Citizens For Legitimate Government is a multi-partisan activist group established to expose and resist US imperialism, corpora-terrorism, and the New World Order.


Citizens For Legitimate Government™
is a multi-partisan activist group established to expose and resist US imperialism, corpora-terrorism, and the New World Order.

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December 2009 Archives, Page Two

'A production line of terrorists' I'm the first of many, warns airline 'bomber' Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab 29 Dec 2009 A global search for accomplices in the Detroit airliner plot was under way yesterday after an al-Qaeda group based in Yemen claimed responsibility for the operation and the would-be bomber was reported to have said that more attacks were being planned. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist cell led by a former personal secretary to Osama bin Laden [well, him or Blackwater], issued a statement saying that the failed attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a response to American-backed airstrikes on the group in Yemen this month.

Obama vows to use 'our national power' to keep Americans safe from changing terror threat 28 Dec 2009 President George W. Bush Barack Obama on Monday vowed to use "every element of our national power" to keep Americans safe and said the failed Christmas Day plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner was "a serious reminder" of the need to continually adapt security measures against changing terrorist threats. But even as Obama spoke, word came that a State Department warning had failed to trigger an effort to revoke the alleged attacker's visa.

Barack Obama pledges to take fight to terrorists behind jet bomb plot --President orders new measures amid inquest over huge lapse of security 28 Dec 2009 Barack Obama yesterday said the US would "not rest" until it has called to account those behind the attempted suicide bombing of a transatlantic flight over Detroit on Christmas Day. The president said he has ordered new security measures and a review of the failings that allowed a Nigerian Muslim, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to carry explosives onto a US-bound flight. But Obama added that America would do more than put up additional defences; he had directed his national security officials to "keep up the pressure on those who would attack our country".

Anti-terror officials let terror suspect keep visa 28 Dec 2009 The State Department says counterterrorism agencies were warned that the Nigerian man who allegedly tried to blow up an airliner Christmas Day may be under extremists' influence. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly says it was up to the National Counterterrorism Center to block Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from entering the U.S. He says U.S. counterterror agencies received the information on Nov. 20, a day after it was provided by the father, but it was not enough to revoke the visa.

Al-Qaida: US support for Yemen crackdown led to attack --US has increased military aid package to Yemen from less than $11m in 2006 to more than $70m in 2009 28 Dec 2009 Al-Qaida in Yemen has been galvanised into winning local support over recent months by direct US and British support for Yemen's counter-terrorism efforts, according to sources close to the group. Its statement yesterday saying the attempted bombing on Christmas Day was in retaliation for US attacks on the group in Yemen follows a year in which the US spent tens of millions of dollars boosting Yemen's coastguard and border security and providing helicopters with night-vision cameras. Defence analysts and Yemen observers say that the US has also provided intelligence gathered over Yemen by unmanned drones. The US has increased its military aid package to Yemen from less than $11m in 2006 to more than $70m this year, as well as providing up to $121m for development over the next three years.

U.S. Widens Terror War to Yemen, a Qaeda Bastion 28 Dec 2009 In the midst of two unfinished major wars, the United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against 'Al Qaeda' in Yemen. A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency sent several of its top field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country, according a former top agency official. At the same time, some of the most secretive Special Operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism tactics, senior military officers said. The Pentagon is spending more than $70 million over the next 18 months, and using teams of Special Forces, to train and equip Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels.

Al-Qaeda: Bomb failed due to 'technical fault' 28 Dec 2009 Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility Friday for an attempt to destroy a Northwest Airlines jet over Detroit on Christmas Day, saying that it had done so in response to airstrikes against the group [and civilians] in Yemen this month. The group said it had provided Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with an explosive device that failed because of "a technical fault."

Airline 'bomber' had been banned from Britain 28 Dec 2009 The man at the centre of the failed Detroit airliner bomb plot had been banned from entering Britain, it was disclosed today. Home Secretary Alan Johnson said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had been placed on a watch list earlier this year after UK authorities refused to renew his student visa.

US says aviation security system failed in Flight 253 case --White House orders investigation into watchlists and screening of air passengers after Flight 253 attack 28 Dec 2009 The US homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, conceded today that the aviation security system failed when a young man on a watchlist with a US visa in his pocket and a powerful explosive hidden on his body was allowed to board a fight from Amsterdam to Detroit. The Obama administration has ordered investigations into the two areas of aviation security - how travellers are placed on watch lists and how passengers are screened - as critics questioned how the Nigerian man charged in the airliner attack was allowed to board the flight on Christmas Day.

Airline in-flight security rules eased-source 28 Dec 2009 The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has eased airline security rules that were put in place in the wake a foiled Christmas day terror plot, a source with knowledge of the rules said. The TSA will now let pilots decide whether to allow passengers to keep items in their laps or require them to remain seated during portions of the flight, said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Passengers face security crackdown after failed airliner bomb plot 28 Dec 2009 Air travellers face tough restrictions after a passenger came within seconds of destroying a transatlantic plane and killing all 289 people on board. President Obama interrupted his Christmas holiday to order two anti-terrorism reviews as aviation chiefs acted to close loopholes that let Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a known extremist, take explosive materials on to an aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.

Carry-on bags all but banned --Lines ease, security clamps down at Pearson 28 Dec 2009 Almost no carry-on baggage is allowed on flights from Canada to the U.S., Transport Canada announced this afternoon as holiday travellers continue to cope with long delays at Pearson International Airport. Patrick Charette, a Transport Canada spokesman, said the change is effective immediately.

Who's running the TSA? No one, thanks to Sen. Jim DeMint 28 Dec 2009 An attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day would be all-consuming for the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration -- if there were one. The post remains vacant because Sen. Jim DeMint, R-Nutjob-SC, has held up President Barack Obama's nominee in opposition to the prospect of TSA workers joining a labor union.

Ten Afghan civilians killed in NATO airstrikes 28 Dec 2009 Ten civilians including eight school children have been killed the latest episode of NATO's imprecise airstrikes in Afghanistan. "Initial reports indicate that in a series of operations by international forces in Kunar province... 10 civilians, eight of them school students have been killed," Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office said Monday.

U.S. troops' death toll in Afghanistan doubles in 2009 28 Dec 2009 With the death of a U.S. soldier on Saturday, U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan this year have increased to exactly twice of those in the previous year, according to statistics released by an independent website on Monday. The killed soldier raised the U.S. death toll in Afghanistan this year to 310, while 155 U.S. soldiers were killed in the same country last year, according to iCasualties.org, which compiles information about military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.

British soldier killed by blast in Afghanistan 28 Dec 2009 A British soldier has been killed in an explosion while patrolling in southern Afghanistan. The soldier, whose identity has not been revealed, was killed on Monday in the Kajaki area of Helmand province where his 3rd Battalion, known as The Rifles, has been stationed along with other British troops.

NATO: US serviceman killed in Afghanistan by roadside bomb 27 Dec 2009 NATO says an American serviceman has been killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. A statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force says the incident took place Saturday in southern Afghanistan, but it did not give further details or the victim's branch of service.

Blackwater is a busy little bee! Karachi blast kills at least 30 29 Dec 2009 At least 30 people were killed and more than 40 injured in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi yesterday when a suicide bomber attacked a procession of Shia Muslims marking the holy day of Ashura. The attacker was walking with tens of thousands of marchers, officials said. Eyewitnesses reported groups setting cars on fire and attacking shops in parts of Karachi.

US cancels controversial Iraq pregnancy rules 26 Dec 2009 The US army has cancelled controversial rules that punish soldiers in north Iraq who fall pregnant or who impregnate a female soldier, an American military spokeswoman said on Saturday. The decision follows concern that the provisions put in place by Major General Anthony Cucolo, commander of US forces in north Iraq, could lead to some soldiers being court-martialed.

Iran to summon UK envoy over Miliband remarks 28 Dec 2009 The Iranian Foreign Ministry says it will summon the British ambassador to Tehran over London's reaction to the unrest in the capital on Sunday. Tehran will summon British Ambassador Simon Lawrence Gass to formally protest the "meddling" remarks made by British officials, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast told Press TV on Monday. Mehman-Parast said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband's comments were hasty and undiplomatic.

Chavez warns of US-Colombia plot 29 Dec 2009 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accused the United States and Colombia of conspiring to build a fake guerrilla camp on Venezuelan territory in order to undermine his rule. In a televised address at Fort Mara military base in the western city of Maracaibo, Chavez referred to the 'possibility' of a US-sponsored initiative by Colombia to put bodies and weapons of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fighters in a neglected region of Venezuela in order to 'discredit' his government.

Holiday Retail Sales Rose an Estimated 3.6%, SpendingPulse Says 28 Dec 2009 U.S. retail sales rose an estimated 3.6 percent this holiday season from a year earlier, helped by online shopping and purchases of electronics, data from MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse showed. The spending estimate for Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 excludes automotive and gasoline sales, the Purchase, New York-based researcher said in an e-mail yesterday. SpendingPulse measures retail sales across all payment forms, including cash and checks.

Web Sales Show Big Rise Throughout Holiday Buying Season 28 Dec 2009 Online retail sales rose 13.6% from Black Friday to Christmas Eve, as retailers took major steps to make the Internet a prime shopping destination, according to data released Monday. Considerable amounts of buying on the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, as well as the following Monday, known as CyberMonday, and late in the season along with one extra day of shopping this year allowed the significant advance following last year's poor holiday season, said Coremetrics, which released the figures.

Urgent call to bring gorillas, pandas and polar bears back from the brink 28 Dec 2009 Polar bears, penguins, gorillas, butterflies and rhinos are facing extinction as global warming heats habitats around the world, according to Scottish conservation experts. WWF Scotland has identified the planet’s 10 most vulnerable species, claiming that climate change, poaching, and deforestation are leaving animals at greater risk then ever.

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25 Brits in jet bomb plots 28 Dec 2009 Cops fear that 25 British-born Muslims are plotting to bomb Western airliners. The [alleged] fanatics, in five groups, are now training at secret terror camps in Yemen. It was there London-educated Umar Abdulmutallab, 23, prepared for his Christmas Day bid to blow up a US jet. The British extremists in Yemen are in their early 20s and from Bradford, Luton and Leytonstone, East London. They are due to return to the UK early in 2010 and will then await internet instructions from al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] on when to strike. A Scotland Yard source said: "The great fear is Abdulmutallab is the first of many ready to attack planes and kill tens of thousands. We know there are four or five radicalised British Muslim cells in the Yemen. They are due back within months when they will be under constant surveillance."

US orders security review after failed attack 27 Dec 2009 President Barack Obama ordered a review of US no-fly lists after a botched Christmas Day terror attack and demanded to know how a Nigerian man managed to board a Detroit-bound airliner wearing an explosive device. The databases used by US security agencies are under scrutiny after it emerged that the man who tried to blow up a jet from Amsterdam with 290 people on board as it prepared to land in Detroit was on one of their watch-lists. "There's a series of databases that list people of concern to several agencies across the government. We want to make sure information-sharing is going on," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Al-Qaida links to Christmas Day plane bomb plot investigated --Officials investigate British link to Nigerian's plan to destroy US airliner 28 Dec 2009 Investigators on both sides of the Atlantic were last night urgently investigating the background of the would-be plane bomber, as international attention turned to al-Qaida's stronghold in Yemen. Scotland Yard and MI5 want to establish how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was radicalised and by whom, and whether he had accomplices in the UK or the Arabian peninsula. He has told US officials that he met 'al-Qaida' operatives in Yemen who gave him the device which almost brought down Northwest Airlines flight 253 to Detroit and taught him how to use it.

Detroit terror attack: MI5 hunt for bomber's accomplices 27 Dec 2009 MI5 is hunting for possible accomplices of the Detroit airline bomber amid fears that he may have been planning to launch the attack from Britain. Security sources believe that Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, 23, may have developed links with other extremists during the three years he spent studying at University College London. The Security Service is concerned that the son of a respected Nigerian banker was "off the radar" [?] while living in Britain from 2005 to 2008 on a student visa. Little more than a year later he went on to attempt a terrorist attack after being trained by 'al-Qaeda.'

Terror suspect out of hospital, held at undisclosed location 28 Dec 2009 Investigators combed through Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's history Sunday... Abdulmutallab was released from a hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Sunday after being treated for burns, according to Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit, Michigan. The 23-year-old is charged with attempting to set off an explosive device aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from the Netherlands shortly before its landing in Detroit on Christmas Day, and was being held in an undisclosed location, Balaya told CNN.

Airline bomber was barred from Britain --Man who allegedly attempted to blow up US jet had UK visa request refused in May 27 Dec 2009 The son of a prominent Nigerian banker, who allegedly attempted to blow up a transatlantic flight over America, was barred from returning to Britain earlier this year. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, graduated from a university in London last year but his visa request was refused in May when he attempted to apply for a new course at a bogus college. Abdulmutallab, described as a devout Muslim, attempted to ignite an explosive device on a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day after shouting about Afghanistan.

Airports intensify security measures worldwide in wake of failed bomb attack aboard U.S.-bound jetliner --Terror suspect charged in jetliner bomb plot 26 Dec 2009 Federal authorities have charged Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, of Nigeria, with attempting to destroy Northwest flight 253 with a "destructive device" as it descended into Detroit on Christmas Day. In a case of attempted terrorism that has sparked a worldwide intensification of security at airports, U.S. officials said Saturday afternoon that a preliminary FBI analysis found a bomb-making chemical called PETN in the device Abdulmutallab tried to detonate. The affidavit, filed in the Eastern District of Michigan, also said FBI agents discovered the remnant of a syringe near the suspect's seat, part of what the agents believe was part of the explosive device.

Flight 253 passenger: Sharp-dressed man aided terror suspect Abdul Mutallab onto plane without passport 27 Dec 2009 A Michigan man who was aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 says he witnessed Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab trying to board the plane in Amsterdam without a passport. Kurt Haskell and his wife, Lori, of Newport, Mich., were returning from a safari in Uganda when they boarded the NWA flight on Friday. Haskell said he and his wife [attorneys with Haskell Law Firm in Taylor] were sitting on the ground near their boarding gate in Amsterdam, which is when they saw Mutallab approach the gate with an unidentified man. While Mutallab was poorly dressed, his friend was dressed in an expensive suit, Haskell said. He says the suited man asked ticket agents whether Mutallab could board without a passport. "The guy said, 'He's from Sudan and we do this all the time.'" Mutallab is Nigerian. Haskell believes the man may have been trying to garner sympathy for Mutallab's lack of documents by portraying him as a Sudanese refugee.

