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Sestak And Toomey Agree: Specter Lacks Any Core Principles

Via Philadelphia Inquirer:
Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak blamed Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey’s conservative policies for wrecking the economy as the two clashed in a debate Sunday that was a possible preview of the general election. Sestak, trailing Sen. Arlen Specter in the polls five weeks before the Democratic primary, hoped his performance would convince voters that he is the better choice to make the party’s case against the likely GOP nominee. Both candidates used the absent Specter, who was a Republican senator for nearly 30 years before jumping parties last year, as a foil, saying he lacked any core principles.
Unlike Sestak's core principle of going silent on his allegation that Team Obama offered him a job to drop out against Specter. - Greg Pollowitz

NYC Terror Probe Nets 4th Suspect In Pakistan

Via AP:
WASHINGTON — A fourth suspect in a disrupted plot to bomb New York City subways has been arrested in Pakistan, law enforcement officials said Monday. The principal suspect in the case, Najibullah Zazi, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with investigators, key developments that prosecutors hope will help them trace the plot back to its roots in Pakistan, where Zazi and former friends from high school allegedly traveled in 2008 to seek terror training. After returning to the United States, the plotters allegedly hoped to detonate bombs on trains at two of the city’s biggest subway stations: Times Square and Grand Central Terminal, according to the two officials.
Good. - Greg Pollowitz
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Russia’s Role In The Kyrgyz Coup

Via Washington Post:
BISHKEK, KYRGYZSTAN — Less than a month before the violent protests that toppled the government of Kyrgyzstan last week, Russian television stations broadcast scathing reports portraying President Kurmanbek Bakiyev as a repugnant dictator whose family was stealing billions of dollars from this impoverished nation. The media campaign, along with punishing economic measures adopted by the Kremlin, played a critical role in fanning public anger against Bakiyev and bringing people into the streets for the demonstrations that forced him to flee the capital Wednesday, according to protest leaders, local journalists and analysts.
It's like one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Russia's mad that their development aid was stolen. Shocking. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Obamacare’s Future: NHS Cutbacks Are A Bitter Pill To Swallow

Via Telegraph:
Brace position. An envelope arrives from my local surgery in Sussex. So far as I recall, I’m not expecting the results of any tests for exotic conditions. So this must be even more serious; in my experience, the front line of the NHS never writes to you unless it’s about to cost you, either in raised prices or cut services. Sure enough, the letter comes straight to the point: “We are reviewing how we look after patients … As part of this, we are seeing if we can improve symptom control but also reduce the cost of the drugs used. This is to help the NHS better treat more patients with other conditions.”
Don't say we weren't warned: gird your loins. - Greg Pollowitz

Ahmadinejad: 5 Million In Tehran Should Leave In Case Of Earthquake

Via Telegraph:
At least five million Tehran residents should flee Iran’s capital because it sits on several fault lines and is threatened by earthquakes, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday. “We cannot order people to evacuate the city… but provisions have to be made. At least five million should leave Tehran so it is less crowded and more manageable in case of an incident,” Mehr news agency quoted him as saying. Mr Ahmadinejad said the government could offer “land, loans at four per cent interest and substantial subsidies” in the provinces to encourage Tehran residents to leave the sprawling capital.
This should go well. - Greg Pollowitz
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Poland Update: Lech Walesa On The Crash

Via Telegraph:
. . .Lech Walesa, the Solidary founder and former president, said: “Someone must have been taking decisions on that plane. I don’t believe that the pilot took decisions single-handedly,” he told reporters. “That’s not possible. I have flown a lot and whenever there were doubts, they always came to the leaders and asked for a decision, and based on that, pilots took decisions. Sometimes the decision was against the leader’s instructions.”
Updates to follow. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Sec. Gates On Karzai: ‘We Have to Be Sensitive’

Via ABC News:
Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has recently referred to the U.S. military as “occupiers” in his country and even suggested he could envision joining the Taliban. The White House has said the remarks are “genuinely troubling”. I asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates if such comments made his blood boil, but he said it’s the U.S. that needs to be “sensitive” in its comments about Karzai. In my “This Week” interview, Gates said the U.S. military has a “very positive relationship” with Karzai. The Defense Secretary added, “The Afghans are very concerned about their sovereignty.” Gates suggested Karzai’s comments need to be looked at in a political context. “This is a man who’s first of all a political leader. He has domestic audiences as well as foreign audiences,” Gates told me. “I think we frankly have to be sensitive in our own comments about President Karzai in terms of being mindful that he is the embodiment of sovereignty for Afghanistan also in the way we treat him,” Gates said.
Full charm offensive. Too late? - Greg Pollowitz

