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Pentagon: Iraqi troops downgraded  —  No Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support  —  WASHINGTON (CNN) — The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.
Robert Burns / Associated Press:
U.S. Report on Iraqi Troops Is Mixed
Discussion: AMERICAblog
New York Times:
Sectarian Bloodshed Reveals Strength of Iraq Militias  —  BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 24 — The sectarian violence that has shaken Iraq this week has demonstrated the power that the many militias here have to draw the country into a full-scale civil war, and how difficult it would be for the state to stop it, Iraqi and American officials say.
Curfew extended in Baghdad and three other provinces.  —  The defense minister in a press conference currently on Iraqi TV gave statistics to correct what he described as "exaggerated media reports" about civilian casualties and attacks on mosques since the attack on the Samarra shrine:
Robert F. Worth / New York Times:
Muslim Clerics Call for an End to Iraqi Rioting  —  BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 24 — With the streets of the capital and other major cities largely emptied by an extraordinary daytime curfew, imams across Iraq called Friday for an end to the sectarian rioting that has left more than 170 people dead …
Borzou Daragahi / Los Angeles Times:
Anger Tinged Calls for Peace in Iraq
Discussion: Informed Comment
White House:
President Addresses American Legion, Discusses Global War on Terror  —  Washington, D.C.  —  In Focus: Veterans  —  In Focus: National Security  —  THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all.  Please be seated.  (Applause.)  Thanks for the warm welcome.  Mr. Commander, thank you for letting me come …
The Big Trunk / Power Line:
Ted Bridis / Associated Press:
Homeland Security Objected to Ports Deal  —  WASHINGTON - The Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company's taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports.  It was the lone protest among members of the government committee that eventually approved the deal without dissent.
Discussion: MyDD and Oliver Willis
Neil A. Lewis / New York Times:
Former Aide to Cheney Gains Access to His Notes  —  WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 — I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney who is charged with lying to investigators about his role in the disclosure of the identity of a C.I.A. officer, won the right Friday to review …
Discussion: Washington Post and firedoglake
Hasan Jamali / Associated Press:
Al-Qaida Claims Attack on Saudi Refinery  —  ABQAIQ, Saudi Arabia - Suicide bombers carried out a bold attack on the world's largest oil processing facility Friday but were stopped from breaking in by guards who fired on their cars, exploding both vehicles and killing the attackers.
Saudis thwart oil refinery attack
Discussion: Bring it On! and In the Bullpen
Captain Ed / Captain's Quarters:
The Difference Between Bush And Conservatives  —  Today's opinion piece by William F. Buckley, the father of American conservatism, highlights the difference between traditional conservatives and the Bush Administration's efforts in foreign policy, along with a host of other arenas.
Glenn Greenwald / Unclaimed Territory:
Prepare the noose for Bill Buckley, the Cowardly Traitor  —  An important and long-overlooked point about the depravity, corruption and truly un-American impulses which define so many Bush followers is revealed by a comparison of these two statements:  —  Howard Dean, December 5, 2005
Ralph Blumenthal / New York Times:
1 Cafe, 1 Gas Station, 2 Roads: America's Emptiest County  —  MENTONE, Tex. — How empty is Loving County?  —  So empty that when Sheriff Billy Burt Hopper ran for office in 2004, he and his opponent attended each other's campaign barbecues.  So empty that it cannot sustain two political parties …
Discussion: Brendan Nyhan
Slacker Friday  —  Think Again is here.  It's called "Second, Third and Fourth Thoughts about the President."  —  Not a joke: Later today, the Pentagon expects to release its quarterly Iraq Progress Report entitled "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq."
Discussion: The Big Picture
Glenn Reynolds /
ONE MORE PHOTO from the Danish Embassy rally.  Reader Jonathan G. Williams, who sent it, writes: "Yes, those things they've got are danishes.  (Cherry, I think.)"  —  Mmm.  Cherry.  —  And Mark Tapscott notes an email from Linda Seebach of the Rocky Mountain News: … It's that whole Army of Davids thing.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds / Wall Street Journal:
Early Warning System  —  Technology is empowering ordinary people in all sorts of ways.  The blogosphere has demonstrated the ability to process information more quickly and thoroughly than other media in the past.  The debate over the acquisition of American port operations contracts …
George F. Will / New York Times:
The Conservative Imagination  —  IN 1950, in "The Liberal Imagination," Lionel Trilling noted "the plain fact" that there were then no conservative ideas "in general circulation."  And, indeed, in 1955, when William F. Buckley started National Review, conservatism was a small church militant in an unconverted world.
New York Times:
Silenced by Islamist Rage  —  With every new riot over the Danish cartoons, it becomes clearer that the protests are no longer about the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, but about the demagoguery of Islamic extremists.  The demonstrators are undeniably outraged by what they perceive as blasphemy.
Lance Mannion:
Life begins at conception...or within six months of it...more or less...maybe...  Not that it will do me any good to say it, but...  I am pro-choice.  —  Now...  No argument for unrestricted abortion holds water unless it includes the argument that at no point is a fetus anything …

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More Items:

TKS on National Review Online:
Polls, ports, government and cartoons
Discussion: Daily Pundit and Dinocrat
Hindrocket / Power Line:
50 Years Ago: The Beginning of the End
Discussion: Dr. Sanity
Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat
Discussion: Booman Tribune
Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D. / WorldNetDaily:
22 ports in Arab deal, not just 6 as reported
Discussion: PunditGuy
Megan Myers /
House sends abortion bill to Rounds (video)
Discussion: Vox Popoli
Peacekeeper sex abuse 'too high'
Discussion: Captain's Quarters

Earlier Picks:

Mona Charen /
Lethal injection blues
Kevin Sullivan / Washington Post:
Bush, Blair, But Not Muhammad
Mary Katharine Ham / Hugh Hewitt:
Bikinis Over Burkas  —  Bringing on a revolution, one babe at a time.
Discussion: and On Tap
Luis David / Age of Hooper:
Discussion: Hyscience
Tim Worstall:
Ken Livingstone Suspended
Goel Pinto / Haaretz:
Chirac, de Villepin attend memorial ceremony for slain Jewish youth
Dana Milbank / Washington Post: > Live Discussions
Discussion: mediabistro and firedoglake
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