Unclear If Suspect's Name Was On Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment List --The list, maintained by United States National Counterterrorism Center, includes about 550,000 names 27 Dec 2009 The Nigerian man accused of trying to ignite an incendiary device aboard a trans-Atlantic jetliner on Friday came to the attention of American officials at least "several weeks ago," but the initial information was not specific enough to raise alarms that he could potentially carry out a terrorist attack, a senior Obama administration official said on Saturday... It was unclear whether Mr. Abdulmutallab’s name was entered into the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list, which includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization. Those people, however, are not necessarily placed on the federal government’s so-called no-fly list, which prohibits persons entering the United States because of known or suspected [or imagined] terrorists links. Mr. Abdulmutallab was not on that list, federal officials say.

Detroit terror attack: Scotland Yard probe 'British student airline bomber' 26 Dec 2009 A former British university student - Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - was led from an aircraft after allegedly trying to blow up 278 passengers and 11 crew members as it prepared to land in the US city of Detroit. The would-be bomber was foiled only because his explosive device failed to detonate properly as Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam prepared to land at Detroit airport. As a Dutch video director and producer was hailed as a hero for jumping on the suspect and subduing him, MI5, the security service, and Scotland Yard were investigating whether the Christmas Day bomb plot was hatched in Britain.

Airports raise global safety levels after terror attack on US jet is foiled --Police search London address as bomber suspect is revealed to have links to al-Qaida 26 Dec 2009 Security at airports around the world was stepped up yesterday after a student from a London university tried to blow up a transatlantic airliner carrying 290 passengers and crew minutes before it was due to land in the US... Yesterday MI5 was combing its records to establish whether Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had links to known Islamist groups in the UK. In May he was barred from returning to Britain when he attempted to apply for a new course at a bogus college. Scotland Yard confirmed it was liaising with US authorities as searches were carried out at properties in central London, including a student hall of residence and a flat in Belgraviaworth up to £3m.

Europe tightens security after foiled U.S. attack 26 Dec 2009 Airports and airlines across Europe moved rapidly to tighten security on U.S.-bound flights on Saturday after a man tried to set off explosives on a plane flying from Amsterdam to Detroit. Authorities in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands either increased passenger checks or reinforced security measures already stepped up ahead of the busy Christmas and New Year travel period, officials said.

Police search London flat in US plane bomb probe 26 Dec 2009 Police are searching a number of properties in central London as a man [Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab] is charged with trying to blow up a US airliner flying to Detroit. The Metropolitan Police have been searching a flat at an apartment block in Mansfield Street, central London, and other properties in the capital. Police have cordoned off Mansfield Street in front of the apartment block.

FBI says second Detroit plane incident not serious 27 Dec 2009 The FBI gave the "all clear" on Sunday after an investigation of what it said was a "non-serious" incident on an Amsterdam to Detroit flight. Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said a Nigerian man was taken into custody by the FBI and no explosives were found. The man went to the bathroom repeatedly and did not respond to flight attendants' direction an hour before landing. "The Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated and the investigation shows that this is a nonserious incident and all is clear at this point," said Detroit FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtolv.

Food Poisoning Blamed In Second Northwest Flight 253 Bomb Scare --Nigerian Passenger Became 'Unruly' After Crew Forced Him Out of Bathroom 27 Dec 2009 A second scare of a possible bomb on Northwest Airlines flight 253 Sunday was the result of a passenger [a Nigerian petroleum engineer] who refused to come out of the bathroom because he was sick with food poisoning, law enforcement officials told ABCNews.com. FBI agents and local police swarmed the plane as it landed in Detroit after the pilot reported an "belligerent and uncooperative" passenger who had spent more than an hour in the bathroom [That's an arrestable offense?] as the flight neared Detroit.

Lieberman: United States Must Pre-Emptively Act In Yemen 27 Dec 2009 Sen. Joseph Lieberman, (I-Israel) a renowned hawk and one of the foremost champions of the invasion of Iraq, warned on Sunday that the United States faced "danger" unless it pre-emptively acts to curb the rise of terrorism in Yemen. "Somebody in our government said to me in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, Iraq was yesterday's war. Afghanistan is today's war. If we don't act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow's war. That's the danger we face," LIEberman said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

Al Qaeda wing says will avenge Yemen raids: Web 27 Dec 2009 Al Qaeda's wing in Yemen said it would take revenge over raids against the group this month, which it said were carried out by U.S. jets and killed about 50 men, women and children, in an Internet statement on Sunday. The statement, dated December 20, appeared on Islamist websites shortly after U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Washington was investigating whether al Qaeda was involved in a Christmas Day attempt to blow up a passenger jet. "We will not let Muslim women and children's blood be spilled without taking revenge," Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said in the statement.

Yemen confirms receiving US military support 27 Dec 2009 The Yemeni national security chief has declared that the country is receiving assistance from the US in the crackdown on what he called 'al-Qaeda operatives' in southern Yemen. Mohamed al-Anisi has told the Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz that Yemeni forces were cooperating with the US military on attacks against al-Qaeda camps, DPA reported on Saturday. Yemen's confirmation comes as an ABC report revealed that US President Barack Obama had signed the order for a recent military strike on Yemen in which scores of civilians, including children, were killed.

US bombs Sa'ada governor's house, Houthis say 27 Dec 2009 A US fighter jet has carried out multiple airstrikes on the home of a senior official in Yemen's northern rugged province of Sa'ada, Houthi fighters say. The Yemen-based Houthi fighters say the warplane struck the home owned by the governor of Sa'ada province, Hassan Mohammad Manna in five blitzes. There were no reports on possible casualties in the attacks.

Officials Point to Suspect's Claim of Qaeda Ties in Yemen 27 Dec 2009 Federal authorities on Saturday charged a 23-year-old Nigerian man with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day, and officials said the suspect told them he had obtained explosive chemicals and a syringe that were sewn into his underwear from a bomb expert in Yemen associated with Al Qaeda. The authorities have not independently corroborated the Yemen connection claimed by the man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was burned in his failed attempt to bring down the airliner and is in a hospital in Michigan. But a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said on Saturday that the suspect’s account was "plausible," and that he saw "no reason to discount it."

Elite U.S. Force Expanding Hunt in Afghanistan 27 Dec 2009 Secretive branches of the military’s Special Operations forces [commandos from Army’s Delta Force and Navy’s classified Seals units] have increased counterterrorism missions against some of the most lethal groups in Afghanistan and, because of their 'success,' plan an even bigger expansion next year, according to American commanders. Although President Obama and his top aides have not publicly discussed these highly classified missions as part of the administration’s revamped strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the counterterrorism operations are expected to increase, along with the deployment of 30,000 more American forces in the next year. ['Success?' See: Taliban claim control of over 80pc of Afghanistan 22 Dec 2009.]

US drone strike kills five in NW Pakistan: officials 26 Dec 2009 At least five people were killed Saturday when missiles from an unmanned US aircraft hit a suspected militant compound in Pakistan's northwest tribal belt, security officials said. The missiles struck a house in Saidgi village of North Waziristan tribal district, which borders Afghanistan, officials said. "Two missiles hit a house, five militants were killed," an intelligence official told AFP.

Pakistan police: Detained Americans had maps of area where nuclear power plant located 26 Dec 2009 Police are trying to determine whether five Americans detained in Pakistan had planned to attack a complex that houses nuclear power facilities, authorities said Saturday. The young Muslim men, who are from the Washington, D.C., area, were picked up in Pakistan earlier this month in a case that has spurred fears that Westerners are travelling to the South Asian country to join militant groups.

Pakistan may charge 5 U.S. men in terror case 26 Dec 2009 Pakistani police are pursuing terrorism charges against five detained American men, police said Friday, a move that could complicate efforts to bring the men back to the United States, where they also could land in the courts. The case has bolstered fears that Americans and other Westerners are heading to Pakistan to link with al-Qaida [al-CIAduh] and other militant groups, and it could test a U.S.-Pakistani relationship already made brittle by demands of the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

Anti-government protests held in Iraq 27 Dec 2009 A group of 5,000 Iraqi Shiite protesters in the city of Karbala turned the religious observance of Ashura into a political protest against the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki on Sunday, expressing widespread criticisms as the country prepares for a national 'election' in early March. The protesters gathered outside the Imam Hussein shrine to greet the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who had descended on the city. "We don't vote for people who steal public money," the protesters shouted.

Israel summons envoys from all over the world 26 Dec 2009 Israel's ambassadors and consuls generals from all over the world have been summoned to attend a conference to be held over global challenges facing Israel. The meeting to be attended in Jerusalem Al-Quds on December 27-31 is hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the ministry reported on its website.

Obusha doesn't need 'death panels' - he has Sanofi-Aventis. US clears high-dose Sanofi flu vaccine for elderly 23 Dec 2009 U.S. health officials approved on Wednesday a high-dose influenza vaccine made by Sanofi-Aventis DA for people age 65 and older. The vaccine uses a higher dose to produce a stronger immune response and better protect the elderly against seasonal flu, the Food and Drug Administration said. The vaccine will be available for immunizing people in the fall of 2010 ahead of the[ir] next flu season, said Sanofi Pasteur, the company's vaccine unit.

Businesses to Push for Modifications to Senate Bill 28 Dec 2009 Businesses are set to push for modifications to the Senate-approved health bill, while urging lawmakers to steer clear of the version passed by the House. The Senate bill, which passed 60-39 on Christmas Eve with no Republican backing, has drawn tentative support from some large corporations and industry groups, despite containing a range of provisions that they hope to change. By contrast, businesses of all sizes oppose the House bill, which contains more-stringent requirements on employers to offer health coverage to employees.

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Restrictions Rise After Terrorism Attempt 27 Dec 2009 Transportation authorities began imposing tighter security measures at airports on Saturday and ordered new restrictions governing the activities of passengers during flights as investigators conducted searches to learn more about the Nigerian engineering student accused of igniting an incendiary device aboard a Northwest Airlines jet as it landed in Detroit on Friday... According to a statement posted Saturday morning on Air Canada’s Web site, the Transportation Security Administration will severely limit the behavior of both passengers and crew during flights in United States airspace -- restricting movement in the final hour of flight. "Among other things," the statement in Air Canada’s Web site read, "during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps."

Brown reassures as bomb hunt turns to London 26 Dec 2009 The prime minister sought to reassure the public today after it was revealed a student based in the UK is suspected of trying to bomb a passenger jet. Gordon Brown spoke as the Metropolitan Police searched the home of Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, who studied engineering at University College London. The Nigerian has been named by US authorities as the man responsible for trying to blow up a plane carrying 278 passengers as it landed in Detroit on Christmas Day. Brown said the incident had posed a "serious potential threat" and the government was prepared to take "whatever action necessary" to safeguard the public from further attacks.

Terror attack on US flight to Detroit investigated in London 26 Dec 2009 Searches are being carried out at a mansion flat in central London after a man with suspected links to al-Qaida [al-CIAduh] allegedly tried to blow up a transatlantic plane, Scotland Yard said today... Security has been stepped up at UK airports for passengers flying to the US, the Department for Transport said. Gordon Brown said the UK would take "whatever action was necessary" to protect passengers. UK airport operator BAA said searches on flights to the US would increase. A statement on the British Airways website said Washington had revised its security arrangements for all travellers to the US and they would only be allowed one piece of hand luggage.

Police search London addresses after plane attack 26 Dec 2009 Police have been searching premises in London today after a Nigerian man tried to ignite an explosive device on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Britain had been working closely with US authorities and investigating the incident since it had happened. "Because of the serious potential threat posed by the incident, I have spoken to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan police, whose offices have been carrying out searches of properties in London," Brown said in a statement.

Investigators: Northwest Bomb Plot Planned by al-Qaeda in Yemen --Officials Say Bomb Materials Sewn Into Suspect's Underwear by Top Terror Bomb Maker 26 Dec 2009 The plot to blow up an American passenger jet over Detroit was organized and launched by al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] leaders in Yemen who apparently sewed bomb materials into the suspect's underwear before sending him on his mission, federal authorities tell ABC News. Investigators say the suspect had more than 80 grams of PETN, a compound related to nitro-glycerin used by the military. The so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, had only about 50 grams kin his failed attempt in 2001 to blow up a U.S.-bound jet.

Man held over US plane bomb bid 26 Dec 2009 A Nigerian man believed to be linked to al Qaeda militants was in custody today after he tried to ignite an explosive device on a US passenger plane as it approached Detroit. The suspect, who suffered extensive burns, was overpowered by passengers and crew on the Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam. The passengers, two of whom suffered minor injuries

Officials say explosion on US plane was terror attack 26 Dec 2009 US authorities believe an incident involving a small explosion aboard a Delta-Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Friday was an attempted act of terrorism, a White House official said. The Transportation Security Administration said the person responsible for the incident was taken into custody and the plane, which departed from Amsterdam, had landed safely in Detroit. "We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism," a White House official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Airports Tighten Security After Failed Bomb Plot 25 Dec 2009 The Transportation Security Administration is enhancing security at airports around the country after a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said someone tried, but failed, to blow up a Delta/Northwest Airlines Flight 253 passenger plane. U.S officials say the passenger, Abdul Mudallad, a Nigerian citizen, claims he was acting on behalf of Al-Qaeda when he tried to blow up a flight Friday as it landed in Detroit from Amsterdam.

Police lose battle over evidence of 'British 9/11' plot --Scotland Yard must reveal whether it had CIA intelligence 26 Dec 2009 Scotland Yard has been ordered to reveal whether it has any evidence to support America’s claim that Britain was saved from a 9/11-style disaster by the CIA’s secret foreign interrogation centres. The Times has won a case under the Freedom of Information Act forcing British police to say whether the US stopped a plot to fly planes into Canary Wharf and Heathrow. The claim was made by President [sic] Bush when he first acknowledged the existence of a clandestine CIA prison network created to fight his War on of Terror. Scotland Yard has been given 35 days to comply or appeal. If it admits that there is no such intelligence, it would undermine any political defence for America’s strong-arm tactics in fighting terrorism.

