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Militants Attack NATO Tankers; TARP Expiring; Ecuador’s President Rescued

Militants in southern Pakistan attacked more than two dozen tankers carrying fuel for NATO troops in Afghanistan on Friday, a day after Pakistan closed a major border crossing in the northwest. There were no reports of anyone killed or injured.

The Pakistani government shut the Torkham border in protest at a NATO helicopter incursion that killed three of its soldiers on the border. The Associated Press reports that the convoy of tankers attacked Friday was likely headed to a second crossing in southwest Pakistan that was not closed. It was not clear, however, the AP notes, if the vehicles had been rerouted because of the closure at Torkham.

Here’s raw video from the scene via the AP:

The BBC’s M. Ilyas Khan reports:

“The attack on NATO supplies in northern parts of Pakistan’s Sindh province is the first of its kind….There are no strong religious groups or militant networks operating in Shikarpur town. But there have been a few protests over the presence of American troops in a nearby airbase.”

The Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung and Karin Brulliard write that recent events in Pakistan have “heightened the Obama administration’s concern about the stability of a crucial partner in its Afghanistan war strategy.”

“[The] events came within the context of ongoing political disruption in Pakistan, where the unpopular civilian government is under siege for corruption and incompetence in dealing with floods that have left millions homeless.

“U.S. officials pointed to recent signs that Pakistan’s powerful army and opposition parties are positioning themselves to install a new civilian government to replace President Asif Ali Zardari and his prime minister in the coming months.”

Foreign Policy’s Daud Khattak agrees with that assessment and wonders if there’s a coup in the works:

“Many Pakistanis believe the three ‘As’ — Allah, Army and America — are responsible for nearly anything good or bad happening in the country. But while Allah and America are not being discussed this time as much as they were in the past, it is the Army that currently gets much of the focus.”

Ecuadorian President Rescued After Standoff

Ecuadorian soldiers rescued President Rafael Correa from a hospital Thursday night where he’d been trapped for more than 12 hours by an uprising of police officers. Correa was in the hospital being treated after being tear-gassed when he tried to talk with angry police officers at a capital barracks.

The protests by police were triggered by a law passed on Wednesday that would end the practice of giving bonuses with each promotion, part of Correa’s effort to save government costs.

Dramatic video from the AP here:

TARP Expiring on Sunday

The federal government’s $700 billion bank bailout program is set to expire Sunday, two years after Congress approved it during the height of the financial crisis.

Marketplace helpfully explains in colorful charts where all the bailout money went and how we’re getting it back.

Plenty are eulogizing the program…

Simon Johnson:

“The first draft of its history, looking back over the last two years, may be this: TARP was an essential piece of a necessary evil – that is, it saved the American financial system from collapse, but it was put in place in a way that was excessively favorable to the very bankers who had presided over the collapse. And this sets up exactly the wrong incentives as we head into the next credit cycle.”

The Washington Post’s Brady Dennis:

“Economists largely agree that the massive federal bailouts beginning in 2008 saved the country from a financial abyss. But rarely has a government program become so widely reviled, so stigmatized, that even lawmakers who voted for it avoid the subject.”

Forbes’ Brian Wingfield:

“[W]as TARP such a bad idea? Increasingly, it’s looking like the answer is ‘no.’ The Treasury Department now estimates that losses to the economy from the TARP will be $50 billion at worst. By any measure, that’s a lot of money, but it’s not anywhere close to the $700 billion that TARP opponents have argued that taxpayers are responsible for.”

Finally, a poem about TARP:

“This poem’s about a program called TARP.
It was gonna take bad assets to start,
But then it evolved
And now we’ve resolved

To harp. What about? On some things about TARP.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post said Ecuadorian soldiers rescued President Rafael Correa on Friday night. Correa was rescued Thursday night. This version has been corrected.

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