Dubai-ing Time

Dubai-ing Time

Dubai-ing Time

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Feb. 27 2006 6:10 AM

Dubai-ing Time

The Los Angeles Times leads with President Bush's decision to reopen the federal investigation into a Dubai-based firm's bid to gain control of six U.S. ports. Bush's reversal comes after significant bipartisan criticism of the deal and the firm's own suggestion that the matter be re-examined. The New York Times leads with news that, after withdrawing from government-formation talks last Thursday, Sunni leaders in Iraq will return to negotiations in hopes of stopping what some feel might become a potential civil war. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide news box with news of continuing sectarian violence in Iraq, despite widespread calls for peace by Iraqi leaders.

The Washington Post leads with news that, with Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts nowhere near complete, the majority of the money donated to charities for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts has already been spent. USA Today leads with an investigation into the federal government's handling of the last two years' worth of safety violations at the Sago Mine in West Virginia. Noting the consistently minimal fines levied by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the report suggests that inspectors were less than diligent in determining the extentof Sago's violations.

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After enduring a week of intense criticism over the potential security hazards involved in having an Arab-owned company operating American ports, the White House has decided to subject the deal to a full 45-day security review—a move welcomed by Dubai Ports World, the company under scrutiny. Critics of the deal seemed somewhat mollified by the agreement, which was brokered by administration officials and Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., in a frenzy of activity over the weekend. Only the NYT notes that, under the terms of the review, President Bush himself will have to personally decide whether or not the merger goes through.

After a bloody five-day span in which more than 200 people were killed in widespread sectarian violence, Sunni leaders have returned to political negotiations, having decided that establishing a permanent Iraqi government is key to promoting cooperation and understanding among Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish factions. " 'We should hurry up and form a national unity government, to change this hopeless government,' " said the Sunni negotiator in an NYT interview.

The papers vary in their estimates of how many people died yesterday in various attacks throughout Iraq (anywhere from 10 people to 30 people), but most agree that the violence that has raged since the mosque attack on Wednesday seems to be waning, perhaps thanks to an all-day curfew imposed in Baghdad. Some fear that the attacks will be renewed once the curfew is lifted: '"When there is a curfew they hide, and when it is lifted they go to the streets with their car bombs,'" one man told the Post.

The Post's extensive examination into the finances of several charities involved in Hurricane Katrina relief reveals that most of them are facing empty coffers and unsatisfied customers. Although more than $3 billion was donated, the majority of that money went to urgent needs like tarps and food, leaving approximately $960 million available for long-term rebuilding efforts. As the charities decide the best ways to stretch their dollars, small-scale turf wars have broken out between big national organizations and small grass-roots ones. Meanwhile, Baton Rouge is becoming something of a boomtown, according to the LAT.

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Although a Pentagon audit determined that a Halliburton subsidiary submitted $262 million worth of questionable costs as part of a fuel-delivery contract, the Army still plans to pay the company the bulk of the money, the NYT reports. Only 3.4 percent of the reimbursement will be withheld—an amount more than 50 percent below the average amount of money withheld by the military on disputed contractor charges.

The LAT and the NYT report on the leaked draft of a Mexican investigation into the government's systematic persecution of rural guerrillas and those thought to be linked with them during the 1960s and '70s. The report is the first official acknowledgement of the crimes committed during Mexico's so-called dirty war; among other things, the meticulously documented report accuses the government of genocide.

Everyone reports on the agreement in principle between Russia and Iran to jointly enrich uranium for nonweapon usage, a move that was conditionally lauded as a way to stop Tehran from unilaterally pursuing a nuclear program. The venture would take place on Russian soil. However, U.S. officials remain wary of Iran's good faith: " 'In any of these arrangements, the devil is in the details,' " said National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

USATreefers and everybody mentions Sunday's riot in Afghanistan's central high-security prison. Five people were killed and 31 were wounded in the riot, which apparently stemmed from prisoners' dislike of a new rule requiring them to wear uniforms. Although the majority of the prisoners are common criminals, Taliban and al-Qaida members were blamed for inciting the ruckus.

The Post off-leads a feature on how almost every state is scrambling to pass legislation regulating access to the morning-after pill. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the debate is breaking down on red-state/blue-state lines, with states like Illinois and Maryland attempting to ease access to the pill and states like New Hampshire attempting to restrict access. The FDA has been stalling its decision as to whether or not the emergency contraceptive, marketed under the name Plan B, will be allowed to be sold over-the-counter.

The NYT fronts the somewhat surprising revelation that German intelligence agents supplied the United States with a copy of Saddam Hussein's Baghdad defense plans a month before the 2003 invasion. At the time, German leaders numbered among the most vociferous opponents of America's war plans. Germany now claims that the intelligence provided was very minimal.

The Olympics are over, and everybody's got something to say about Turin. The NYT thinks that the Games might be remembered for doping and dullness. The LAT writes that residents of Turin are bracing for what's known as the Olympic Hangover. USAT thinks the Games were "a topsy-turvy mix of marvels and misadventures." Sounds good to me!

Eat Your Heart Out, Morimoto: If you think Japan's contribution to food-centric television begins and ends with Iron Chef, think again. The Post fronts a feature on several Japanese television programs that focus on "a less well-known Japanese obsession: eating." One show features boy-band members cooking food for Japan's prime minister; on another, titled Love's Apron, celebrities "amuse audiences by bungling complicated recipes." Now, that's entertainment!