Software fraudster 'fooled CIA' into terror alert --Spooks 'f*cking livid' 24 Dec 2009 A con man fooled US spooks into grounding international flights by selling them "technology" to decode al-Qaeda messages hidden in TV broadcasts, it's claimed. A long and highly entertaining Playboy article explains that in 2003, Dennis Montgomery was chief technology officer at Reno, Nevada-based eTreppid Technologies. Montgomery reportedly convinced the CIA that he had software that could detect and decrypt "barcodes" in broadcasts by Al Jazeera, the Qatari news station.

Friend of Fort Hood gunman 'killed in attack on Yemen hideout' 26 Dec 2009 An American-born radical Islamist, believed to have links to the Fort Hood gunman accused of killing 13 colleagues last month, may have been among 30 militant leaders killed when Yemeni aircraft bombed suspected al-Qaeda hideouts. Anwar al-Awlaki, who reportedly corresponded by e-mail with Major Nidal Malik Hasan before the shooting at the Texan base, was thought to have been attending an al-Qaeda meeting in Rafadh when the airstrikes took place on Thursday. At least 34 [alleged] members of the terror organisation were killed, according to the Yemeni Embassy in Washington. A similar number were killed in a raid last week.

Obusha opens new war front; lamestream media focuses on bogus terror incidents to provide popular support for 'war on terror:' U.S.-aided attack in Yemen thought to have killed Aulaqi, 2 al-Qaeda leaders 25 Dec 2009 Yemeni forces, backed by the United States, launched a major attack Thursday on a meeting of senior al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] operatives thought to include the Yemeni American cleric linked to the suspect in the Fort Hood shootings [?!?], U.S. and Yemeni officials said. U.S. officials believe that the cleric, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was probably killed in the assault, as were two al-Qaeda leaders, according to a senior Obama administration official. One of those leaders was the head of the terrorist network's operations on the Arabian Peninsula and once served as Osama bin Laden's personal secretary; the other was a Saudi national and former detainee at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Yemeni officials, tribal leaders and eyewitnesses said it was not clear whether Aulaqi and the al-Qaeda leaders were killed or wounded in the strike [so they can be re-killed another day].

In Pakistan, militants blow up three more schools 25 Dec 2009 'Pakistani militants' have reduced three state-run schools to ruins across the country's volatile northwest, where the government has launched a major counterinsurgency operation. The bomb attacks targeted two schools in the Khyber tribal district near the border with Afghanistan, a Press TV correspondent reported. "Militants blew up a government boys' high school and a middle school with explosives around 3.00 am (2100 GMT)," tribal administration official Rehan Gul Khattak said. [Blowing up schools? That's (exclusively) a Blackwater-US drone-CIA black ops thing.]

Afghanistan another Vietnam, says captive US soldier 25 Dec 2009 An American trooper in Taliban captivity says that the United States has lost its grip on the Afghan war, urging the American people to help stop the 'nonsense.' "I'm afraid to tell you that this war has slipped from our fingers and it's just going to be our next Vietnam unless the American people stand up and stop all this nonsense," said US soldier Bowe Robert Bergdahl in a video released by the militants on Friday, the AFP news agency reported... Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP that the soldier "is not being tortured or tormented" by the militants [unlike how the US treats its captives].

Saudi would have nuked Houthis: Yemeni MP 25 Dec 2009 Yemeni lawmaker Yahya al-Houthi says Saudi Arabian warplanes are engaged in the relentless bombardment of civilian positions in Yemen's war-torn north. In an interview with Press TV on Friday, the Yemeni lawmaker accused the Saudi army of using internationally banned weapons in its attacks on villages in the northern province of Sa'ada, regretting the high civilian toll from the raids. If Riyadh had nuclear weapons, it would have used them against the Houthi fighters, the lawmaker charged.

In fresh Iraq violence, 18 people killed 25 Dec 2009 More than a dozen people have died as a fresh wave of violence hits Iraq despite tightened security measures for Christmas and the Shia occasion of Ashura. Six people were killed and 26 others wounded in a bomb explosion in Baghdad's eastern district of Sadr City on Friday when a roadside bomb struck a procession to mark the anniversary of the third Shia Imam's martyrdom...

Two dozen killed in blasts across Iraq 24 Dec 2009 Over two dozen people have been killed and more than 150 others have been wounded in a string of bomb attacks across Iraq ahead of Christmas and Ashura. In the worst Thursday attack in the central Iraqi town of Hilla in Babil Province, twin car bombs killed 15 people, including the provincial councilor, Naama al-Bakri, a senior member of the ruling Dawaa Party, and injured 70 others.

Probe confirms CIA black jails in Lithuania 26 Dec 2009 After the unexpected resignation of Lithuania's intelligence chief, a controversial parliamentary probe confirms the existence of CIA-run black jails in the Baltic state. The parliamentary panel report caused considerable consternation after confirming that the CIA ran at least two black prisons in Lithuania where 'terror suspects' may have been held.

Iran: US nukes biggest threat to global security 24 Dec 2009 Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili says the US should be relieved of its veto power and disarmed over the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. "The least penalty for the United States is its disarmament and disqualifying its veto power," said Jalili during his visit to Hiroshima. "Unfortunately not only was not the US condemned for Hiroshima massacre but it was also awarded with veto power in the (UN) Security Council," he said.

Israeli soldiers shoot dead six Palestinians 26 Dec 2009 Israeli soldiers have shot dead six Palestinians and left a fourth one wounded in separate incidents in the West Bank and the north of the Gaza Strip. According to a Palestinian medical source, three Palestinians were killed in northern Gaza as they were on their way to cross over a wall to work in Israel on Saturday.

Barak cracks down on army 'mutineers' 24 Dec 2009 Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel's most decorated soldier, is targeting army-linked seminaries that produce many of the country's combat troops because the young soldiers are refusing to move against Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Barak's action has incensed Israel's right wing, which supports the settlers and has vowed to oppose the 10-month freeze on settlement building announced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, under pressure from Washington, in late November.

Their lukewarm pandemic was the dry-run. School vaccinations could expand as byproduct of swine flu pandemic 25 Dec 2009 Top public health officials see this year's swine flu vaccination efforts as an opportunity to consider large-scale immunization campaigns at the nation's schools. Local and state health departments were charged with administering the estimated 259 million doses the federal government bought to 'fight' the H1N1 influenza virus. A total of 34 states incorporated public and private schools into their campaigns. [See: Baxter working on vaccine to stop swine flu, though admitted sending live pandemic flu viruses to subcontractor 26 Apr 2009 and Killer flu recreated in the lab 07 Oct 2004.]

Cook County sheriff set to hire hundreds 24 Dec 2009 (IL) The Cook County Sheriff's Department says it is set to make hundreds of hires in coming months. Sheriff Tom Dart said Wednesday that his department is prepared to hire more than 500 correctional officers next year. The first class of recruits is to come in January. The sheriff's office says the jobs are available because of a federal mandate that more officers be added at the Cook County Jail.

Cellphone Searches (The New York Times) 26 Dec 2009 The Ohio Supreme Court has struck an important blow for privacy rights, ruling that the police need a warrant to search a cellphone. The court rightly recognized that cellphones today are a lot more than just telephones, that they hold a wealth of personal information and that the privacy interest in them is considerable. This was the first such ruling from a state supreme court. It is a model for other courts to follow.

U.S. promises unlimited financial assistance to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac 25 Dec 2009 The Obama administration pledged Thursday to provide unlimited financial assistance to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, an eleventh-hour move that allows the government to exceed the current $400 billion cap on emergency aid without seeking permission from a bailout-weary Congress. The Christmas Eve announcement by the Treasury Department means that it can continue to run the companies, which were seized last year, as arms of the government for the rest of President Obama's current term. But even as the administration was making this open-ended financial commitment, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac disclosed that they had received approval from their federal regulator to pay $42 million in Wall Street-style compensation packages to 12 top executives for 2009.

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'Good' Taliban destroy Afghan Army base 20 Dec 2009 Forces under the command of a leader considered to be one of the "good Taliban" by the Pakistani military destroyed an Afghan Army camp. Taliban forces commanded by Mullah Nazir blew up an the Afghan Army base, which was just across the border from the Angoor Adda region in Pakistan. The region is under the control of Nazir, a Pakistani Taliban commander. "Sources said the Taliban planted explosives all over the base and blew it up, destroying bunkers and installations," Dawn reported. The based was destroyed after "a contingent stationed there moved out of the fortified compound." The Taliban and "a group of tribesmen" then looted the base. [See: Rep.: US may be 'funding the very insurgents we are trying to fight' --Congress investigating charges of 'protection racket' by Afghanistan contractors 17 Dec 2009.]

US anti-drug effort in Afghanistan criticized 23 Dec 2009 The State Department's internal watchdog on Wednesday criticized the agency's nearly $2 billion anti-drug effort in Afghanistan for poor oversight and lack of a long-term strategy. The department's inspector general said the Afghanistan counter-narcotics program is hampered by too few personnel and rampant corruption among Afghan officials. [The US mission in Afghanistan is to keep the gas and opium pipelines flowing. See: Trail of Afghanistan's drug money exposed By Julien Mercille 16 Dec 2009 The total revenue generated by opiates within Afghanistan is about $3.4 billion per year. Of this figure, according to UNODC, the Taliban get only 4% of the sum... The remaining 75% is captured by government officials, the police, local and regional power brokers and traffickers - in short, many of the groups now supported (or tolerated) by the United States and NATO are important actors in the drug trade.]

Suicide bomber in southern Afghanistan kills eight: police 24 Dec 2009 A suicide bomber with a horse and cart detonated himself Thursday in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing eight people and wounding five, a senior police officer said. The explosion happened around 7.15 pm (1445 GMT) outside the Kandahar provincial health ministry directorate and a guesthouse sometimes used by foreigners, deputy provincial police chief Sazel Ahmad Shairzad said.

NATO confirms two soldiers dead in Afghanistan 24 Dec 2009 NATO has confirmed that two of its soldiers have been killed in separate attacks in southern Afghanistan. The military alliance said on Thursday that Canadian soldier, Lt. Andrew Nuttall, was killed in the Panjwaii district on Wednesday. An Afghan soldier died and an interpreter was also seriously injured in the attack. Meanwhile, a British soldier was killed in a roadside bombing in the Helmand province on Tuesday.

British soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan --Death is third this week in Helmand province for UK troops --Improvised bomb blamed after two earlier friendly fire killings 23 Dec 2009 The third British soldier this week has been killed in southern Afghanistan. The soldier from the Parachute Regiment was killed by an improvised bomb while on foot patrol near Sangin in Helmand province yesterday afternoon, the Ministry of Defence said.

Imam Tied to Fort Hood Shooter "Killed" 24 Dec 2009 A Muslim preacher linked by U.S. intelligence to a gunman who killed 13 people at a U.S. Army base is believed to have died in a Yemen airstrike on al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] militants, a security official said on Thursday. "Anwar al Awlaki is suspected to be dead (in the air raid)," said the Yemeni official, who asked not to be identified. Yemen said 30 militants were killed in the strike in the eastern province of Shabwa. The gunman in the November 5 shooting at the Fort Hood, Texas army base, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, had contacts with Awlaki late last year, U.S. authorities believe.

Jack Straw faces Iraq inquiry grilling over Tony Blair letter --Claims that PM was told UK should not assist in overthrow of Saddam 23 Dec 2009 The former foreign secretary Jack Straw is to face potentially explosive questioning at the Iraq inquiry next month over a private letter he sent to Tony Blair on the eve of the invasion, urging the prime minister to look at options apart from pressing ahead with British military involvement in the attack. It is understood that the inquiry is to receive a copy of the personal letter sent by Straw, written after discussions with Sir Michael (now Lord) Jay, the Foreign Office permanent secretary, on 16 March 2003, two days before the Commons voted to back the war.

Opponents gunning for Gordon Brown as he escapes Iraq grilling before election 24 Dec 2009 Prime Minister Gordon Brown and members of his Cabinet will not be called to give evidence to the Iraq inquiry until after the general election, it was announced yesterday. Opposition parties reacted angrily after it emerged that Sir John Chilcot's committee would wait until after polling day to quiz Mr Brown, Foreign Secretary David Miliband and International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander.

Iraq bomb attacks kill 26 24 Dec 2009 Violence across Iraq left at least 26 people dead today, most of them Shia pilgrims attending mourning ceremonies, prompting fears of further sectarian attacks as Shia Islam's most solemn occasion looms. The deaths came three days before the climax of Ashura, when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims converge on Kerbala to mourn the killing of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, in a battle in 680AD.

Iraqi police: Gunmen storm checkpoint, kill 4 23 Dec 2009 Authorities say [Blackwater?] gunmen have stormed a checkpoint west of Baghdad, killing four Iraqi police officers. It is the latest in a series of attacks in which gunmen have targeted Iraqi police and army checkpoints. Two police officials say gunmen stormed the checkpoint Wednesday morning in the Abu Ghraib area to the west of the capital.

Israel threatens another large-scale Gaza war 23 Dec 2009 Israel has threatened another massive war against the Gaza Strip as the impoverished enclave continues to suffer in the aftermath of the devastating January offensive. Israeli planes have been dropping thousands of leaflets across Gaza, warning Palestinians against cooperating with the resistance fighters based in the coastal sliver.

Guantanamo may have to stay open until 2011 23 Dec 2009 The prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may not close until 2011 because of anticipated appropriation struggles in Congress, the need to change federal law and construction time to upgrade an Illinois facility to hold detainees prisoners. The Thomson Correctional Center may not be purchased from the state until March and will need up to 10 months of construction said Joe Shoemaker, spokesman for Sen. Dick Durbin, who represents Illinois in the Senate.

From Guantánamo to Desk at Al Jazeera 23 Dec 2009 Of the 779 known detainees prisoners who have been held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, only one was a journalist. The journalist, Sami al-Hajj, was working for Al Jazeera as a cameraman when he was stopped by Pakistani forces on the border with Afghanistan in late 2001. Mr. Hajj... was never charged with a crime during his years in custody. Now, more than a year after his release, Mr. Hajj, a 40-year-old native of Sudan, is back at work at the Arabic satellite news network, leading a new desk devoted to human rights and public liberties. The captive has become the correspondent.

Navy attempted suicide rate nearly 3 percent 24 Dec 2009 Sailors attempted to commit suicide at rates significantly higher than the other services in 2008, according to a recent Defense Department-sponsored survey of service members. The Navy’s attempted suicide rate -- at 2.8 percent, or roughly 1 in every 35 sailors -- was three times higher than in the previous survey, conducted in 2005.

