Monday’s Mini-Report

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Iraq: “Five American soldiers were killed Monday in one of the deadliest days in two years for the American military in Iraq, a day that underscored the continuing threats American troops face as they prepare to withdraw from the country.”

* Syria: “The Syrian government said Monday that 120 people had been killed by armed protesters in the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour, amid indications that at least in some parts of the country what began as a peaceful protest movement is turning into an armed rebellion.”

* A power vacuum in Yemen: “Yemen’s embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for urgent medical treatment of wounds sustained in a bold attack on the presidential compound, Saudi officials said, abruptly shifting the political calculus that has allowed him to cling to power despite months of protest and violence.”

* Some rebel progress in Libya: “Following a series of NATO airstrikes, rebel forces retook the western mountain town of Yafran on Monday, breaking a month-long siege by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, news agencies reported.”

* A slow drawdown could be sped up in Afghanistan: “President Obama’s national security team is contemplating troop reductions in Afghanistan that would be steeper than those discussed even a few weeks ago, with some officials arguing that such a change is justified by the rising cost of the war and the death of Osama bin Laden, which they called new ‘strategic considerations.'”

* Terrorist leaders haven’t had much luck lately: “One of Pakistan’s most wanted militant commanders, Ilyas Kashmiri, was killed in an American drone strike in the tribal territory of South Waziristan, residents and a militant active in the area said Saturday.”

* Meir Dagan: “The man who ran Israel’s Mossad spy agency until January contends that Israel’s top leaders lack judgment and that the anticipated pressures of international isolation as the Palestinians campaign for statehood could lead to rash decisions — like an airstrike on Iran.”

* Why have I given up on reading Robert Samuelson’s columns? This is why.

* An unwelcome cycle: “Due to the economy, states have less money coming in through taxes. Because many obligations (e.g. state pensions) are actually required by statue, states are saving money by reducing payments to public higher education. The colleges themselves respond by increasing tuition to cover the gap. This is a problem in states all across the union.”

* Richard Land believes Ralph Reed was “victimized” by Jack Abramoff. That’s hilarious.

* Remember when Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post said lazy union workers refused to plow the streets in the aftermath of a crippling blizzard? The story was bogus.

* And though Sarah Palin is convinced she’s right about Paul Revere, historians say otherwise. Of course, if history is at odds with Sarah Palin, leave it to Palin’s followers to try to change history.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.