would have catapulted most countries into a civil war ages ago.

"There are a lot of very positive influences in Iraq that are putting the brakes on war happening, but then civil war has never been the desire of the majority: it's something that happens when unbearable pressures on society coincide, and right now Iraq is in a very pressured state.
The Guardian:
The curfew will prevent people from attending the week's most important prayer services, which officials said they feared could be targets for further attacks as concerns over civil war grew.

"This is the first time that I have heard politicians say they are worried about the outbreak of civil war," the Kurdish elder statesman Mahmoud Othman told the Associated Press.
The Los Angeles Times:
BAGHDAD — Rarely since the U.S.-led invasion have Iraq's politicians appeared so insignificant and its religious leaders loomed so large as in the 48 hours since the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra.
Professor Cole:
Sunni Arabs in Iraq blamed US troops for not protecting Sunni mosques and worshippers from violence. The US military ordered the US soldiers in Baghdad to stay in their barracks and not to circulate if it could be helped. This situation underlines how useless the American ground forces are in Iraq. They can't stop the guerrilla war and may be making it worst. Last I knew, there were 10,000 US troops in Anbar Province with a population of 1.1 million. What could you do with that small force, when the vast majority of the people support the guerrillas? US troops would be useless if they hcad to fight in alleyways against sectarian rioters. If they tried to guard the Sunni mosques, they'd have to shoot into Shiite mobs, which would just raise the level of violence they face from Shiites in the south.
Port security

The Baltimore Sun:
WASHINGTON // Taking a cue from the White House, a United Arab Emirates company announced late last night that it would postpone part of a deal to take over some operations at the port of Baltimore and five other major seaports.
Bloomberg News:
The decision to turn over the port facilities to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates, a country that was home to two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, ``is clearly an issue where Democrats see an opportunity to take advantage of a weakness in what has been a Bush strength: keeping us safe and being tough on terrorism,'' said Anita Dunn, a strategist for Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, who is exploring a presidential run in 2008.
Manchester Union Leader:
Sununu also criticized the Department of Homeland Security for not communicating with Congress regarding purchase of six U.S. ports by a company in the United Arab Emirates, but stressed that the U.S. should not discriminate.

“I am disappointed that the President wasn’t informed, I am disappointed that Congress wasn’t informed,” he said. “Providing information to Congress is something that Homeland Security needs to address immediately. We should honestly look at the security issues, but just because a company has Arab roots rather than European roots doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do business with them.”
The Phila. Inquirer:
WASHINGTON - Former New Jersey Gov. Jim Florio, who as a congressman crafted the law to prevent foreign investments deemed security threats, says the controversy over a United Arab Emirates-owned company managing U.S. ports might have been avoided had Congress exercised more scrutiny.
Health Care

It doesn't get the press it deserves, because there is so much going on in Foreign affairs.

Bloomberg News:
Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush's proposal to expand health savings accounts, intended to help contain spiraling medical costs, may prove a tax-free boon for the nation's rich.

Both supporters and opponents of the proposal said the enhanced HSAs offer unprecedented tax advantages and may become more attractive than 401(k)s or Individual Retirement Accounts as a way for the richest and healthiest Americans to build savings.

The proposal would create ``the mother of all tax shelters,'' said Paul Caron, a professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
Isn't that nice of the Prez???

John Kerry (confuses me)

Now he's going to be pro-life sort of. The Denver Post:
U.S. Sen. John Kerry said Wednesday that Colorado Democrats should keep an open mind when it comes to supporting candidates such as gubernatorial hopeful Bill Ritter who don't support abortion rights.
The Governator

The Los Angeles Times:
Schwarzenegger's most immediate challenge is to tamp down the revolt among his party's conservative base, which he will face tonight at the state GOP convention in San Jose.

But his difficulties are far broader, as illustrated by a poll released this week by the Public Policy Institute of California.

His popularity ratings among men, women, whites, Latinos, Republicans, Democrats, independents and other key groups fall short of what he needs to win in November. Overall, only 40% of voters approve of his job performance, well below the 50% benchmark for an incumbent seeking reelection.

"He's got a lot of work to do with a lot of different groups," said Mark Baldassare, statewide survey director of the institute.
The Russian military

MOSCOW - The Russian military got an unpleasant surprise on the eve of its only holiday.

Dozens of posters plastered across Moscow screamed the military salute "Congrats to the Russian Soldiers," but depicted the American warship USS Missouri.


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