After months of asking Americans to suspend judgment on the troop surge until hearing a progress report from Gen. David Petraeus next month, the White House proposed keeping the general's report behind closed doors, the Washington Post reports.
White House officials suggested to Congress that they limit Petraeus' and Ambassador Ryan Crocker's appearance to a private congressional briefing, with the secretaries of state and defense delivering the official report to Congress.
Nice try, said Congress.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden (D-Del.) told the White House that Bush's plan was "unacceptable." The legislation demanding the report requires that Petraeus and Crocker "will be made available to testify in open and closed sessions before relevant committees of the Congress" before the delivery of the report. "Several Republicans have hinted that their support will depend on a credible presentation by Petraeus," the Post reports.
For their part, Petreaus and Crocker "appeared to be puzzled" by Bush's proposal. They have "said repeatedly that they plan to testify after delivering private assessments to Bush."
Power Sharing In Pakistan?
Worried about its wobbling buddy Gen. Pervez Musharraf's ability to hold onto power amid a deepening political crisis in Pakistan, the Bush administration has been "quietly prodding" him to share power with longtime rival Benazir Bhutto, the New York Times reports.
Musharraf, who clearly knows on which side his bread is buttered, met secretly with Bhutto -- the daughter of an assasinated prime minister who was elected to follow in his footsteps in 1996 -- in Abu Dhabi on July 27.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also "did discuss the idea of a power-sharing agreement" during the 2 a.m. phone call she placed to Musharraf last week warning him that declaring emergency powers would be a really dumb idea.
American officials say a first step to the deal could be a decision by Musharraf to allow open parliamentary elections next month, since Bhutto's party seems poised to win the largest share of the vote.
But there are many "ifs" in the equation, not least of which that members of both leaders' parties view power-share as a sell-out.
"We want to avoid a situation where we are seen as bailing out an unpopular military dictatorship," Bhutto told the Times.
It might be a little late for that much spin.
Si, Seniors! Retirees Make A Run For The Border
Hey Congress, you might want to hold off a minute on that wall. USA Today reports that a steadily growing number of Americans are moving across the border to nursing homes in Mexico, "where the sun is bright and the living is cheap."
Take the case of Richard Slater. For $550 a month, less than on tenth the going rate in his hometown of Las Vegas, he lives in his own cottage in a retirement community, "surrounded by purple bougainvilla and pomegranate trees," get 24-hour nursing care and three meals a day. He has satellite television, so he doesn't miss American news or programs, and has American neighbors. When he wants to go downtown, a cab ride is $3.
Sounds pleasant enough, if you like Mexican food. But here's the kicker: "For another $140 a year, he gets full medical coverage from the Mexican government, including all his medicine and insulin for diabetes."
It's enough to make you lightheaded and short of breath, no matter how old you are.
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