Wednesday, July 28, 2010

FP morning brief 7/28

Congress approves war funding

Top news: The U.S. House of Represenatatives approved a bill yesterday to provide an additional $37 billion to fund the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure, which had strong Republican support after a series of domestic spending programs was stripped from it last week, passed 308-114 despite the fears of many Democratic lawmakers that the war in Afghanistan has become unwinnable -- a fear amplified this week by the leak of thousands of sensitive war documents. The bill will now go to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The debate over the bill highlighted a growing divide between the president and many members of his party over Afghanistan policy. "What has changed in my mind is I am so discouraged at the chances of our commitment in Afghanistan succeeding that I think it's time to say, no more," said Congressman Henry Waxman of California. The congress also spent several hours debating a measure sponsored by Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul calling for the removal of U.S. troops from Pakistan, which was eventually defeated.

In addition to funding the two wars, the bill -- $59 billion in all -- also provides funding for Vietnam War veterans affected by Agent Orange and increases funding to the relief effort in Haiti.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, lawmakers questioned Gen. James Mattis, who has been appointed to replace Gen. David Petraeus as commander of CENTCOM. Regarding the trove of documents revealed by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks this week, Mattis said, " “One of the newspaper headlines was that war is a tense and dangerous thing.... Well, if that is news, I don’t know who it’s news to that’s on this planet.”

President Obama also discussed the documents at the White House, saying the problems they identify have long been known. “Indeed, they point to the same challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall,” he said.

Adios toro: Catalonia became the first Spanish region to outlaw bullfighting.

Middle East
  • In a new tape, a man reported to be al Qaeda no. 2 Ayman al Zawahri makes reference to the failed Times Square bombing attempt, the French veil ban, and Israel's botched flotilla raid.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah II met in Amman for security talks.
  • An explosion, possibly deliberate, damaged a Japanese oil tanker in the Persian gulf.
  • According to a new U.S. State Department report, Russia may not be acting in compliance with international treaties on chemical and biological weapons.
  • A British court has blocked the extradition of former Bosnian leader Ejup Ganic to face war crimes trials in Serbia.
  • Iceland is continuing to defy EU fishing rules as its accession talks begin.
  • Eleven people were killed by fighting near Mogadishu's largest outdoor market.
  • Four white South African university students pleaded guilty to a widely publicized incident of humiliating black staff on video.
  • Two German aid workers, kidnapped in Darfur five weeks ago, were freed.
-By Joshua Keating


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