US, Poland Sign Deal on Stationing GIs --Deal to serve as legal framework for possible future missile defense site 12 Dec 2009 U.S. and Polish officials signed a deal Friday to regulate the stationing of American troops and military equipment in the eastern European country, paving the way for a U.S. military presence in the heart of the former Soviet bloc. The step is a prerequisite for the deployment of U.S. Patriot missiles to Poland, which is expected early next year.

'There is a core of resistance that has not been moved by entreaties by the U.S. government.' US poll shows worry about swine flu shot persists 22 Dec 2009 Americans who were worried about the safety of the swine flu vaccine are still worried and it may not be easy to convince them to get themselves or their children vaccinated, researchers said on Tuesday. "Thirty-five percent of parents say they are not going to get it and 60 percent say the major reason is safety," Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health said in a telephone interview.

More swine flu vaccine recalled: FDA 23 Dec 2009 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday AstraZeneca's MedImmune unit is voluntarily recalling some of its H1N1 swine flu vaccine because it was not as potent as it should be. Health Norman Baylor, director of the office of vaccines research and review at the FDA, said the recall involves a total of 4.7 million doses of the company's nasal spray vaccine, but only about 3,000 of those doses are left in warehouses.

Reaction to Senate Passage of Health Care Bill --Reaction to Senate passage of health care bill 24 Dec 2009 Remarks on the Senate's passage of health care legislation Thursday: "We are now finally poised to deliver on the promise of real, meaningful health insurance reform that will bring additional security and stability to the American people... This will be the most important piece of social legislation since Social Security passed in the 1930s." -- President Barack Obama.

Senate Passes 'Health Care' Overhaul Bill --Roll was called at 7:05 a.m. on Thursday 25 Dec 2009 The Senate voted Thursday to reinvent the nation’s health care system, passing a bill to guarantee access to health insurance for tens of millions of Americans and to rein in health costs bail out the insurance industry as proposed by President Obama. The 60-to-39 party-line vote, on the 25th straight day of debate on the legislation, brings Democrats a step closer to a goal they have pursued for decades. It clears the way for negotiations with the House, which passed a broadly similar bill last month by a vote of 220 to 215.

Health Bill Clears Last Hurdle Before Passage in Senate 23 Dec 2009 Exultant Senate Democrats pushed President Barack Obama's landmark health care overhaul past a final procedural hurdle Wednesday, setting up a Christmas Eve vote to pass the legislation extending coverage to 30 million Americans. Democrats voted 60-39 to end a GOP filibuster and move to a final vote Thursday. All 58 Democrats and two independents hung together against unanimous Republican opposition.

Abortion looms as possible 'health' bill deal killer 23 Dec 2009 DemocRATs are close enough to taste victory in their quest to remake the nation's health care system bail out the pharmaterrorists and insurance company cartel, but differences between the House and Senate on abortion could still blow it all up. [Any port in a storm! I'm sick of insurance company stocks SOARING since Opharma, et al., burned us on the public option.]

Senior Dem: Kill the Senate health reform bill and start over 23 Dec 2009 The Senate's healthcare bill is fatally flawed, a senior Democrat atop a powerful committee said on Wednesday. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said that the Senate's bill is so flawed that it's unlikely to be resolved in conference with the bill to have passed the House.

Congress Raises Debt Ceiling to $12.4 Trillion --Senate votes to raise ceiling on government's debt by $290 billion to $12.4 trillion 24 Dec 2009 The Senate voted Thursday to raise the ceiling on the government debt to $12.4 trillion, a massive increase over the current limit and a political problem that President Barack Obama has promised to address next year. The Senate's rare Christmas Eve vote, 60-39, follows House passage last week and raises the debt ceiling by $290 billion. The vote split mainly down party lines, with Democrats voting to raise the limit and Republicans voting against doing so.

Bo the First Dog not spending Christmas in Hawaii 23 Dec 2009 First Dog Bo will not join President Obama and his family on their Hawai'i vacation, which begins tomorrow, the state Department of Agriculture confirmed today. State Veterinarian Dr. James Foppoli had emailed the White House about Hawai'i's strict anti-rabies quarantine rules in anticipation of a visit by the famous Portuguese water dog, said Janelle Saneishi, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture.

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Taliban claim control of over 80pc of Afghanistan 22 Dec 2009 Rejecting as baseless the US allegations about the presence of Afghan Taliban in the tribal areas, a militant commander said they did not need to flee to the neighbouring country when the Taliban controlled major parts of Afghanistan. Mulla Sangeen, a key commander of the Afghan Taliban, claimed there was no truth in the US charges, as the Taliban were holding 80 per cent of the territory in Afghanistan.

NATO says no deadline for Afghan troop withdrawal 22 Dec 2009 The head of NATO said on Tuesday there would be no deadline for the exit of allied troops from Afghanistan, as fears grow among Afghans that foreign forces will leave before their own troops are able to guarantee security. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was visiting Afghanistan for the first time since U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans this month to send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to try and tame mounting violence.

Blackwater Eyes Afghan Contractor Surge 21 Dec 2009 Virginian-Pilot As the United States builds up its military presence in Afghanistan, private contractors mercenaries are flocking there in even greater numbers. And Xe, the company formerly known as Blackwater, is in the hunt to get a share of the new work. According to a report last week from the Congressional Research Service, there were about 64,000 uniformed U.S. troops in Afghanistan in September and 104,101 military contractors -- 62 percent of the Defense Department work force there. The Obama administration's planned deployment of 30,000 more troops in the coming months could require as many as 56,000 more contractors, the report estimated. Xe, the Moyock, N.C.-based private military company terrorist organization, is already on the ground in Afghanistan despite its controversial history in Iraq, and is in the running for additional contracts.

Lithuania 'hosted at least two secret CIA prisons' 22 Dec 2009 A Lithuanian inquiry has found that the US Central Intelligence Agency set up and used secret prisons on its soil following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US. Lithuania's intelligence agency assisted the CIA-run secret prisons, which were used to hold at least eight 'al-Qaeda' suspects, the parliamentary panel in charge of the probe said in a report on Tuesday. The National Security Committee report records instances in 2005 and 2006 when chartered planes were allowed to land in Lithuania, adding that all the Lithuanian officials, including President Dalia Grybauskaite, were kept in the dark about the aircraft's passengers.

Lithuanian spy agency set up secret prisons for CIA 22 Dec 2009 Lithuania's intelligence agency helped the CIA to set up secret prisons in the Baltic country, a parliamentary panel said today. However, the national security committee found no evidence that any suspects were interrogated in Lithuania. The committee said the state security department provided two facilities to the CIA: a small cell set up in 2002 that could house one suspect, and a unit set up in 2004 that was big enough to hold eight suspects. It said there was no evidence that the security agency had informed the president, the prime minister or other political leaders of its co-operation with the US.

'Some members of Congress may want to support rapid closure of Guantánamo but not to signal support for broad military detention powers.' Plan to Move Guantánamo Detainees Faces a New Delay 23 Dec 2009 Rebuffed this month by skeptical lawmakers when it sought finances to buy a prison in rural Illinois, the Obama administration is struggling to come up with the money to replace the Guantánamo Bay prison. As a result, officials now believe that they are unlikely to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer its population of terrorism suspects until 2011 at the earliest -- a far slower timeline for achieving one of President Obama’s signature national security policies than they had previously hinted.

'Some of my colleagues in the prison lost their sight, some lost their limbs and others ended up mentally disturbed.' Guantanamo 'hell on Earth', says Somali detainee --Bare said the US authorities had never told him why he was arrested. 22 Dec 2009 A Somali just home from eight years in the US jail at Guantanamo Bay told AFP the prison was "hell on Earth", and alleged torture there had scarred some of his fellow inmates. Mohamed Saleban Bare, who arrived in his hometown of Hargeisa on Saturday, said he was innocent of any charges that would have caused security forces to arrest him in Pakistan in 2001 and transfer him to the US jail via Afghanistan. "Guantanamo Bay is like hell on Earth," he said in an interview Monday with an AFP reporter who visited him at his hotel in Hargeisa, capital of the northern breakaway state of Somaliland.

Mission accomplished! Iraq initials deal on prized oil field 20 Dec 2009 Iraq has initialed a deal with a consortium led by European giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Malaysia's state-run Petronas to develop one of Iraq's most prized oil fields. Iraqi officials initialed the deal Sunday during a signing ceremony at Iraq's Oil Ministry in Baghdad. The contract still must be approved by Iraq's Cabinet.

Iraq initials deal for Halfaya oilfield 22 Dec 2009 Iraq's Oil Ministry initialled a deal on Tuesday with China National Petroleum Company, Total and Petronas for Halfaya, the latest deal it has inked that it hopes will turn Iraq into a major global exporter. The Halfaya oilfield, in southern Iraq, has estimated reserves of 4.1 billion barrels of oil. CNPC owns 50 percent of the venture, while France's Total and Petronas of Malaysia each hold a 25 percent stake of their venture.

4 wounded in separate bomb attacks in Iraq 22 Dec 2009 Four people were wounded, including a member of a city hall, in separate bomb attacks in Iraq on Tuesday, police said. Hameed Abdul Hadi al-Erssan, member of Fallujah city council, was wounded when a bomb stuck to his car detonated in the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, a local police source said.

Four more Iraqi policemen die in upsurge of violence 22 Dec 2009 Four Iraqi policemen have died and several others have been injured in the city of Baghdad and the provinces of Kirkuk, Nineveh, and Anbar as the country experiences another upsurge in violence. A policeman was killed on Monday when he came under attack by unknown gunmen in front of a gas station in southern part of Kirkuk city. The gunmen escaped the scene in a vehicle and their whereabouts are unknown.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says secret nuclear document is a US forgery 22 Dec 2009 President Ahmadinejad has denounced as an American government forgery a secret nuclear document unearthed by The Times, as the top general in the United States warned that military force could not be ruled out against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Confronted with a copy of the Times document during an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, the Iranian President waved it aside, refusing to look. "No, I don’t want to see this kind of document," Mr Ahmadinejad said. "These are some fabricated papers issued by the American Government." [They usually 'yellowcake from Niger' are. --LRP]

'One of these institutes has allocated a $1.7 billion budget.' Iran identifies 80 subversive foreign institutes 23 Dec 2009 Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi says dozens of foreign organizations that attempted to create havoc in the Islamic Republic have been identified. "During the seditious efforts, various NGOs were used. To date, 80 foreign institutes, foundations, and funds that are active in this process have been identified," the Fars news agency quoted Moslehi as saying on Tuesday. He noted that the leaders of the sedition effort tried to propagate the idea that Iran's 2009 presidential election was rigged in order to encourage acts of civil disobedience.

Ahmadinejad: US bound to fail in ME 22 Dec 2009 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the US will definitely fail in the Middle East, as the regional nations will not allow it to dominate the region. Addressing people in the southern city of Shiraz on Tuesday, President Ahmadinejad said Iran strongly opposes US plans to spread its dominance in the region.

World 'failed Gaza over Israeli blockade' - aid groups 22 Dec 2009 Aid agencies have strongly criticised the international community for failing to help bring an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza. The charities made the accusation in a report published just ahead of the anniversary of Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip. The aid agencies condemn not just Israel, but the world community.

Mega barf alert! Obama taps former Bush official as cyber czar --Before he joined the Bush White House, Schmidt worked as chief security officer at Microsoft. 22 Dec 2009 Seven months after President Obama vowed to "personally select" an adviser to orchestrate the government's strategy for protecting computer systems, the White House on Tuesday tapped a former Bush administration official for the job. Howard A. Schmidt, who was a cyber-adviser in President [sic] George W. Bush's White House, will be Obama's new cybersecurity coordinator, an administration official said Monday night. A letter announcing the appointment was posted on the White House Web site early Tuesday.

Doctor to sue CDC over child's death after H1N1 vaccination 23 Dec 2009 (Taichung, Central Taiwan) A gynecologist is planning to sue the Centers for Disease Control over the death of his seven-year-old son after receiving the A (H1N1) flu virus vaccine, reports said yesterday. The CDC denied there was a link between the two and said it would continue its present inoculation campaign. Including the boy, a total of four deaths were recorded following inoculation, including men aged 82 and 50 respectively who had difficult health histories, and a high school student, reports said.

Spray Flu Vaccine Is Recalled 23 Dec 2009 Thirteen lots of a nasal-spray vaccine for swine flu are being recalled for lack of potency, officials said. The lots, made by Medimmune, include more than 3,000 doses. There is no safety problem with the vaccine, and people who received doses from the affected lots do not need to be revaccinated, said the company and an official from the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Norman Baylor, director of the office of vaccines research and review.

More vaccine but fewer takers, H1N1 surveys indicate --About 60 percent of parents cited the vaccine's safety as their main concern. 23 Dec 2009 Pandemic influenza vaccine is getting much easier to find but more than half of American adults say they still don't want it, and one-third of parents say they don't want their children to get it either, according to two surveys. A survey done a week ago by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that about 44 percent of high-priority adults, and 55 percent of all adults, said they did not intend to get the vaccine. [Right, no one wants squalene-laden, mercury-filled, Polysorbate 80-laced swine flu vaccinations. We know those who are profiting from the quote, unquote pandemic are those who started it for that purpose. See: Baxter working on vaccine to stop swine flu, though admitted sending live pandemic flu viruses to subcontractor By Lori Price 26 Apr 2009 and Killer flu recreated in the lab 07 Oct 2004.]

Party Time at the FAA; Critics Question $5 Million Gathering --"It Beats Being At Work," FAA Manager Exclaims as 3,600 Meet in Atlanta; An Excuse to Throw a Christmas Party? 22 Dec 2009 The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spent five million dollars this month to bring 3, 600 managers to a conference in Atlanta that FAA whistleblowers and critics say was little more than an excuse to throw a three-week-long Christmas party. "It's the wrong time to spend five million dollars on a Christmas party for anybody's employees, especially in the government," said Tom Schatz, the president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-profit watchdog group.

