News in Brief: CIA May Have Been Pakistan Pawn, and More

CIA May Have Unwittingly Undermined Taliban-Afghanistan Peace

The New York Times reports that a joint US-Pakistan mission to target and detain Taliban leaders in January may have been a doublecross. The article says that, although pretending to be surprised that they captured Abdul Ghani Baradar, the second-highest ranking member of the Taliban, that Pakistan officials now say they chose the time and the place for the express purpose of capturing Baradar. The reason: to derail peace talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Two Bombings, at Least 33 Dead in Pakistan

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that two bombs along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border killed at least 33 people on Monday. Twenty-six were killed in a bombing at a mosque in South Waziristan. The second attack was inside a school in the Kurram region. As of this writing, no group has claimed responsibility.

July 2011 Looms, Money Continues to Flow to Military Base Construction

Although opinions regarding the July 2011 drawdown of forces in Afghanistan range from not going to happen to assured exit, the US continues to pour money into base construction projects. The Washington Post reports the latest round of projects includes three $100-million air base expansions and that requests for $1.3 billion for additional military construction projects await Congressional approval. These are in addition to $5.3 billion set aside for Afghan police and security facilities.

Mosque Protests – New York City and Beyond

Despite The Washington Post’s article that punctured the image New Yorkers are up in arms about the so-called ground zero mosque joining the neighborhood that includes a strip club and Off-Track-Betting parlor, anti-mosque and anti-anti-mosque protesters aired their grievances in downtown Manhattan on Sunday. Although the New York mosque has become a knee-jerk issue in the election run-up, The Washington Post points out that this is a nationwide backlash playing out in previously Muslim-friendly and religiously and ethnically diverse cities. The impact of the dispute, however, is not strictly domestic and is roiling communities worldwide.

Dick Armey Threatens GOP With Tea Party Targeting

CQ Politics reports that former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) is strong-arming Republican Congressmen to sign on to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) plan to balance the budget or feel the Tea Party’s wrath. Ryan’s plan would halve taxes on the richest 1 percent, increase taxes on about 75 percent of Americans, eliminate most of Medicaid, erase Medicare and end Children’s Health Insurance Plans by replacing them with health vouchers.

Van Gogh Theft by the Numbers: Seven of 43 Security Cameras Worked

Van Gogh’s “Poppy Flowers” painting (alternately known as “Vase and Flowers”) was stolen during regular business hours at Egypt’s Khalil Museum. The BBC reports Abdel Meguid Mahmud, Egypt’s top prosecutor, called the museum’s security a “façade,” and says that, in addition to having 36 security cameras that didn’t work, none of the alarms that are meant to protect the paintings worked either. Weekend reports that the painting was found were false. The very same painting was stolen from this museum in 1978, but was found in 1988 in Kuwait.