Turkish Army Shells Rebels in Iraq

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A Turkish government official says his nation's artillery units retaliated against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq for the killing of 12 soldiers on Sunday.

MIKE PESCA, host:

Now, here's Rachel Martin with the rest of the day's news.

RACHEL MARTIN: Hey. Good morning, everyone.

Turkish troops have started retaliating against suspected Kurdish rebel groups in northern Iraq. According to a Turkish government official, who spoke yesterday, Turkey's artillery units were shelling rebel positions until late last night. The strike was in response to a rebel ambush Sunday that killed 12 Turkish soldiers. Turkey has warned Iraq and western allies that an attack is imminent unless the U.S. and Iraq move to stop the Kurdish guerillas known as the PKK. The U.S., til now, has been pressuring Iraq's government to intervene. But yesterday, U.S. State Department officials stepped up direct pressure on Iraqi Kurdish leaders to reign in the Kurdish rebels.

The U.S. government says it's using private security contractors more and more in the Iraq War, but it isn't adding new staff to deal with the expanding contracts. That's what U.S. State Department officials said yesterday. The U.S. is now paying close to $4 billion a year for these contractors, up from $1 billion annually four years ago. Two government reports out this week outlined how the State Department has mismanaged these contracts which has resulted in cost overruns and poor accountability and, in some instances, violence.

To help correct this, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has approved a set of 19 new rules for security firms operating in Iraq. Some are already in place like putting diplomatic security escorts and security convoys and putting surveillance cameras in contractor vehicles.

Finally, hey, scoot in closer. That's what California's First Lady Maria Shriver told a group of presidential candidates' wives. She gathered together yesterday on a stage in Long Beach, California. The women scooted their folding chairs together for an intimate chat about the rigors of life as a campaign spouse. Michelle Obama said her two daughters had adjusted pretty well, using their father's bid for the White House as leverage.

Ms. MICHELLE OBAMA (Barack Obama's Wife): I was like, you want to run for president, we're getting a dog. And let me tell you, we talk about this dog every day.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. OBAMA: Every day. What kind are we going get? You do know we're getting it. What breed? How big? How small?

MARTIN: John Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, no stranger to national campaign, said while spouses can get flack for being too outspoken in campaigns, it's their job to defend their candidate.

Ms. ELIZABETH EDWARDS (John Edwards' Wife): Sometimes, if we think he is being misrepresented or mis-served by something, it's our jobs as wives to say, you know, I don't think that's really the best thing. That becomes, if you've spoken to the - said that to the wrong person, that becomes you are masterminding the campaign just because you were being the kind of spouse all of us hope to have.

MARTIN: All the top tier candidates' spouses were there except Judith Giuliani who declined the invitation and the only potential first husband in the group, Bill Clinton, who had a scheduling conflict.

That's the news. It's always online at npr.org.

MARTIN: Michael and Alison, back to you.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Oh, how I wish Bill Clinton had been there.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: How I wish this Bill Clinton had been there.

STEWART: Marie Shriver had said that initially he had suggested maybe he might serve tea but alas.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Remember in 2004, the phrase used or the word used with Terese Heinz Kerry, refreshing, no matter what she did.

STEWART: Yeah.

PESCA: So refreshing.

STEWART: Excuse me, Teresa.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: The way she corrects you on that, it's refreshing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Thanks, Rachel Martin.

MARTIN: You're welcome.

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