Banks with political ties got bailouts, study shows --Lobbying, political expenses coincided with bailouts 21 Dec 2009 U.S. banks that spent more money on lobbying were more likely to get government bailout money, according to a study released on Monday. Banks whose executives served on Federal Reserve boards were more likely to receive government bailout funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, according to the study from Ran Duchin and Denis Sosyura, professors at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

Taxpayers Help Goldman Reach Height of Profit in New Skyscraper --The Fed's bailout of AIG, and its decision to pay the insurer's counterparties in full, funneled an additional $12.9 billion to Goldman Suchs. 21 Dec 2009 In the first six months of 2010, about 6,000 employees of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. will take a break from their spreadsheets and move across the southern tip of Manhattan to a new 43-story, steel-and-glass skyscraper. The building was a bargain -- and not just because the final cost is expected to be $200 million less than the $2.3 billion price the company had estimated when construction began in November 2005. Goldman Sachs also benefited from the government’s determination to avoid losing jobs in lower Manhattan after the [Bush-Cheney] Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Goldman May Move 20% of UK Staff to Spain --Goldman Suchs warns UK Treasury it may transfer 20% of its 5,000 London staff to Spain in protest over UK tax and bonuses 22 Dec 2009 Goldman Sachs (GS) has threatened the UK Treasury with plans to move up to 20 per cent of its London-based staff to Spain in a standoff over tax and bonuses. It's believed that the Wall Street investment bank... has fired a warning shot across the Government's bows in response to the tax measures unveiled in the pre-Budget report earlier this month.

Six accused in Mass. mortgage scam 22 Dec 2009 Three real estate investors, two mortgage brokers and a former attorney were indicted in an alleged mortgage fraud scheme involving $12.5 million in loans and at least 26 distressed properties in the Boston area, the state attorney general's office said today. In indictments returned by a Suffolk County grand jury, the six defendants face multiple counts of larceny and other charges related to a scheme that prosecutors allege gained them about $2 million in profits.

Ex-RNC chiefs rip Steele speaking fees --Party chairman pimping himself at $8,000 to $20,000 a pop 22 Dec 2009 Michael S. Steele, Republican National Committee chairman, is using his title to market himself for paid appearances nationwide, personally profiting from speeches with fees of up to $20,000 at colleges, trade associations and other groups - an unusual practice criticized by a string of past party chairmen. Mr. Steele, elected in January to the $223,500-a-year RNC post, is working with at least four outside agencies in Washington, New York, Boston and Nashville, Tenn., that book the speaking engagements. He charges between $8,000 and $20,000 for an address, plus first-class travel and lodging expenses.

Sen. Whitehouse: Foes of health care bill are birthers, right-wing militias, Aryan groups 20 Dec 2009 Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today took shots at those who are not supporting the health care legislation. During a floor speech, he excoriated Senate GOP members for holding up the pending health care bill and accused their supporters of being birthers and fanatics in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups. He started by citing an editorial from the Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer, which used the insult "lunatic fringe."

Ala. Dem defects to GOP over health care, policy 22 Dec 2009 A U.S. House Democrat who opposes the health care overhaul announced Tuesday he is defecting to the GOP, another blow to Democrats ahead of the midterm elections. U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith spoke to reporters at his home in northern Alabama, a region that relies heavily on defense and aerospace jobs.

Quick action! Protect Polar Bear Habitat in the Arctic Refuge (Defenders of Wildlife) 22 Dec 2009 Rising temperatures are robbing polar bears of vital habitat and melting the sea ice they use for hunting and raising their cubs. In response, the Interior Department has announced a proposal to designate more than 200,000 square miles of critical habitat for these struggling bears - including the vital coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is America's most important onshore polar bear nursery. Protecting this important denning habitat should help safeguard polar bear homes from destructive oil and gas exploration and drilling. Please urge the Interior Department to adopt this proposal to protect onshore denning habitats and help save America's struggling polar bears.

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US forces mounted secret Pakistan raids --Former Nato officer reveals secret night operations in border region which America kept quiet 21 Dec 2009 American special forces have conducted multiple clandestine raids into Pakistan's tribal areas as part of a secret war in the border region where Washington is pressing to expand its drone assassination programme. A former Nato officer said the incursions, only one of which has been previously reported, occurred between 2003 and 2008, involved helicopter-borne elite soldiers stealing across the border at night, and were never declared to the Pakistani government. "The Pakistanis were kept entirely in the dark about it. It was one of those things we wouldn't confirm officially with them," said the source, who had detailed knowledge of the operations.

Obusha opens new war front; lamestream media yawns: Mullen worried Yemen becoming terrorist 'haven' --Adm. refused to discuss whether US played active role in recent operation 20 Dec 2009 Adm. Mike Mullen is applauding a military strike in Yemen against suspected members of the al-Qaida terrorist group civilians. The top U.S. military officer said Sunday he has been concerned for some time that Yemen could become "another safe haven" for terrorism. He applauded the effort to go after an al-Qaida cell which he said has grown significantly over the last couple of years. Mullen said the United States will continue to help Yemen develop its ability to 'fight' terrorism, but he refused to discuss whether the United States played an active role in the recent operation. ['Could' become. We're bombing the sh*t out of civilians again, because of what 'could' happen. --LRP]

Saudi jets kill 18 civilians in Yemen 21 Dec 2009 Fresh Saudi air strikes on northern villages of Yemen have claimed the lives of 18 civilians, all women and children, the Houthi fighters say. According to a statement released by the fighters, Saudi forces carried out more than 40 air raids on al-Razih, al-Nazir, al -Malaheet, and the district of Ghamra in northern Yemen on Monday.

Police Headquarters Attacked in Southeastern Afghanistan 21 Dec 2009 An provincial government official said that Afghan security forces and American troops killed five heavily armed men who attacked a police headquarters in the center of Gardez, the capital of the southeastern province of Paktia Province. Four police and three civilians were wounded, said the official, Rahullah Samon, a spokesman for the governor’s office. A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said that five suicide bombers entered the Gardez police headquarters around 9 a.m. and attacked a class of police recruits while foreign mentors were taking daily attendance. [Gee, looks like the US 'plan' for training Afghan police is a big ice cream cone in the dirt, isn't it? No worries. US taxpayers will just build a new police HQ in Afghanistan so Blackwater can blow it up again.]

Soldier killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan --A military policeman killed on patrol in Afghanistan is feared to have been the victim of friendly fire. 21 Dec 2009 The fatal shot is thought to have come from a member of his own patrol but sources were unable to say whether he was caught in cross fire during a firefight or was shot as a result of the accidental discharge of a weapon. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence confirmed that there was a "possibility that the latest death in Afghanistan was caused as a result of friendly fire."

Sabotage cuts Iraqi oil pipeline [What a shame!] 20 Dec 2009 Oil exports from northern Iraq have stopped following an attack on a pipeline that leads to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Assem Jihad, an Iraqi oil ministry spokesman, told journalists on Sunday that a 55km section of the pipeline was damaged, causing a large oil spillage, around 325km north of Baghdad. "Exports have stopped and technicians from the Northern Oil Company have gone to the site to survey the damage", Jihad said.

Iraq: Bombs kill 5 in northern city, Baghdad 21 Dec 2009 A suicide [Blackwater?] bomber attacked the convoy of a city council chief in northern Iraq on Monday, killing the official and three guards, police and health officials said. The slain official, Hussein Akrash, was affiliated with the country's largest Sunni political party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, and was a member of the Turkoman minority.

Obama signs $636.3 billion defense-spending bill 21 Dec 2009 President Obama signed into law legislation that provides $636.3 billion for the U.S. military in fiscal 2010, including $128.3 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House announced today. About $65 billion of the war funding is for operations in Afghanistan. The administration says it will need about $30 billion more to finance the addition of 30,000 more troops there that begins this month. That request is likely to come with the fiscal 2011 budget to be submitted in February.

Obama Says New Contracting Rules Saved $19 Billion 21 Dec 2009 President Barack Obama said changes in federal contracting rules he ordered have saved the government about $19 billion, almost half-way to a target of $40 billion in savings by Oct. 1, 2010. Waste costs the taxpayers more each year than the budgets of the Departments of Education and Homeland Security combined, Obama said today at the White House.

'US policy toward Iran is duplicitous' 22 Dec 2009 Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has criticized the United States over its 'failed' strategy towards Iran. "It seems that the Americans have an internal problem in regard to their strategy toward Iran. They have failed to adopt a unified and wise strategy on this issue," Larijani said in Cairo, where he travelled to attend the three-day meeting of the Parliamentary Union of Organization of the Islamic Conference member states (PUOICM), which opened on Monday.

Israeli military admits harvesting organs 21 Dec 2009 The Israeli military has admitted harvesting organs from dead Palestinians after an interview conducted over the issue in 2000 was broadcast again. Over the weekend, Israel's Channel 2 TV broadcast an interview conducted in 2000 with the then-head of Israel's Abu Kabir forensic institute, Dr. Jehuda Hiss who revealed that forensic pathologists harvested organs from dead bodies, including Palestinian corpses in the 1990s, the Associated Press reported.

Former Israeli premier Olmert pleads not guilty 21 Dec 2009 Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert is pleading not guilty to charges of illegally accepting funds from an American supporter and double-billing Jewish groups for trips abroad. Olmert spokesman Amir Dan says Olmert and his office chief, Shula Zaken, denied all charges at the Jerusalem district court Monday.

'You were tied to a chair and they would tip you over on your back, put a towel over your face and pour water over you.' British Army 'waterboarded' suspects in 70s --Evidence casts doubt on guilt of man sentenced to hang for killing soldier 21 Dec 2009 Evidence that the British army subjected prisoners in Northern Ireland to waterboarding during interrogations in the 1970s is emerging after one of the alleged victims launched an appeal against his conviction for murder. ...The jury did not believe Liam Holden's insistence that he made the confession only because he had been held down by members of the Parachute Regiment, whom he says placed a towel over his face before pouring water from a bucket over his nose and mouth, giving him the impression that he was drowning. But now the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has referred Holden's case to the court of appeal in Belfast after unearthing new evidence, and because of doubts about "the admissibility and reliability" of his confession.

UK drops terrorism charges against Libyan 21 Dec 2009 A Libyan national who has been under restriction for the past six years in the United Kingdom on terrorism charges has won his long court battle against the UK Home Office and Security Services. Faraj Hassan told Press TV over phone on Monday that his solicitors tried hard and finally succeed in convincing a High Court judge that he is not a terrorist threat to the United Kingdom.

David Headley Said to Have Helped Terrorists Target Nuclear Plant --Authorities Say Chicago Man Cased, Photographed Facility at Tombroy, India, that Produces Plutonium for Nuke Weapons 21 Dec 2009 The Chicago man charged with helping plot the terror attacks one year ago in Mumbai also photographed and conducted surveillance of a nuclear weapons fuel plant [Bhabha Atomic Research Center] in Tromboy, India, according to Indian and U.S. law enforcement authorities. The authorities say David Headley was sent to Tromboy, a northwest suburb of Mumbai, by his [CIA] handlers in the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, an affiliate of al Qaeda. [See: Did America keep mum on 26/11? By Vir Sanghvi 20 Dec 2009 ...These papers showed that Headley had been convicted and sent to jail. But after 9/11, he had been set free and sent to Pakistan to work as an undercover agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). According to US journalists, Headley had been given a new passport in the American name of David Headley (his American mother’s maiden name is Headley) rather than his original name of Daood Gilani.]

White House picks new cyber coordinator 21 Dec 2009 President Barack Obama has chosen a national cyber security coordinator to take on the formidable task of organizing and managing the nation's increasingly vulnerable digital networks. A senior White House official says Obama has tapped Howard A. Schmidt, a longtime computer security executive with extensive ties to the corporate world, to take the job.

Tarmac Delays Get Three Hour Limit in DOT Airline Crackdown --New Rule Requires Airlines to Deplane Passengers, Provide Food and Water 21 Dec 2009 The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced it's getting tough with airlines that keep passengers stuck in planes on airport tarmacs for more than three hours, issuing a "hard time limit" after which carriers must let the passengers off the plane or face fines. The rules also require airlines to provide food and water to passengers within two hours of a delay, keep the lavatories functional and provide medical attention to passengers who may need it.

President And First Lady Get H1N1 Shots 21 Dec 2009 Declaring that the H1N1 vaccine is safe [!?!], President Obama says he and the First Lady got their swine flu shots on Sunday. If it wasn't safe, he said he would not have allowed daughters Sasha and Malia, "the two people that are most important in my life," to get the vaccinations for H1N1 several months ago.

Walgreen 1Q profit rises 20 percent on drug sales 21 Dec 2009 Concerned Brainwashed customers got more than 5 million flu shots at Walgreen Co. stores in the fall, helping the company boost its quarterly profit by 20 percent. The company administered 5.4 million seasonal flu shots between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, compared with 1.2 million in last year's entire flu season, from October to February.

How health lobbyists influenced reform bill 20 Dec 2009 An analysis of public documents by Northwestern University's Medill News Service in partnership with the Tribune Newspapers Washington Bureau and the Center for Responsive Politics found a revolving door between Capitol Hill staffers and lobbying jobs for companies with a stake in health care legislation. At least 166 former aides from the nine congressional leadership offices and five committees involved in shaping health overhaul legislation -- along with at least 13 former lawmakers -- registered to represent at least 338 health care clients since the beginning of last year, according to the analysis. Their health care clients spent $635 million on lobbying over the past two years, the study shows.

Seeing Public Subsidy (Not Public Option) Investors Flock to Health Insurers By Shahien Nasiripour 21 Dec 2009 Investors are seeing the Senate's version of health care reform as a massive public subsidy for insurance companies -- and as a result, are sending the sector's stock prices shooting up, up, up. Stripped of a government-run insurance plan, the bill would give tens of millions of Americans no option but to start paying hefty premiums to private companies. The rise in stock prices has been particularly striking in the period since Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn. Israel) said on October 27 that he would filibuster a Senate health care reform bill if it included a public option - a threat that caused Senate leaders to cave without much of a fight.

'Health' Bill Passes Key Test in the Senate With 60 Votes 21 Dec 2009 Democrats held ranks early Monday in a dead-of-night procedural vote that proved they had locked in the decisive margin needed to pass a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health care system corporaterrorist giveaway. The roll was called shortly after 1 a.m., with Washington still snowbound after a weekend blizzard, and the Senate voted on party lines to cut off a Republican filibuster of a package of changes to the 'health care' bill by the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada. The vote was 60 to 40 -- a tally that is expected to be repeated four times as further procedural hurdles are cleared in the days ahead, and then once more in a dramatic, if predictable, finale tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Sen. Coburn: 'People Ought to Pray' That a Senator 'Can't Make the Vote Tonight' By Faiz Shakir 20 Dec 2009 The Senate is expected to vote very late tonight/early Monday morning "on the first of three motions to close off debate" on the health care bill and proceed to an expected Christmas Eve vote on final passage. Speaking against the health care bill on the Senate floor just moments ago, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) expressed his hope that a Senator of the majority caucus would not be able to make the vote: "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight. That’s what they ought to pray." [Aren't people already busy praying for a polar bear to swallow Sarah Palin whole?]

