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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Friday, February 1, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Let’s begin with some of the coverage of Senator Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing yesterday. Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room blog discusses Hagel’s performance, as do David Sanger of the New York Times and the Associated Press. Josh Gerstein of the Politico has five takeaways from the hearing. Here is Jeremy Herb of the Hill with the latest tally of the Republican senators who say they will not vote for their colleague. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) argues in this op-ed in the Politico that Hagel is a flip flopper whom he “cannot support.” Gayle Tzemach Lemmon of the Council on Foreign Relations writes in Foreign Policy about the lack of discussion about Afghanistan in Hagel’s hearing. And Winslow Wheeler argues in TIME’s Battleland blog that the hearing was a “profoundly depressing experience.” At the end of the day, the Associated Press reports that the White House expects Hagel to be confirmed.

Phew! Another SecDef hearing to add to your calendars: According to the Hill, Leon Panetta will testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee about the Benghazi attack next week.

The New York Times reports that two people died in a suicide bombing at the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey. Nothing more is known yet about the bomber’s affiliations or motives.

Speaking of suicide bombings (how I hate to begin a news story like that), Reuters tells us that 22 people were killed and 48 were wounded in Hangu, Pakistan. The victims were both Sunni and Shiite worshippers leaving mosques.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud of Portland, OR, has been found guilty of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction after an almost month-long trial. Joel Millman of the Wall Street Journal has the story.

Barbara Starr of CNN’s Security Clearance blog informs us that African jihadist groups have become “emboldened” by the siege at the gas plant in Algeria and “intelligence suggest[s] a desire to carry out more attacks.” Greeeaaaat.

Adrian Hamilton of the Independent discusses British PM David Cameron’s recent decisions to develop a relationship with Algeria and send troops to Mali.

Lydia Polgreen writes in the Times about Shariah law under Islamist militants in Timbuktu.

Just in case you wanted to have a good weekend, Bruce Riedel of Brookings argues in this op-ed in Al Monitor that “Al Qaeda 3.0. . .may be [the] deadliest one.”

Germany plans to work with France to acquire armed drones, says the AP.

The AP also says that U.S. troop deaths have dropped to a four-year low, reflecting the American transition from a combat to an advising role.

Nisha Taneja of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations in New Delhi has a fascinating report on enhancing trade between India and Pakistan. The study “assesses trade possibilities between the two countries, examines the physical and regulatory impediments to realizing the trade potential, and suggests how the trade potential can be realized.” The report finds that the trade potential between the two countries is estimated to be 10 times greater than current levels. Here is a summary of the study, which was commissioned by the New America Foundation, and here is the full report.

And, from Nadeem F. Paracha in Pakistani newspaper Dawn, comes this list—accompanied by cartoons—of what Zero Dark Thirty and Hollywood gets wrong about Pakistan: it’s today’s Moment of Zen:

With millions of dollars at their disposal, I wonder why the makers of this film couldn’t hire even a most basic advisor to inform them that

1: Pakistanis speak Urdu, English and other regional languages and NOT Arabic;

2: Pakistani men do not go around wearing 17th and 18th century headgear in markets;

3: The only Urdu heard in the film is from a group of wild-eyed men protesting against an American diplomat, calling him ‘chor.’ Chor in Urdu means robber. And the protest rally was against US drone strikes. How did that make the diplomat a chor?

4: And how on earth was a green Mercedes packed with armed men parked only a few feet away from the US embassy in Islamabad? Haven’t the producers ever heard of an area called the Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad? Even a squirrel these days has to run around for a permit to enter and climb trees in that particular area.

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