Mosque Bombed As U.S. Begins New Offensive

The Skinny is Jennifer Hoar's take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.

Two bombs, of distinct varieties, have been dropped over the past 24 hours. First, a literal one: a truck bomb hit a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, killing 61. Second, a more figurative kind: NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg revealed that he is … wait for it … no longer Republican. Let's begin with the more dire of these news detonations.

The Baghdad attack occurred as U.S. troops "waged a new offensive" Tuesday against al Qaeda in Iraq north of the capital, the Washington Post reports. The focus has been on targeting the terrorist group's bombmaking facilities outside of Baghdad. The operation is called "Arrowhead Ripper" and is being executed in Diyala province, which "recently has become the most violent area in Iraq outside of the capital." In May, Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. "Randy" Mixon expressed a need for more troops to handle that increasing violence in Diyala, a diagnosis which "helped set the stage for the current offensive," the Los Angeles Times reports.

However, the truck in this latest explosion was "rigged with TNT a little less than a mile from where it exploded," the Post says, which means that insurgents are constructing bombs inside of Baghdad to avoid detection problems that would come with transporting the materials into the city. So, al-Qaeda is, once again, shifting tactics. They're about as faithful to one strategy as Wilt Chamberlain was to one woman.

While the Post and LA Times hone in on the U.S. strategy in Diyala, the New York Times focuses on the "sectarian strife" manifested in this latest bombing. Also, for many Iraqis, the mosque melee was "one more piece of evidence that the Americans could not protect them from extremists."

I'll Do It My Way

Now, back to Bloomberg. In a move befitting Gloria Steinem, the NYC Mayor decided to free himself of "rigid adherence" … to party "ideology," the Washington Post says. Abandoning party affiliation, he said, would allow him to govern in a way that reflected, well, his way of governing.

In politics, you have to read into things, though. It is comparable to dating over-analysis. That said, Bloomberg's flouting of the party shackles is "a signal of his serious contemplation of a campaign" as an independent, the New York Times says. The fact that he is traveling to two crucial swing states – Missouri and Florida – in the coming weeks only stokes the speculation that he is concocting a campaign for the White House. We'll just have to see if he calls after the third date.

He Took A Bite Out Of Crime

Another (former) Gotham guy is also in the news today. Former NYC Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton, unanimously won a second term as Los Angeles police chief, the Los Angeles Times says. Under Bratton's watch, crime in L.A. "dropped significantly," the paper said. Maybe we should send him to Diyala province.

Do They Write In Iambic Pentameter?

The following might be the first bit of uncontroversial news out of Guantanamo Bay. Prisoners at the U.S. military prison there can now add "poets" to their (questionable) resumes, the Wall Street Journal reports. "Poems From Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak," an anthology, will be published in August by the University of Iowa Press. It would probably be unfair to call them tortured artists.

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