February 19, 2006. In a move that had many on Capitol Hill scratching their heads, the Bush Administation gave the greenlight to a company in Dubai to manage six major ports in the U.S. – Department of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff defended the move, insisting there were safeguards built into a deal that would have Dubai Ports World manage six major U.S. ports. Dubai Ports World, a state-owned company, was completing its $6.8 billion purchase of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which operated commercial operations at shipping terminals in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.
Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, reiterated the Bush administration’s defense of the arrangement, saying today that such transactions were closely examined by a committee that included several federal departments or agencies, including his own, the Treasury Department and the F.B.I. He noted, too, that Dubai was considered an American ally in fighting terrorism.
“We put safeguards in place and assurances in place that make everybody comfortable,” Mr. Chertoff told ABC News. But he declined to say what safeguards were being implemented, saying that the matter was classified.
A range of Democrats criticized the port takeover in stinging terms, implying that it showed poor judgment by an administration that has made national security its top priority. They said security at American ports, where only 5 percent of incoming cargo was inspected, was one of the country’s biggest vulnerabilities.
In other news – Israel said it was going to halt monthly transfers of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinians, since Hamas dominated the Palestinian Parliament. Acting Isreali Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that, with the Hamas majority in Parliament, the Palestinian Authority turned into what he called “A Terrorist Authority” and that Israel would no longer transfer the tax and customs revenue it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority; an estimated $50 million each month. Israel was also calling on the International community to cut off all money to the Palestinian Authority that was no humanitarian aid.
And Jimmy Johnson won the Daytona 500 race. He took the lead with just 14 laps to go and held off a last minute effort by Dale Earnhardt jr. to take the race on the fifth anniversary of his father’s death at the same track.
All that, and Church Sex Abuse scandals were brewing in Chicago – but the Archdiocese said old cases were closed.
And that’s just a sample, via NPR’s Hourly News for February 19, 2006.