Former speaker gets pricey perks 21 Dec 2009 U.S. taxpayers are spending more than $40,000 per month on office space, staff, cell phones and a leased SUV for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R), even as he works as a lobbyist for private corporations and foreign governments... In addition to the office, the government pays the salaries of three of Hastert’s assistants in his Illinois office -- each more than $100,000 in 2008.

Ford Offers Buyouts to All Factory Workers --Automaker Also Offering Hourly Workers Early Retirement Packages in Effort to Slash Factory Work Force 21 Dec 2009 Ford Motor Co. says it is offering buyout and early retirement incentives to all of its 41,000 U.S. hourly workers to further reduce its factory work force. Company spokesman Mark Truby said Ford still has too many factory workers for its current sales levels.

UK's only polar bear enjoys snowfall --Mercedes the polar bear played happily in the snow at her new enclosure at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie. 21 Dec 2009 The UK’s only polar bear has received a reminder of her former Arctic surroundings when heavy snow fall turned her Highland home into a winter wonderland. Whilst heavy snowfall caused traffic chaos across the north of Scotland on Sunday, 27-year-old Mercedes was enjoying her first sight of the white stuff since her move north. Staff watched said she appeared to be delighted to frolic in the deep snow, constantly burying her head and rolling about.

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Mumbai-style false flag on tap for London - and boy are they (the govt) blatant about it! Police expect Mumbai-style terror attack on City of London 20 Dec 2009 Scotland Yard has warned businesses in London to expect a Mumbai-style attack on the capital. In a briefing in the City of London 12 days ago, a senior detective from SO15, the Metropolitan police counter-terrorism command, said: "Mumbai is coming to London." The detective said companies should anticipate [!] a shooting and hostage-taking raid "involving a small number of gunmen with handguns and improvised explosive devices". The warning -- the bluntest issued by police -- has underlined an assessment that a terrorist cell may be preparing an attack on London early next year.

'The only explanation that fits is this: he was an American agent all along.' Did America keep mum on 26/11? By Vir Sanghvi 20 Dec 2009 Did the Americans have detailed advance information about the 26/11 plot which they did not share with India, only passing on a watered-down warning? And was there an American spy within the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba who kept Washington (or Langley) informed of terror acts planned against India -- even if this information was never handed over to us? It is certainly beginning to look that way... The terror suspect, we were told, was a US citizen of Pakistani origin. He had some links with the LeT. He had visited India. He may have been part of an advance team for 26/11... These papers showed that Headley had been convicted and sent to jail. But after 9/11, he had been set free and sent to Pakistan to work as an undercover agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). According to US journalists, Headley had been given a new passport in the American name of David Headley (his American mother’s maiden name is Headley) rather than his original name of Daood Gilani. He flew around the world, entering and leaving the US at will, avoiding the sort of attention that a convicted drug criminal was certain to attract at US airports. Further, suggested US journos, the DEA assignment may have been a cover... Why would the US treat a 26/11 suspect with such consideration? The only explanation that fits is this: he was an American agent all along. The US arrested him only when it seemed that Indian investigators were on his trail. He will be sentenced to jail, will vanish into the US jail system for a while and will then be sprung again -- as he was the last time.

Obama Ordered U.S. Military Strike on Yemen Terrorists --Cruise Missiles Launched Thursday Hit Two Suspected al Qaeda Sites; Major Escalation of US Efforts Against 'Terrorists' 19 Dec 2009 On orders from President Barack Obama, the U.S. military launched cruise missiles early Thursday against two suspected al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] sites in Yemen, administration officials told ABC News in a report broadcast on ABC World News. One of the targeted sites was a suspected al Qaeda training camp north of the capitol, Sanaa, and the second target was a location where officials said "an imminent attack against a U.S. asset was being planned."

Saudi air raids kill 54 civilians in northern Yemen 20 Dec 2009 Saudi warplanes have carried out fresh airstrikes on northern Yemeni villages, killing more than 50 civilians, Houthi sources say. The Shia fighters said on Sunday that Saudi jets fired more than one-thousand missiles at the region along its border with Yemen, Arabic language Al-Menpar news website reported.

Saudi warplanes rain '1,011 missiles' on Yemen 19 Dec 2009 Houthi fighters say Saudi warplanes have fired some 1,011 missiles on the borderline with Yemen where the Shia population is already under heavy state-led and US-aided bombardment. The fighters also said on Saturday that the warplanes had carried out nearly 60 air assaults on the residential areas in the northern Al-Jabiri, Al-Dukhan and Al-Malaheet districts.

Pakistan in crisis as 'creeping coup' unfolds 20 Dec 2009 The political crisis in Pakistan has deepened after the Government's anti-corruption agency sought a warrant for the arrest of the country's Interior Minister. Officials from the National Accountability Bureau asked for permission to arrest Rehman Malik, the minister in charge of law and order and the war on terrorism. The scale of the crisis and the speed with which it has unfolded has prompted supporters of Mr Zardari to question the role of the judiciary and speculate on whether the army is behind the legal challenge to the Government. Some even spoke of a ''creeping coup'' unfolding. [I am thinking *Blackwater.*]

U.S. prosecution links drugs to terrorism --The case -- the first of its kind -- portrays northwest Africa as a new danger [oil] zone. Three men are accused of being Al Qaeda associates and conspiring to smuggle cocaine. 19 Dec 2009 Three men alleged to be Al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] associates were charged Friday with conspiring to smuggle cocaine through Africa -- the first U.S. prosecution linking the terrorist group directly to drug trafficking. The three suspects, who were charged in federal court in New York, are believed to be from Mali and were arrested in Ghana during a Drug Enforcement Administration sting. Although U.S. authorities have alleged that Al Qaeda and the Taliban profit from Afghanistan's heroin trade, the case is the first in which suspects linked to Al Qaeda have been charged under severe narco-terrorism laws, federal officials said. [That's not who profits from Afghanistan's heroin trade. See: Trail of Afghanistan's drug money exposed By Julien Mercille 16 Dec 2009 The total revenue generated by opiates within Afghanistan is about $3.4 billion per year. Of this figure, according to UNODC, the Taliban get only 4% of the sum... The remaining 75% is captured by government officials, the police, local and regional power brokers and traffickers - in short, many of the groups now supported (or tolerated) by the United States and NATO are important actors in the drug trade.]

Two-thirds of Afghan war veterans are suffering from hearing damage --The intense noise of the battlefield is afflicting British troops 20 Dec 2009 More than two-thirds of British troops returning from Afghanistan are suffering severe and permanent hearing damage, according to the most comprehensive study into one of the less well-known side-effects of the conflict in Helmand. Internal defence documents reveal that of 1,250 Royal Marine commandos who served in Afghanistan, 69% suffered hearing damage due to the intense noise of combat.

British Army to get new uniforms -- turned down by the US and made in China 20 Dec 2009 The British Army is introducing a new camouflage design for all its soldiers after tests showed that it made them less likely to be seen by the enemy. Called "multi terrain pattern", or MTP, the camouflage will first be used in Afghanistan, from March next year. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has paid the US company an undisclosed sum for use of the new design and has secured intellectual property rights over the MTP camouflage to prevent others from using it without permission. The kit is to be produced by a Northern Irish company, but will be made in China. [Works for me. China did such a nice job with the drywall, milk and pet food. --LRP]

MoD names UK soldier killed in Afghanistan 20 Dec 2009 A British soldier who died in an explosion in Afghanistan has been named by the Ministry of Defence. Cpl Simon Hornby, 29, from 2nd Battalion, the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, died on Saturday. He was wounded while on foot patrol in the Nad-e-Ali area of Helmand, and died later that day.

Oil well is on our side of border, Iran says 21 Dec 2009 Iran's armed forces have rejected claims that they have taken control of an oil well within Iraqi borders, stressing that the well in question is on Iranian soil. "Based on internationally recognized borders, the disputed oil well belongs to Iran as it is on Iranian soil," a spokesman for Iran's Armed Forces Headquarters told Press TV on Sunday morning.

Hugo Chavez orders military to shoot at US aircraft --President Hugo Chavez has accused the US of violating Venezuela's airspace with an unmanned spy plane, and ordered his military to shoot down any such aircraft in the future. 20 Dec 2009 Speaking during his weekly television and radio program, Mr Chavez said the aircraft overflew a Venezuelan military base in the western state of Zulia after taking off from neighbouring Colombia. He did not elaborate, but suggested the plane was being used for espionage. "These are the Yankees. They are entering Venezuela," he said. "I've ordered them to be shot down," Mr Chavez said of the aircraft. "We cannot permit this." He has accused Colombia of allowing the United States to use its military bases to prepare a possible attack against Venezuela. [See: CIA 'plot to kill Hugo Chavez' --Hugo Chavez has claimed that he avoided a US plot to kill him. 03 Jun 2009 The Venezuelan president said on state television that he had eluded an assassination attempt in El Salvador where he was due to attend the swearing in of its new leader, a Left-wing ally.]

Worse than the bank bailouts: Obama approves security aid to Israel, PA -- $100 million for the training of Palestinian security forces by American general Keith Dayton. 19 Dec 2009 US President Barack Obama this week signed the 2010 foreign aid budget law which includes $2.775 billion in security aid to Israel. This is the second year the budget is transferred to the Jewish state as part of understandings that the American assistance to Israel in the coming decade will total $30 billion. The approved budget comprises, for the first time, $500 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority, including $100 million for the training of Palestinian security forces by American general Keith Dayton. [See: CIA working with Palestinian security agents --US agency co-operating with Palestinian counterparts who allegedly torture Hamas supporters in West Bank 17 Dec 2009.]

CIA linked to Palestinian 'torture' 18 Dec 2009 Palestinian security agents who have allegedly tortured Hamas supporters in the West Bank have been working closely with the CIA, the UK's Guardian newspaper has reported. The US Central Intelligence Agency has co-operated with the Preventive Security Force (PSF) and General Intelligence Service (GI) in the Palestinian territory, the report on Friday said. "The [Central Intelligence] Agency consider them as their property, those two Palestinian services," a western official told the Guardian.

Iran rejects reports of oil well seizure in Iraq 19 Dec 2009 Iran rejects reports that its forces have taken over an oil well within Iraqi borders, while a Baghdad official admits the site is in a disputed border area. In a Saturday phone interview with Press TV, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman described reports about the country taking over an Iraqi oil well as an attempt to harm the close relations between Tehran and Baghdad.

Lockerbie bomber had secret £1.8m 20 Dec 2009 The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbasset Ali al-Megrahi, had £1.8m in a Swiss bank account when he was found guilty in 2001 of the murder of the 270 people aboard Pan Am flight 103, it has been claimed. A sum of this size in the bank account of a man employed as head of security for an airline raises some big questions.

12 prisoners leave Guantanamo for home 20 Dec 2009 Twelve Guantanamo detainees have departed the ominous detention facility for their homelands in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somaliland, says the US Department of Justice. The Justice Department announced in a statement on Sunday that six Yemenis, four Afghans and two Somali prisoners have been transferred over the weekend to their home countries.

Man on terrorism articles charge 20 Dec 2009 A 20-year-old man has been charged with possession of articles for use in terrorism. The charge is connected to an attack in Londonderry's Hollymount Park in the Waterside when windows of a house and a car were smashed on Friday morning. Two other men, aged 42 and 18, have been charged with several offences.

States get 16-month reprieve from REAL ID 20 Dec 2009 Montana and 12 other states that are resisting the provisions of the REAL ID law won a 16-month reprieve when the federal government delayed implementation of the controversial measure. The decision by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano means that Montana driver's licenses will continue to be legitimate identification for purposes such as traveling on commercial airliners.

National Guard Called Because of Storm --Governor calls National Guard to duty 19 Dec 2009 (WV) Gov. Joe Manchin (D) today ordered about 200 National Guard members to state duty in response to heavy snowfall that closed major highways and stranded travelers for hours during the storm. Guard wrecker crews have been on duty since the early morning hours clearing primary roadways of wrecked or abandoned vehicles.

Drug giant General Electric uses libel law to gag doctor 20 Dec 2009 General Electric, one of the world’s biggest corporations, is using the London libel courts to gag a senior radiologist after he raised the alarm over the potentially fatal risks of one of its drugs. The multinational [GE Healthcare, a British subsidiary of General Electric] is suing Henrik Thomsen, a Danish academic, after he described his experiences of one of the company’s drugs as a medical "nightmare". He said some kidney patients at his hospital contracted a potentially deadly condition after being administered the drug Omniscan.

Nelson Accused of Selling Vote on Health Bill for Nebraska Pay-Off --What started as Sen. Ben Nelson's personal stand against covering abortion with taxpayer money translated, somehow, into millions of dollars in federal aid for his home state -- drawing criticism that his vote was bought. 20 Dec 2009 The Nebraska DemocRAT, following weeks of negotiations with his caucus, finally agreed to back the Senate's health care reform bill insurance company giveaway this weekend after Democratic leaders made a series of concessions. Nelson's support gives Democrats the 60 votes they need to overcome a filibuster, barring any last-minute defections. But critics by Sunday were heavily questioning Nelson's motivations, given that the abortion restrictions he sought and won did not satisfy several major anti-abortion lawmakers and groups and that it took a major federal payoff to his state to seal the deal. Critics were calling it the "cornhusker kickback" and the "Nebraska windfall," lobbing accusations of political deal-making at Nelson.

Northeast digs out of monster snowstorm --Storm goes to sea after dumping 2 feet (70 cm) of snow 20 Dec 2009 The U.S. Northeast began digging out on Sunday from a massive snowstorm that buried cities from Washington to Boston under as much as 2 feet of snow, creating travel chaos and hampering Christmas shopping. Nearly 2 feet (70 cm) of snow piled up in the Baltimore-Washington area on Saturday in the largest snowstorm to hit the region since February 2003, while New York City saw totals of up to a foot (35 cm) before the monster storm churned into New England.

