Nation Briefs

Talking of bin Laden death isn’t ‘celebration,’ Obama says

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama gave a steely defense of his handling of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and his use of it to burnish his re-election credentials a year later, saying Monday that it is appropriate to mark an anniversary that Republicans charge is being turned into a campaign bumper sticker.

He then jumped at the chance to portray presumed Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney as unprepared to make the kind of hard call required to send U.S. forces on that highly risky mission. Without mentioning Romney by name, Obama recommended looking at people’s previous statements on the manhunt for the Sept. 11 mastermind.

Obama’s re-election team has seized on a quote from Romney in 2007, when he said it was not worth moving heaven and earth to go after one person. On Monday, Romney said he “of course” would have ordered bin Laden killed.

Delta buys a refinery in bid to cut its fuel bill

Delta Air Lines is buying a refinery in a novel – and some say risky – attempt to slice $300 million a year from its escalating jet fuel bill.

The airline said Monday that it is buying the refinery near Philadelphia for $150 million from Phillips 66, a refining company being spun off from ConocoPhillips. The refinery has struggled to make money, and ConocoPhillips planned to shut it down if it couldn’t find a buyer.

So why is Delta buying it?

Fuel is the largest and most volatile expense for the major airlines. They paid an average of $2.86 a gallon for jet fuel last year, up from $2.09 in 2007, according to statistics from the Bureau of Transportation. Nobody likes to see the price of gas climb, but for airlines consuming billions of gallons a year, it can be downright crippling. Consider this: Delta’s planes burned through 3.9 billion gallons of fuel last year, costing the airline $11.8 billion – 36 percent of its operating expenses.

U.S. forces not reporting all attacks by Afghan allies

WASHINGTON – The military is under-reporting the number of times that Afghan soldiers and police open fire on American and other foreign troops.

The U.S.-led coalition routinely reports each time an American or other foreign soldier is killed by an Afghan in uniform. But The Associated Press has learned it does not report insider attacks in which the Afghan wounds – or misses – his U.S. or allied target. It also doesn’t report the wounding of troops who were attacked alongside those who were killed.

Such attacks reveal a level of mistrust and ill will between the U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan counterparts in an increasingly unpopular war. The U.S. and its military partners are working more closely with Afghan troops in preparation for handing off security responsibility to them by the end of 2014.

In recent weeks an Afghan soldier opened fire on a group of American soldiers, but missed the group entirely. The Americans quickly shot him to death. Not a word about this was reported by the International Security Assistance Force. It was disclosed to the AP by a U.S. official who was granted anonymity in order to give a fuller picture of the “insider” problem.

Associated Press