America The Big Loser In Kyrgyz Coup

Via Newsweek:
The violence that gripped Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, last week quickly turned into a dictator’s worst nightmare when the snowballing riots forced President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to flee for his life. But by week’s end most pundits agreed that the biggest loser was the United States. Kyrgyzstan is home to the Manas air base, a logistical hub for U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan. Ever since Bakiyev came to power in his own 2005 coup, the U.S. has plied him with money and access to keep the runways at Manas open. That support, which came despite allegations of the regime’s endemic corruption and human-rights abuses, did not endear Washington to the opposition leaders who have now seized power.
Money talks. We'll just have to bribe the new Kyrgyz govt. more than the Russains. - Greg Pollowitz

Hillary Clinton: Karzai Is A Reliable Partner

Via CBS:
In spite of recent strained relations between Kabul and Washington, Afghan President Hamid Karzai will still visit President Obama at the White House on May 12, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And we’re looking forward to his visit,” Clinton told host Bob Schieffer in an interview conducted Friday at the Pentagon. “We consider him a reliable partner.” The White House last week suggested it might cancel Karzai’s visit because of their frustration from some of his recent remarks. [Karzai accused the international community of interfering with the presidential election in Afghanistan last year, and he threatened to join the Taliban insurgency if the U.S. continues to pressure him about government corruption.]
The Obama admin. flip-flop on Karzai has begun. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Karzai To Block Kandahar Offensive?

Via Fox News:
The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has cast doubt over NATO’s planned summer offensive against the Taliban in the southern province of Kandahar, as more than 10,000 American troops pour in for the fight. Karzai threatened to delay or even cancel the operation — one of the biggest of the nine-year war — after being confronted in Kandahar by elders who said it would bring strife, not security, to his home province.
Great. Maybe send Hillary and her "reset" button? - Greg Pollowitz

Poland Update: Pilot Was Warned Not To Land

Via Times of London:
Poland suffered its greatest peacetime tragedy yesterday when its president and dozens of other leading figures were killed in a plane crash in Russia after their pilot ignored warnings not to land in thick fog. President Lech Kaczynski, 60, his wife Maria, an economist, and 95 others died on their way to commemorate the massacre of 22,000 Polish prisoners at Katyn in 1940 by Stalin’s secret police. Instead of diverting, as advised, the pilot of the 20- year-old plane tried and failed to land at least once, before clipping trees and plunging into a forest. Air traffic controllers watched their screens with growing unease as the Soviet-era Tupolev descended into the fog that hung like a shroud over the military airfield at Smolensk in western Russia.
Updates to follow. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Poland Update: Crash Rips Open Old Wounds

Via Los Angeles Times:
The plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski on Saturday gutted a nation’s leadership and silenced some of the most potent human symbols of its tragic and tumultuous history. It was, in a sense, a nation colliding with its past: The aircraft ran aground on a patch of earth that has symbolized the Soviet-era repressions that shaped much of the 20th century, near the remote Russian forest glade called Katyn where thousands of Polish prisoners of war were killed and dumped in unmarked graves by Soviet secret police in 1940. The toll cut a swath through Poland’s elite. The 97 dead included the army chief of staff, the head of the National Security Bureau, the national bank president, the deputy foreign minister, the deputy parliament speaker, the civil rights commissioner and other members of parliament.
Updates to follow. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Poland Update: Putin Vows To Uncover Cause Of Airplane Crash

Via Euro News:
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has vowed to find what caused the plane crash of Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski on Saturday. Putin will head the inquiry into the accident that killed the Polish head of state and 96 others when his plane came down in Smolensk, western Russia. The Russian premier said: “Everything must be done to establish the reasons for this tragedy in the shortest possible time.” Reports indicate the pilot ignored requests to reroute to another airport weather shrouded the runway.
This should ease tensions. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Panic: Illinois Senate: Kirk (R) 41%, Giannoulias (D) 37%

