March 28, 2006

News Roundup

Israelis enjoyed their day off as election day is a holiday in Israel. It appears that Israelis would have rather gone to the mall than to the polls to vote today. Voter turnout was the lowest in Israeli history, estimated around 60%, which observers said would help smaller ideologically driven parties. Exit polls showed that the new party Kadima, Ariel Sharon's creation now under the guidance of acting PM Ehud Olmer gained the most seats (~30), followed by Labor (~20), and then Likud (~10). I think everybody just misses Sharon.

Tensions were at an all time high between Shia leaders and the US military as presidential inquiry has begun over the weekend massacre of more than 20 Iraqis who were praying in a mosque. The operation was conducted by US and Iraqi troops who claimed that those killed were insurgents. Eyewitnesses report that the attack took place in a mosque while people were praying. The US military has denied that it entered a mosque. US military spokesman Barry Johnson said, "In our observation of the place and the activities that were going on, it's difficult for us to consider this a place of prayer." After 3 years in Iraq, you would expect the US military to recognize a place of prayer when it sees one. I would say "Mr. Johson, In my observation of the your soldier's actions and continued disregard for civilian life over the past three years in Iraq, it's difficult for me and the rest of the world to believe anything you say."

Meanwhile, as the US tries to promote a stable democracy in Iraq, the US ambassador to I
raq Zalmay Khalilzad told Rida Jawad al-Takki that President George Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" the retention of Ibrahim Jaafari as Prime Minister of Iraq. The US embassy in Baghdad confirmed Mr Khalilzad had met Mr Hakim on Saturday, but denied he had made such a demand. A spokesman for Jaafari said "an ambassador telling a sovereign country what to do is unacceptable." So much for democracy promotion, let the lobbying begin!

Dubya got bored of his right hand man Andrew Card and ordered a shake up of White House staff. Card resigned today and will be replaced by Joshua Bolten, previously the head of the Office of Management and Budget. Exit neo-con, enter neo-con!

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