Shopping SpreeHow'd you like to take a stroll through scenic Baghdad? Arizona Sen. John McCain said it was as safe as can be following a trip to the Shorja marketplace, where he was suited up in a bullet-proof vest and guarded by more than 100 soldiers and a couple of Apache helicopters. Following his shopping adventure, McCain told the press: "Things are better, and there are encouraging signs. ... Never have I been able to go out into the city as I was today."
Reporter Kirk Semple of The New York Times later took his own stroll through the marketplace, where merchants told him that the marketplace remained a dangerous and unsecured environment.
"They paralyzed the market when they came," said shopkeeper Ali Jassim Faiyad. "This was only for the media."
The growing ridicule of his comments brought McCain to 60 Minutes this week, where he tried to clarify what he had said.
"I understand why they would provide me with that security," McCain told the program. "But I can tell you: If it had been two months ago, and I'd asked to do it, they have said, 'Under no circumstances whatsoever.' I view that as a sign of progress."
McCain added that he regretted misspeaking when he said that Gen. David Petraeus regularly travels in Iraq in an unarmored Humvee.
"But that's just life, and I'm happy, frankly, with the way I operate, because otherwise, it would be a lot less fun," McCain said.
In a Washington Post op-ed last Sunday, April 8, McCain argued that the media was misrepresenting conditions in Iraq.
"The new political-military strategy is beginning to show results," McCain wrote. "But most Americans are not aware because much of the media are not reporting it or devote far more attention to car bombs and mortar attacks that reveal little about the strategic direction of the war."
Dash for CashSpeaking of straight-talkin' John McCain: He revealed that his presidential campaign had fallen short of his fundraising goal, collecting $12.5 million in the first three months of 2007. That put him behind former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who had raised $15 million, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had raised $23 million. Complete reports, including how much the candidates have left in the bank, are due later this month.
Growing PainsYou may have noticed that after that tiny pygmy owl slowed growth on the northwest side, Pima County developers turned to the southwest side, where all that scrub desert is being bladed and graded into a stucco paradise.
Last week, Pima County officials released a report projecting that, in addition to the homes already sprouting up, developers might build as many as 41,000 more homes in the area over the next three decades.
The bill for all the roads, parks, pipes and other expenses related to that development? A staggering $800 million. And that, we're told, is a preliminary figure that doesn't quite cover all the costs.
Playing the Draft CardUA sophomore Marcus Williams announced he was leaving college to put himself in the 2007 NBA draft.
"It will put me, obviously, in a good financial pocket, but also I felt like it was time," Williams said at a press conference. "It was a hard decision, but the coaching staff has been great."
Williams says he'll finish up his studies this semester so the UA will not lose a scholarship. "Never at any point do I want to take a scholarship away from a kid that has nothing to do with myself or my situation," he said.