Thursday, March 16, 2006

News roundup 03.16.2006

National security


The White House has released a new National Security Strategy. (These guys sure do like making .pdfs about war.)

The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, March 15 — An updated version of the Bush administration's national security strategy, the first in more than three years, gives no ground on the decision to order a pre-emptive attack on Iraq in 2003, and identifies Iran as the country likely to present the single greatest future challenge to the United States.
The Washington Post:
The long-overdue document, an articulation of U.S. strategic priorities that is required by law, lays out a robust view of America's power and an assertive view of its responsibility to bring change around the world. On topics including genocide, human trafficking and AIDS, the strategy describes itself as "idealistic about goals and realistic about means."
The Iraqi government

The Washington Post: "Iraq's New Parliament Holds First Session"

Al Jazeera:
The first session of Iraq's new parliament has concluded with no real business conducted as Shia, Sunnis, Kurds and others remain deadlocked over the posts of speaker, president, prime minister and cabinet members.

The Guardian: "Iraqi PM offers to step down"

The nature of the Iraq war

David Ignatius of the Washington Post:
Khalilzad told me in an interview in his office after Wednesday's session that the talks had produced tentative agreement on two basic points: First, the parties endorsed the idea of a unity government that would include all the major factions. Second, they agreed that this government should have a top-level "national security commission" that would include representatives of all the major political parties. Operating by consensus, this body would frame the broad outlines of policy, subject to the Iraqi constitution.
The A.P.:
It's only a term from a dictionary, defined as a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country. But once media headlines begin referring to the "Iraq civil war," it will mark not only an escalation of vocabulary, but of international concern.

Some aren't ready for the label. "It's not a state of civil war yet, but we're on the verge of it," said Baghdad political writer Jabir al-Jabari.
John Koopman of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Fallujah, Iraq -- If you want to know how much longer U.S. troops need to remain in Iraq, talk to the X.O.

X.O. is short for executive officer, the No. 2 man in the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Division of Iraq's new military forces.

"Five to seven years," he said in English over cigarettes and sugary tea. "No less. In five to seven years, Iraqi army is OK."

And if America withdraws now?

"Very bad," he said. "Much violence. Many Iraqis dead."

Bloomberg News: "Iran Says It's Ready for Talks With the U.S. on Iraq"

The Washington Post:
TEHRAN, March 16 -- A ranking Iranian national security official said Thursday that Iran is willing to engage in direct talks with the United States about the political future of Iraq.

Ali Larijani, general secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said in an interview that his comments were in response to suggestions from an Iraqi political figure and from Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, that the United States wanted to reach out in some way to Iran.
Al Jazeera:
The American ambassador to the United Nations has compared the threat from Iran's nuclear programmes to the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Line item veto

George Will in the Washington Post:
The word "veto" is not in the Constitution. It says "every bill" passed by both houses of Congress must be "presented" to the president, who must sign "it" or return "it" to Congress. The antecedent of the pronoun is the entire bill, not bits of it. As President George Washington understood: "I must approve all the parts of a bill, or reject it in toto."
Censure sure not a Fein idea

The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, March 15 — Republicans, worried that their conservative base lacks motivation to turn out for the fall elections, have found a new rallying cry in the dreams of liberals about censuring or impeaching President Bush.
Bloomberg News:
March 16 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush enjoys the approval of only 37 percent of the U.S. public, his lowest-ever rating, against 58 percent who take a poor view of his job performance, according to the latest monthly poll carried out by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News.

The A.P.:
WASHINGTON Mar 15, 2006 (AP)— House Republicans launched an election-year drive Wednesday to rein in political groups that operate with looser restraints than candidates and their parties, an attempt to blunt the activities of liberals such as billionaire George Soros.
The Hill:
During an elected-leadership meeting a few weeks ago, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) erupted at Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) because he thought the newly elected majority leader was dragging his feet on lobbying reform.

The A.P.:
BOSTON — Research from the biggest study ever of U.S. health-care quality suggests that Americans, regardless of their race, income, education or insurance status, get roughly equal treatment once they get into the health-care system — but that treatment is woefully mediocre for all.

"This study shows that health care has equal-opportunity defects," said Dr. Donald Berwick, head of the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Mass., who was not involved in the study.
Border security (slash 2008 primaries)

The Washington Times:
Majority Leader Bill Frist, frustrated by the sluggish debate over immigration reform at the committee level, plans to introduce a bill that deals solely with border security as early as today.
New Orleans

The Times Picayune: "Traffic lights at 40 percent of city intersections still not working"


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