FUBAR

Progress? What progress?

President George W. Bush’s ill-conceived Iraq war has become a failure on so many fronts that it is hard to keep track.

A new report by the General Accounting Office finds Iraq has failed to meet 15 of the 18 congressionally-mandated benchmarks and casts doubt on the accuracy of White House claims of more progress.

Media overreaction to bad economic news

One year after the end of the boom market in housing, the New York Times reports we’re getting the first ever, official indication of a decline in the median price of American homes.

Iraq on the installment plan

President Bush is about to ask Congress for another $50 billion to keep fighting the war in Iraq. He is betting — almost certainly correctly — that the Democrats will give him a rough time over the money, probably try to attach timetables for withdrawal to the bill and ultimately give in and pass it.

A year later, anger and sadness

On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, anger over the stalled rebuilding was palpable throughout a city where the mourning for the dead and feeling of loss for flooded homes, schools, snow cone stands, old-time hairstylists and hardware stores doesn’t seem to subside.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall south of New Orleans at 6:10 a.m. Aug. 29, 2005, as a strong Category 3 hurricane that flooded 80 percent of the city and killed more than 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When all else fails, try bribery

Nearly all new US Army recruits are receiving a special 20,000-dollar bonus, an official said Monday, amid debate over whether the Pentagon is eroding standards to shore up its stretched ranks.

Out of 6,611 people who enlisted in the Army between the bonus program’s start on July 25 and August 24, a total of 6,264 or 94.8 percent are getting the hefty payout.

In return, the raw recruits must agree to start basic training within 30 days, much quicker than normal Army timelines.

Vick is sick. So is PETA

The Michael Vick dogfighting scandal is morphing into a broader NFL dogfighting scandal, as other NFL players also appear to be involved in this very weird pastime.

But as animal-rights groups get more aggressive in their accusations and demands, the whole scene is getting stranger and stranger. And the closer you look, the more you see the deep conflicts in core values that fracture our society.

Getting ready to spin the report

For months, pundits and politicians have referred to Sept. 15 as the date Army Gen. David Petraeus will present his potentially pivotal analysis of how successful the surge in U.S. forces has been in turning the tide of the war in Iraq.

But that date is merely the deadline for the progress report to be given to Congress, where partisans on both sides will use it to decide whether to force a U.S. troop withdrawal or stay the course.

Troops almost captured bin Laden

US forces in Afghanistan came so close to discovering Osama bin Laden in the winter of 2004-2005 that his supporters were on the verge of killing him to prevent his capture, a US magazine reported Sunday.

Bin Laden’s entourage, ordered to kill the Al-Qaeda chief and themselves to avoid capture, were about to take the drastic action using a special code word when nearby US troops moved off in a different direction, Newsweek magazine said in its latest issue on sale Monday.

Terror database yields few arrests

The US government’s terrorist screening database flagged Americans and foreigners as suspected terrorists almost 20,000 times last year, but only a small fraction of those questioned were arrested or denied entry into the United States, it was reported Saturday.

The Washington Post said these numbers were raising concerns among critics about privacy and the list’s effectiveness.

A grim view of a failed war

Iraq’s government will become more precarious in the coming months and a drawdown of US forces could increase sectarian violence, American spy agencies said in a grim report Thursday.

The new intelligence estimate also predicted that security improvements made over the past six months will erode if the US military narrows its mission to supporting the Iraqi security forces and fighting Al-Qaeda.

The US intelligence community “assesses that the Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months because of criticism by other members of the major Shia coalition” as well as Sunni and Kurdish parties, the new estimate warned.