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CIA working with Palestinian security agents --US agency co-operating with Palestinian counterparts who allegedly torture Hamas supporters in West Bank 17 Dec 2009 Palestinian security agents who have been detaining and allegedly torturing supporters of the Islamist organisation Hamas in the West Bank have been working closely with the CIA, the Guardian has learned. ...Evidence is emerging the CIA is co-operating with security agents whose continuing use of torture has been widely documented by human rights groups. The relationship between the CIA and the two Palestinian agencies involved - Preventive Security Organisation (PSO) and General Intelligence Service (GI) - is said by some western diplomats and other officials in the region to be so close that the American agency appears to be supervising the Palestinians' work.

Eikenberry assures Afghans U.S. will stay beyond 2011 17 Dec 2009 U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry Thursday further signaled that a strong American military presence will remain in Afghanistan long after July 2011, when President Obama plans to end his troop surge. Speaking at the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Relations before a group of diplomats, non-governmental organizations and Afghan citizens, Eikenberry drove home the Obama administration's sometimes contradictory message lies.

Up to 56000 more contractors likely for Afghanistan, congressional agency says --Number of mercenaries would rise to anywhere from 130,000 to 160,000 16 Dec 2009 The surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan could be accompanied by a surge of up to 56,000 contractors mercenaries, vastly expanding the presence of personnel from the U.S. private sector in a war zone, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service. CRS, which provides background information to members of Congress on a bipartisan basis, said it expects an additional 26,000 to 56,000 contractors to be sent to Afghanistan.

Auditors challenge $1 billion in Afghanistan costs 17 Dec 2009 A Senate subcommittee says Pentagon auditors have challenged nearly $1 billion in charges by military contractors in Afghanistan. That's raising concerns on Capitol Hill about wasteful spending as the Obama administration expands the U.S. 'mission' in Afghanistan. According to a memo distributed to subcommittee members before the [Thursday] hearing, the Defense Contract Audit Agency examined $5.9 billion in Afghanistan troop support contracts. The agency determined that $950 million of the costs were unreasonable or lacked enough documentation to support them.

U.S. spends $23 billion on Afghan contracts so far 17 Dec 2009 The United States has spent over $23 billion on reconstruction and development contracts in Afghanistan since 2002, and auditors say about $1 billion of this is waste, a U.S. senator said on Thursday. The contract spending is expected to rise with President Barack Obama's planned [insane] surge of 30,000 U.S. forces into Afghanistan in the coming months, Senator Claire McCaskill said at a subcommittee hearing.

Officers Warned of Flaw in U.S. Drones in 2004 18 Dec 2009 Senior U.S. military officers working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed the danger of Russia and China intercepting and doctoring video from drone aircraft in 2004, but the Pentagon didn't begin securing the signals until this year, according to people familiar with the matter. The disclosure came after The Wall Street Journal reported 'insurgents' in Iraq had intercepted video feeds from drones, downloading unencrypted communications from the unmanned planes.

Islamic insurgents hack into CIA state-of-the-art Predator drones 18 Dec 2009 Predator drones used by the CIA against Islamic militants have been hacked into by insurgents using nothing more sophisticated than a $25.95 (£16) off-the-shelf software, it was revealed last night. Although the insurgents were not able to control the $20 million aircraft, typically armed with Hellfire missiles and flown over the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, they could watch live video feeds beamed back to US control stations through their electronic "eyeballs". The hackers' success raises the disturbing possibility of the Predators being taken over and used to attack US or British forces, or perhaps even domestic targets. [...as the next false flag. US military officials knew about it for a year five years --and did *nothing* about it, of course.]

Officials Say Iraq Fighters Intercepted Drone Video --Military officials confirmed that they had become aware of the intercepts last year 18 Dec 2009 Insurgents in Iraq have occasionally intercepted video images sent from American military drones to troops in the field, causing the Defense Department to increase its use of encryption over the last year, military and intelligence officials said Thursday. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Iraqi insurgents had used a $26 commercial software package called Sky Grabber to capture some of the video feeds from unmanned aerial vehicles.

US Senate passes massive 'defense' bill 18 Dec 2009 A hefty US military spending bill has cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate to fund the US overseas war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill, which was approved 63-33 in the Senate in the early hours on Friday, will allocate $128 billion to fund the current US war in Iraq and Afghanistan, reported Bloomberg. However, it fell short of earmarking funds for the additional 30,000 troops US President Barack Obama has ordered to be sent to Afghanistan.

Iraq, Iran play cat-and-mouse game over oil well 18 Dec 2009 Iraq on Friday demanded Iran immediately withdraw its forces from an Iraqi oil well, which it accused the Islamic republic of seizing after crossing the border with tanks. Despite an Iranian agency report denying there had been any incursion, Iraq's deputy interior minister said that 11 Iranian soldiers had dug in at the well in the Fauqa Field after raising the Iranian flag there. An Iraqi border general said the Iranians "positioned tanks . . . and dug trenches" around the field's Well No. 4, while other officials said the incursion was the latest of several like it this week.

Pakistan Government Dismisses Rumors of Military Coup 18 Dec 2009 Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s spokesman denied rumors of a coup after the defense minister was barred from leaving the country. "There is no coup," spokesman Farhatullah Babar was quoted as saying by Reuters. He confirmed the remark to Bloomberg News and declined further comment. Opposition lawmaker Siddiq-ul-Farooq said there "is no chance at all of a coup."

Pakistan court summons 52 suspects on graft charges 19 Dec 2009 Amid growing political turmoil, Pakistan's anti-corruption court in the southern city of Karachi has summoned 52 suspects, including high-ranking officials, a report says. Prosecutors say, among the top officials are Interior Minister Rehman Malik and presidential secretary Salman Farooqi. The Supreme Court on Thursday had also banned Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar and other top officials from leaving the country.

High court blocks Pakistani officials from exiting country --Nearly 280 government officials, including defense minister, are put on 'exit control list' 18 Dec 2009 Pakistani Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar was blocked from leaving the country Thursday after Pakistan's Supreme Court struck down an amnesty that had protected politicians from corruption charges, state media reported. Nearly 280 government officials and ministers have been placed on an exit control list by the high court, Wajid Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner in Britain, told CNN.

Officials: US missile barrage kills 17 in Pakistan 17 Dec 2009 Two U.S. missile strikes pummeled targets inside the main sanctuary used by al-Qaida [al-CIAduh] and the Taliban along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, killing 17 people Thursday, local intelligence officials said. The missiles rained down Thursday on North Waziristan, a haven for many militants including groups determined to push the U.S. and NATO out of Afghanistan. The second, bloodier attack involved five drones and 10 missiles -- an unusually intense bombardment, they said.

US: Pakistan delaying hundreds of visas 18 Dec 2009 The US says Pakistan is delaying hundreds of visas for US officials and contractors mercenaries , a move that has added to tensions between the two countries. State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood said the US has raised its "serious concerns" at very senior levels with Pakistan. Secretive US military operations in Pakistan's border regions particularly the use of drones to target alleged 'Al-Qaeda' leaders has angered many Pakistanis.

Pentagon nominee promises reporters won't be rated before embeds 18 Dec 2009 The nominee for the Pentagon’s top public affairs job promised Thursday he will review Defense Department policies to ensure that journalists are not being denied embeds with combat troops based on the tenor of their reporting, a practice exposed by Stars and Stripes last summer. Douglas Wilson, who is expected to be confirmed as the new assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that he was opposed to rating reporters as "friendly" or "negative" when considering their applications to accompany U.S. combat troops, and will look into the matter when he takes over the post. [Yeah, it's actually a news item when the Pentagon *doesn't* play favorites.]

U.S. personnel in Iraq could face court-martial for getting pregnant 19 Dec 2009 The Army general commanding U.S. forces in northern Iraq has added pregnancy to the list of prohibitions for personnel under his command. The policy, which went into effect Nov. 4, makes it possible to face punishment, including a court-martial and jail time, for becoming pregnant or impregnating a servicemember, according to the wording of the policy and confirmations from Army officials.

Judge considers newly released e-mails in KBR case 17 Dec 2009 A Houston judge is in the spotlight as he has to decide who could have stopped a military contractor truck convoy in Iraq before six civilian truck drivers were killed and others injured in a 2004 ambush. U.S. District Judge Gray Miller has made this call once before. He decided that the U.S. Army had control over KBR. But an appellate court bounced the issue back to him, and the legal landscape may look different after months of pretrial information gathering.

Ahmadinejad: Obama walking down Bush's road [He's *driving* down it.] 18 Dec 2009 Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his US counterpart Barack Obama talks of change but in reality is 'going down the same road' as his predecessor, George W. Bush. More than a week after Obama defended US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in accepting his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Ahmadinejad said Obama's oft-stated claims of change increasingly seem to be "just talk and nothing more."

Chavez to Obama: Give back Nobel Prize 18 Dec 2009 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his American counterpart Barack Obama should give his Nobel Peace Prize back as he is sending more soldiers to war-weary Afghanistan. "He [Obama] got the Nobel Peace Prize almost the same day as he sent 30,000 soldiers to kill innocent people in Afghanistan," he said during a speech at a climate change conference in Denmark. "Obama should give back the prize," Chavez added on Thursday.

Muslims Say F.B.I. Tactics Sow Anger and Fear 18 Dec 2009 In March, a national coalition of Islamic organizations warned that it would cease cooperating with the F.B.I. unless the agency stopped infiltrating mosques and using "agents provocateurs to trap unsuspecting Muslim youth." In September, a cleric in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, sued the government, claiming that the F.B.I. had threatened to scuttle his application for a green card unless he agreed to spy on relatives overseas -- echoing similar claims made in recent court cases in California, Florida and Massachusetts... Several high-profile cases in which informers have infiltrated mosques and helped promote plots, Muslim leaders say, have sown a corrosive fear among their people that F.B.I. informers are everywhere, listening.

FDIC unable to find institution to take over failed GA bank; will mail checks to depositors for insured funds --Seven U.S. banks closed by regulators --failures at 140 18 Dec 2009 Seven U.S. banks were closed by regulators on Friday, bring the total this year to 140 as the effects of the credit crisis continued to be felt across the country. What's more, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. established temporary institutions to help close two of the failed banks. Atlanta-based RockBridge Commercial Bank became the 25th Georgia-based bank to fail this year. The FDIC was unable to find another institution to take over the failed bank, and so will mail checks to retail depositors for insured funds.

Natural swine flu defence found 18 Dec 2009 A previously unknown natural defence [IFITM3] against swine flu and other viruses has been discovered which could lead to new treatments. Scientists found that the virus-fighting proteins protected against swine flu when levels were increased. When the proteins were removed the swine flu virus was able to multiply in the body unchecked.

Flu pandemic may change US flu approach forever --School-based vaccinations a model for the future [so pharmaterrorists can make a killing] 17 Dec 2009 The swine flu pandemic may have changed the U.S. approach to handling influenza forever, and for the better, U.S. officials said on Thursday. While they said years of work were needed before vaccine production was up to the desired standard, some experiments such as vaccinating children in schools might work to help control seasonal influenza.

Penn. ready to deal with flu, terrorism 17 Dec 2009 Funding cuts threaten the nation's ability to deal with disease outbreaks and bioterrorism, but Pennsylvania is among the better-prepared states, according to a report. Pennsylvania fulfills eight of 10 key measures in the report, called "Ready or Not? Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism."

Al Franken shuts up Joe Lieberman on Heath Care Summary of post by Zennie62 17 Dec 2009 Senator [Al] Franken [D-MN] presided over the Senate when [Joe] Lieberman [I-Aetna] was speaking. But Liberman had so upset Democrats and Liberals with his heavy-handed blocking of any version of the Health Care Bill with a "Public Option" earlier in the week, that he made himself ripe for a political smack-down. He got one. Lieberman had ran out of his 10 minutes of speaking time and asked Franken for an extension of time. "In my capacity as the Senator from Minnesota, I object", Franken calmly responded. Lieberman gave a small chuckle and said "Ok".

Low targets, goals dropped: Copenhagen ends in failure --Deal thrashed out at talks condemned as climate change scepticism in action 19 Dec 2009 The UN climate summit reached a weak outline of a global agreement last night in Copenhagen, falling far short of what Britain and many poor countries were seeking and leaving months of tough negotiations to come. After eight draft texts and all-day talks between 115 world leaders, it was left to Barack Obama and Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, to broker a political agreement. The so-called Copenhagen accord "recognises" the scientific case for keeping temperature rises to no more than 2C but did not contain commitments to emissions reductions to achieve that goal.

Gore at climate talks: Polar ice may go in five years --New computer modeling suggests the Arctic Ocean may be nearly ice-free in the summertime as early as 2014, Al Gore said Monday at the UN climate conference. 14 Dec 2009 Northern polar sea ice has been retreating dramatically. These new projections suggest an almost-vanished summer ice cap much earlier than foreseen by a US government agency just eight months ago. "It is hard to capture the astonishment that the experts in the science of ice felt when they saw this," former US Vice President Gore told reporters and other conference participants at a joint briefing with Scandinavian officials and scientists, his first appearance at the two-week session.

Sea level rising much faster than predicted --New estimates of sea level change including the dynamics of the big ice sheets are way higher than the IPCC 2007 estimate. 14 Dec 2009 In an epoch report published in 2007, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that oceans would rise by 18-59 centimeters in 2100. In a new report, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme estimates the increase to be more than the double. According to the Danish daily Politiken, the climate panel underlined that the estimate did not include rises caused by the disintegration of Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets.

Sea World's Polar Bears Celebrate Christmas Early 18 Dec 2009 (Gold Coast, AU) The Polar bears will celebrate in style with their own Christmas tree fully stocked with everything a Polar bear needs for the silly season including lots of gift wrapped presents. The Christmas tree and gifts form part of the bear’s enrichment program by providing them with toys and puzzles to help stimulate their senses. Sea World’s Polar Bears are ambassadors for their species and play a vital role in raising awareness of the effects of global warning. Current research indicates that Polar Bear numbers in the wild are declining, with just 22,000 bears remaining worldwide.

