Morning Briefing February 27, 2012

The U.S. and its allies pulled hundreds of military and civilian advisers out of Afghan government ministries after a string of deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers on American troops. The burning of Qurans last week at the U.S. base in Bagram set off the unrest and the pullout complicates already strained relations and a fraught U.S. withdrawal plan.

Officials have positively identified the remains of Staff Sgt. Ahmed Altaie, the last American service member still missing in Iraq. Altaie, an Iraqi-American Army interpreter, was kidnapped in 2006, but on Saturday, an Army spokesperson said they had “used scientific methods on an unknown set of remains and positively identified them as those of missing-captured Staff Sgt. Ahmed Altaie.”

A new report from Bloomberg shows that most of the jobs that Mitt Romney takes credit for creating while head of Bain Capital are low wage jobs that do not pay enough to lift full-time employees above the poverty line for a family of three. The retail jobs at Staples and Sports Authority pay less than $9 per hour on average.

Talk of a potential settlement has delayed the start of a civil trial over the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. The trial was set to begin today but was pushed back a week to allow lawyers for BP and the plaintiffs to “make further progress in their settlement discussions,” a federal judge said.

A federal judge blocked more Montana election rules, as that state tries to protect its political spending regulations in the face of the Citizens United ruling. The state has been closely watched as a potential model for other states who want to make their electoral systems more fair and democratic in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

Former Republican Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee lamented the ‘toxic atmosphere’ in the GOP today, telling an Israeli TV station, “I would love to be able to say that it’s going to be all about ideas and solutions, but unfortunately a lot of it is just being able to say I [am] more angry at the Obama administration than somebody else.”

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum will get Secret Service protection starting this week. Meanwhile, fellow candidate Newt Gingrich requested protection last week and is currently awaiting approval.

Former Democratic Congressman Patrick Kennedy demanded that Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) stop invoking the name of his father, late Senator Ted Kennedy, in a radio ad about insurance coverage for birth control. In a letter to Brown, Kennedy called the ad “misleading and untrue,” but in his response, Brown said he would not stop airing the ad.

And finally: Introducing actor Christian Bale last night at the Oscars, host Billy Chrystal had some fun at the expense of the Republican presidential candidates, saying, “A dark knight; an American psycho; a charismatic crack addict — you’ll get to choose one on Super Tuesday.

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