Thursday, March 09, 2006

News roundup 03.09.2006

Do you remember how it was a really big deal, then it was not such a big deal? It is a big deal again.

The long war in Iraq

Ellen Knickmeyer of the Washington Post has the 1.) source of the day and 2.) story of the day:
BAGHDAD, March 8 -- Days after the bombing of a Shiite shrine unleashed a wave of retaliatory killings of Sunnis, the leading Shiite party in Iraq's governing coalition directed the Health Ministry to stop tabulating execution-style shootings, according to a ministry official familiar with the recording of deaths.

The official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because he feared for his safety, said a representative of the Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, ordered that government hospitals and morgues catalogue deaths caused by bombings or clashes with insurgents, but not by execution-style shootings.
As for the abduction of several dozen security personnel, the Times of London reports (my emphasis):
Gunmen in police uniform stormed the offices of al-Rawafid Security at about 1pm yesterday, spending several hours stealing weapons and a safe before leading the employees to a fleet of white SUV vehicles.

The guards offered no resistance, apparently convinced that their abductors were genuine police officers. They have not been heard from since.

Police patrolling nearby also failed to respond, because they too thought the raiders were from a government agency.*

"As far as we’re concerned, there were no interior ministry orders to arrest these men," General Rasheed Flaih said. He added: "It’s very strange that so many security guards could have been abducted without any shots being fired."
*Does that make any sense? Hours? No police inquiry? Speaking of which...

The Los Angeles Times: "U.S. Expands Training to Address Iraqi Police Woes"

The Washington Post (poll. unrelated but related): "Negative Perception Of Islam Increasing"

A troubled presidency

The Los Angeles Times: "60 House Republicans Oppose Medicare Cut"

Robert Novak:
On Jan. 23, the president pulled Bill Clinton's secretary of the Treasury aside to make an extended plea that they work together on his commission to find ways to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid costs. Rubin's public answer came in a Bloomberg Television interview, broadcast March 4, when he urged Democratic noncooperation with Bush's commission. Instead, he said, Democratic leaders in Congress should demand that the president join them in a ''fiscal commission'' that would clearly be aimed at rolling back Bush's tax cuts.
Port security

This appears to be headed for a showdown.

The Phila. Inquirer:
WASHINGTON - The White House, fighting public opinion and anxious Republican lawmakers, worked against the odds yesterday to prevent Congress from blocking the transfer of some U.S. port terminals to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates.

House Republicans, publicly snubbing President Bush, inserted language to scuttle the deal into an emergency spending bill for hurricane relief and the war in Iraq. In the Senate, a bill to restrict lobbying practices and tighten ethics rules came to a standstill when Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) tried to amend it with his proposal to undo the ports deal.
The New York Times: "Suddenly, a Rebellion in the G.O.P. on a Signature Issue"

The Washington Post:
"Every day, we get hundreds and hundreds of phone calls, e-mails, letters objecting to this," House Republican Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce (Ohio) said yesterday on CNBC. "And you just can't buck that when there's that much public [sentiment] and objection to it. Whether it's right or wrong, this is sort of a lose-lose now."
The A.P.
:WASHINGTON - After an election-year repudiation by a GOP-led House committee, President Bush hopes to avoid getting steamrolled in the Senate over a deal allowing a Dubai-owned company to take control of some U.S port operations.
The Hill:
Dubai is threatening retaliation against American strategic and commercial interests if Washington blocks its $6.8 billion takeover of operations at several U.S. ports.
Hmmm... That won't help. Hey, what could the political-tin-ear do to make this worse?

The Washington Post (page 1! quote HEADLINE): "Bush: Congress 'Shortchanged' New Orleans"

The New York Times:
NEW ORLEANS, March 8 — President Bush demanded on Wednesday that Congress provide Louisiana with the full $4.2 billion he has requested in housing aid for this storm-battered state, even as the House and Senate began considering whether some of that money should go to other states in the region.
The New Orleans Times Picayune:
Standing atop the breached Industrial Canal levee in the Lower 9th Ward, Bush said he is counting on lawmakers to reverse a Tuesday move by leaders of the House Appropriations Committee that would let other states, including Bush's home state of Texas, vie for the cash. The money is part of a $92 billion supplemental spending request Bush proposed last month, including $19.8 billion for Gulf Coast recovery aid.

"Congress needs to make sure that the $4.2 billion that I requested goes to Louisiana," said Bush, who was joined by his wife Laura, Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Mayor Ray Nagin, Gulf Coast recovery coordinator Donald Powell and a bevy of Army Corps of Engineers personnel.
What motivated the president to blame Congress on this? Is he right? Yeah. Sort of. Was he trying to adjust his stance because of those hurricane briefing videos?

The Washington Times:
A day before returning to the ravaged Gulf Coast region, President Bush created an office for faith-based initiatives within the Department of Homeland Security to improve disaster recovery efforts.
FEMA can now pray to do a better job. Might help.


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