Monday, July 28, 2008

Other Items

The top U.S. military commander in Iraq isn't buying the increasingly popular idea of a publicly stated timetable for American troop withdrawal.
Gen. David Petraeus, the Iraq commander, said in an interview with McClatchy that the situation in Iraq is too volatile to "project out, and to then try to plant a flag on, a particular date."
With violence at its lowest levels of the war, politicians in both the United States and Iraq are getting behind the idea of a departure timetable. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was first, suggesting he would have combat troops home within 16 months of Inauguration Day. The idea got a big boost during his overseas trip, when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki indicated support for that general timeline.
During a Friday interview on CNN's "The Situation Room," Republican candidate John McCain, who had opposed setting a timeline, appeared to shift ground. McCain said that 16 months "is a pretty good timetable" but must be based on conditions on the ground.

The above is from Nancy A. Youssef's "Petraeus won't join bandwagon for Iraq withdrawal timetable" (McClatchy Newspapers). While Petraues hums Linda Ronstadt's "Different Drum," Dana Hedgpeth and Amit R. Paley probe the money in "U.S. Says Contractor Made Little Progress on Iraq Projects" (Washington Post):

The U.S. government paid a California contractor $142 million to build prisons, fire stations and police facilities in Iraq that it never built or finished, according to audits by a watchdog office.
The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) said Parsons of Pasadena, Calif., received the money, part of a total of $333 million but only completed about one-third of the projects, which also included courthouses and border control stations. The inspector general's office is expected to release two detailed audits today, evaluating Parsons's work on the contract, which is worth up to $900 million.

Katharine Euphrat (AP) reports that the VA's suicide prevention hotline (1-800-873-TALK) has received requests for assistance from over 22,000 veterans. The statistics are from the government and the government also states that they have prevented 1,221 veterans' suicides.

Juan Gonzalez interviews Ryan Lizza today on Democracy Now! and you may have to go to the website to catch it. Pay attention, forty minutes in, to the discussion on the 'big speech.' Pacifica's doing fundraising and it appears they're going to bury that segment. WBAI is ignoring it (focusing on the last segment of the broadcast). KPFA and KPFK are broadcasting the Lizza segment. It'll come at approximately 40 minutes into the show. (And you can visit the website for transcript regardless of whether your outlet plays the broadcast in full.)

Kimberly notes this from a column today by Robert Novak (!):

The toughest interrogation of Obama came from CBS anchor Katie Couric in Jordan last Tuesday. She asked four times whether the troop surge he had opposed was instrumental in reducing violence in Iraq. Obama answered straight from talking points by citing "the great effort of our young men and women in uniform." That sounded like the old politics. He would have sounded more like a new politician if he had simply said, "Yes, the strategy did work." That would have infuriated antiwar activists but not enough for them to drop Obama.

The interview should be below and the transcript (in full) is here at CBS Evening News.

Ava and I note the interview at Third, which is why Kimberly noted the excerpt.

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