Oil tankers sit at a NATO supply terminal in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi on Feb. 9. In November, Pakistan's government shut down the main routes for bringing supplies to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Credit Masroor / Xinhua/Landov
Oil tankers line the road near a NATO supply terminal in Karachi, on Feb. 9, 2012. Analysts say Pakistan is in no hurry to reopen the supply routes to Afghanistan, though truckers complain that they can't earn any money.
Nearly four months after Pakistan closed the main supply lines for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the shutdown is creating hardship for Pakistani truckers and is forcing the U.S. to turn to costly and less-efficient alternatives.
The Pakistani move came after an errant U.S. airstrike left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead along the Afghan frontier back in November.
Governor Jan Brewer is championing the change. She said the current system, which gives state employees the right to appeal any move to discipline or fire them makes it too cumbersome to get rid of bad workers. But the governor also said scrapping the merit protections will allow supervisors to reward the best employees without having to worry about running afoul of rules which require everyone doing the same kind of job be similarly compensated. Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego of Phoenix said he saw the other side of such a system while growing up.
In someways regular life has gone on for Syrian President Bashar Assad and his family.
Despite the fact that over the past year, his government has led a bloody offensive that's killed more than 7,500 of his own people, the Syrian dictator still shopped for music and clothes as well as shared jokes and videos with friends.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison sentence in a Colorado prison. Former Missouri state senator Jeff Smith served a year in federal prison on obstruction of justice charges. He offers sober advice to Blagojevich on what to expect, and what and what not to do behind bars.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. More good unemployment numbers today, oil prices tick down, positive news even about the housing market. Yes, many millions are still out of work, banks continue to process foreclosures, overall economic growth remains sluggish. But right now anyway, some sectors are doing better, a few are actually booming.
The Iranian government continues to deny U.N. nuclear inspectors access to a military base where some believe they tested atom bomb parts. But Iran also says it's willing to resume talks with the United States and five other big powers, though skeptics argue Tehran is just playing for time. At a news conference yesterday, President Obama stressed diplomacy but added time for talks is running out.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Israelis see Syria convulsed in violence to their north; uncertain relations with a much-changed Egypt to the south; and many fear a conflict with Iran could be just a matter of time. But as if to remind us of the central dispute in the region, Palestinians launched a barrage of rockets from Gaza last week. Israel responded with airstrikes. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The violence began when Israel assassinated a leader of a militant Palestinian faction in Gaza.]
About half of all Arizona mortgages are under water, meaning owners owe more than the property is worth. This proposal was aimed at helping those who continue to make payments rather than simply walk away. It is a bit complex, involving the state using its power of eminent domain to acquire the property, paying the bank the current market value with money from investors who buy state bonds, and giving the lender a no-interest promissory note for the balance. That buys the homeowner some time for the market to recover.
Current law says companies with a retail presence in Arizona have to levy the tax. Efforts to expand that definition to include firms with only warehouses here were beaten back in the Senate by Amazon lobbyists -- twice. The proposal approved Wednesday by the House Commerce Committee seeks to sweeten the deal: The tax would be prospective only, meaning Amazon could escape having to fight a $53 million assessment from the state Department of Revenue for what it says are uncollected prior taxes. Mesa Republican J.D.
A Pentagon official is downplaying the Afghan president's call for the United States to confine its troops to military bases by next year.
The AP says an unnamed "defense offical" told reporters the United States does not believe that's what President Hamid Karzai is seeking.
"We believe that this statement reflects President Karzai's strong interest in moving as quickly as possible to a fully independent and sovereign Afghanistan," Pentagon spokesman George Little said, according the AP.