Via Rasmussen Reports:
Republican Congressman Mark Kirk claims 41% support for the second month in a row in Illinois’s U.S. Senate race, while his Democratic opponent, State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, has lost ground. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state finds Giannoulias earning 37% of the vote, down seven points from 44% a month ago. Eight percent (8%) prefer another candidate, and 13% are undecided.
Cross your fingers. - Greg Pollowitz

Update: Polish Plane Attempted 4 Landings Before Crash

Via Polskie Radio:
Foreign Ministry spokesman Piotr Paszkowski says that the cause of the accident is not yet clear. Eye witnesses say that heavy fog surrounded the airport near Smolensk and the plain attempted to land four times before clipping to the tops of trees and immediately falling to the ground, where it burst into flames. The airport was closed at the time of the attempted landing with visibility down to less than 500 meters, according to Russian TV reports. The pilot was offered alternative landings at either Moscow or Minsk airports but decided to try and land at Smolensk.
Updates to follow. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Update: Poland To Hold Early Presidential Election

Via Polskie Radio:
Poland will bring forward presidential elections this year after the death of President Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash in western Russia, Saturday morning. Poland’s constitution states that a date for the elections must be named within two weeks of the death of a head of state, and then the ballot must occur within 60 days. That means that the election – originally scheduled for the autumn must now take place no later than June 20. Parliamentary Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski automatically takes over as acting head of state until election day. Komorowski is also one of the candidates who will run in the elections. In a press conference, Komorowski said that Poland will now enter a week-long period of national mourning, after the plane crash in Smolensk, western Russia killed President Kaczynski, his wife Maria and many of Poland post-Solidarity trade union political and military elite.
Updates to follow. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Greece Debt One Notch Above Junk Status

Via AP:
Greece was hit with another financial headache Friday after Fitch Ratings slashed its credit rating on the country’s debt because of mounting concerns about the government’s ability to get a handle on its debt. Fitch, one of the world’s big three ratings agency, lowered its rating by two notches, to BBB-, and said that the outlook on the country remains negative. The downgrade means Greek debt remains investment grade — but only just. Another downgrade would put Greece’s debt at junk status — an ignominious position for a country using the euro.
Stay tuned. It's going to get worse I fear. - Greg Pollowitz

Brewery Workers Defend Right to Swill Suds While They Work

Via Wall Street Journal:
HOJE-TAASTRUP, Denmark—Michael Christiansen, a truck driver turned union representative, is fighting hard to preserve one of the last, best perks of the beer industry: the right to drink on the job. Mr. Christiansen’s union brethren are wort boilers, bottlers, packers and drivers at Carlsberg A/S, Denmark’s largest brewer. For a century, they’ve had the right to cool off during a hard day’s work with a crisp lager. But on April 1, the refrigerators were idled and daily beer spoils were capped at three pint-sized plastic cups from a dining hall during lunch hour.
Keep up the fight! - Greg Pollowitz

Obama Admin. To Try Softer Approach Toward Karzai

Via New York Times:
WASHINGTON — After more than a year of watching America’s ability to influence President Hamid Karzai ebb, Obama administration officials now admit privately that the tough-love approach Mr. Obama adopted when he came to power may have been a big mistake. The difference in approach was evident in two recent scenes on Air Force One. Scene 1, March 28: Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser, visited reporters flying with the president from Washington to Kabul and promised that President Obama would take on the Afghan president for ignoring American demands on corruption and drug trafficking. Scene 2, Friday: General Jones visited reporters, this time traveling with the president to Washington from Prague, and told them that Mr. Obama had sent Mr. Karzai a thank-you note expressing gratitude to the Afghan leader for dinner in Kabul. “It was a respectful letter,” General Jones said.
So, the Obama administration is basically now following the advice of Liz Cheney? Good news! - Greg Pollowitz

Breaking: President Of Poland Killed In Plane Crash

Via New York Times:
MOSCOW — A plane carrying the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, his wife and other high-ranking officials crashed in a heavy fog in western Russia on Saturday morning, killing all aboard, Polish officials said. Russian television showed chunks of still-flaming fuselage scattered in a bare forest near Smolensk, where the president was arriving for a ceremony commemorating the murder of more than 20,000 Polish officers by the Red Army as it invaded Poland. The governor of Smolensk region, Sergei Antufiyev, said early reports suggested that the plane, landing in a thick fog, did not reach the runway but instead hit the treetops and fell apart. Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev ordered top officials to rush to the scene and opened an investigation into the causes of the crash.
Updates to follow. . . - Greg Pollowitz

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