News in Brief: Iraq Combat Phase to “End,” but Troops Remain, and More

Iraq Combat Phase to “End,” but Troops Remain

The New York Times reports that President Obama is expected to announce that the US combat phase in Iraq wraps up this month. The paper also reports that, even though the president will be honoring a campaign promise to “bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end,” conditions in Iraq – from an unreliable electrical grid to unfinished reconstruction projects, polluted water and damaged infrastructure – undercut what still needs to be done.

Despite Obama’s announcement, 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq conducting “antiterrorist raids,” training Iraqi soldiers and guarding US personnel, according to The Washington Post.

Afghanistan 2011: US Troops Will Remain

The 2011 deadline for US troops in Afghanistan will remain a benchmark, but Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the withdrawal will be “limited,” according to a report by AlJazeera. According to the AFP, Gates’ remarks on Sunday echo those of Vice President Joseph Biden. The AFP says the vice president has previously said he expected “as few as 2,000 troops might withdraw from Afghanistan by July 2011.”

Britain’s High Commissioner Called to the Carpet

Fallout from UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s remark that Pakistan exports terrorism continues. The Guardian reports that Pakistan has called Britain’s high commissioner to Islamabad for what the paper calls a “dressing down.” Pakistan’s President Asif Zardari is expected to visit London tomorrow. The Guardian says England’s prime minister will not apologize for the comment: a spokesman says Cameron was not talking about Pakistan’s government, but “elements” within the country.

Rocket Hits Jordan, Killing at Least One

Jordanian and Israeli officials say a rocket that was probably aimed at Israel hit Jordan, killing at least one and injuring at least four, the New York Times Reports. The BBC reports that there was “a large explosion at the Gaza house of a senior Hamas commander” on Monday. Israel has denied involvement with Monday’s attack, according to the BBC, which notes Israeli plans launched air attacks in Gaza Friday and Saturday.

BP Static Kill to Start This Week

BP is angling to attempt a “static” kill to permanently seal the well in the Gulf today, according to Reuters. Clogging the well has two components: “the static kill” – pumping mud and cement from the top – and the “bottom kill,” which would take the same approach, from the bottom of the well. Progress, however, is not certain, and The Wall Street Journal reports that local Louisiana officials are trying to make sure BP expertise and equipment stays put. The Wall Street Journal says officials worry that the spill’s full impact is not yet understood and releasing BP’s resources would make getting them back on site difficult. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal says Rep. Edward Markey is asking why the energy giant violated an Environmental Protection Agency directive to use less of the chemicals. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has a hearing on oil dispersant use Wednesday.

Internet Explorer Joins the No-Privacy List

Internet Explorer eight could have been a privacy benchmark for Microsoft, with hi-privacy default settings, but the computer giant chose advertising dollars instead, according to The Wall Street Journal. The result, the Wall Street Journal reports, is a web browser that plays to “input from advertising executives” and forces users to hunt down the privacy settings and calibrate how much of their Web behavior they want to share. According to the report, before the advertising input, Internet Explorer’s privacy capabilities were “industry leading.” It also notes that 50 of the most popular web sites in the US install “an average of 64 pieces of tracking technology” onto computers.

Breitbart Loses RNC Gig

Video editor/blogger Andrew Breitbart’s been discharged of his Republican National Committee (RNC) fundraising obligation. CNN reports that a fundraiser at which Breitbart was to appear with RNC Chairman Michael Steele later this month has been canceled. Breitbart has been under scrutiny for his heavy editing of a video, which misrepresented now-former Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod as not helping a farmer because of race. Sherrod has said she will be suing Breitbart.