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Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones --$26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq 17 Dec 2009 Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations. Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed [?!?] insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet [Cheaper at Wal-Mart?]-- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter. [We've surely funded and trained the hackers. If the enemy didn't exist, we'd create them. Wait, we did! --MDR]

Militants track US drones operating over Iraq --Program takes advantage of unencrypted downlink between drone and ground control 17 Dec 2009 Iraqi militants have regularly made use of cheap and widely-available software to intercept live video feeds from US Predator drones, according to a report. Citing senior defense and intelligence officials, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that militants used $26 off-the-shelf software programs such as SkyGrabber to capture drone feeds. The SkyGrabber program provided the militants with information they need to evade or monitor American military operations, the report added.

Pakistan says US drone attacks counterproductive --PM warns US drone attacks in Balochistan would be considered 'an aggression' against country 17 Dec 2009 Pakistan has warned that US drone attacks on southwestern Balochistan would hinder Islamabad's efforts to confront militancy in the country. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen on Wednesday that drone attacks in Balochistan would be considered as an aggression against the country, the Press TV correspondent reported. Earlier in the day, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abdul Basit said his country will not allow drone attacks on suspected Taliban bases in the province. ['Ya know, you can solve this problem for $25.95.]

US military adding more drones in Afghanistan 17 Dec 2009 The US military is adding more drones and expanding its video surveillance in Afghanistan to boost its military operations there. According to the US Air Force General David Deptula, the drones will meet the needs of 30,000 more troops set to be sent to the country next year. Deptula said each drone will collect 10 video transmissions and beam them back to 10 different users on the ground.

Rep.: US may be 'funding the very insurgents we are trying to fight' --Congress investigating charges of 'protection racket' by Afghanistan contractors 17 Dec 2009 A House oversight subcommittee said Wednesday that it has begun a wide-ranging investigation into allegations that private security companies mercenaries hired to protect Defense Department convoys in Afghanistan are paying off warlords and the Taliban to ensure safe passage. "If shown to be true, it would mean that the United States is unintentionally engaged in a vast protection racket and, as such, may be indirectly funding the very insurgents we are trying to fight," said Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.), chairman of the House oversight subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs. [No sh*t. This what the CLG has been asserting *for years.* In fact, MDR said the same thing days BEFORE the Congressman said it. See: The Obama Effect: The Demise of the Democratic Party and a Gift to the Country By Michael Rectenwald 11 Dec 2009 ...[T]hey sell the same lies about the wars-that they have to do with terrorism or democracy rather than oil and other resources-as their predecessors; they fund the very enemy that they claim to fight; they keep up the same contracts with Blackwater and its successors; they vote for the same war funding; they carry out the same secret renditions; they sanction and continue the same spying on US citizens; they exonerate torturers and war criminals from the previous administration; they are war criminals in complicity with other war criminals.]

Trail of Afghanistan's drug money exposed By Julien Mercille 16 Dec 2009 The total revenue generated by opiates within Afghanistan is about $3.4 billion per year. Of this figure, according to UNODC, the Taliban get only 4% of the sum. Farmers, meanwhile, get 21%. And the remaining 75%? Al-Qaeda? No: The report specifies that it "does not appear to have a direct role in the Afghan opiates trade," although it may participate in "low-level drugs and/or arms smuggling" along the Pakistani border. Instead, the remaining 75% is captured by government officials, the police, local and regional power brokers and traffickers - in short, many of the groups now supported (or tolerated) by the United States and NATO are important actors in the drug trade.

IED blast kills seven civilians in Afghanistan 17 Dec 2009 At least seven people have been killed and three children injured when a car hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in southern Afghanistan. According to Afghan officials, the incident happened in the southern province of Kandahar on Thursday. "Seven civilians -- five women and two men -- were killed and three children aged from two to eight were wounded," AFP quoted Zalmai Ayoubi, a spokesman for the provincial administration, as saying.

U.N. Officials Say American Offered Plan to Replace Karzai 17 Dec 2009 As widespread fraud in the Afghanistan presidential election was becoming clear three months ago, the No. 2 United Nations official in the country, the American Peter W. Galbraith, proposed enlisting the White House in a plan to replace the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, according to two senior United Nations officials. Mr. Karzai, the officials said, became incensed when he learned of the plan and was told it had been put forth by Mr. Galbraith, who had been installed in his position with the strong backing of Richard C. Holbrooke, the top American envoy to Afghanistan.

Absence of lawyers 'means Iraq inquiry will not get to the truth' 18 Dec 2009 The Iraq inquiry could be undermined through having no lawyers to question witnesses and establish the truth, the Shadow Justice Secretary warned yesterday. Dominic Grieve, a QC, told The Times: "...It is surprising that the inquiry is not benefiting from the probing questioning that an experienced lawyer would provide, particularly when it comes to taking evidence from the witnesses and experts involved."

Obama told China: I can't stop Israel strike on Iran indefinitely 17 Dec 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama has warned his Chinese counterpart that the United States would not be able to keep Israel from attacking Iranian nuclear installations for much longer, senior officials in Jerusalem told Haaretz. They said Obama warned President Hu Jintao during the American's visit to Beijing a month ago as part of the U.S. attempt to convince the Chinese to support strict sanctions on Tehran if it does not accept Western proposals for its nuclear program.

US irked by Iran's missile test [World irked by US wars for oil and opium] 17 Dec 2009 White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says Iran's recent missile test undermines its "claims" that its nuclear program is peaceful. "I think there's no doubt that, given this environment, missile tests do nothing but undermine the Iranian claims,'' AP quoted Gibbs as saying on Wednesday. "They're not productive. The Iranians still have the opportunity to live up to their responsibilities," he added. "If they don't, then time will run out and we will move to the next step,'' Gibbs warned.

IDF raids Naalin photographer's home --Canaan family members say harassed by army following incident in which soldier was documented shooting bound Palestinian during anti-fence rally. Military source: A special force arrived to arrest one of the family members suspected of rioting 16 Dec 2009 Family members of a girl who shot a video showing an Israel Defense Forces soldier firing a rubber bullet at a bound Palestinian in the West Bank village of Naalin last year say the army has been harassing them ever since. The relatives told Ynet that a massive IDF force raided their house on Wednesday night and left behind a lot of damage. The girl's father and brother were then summoned for investigation.

House passes $636B defense bill --Patriot Act gets extension 16 Dec 2009 The U.S. House passed a $636 billion defense spending bill that also would extend jobless benefits and healthcare for out-of-work Americans another few months. The vote was 395-34 Wednesday. The Pentagon bill for fiscal 2010 also included several temporary extensions of current laws due to expire at the end of the year, including the Patriot Act designed to make it easier for the U.S. government to 'fight' terrorism. [H R 3326 YEA-AND-NAY 16-Dec-2009 2:00 PM --NAYS 34 --Baldwin Bishop (UT) Campbell Chaffetz Clarke Costello Duncan Ehlers Ellison Filner Flake Gohmert Grayson Johnson (IL) Kagen Kucinich Lee (CA) Lewis (GA) Lofgren, Zoe Lummis McDermott Nadler (NY) Paul Payne Polis (CO) Quigley Serrano Shimkus Stark Towns Velázquez Welch Woolsey Wu]

Journalist deaths hit record in 2009: report 17 Dec 2009 The number of journalists killed around the world in 2009 rose to a record 68 after a massacre in the Philippines, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Thursday. The press freedom group said the 2009 tally compared to 42 deaths in 2008 and surpassed the previous record of 67 deaths in 2007 -- when violence was at its worst in Iraq, which had been the deadliest country for journalists for six years.

Gunmen fire on Honduran journalist's car, 1 killed 17 Dec 2009 Gunmen attacked the car of a Honduran television commentator who has backed the coup-installed government, missing her but killing her pregnant daughter, police said Wednesday. Interim President Roberto Micheletti blamed members of the movement opposed to the June 28 coup that toppled President Manuel Zelaya, though he presented no evidence. The National Resistance Front Against the Coup denied involvement.

Outcry over plan to give attorney general veto on war crimes warrants --Brown 'totally opposed' to attempted arrest of Israeli --Lawyers reject 'safeguards' for visiting foreign leaders 16 Dec 2009 The attorney general will be asked to approve warrants before suspected war criminals can be arrested in future under a plan being negotiated by the Foreign Office in response to the row over attempts to arrest Israel's former foreign minister. The Guardian has learned that discussions have begun in Whitehall on creating "safeguards" in criminal cases against visiting foreign leaders - not just those from Israel [even though a lot of them are from there]. Lawyers involved said they were outraged by the proposed change.

U.S. drug war crackdown misses the money 17 Dec 009 Criminals' shove proceeds from U.S. drug sales... adds up to $25 billion a year. A highly touted U.S. Treasury Department program aimed at starving Mexican drug cartels of that cash is currently blocking just $3 million, an Associated Press investigation has found. That's in addition to $58 million seized under a new initiative at the U.S.-Mexico border. The figures suggest that $99.75 of every $100 the cartels ship south is getting through -- money that is fueling a brutal war that has killed 14,000 people in three years.

Inquiry Condemns Oversight at State Police Crime Lab --Analyst, undetected for 15 years, falsified test results and compromised nearly one-third of his 322 cases 18 Dec 2009 The New York State Police’s supervision of a crime laboratory was so poor that it overlooked evidence of pervasively shoddy forensics work, allowing an analyst to go undetected for 15 years as he falsified test results and compromised nearly one-third of his 322 cases, an investigation by the state’s inspector general has found. The analyst’s training was so substandard that at one point last year, investigators discovered he did not know how to operate a microscope essential to performing his job, a report released Thursday by the inspector general said.

Intelligence Improperly Collected on U.S. Citizens 17 Dec 2009 ...That was just one of several cases in the last several years in which the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence office improperly collected information about American citizens or lawful United States residents, the documents show. In March 2008, the office produced a "terrorism watch list" report about a Muslim conference in Georgia at which several Americans were scheduled to speak, even though it "did not have any evidence the conference or the speakers promoted radical extremism or terrorist activity," and such speech is constitutionally protected, an internal report said.

Bernanke nomination clears key Senate panel --Vote is 16-7 17 Dec 2009 The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke to a second four-year term. The debate prior to the vote was contentious. Several Senators complained that the Fed had not provided information they requested prior to the vote. [Unbelievable. Instead of getting a treason trial, he gets a vote for re-appointment.]

Abu Dhabi says it was duped by Citigroup over investment deal --Emirate desperate to tear up agreement after share collapse at banking giant 17 Dec 2009 Abu Dhabi is trying to rip up its disastrous $7.5bn (£4.6bn) agreement to invest in Citigroup, saying the banking giant misled the country's sovereign wealth fund about the state of its finances when the deal was signed in 2007. The dispute came to light as Citigroup was attempting to stoke investor demand for a massive share issue yesterday and contributed to underwhelming investor demand. Faced with crystallising a loss on its bailout investments, the US Treasury abandoned plans to sell part of its Citigroup stake at the same time.

House Approves $154 Billion Job Bill 17 Dec 2009 The House approved a $154 billion package aimed at stimulating the labor market with a combination of infrastructure projects, aid to states and funding for several safety-net programs. The bill passed late Wednesday on a 217-212 vote, with no Republicans voting for the plan. Democrats said that half the cost of the package would come from money repaid by financial firms who received cash infusions from the Treasury's financial stabilization program.

Single-payer health care plan dies in Senate 17 Dec 2009 The liberals' Most Americans' longtime dream of a government-run health care system for all died Wednesday in the Senate, but Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont vowed it will return when the realization dawns that private insurance companies "are no longer needed." Sanders, an independent and socialist, said his approach is the only one "which eliminates the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste, administrative costs, bureaucracy and profiteering that is engendered by the private insurance companies." His remarks drew handshakes and even a hug or two from Democrats who had filed into the Senate to hear him.

Nelson Says Abortion Compromise Falls Short 17 Dec 2009 Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) said Thursday that a proposed compromise on abortion language in health-care overhaul legislation doesn't go far enough and wouldn't secure his vote on the bill, possibly dashing hopes to pass the bill by Christmas. Mr. Nelson told a Nebraska radio station Thursday that new compromise language intended to stiffen restrictions barring the federal funding of abortion "isn't sufficient."

Insurance companies can charge you up to 50% more for pre-existing conditions under HCR bill, says former CIGNA exec Posted by John Aravosis 16 Dec 2009 Former CIGNA executive Wendell Potter on Keith Olbermann's show tonight: "With pre-existing conditions that would be outlawed. But the way that the insurance companies will get around that will be, they would be enabled to charge people who have certain 'health factors,' as it's called in this bill, up to 50% more, if you've got high blood pressure, or high cholesterol really. So that is just one way to get around doing that."

Bernie Sanders: 'As of This Point, I'm Not Voting For the Bill' Posted by Igor Volsky 16 Dec 2009 Moments ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced that he is prepared to vote against the Senate health care bill in light of the recent decision to strip the public option and the Medicare buy-in provision from the legislation. Appearing on Fox Business’ Cavuto, Sanders said "I’m struggling with this, but as of this point, I’m not voting for the bill." Sanders is the only member of the Democratic caucus to publicly oppose the Senate legislation and it’s unclear if he would vote for cloture but oppose the final bill.

Ruined Senate bill unsupportable --Conservatives have destroyed this version of health care reform By Keith Olbermann 16 Dec 2009 Health care reform that benefits the industry at the cost of the people is intolerable and there are no moral constructs in which it can be supported. And if still the bill and this heinous mandate become law there is yet further reaction required. I call on all those whose conscience urges them to fight, to use the only weapon that will be left to us if this bill becomes law. We must not buy federally mandated insurance if this cheesy counterfeit of reform is all we can buy. No single payer? No sale. No public option? No sale. No Medicare buy-in? No sale. I am one of the self-insured, albeit by choice. And I hereby pledge that I will not buy this perversion of health care reform. Pass this at your peril, Senators, and sign it at yours, Mr. President. I will not buy this insurance. Brand me a lawbreaker if you choose. Fine me if you will. Jail me if you must.

Leaked UN report shows cuts offered at Copenhagen would lead to 3C rise --UN secretariat initial draft shows gap of up to 4.2 gigatonnes of CO2 between present pledges and cuts required to limit rise to 2C 17 Dec 2009 A confidential UN analysis obtained by the Guardian reveals that the emissions cuts offered so far at the Copenhagen climate change summit will lead to global temperatures rising by an average of 3C. The analysis seriously undermines the statements by governments that they are aiming to limit emissions to a level ensuring no more than a 2C temperature rise over the next century, and indicates that the last 24 hours of negotiations will be extremely challenging.

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Mercenaries we can believe in: DOD: Obama's Afghan Surge Will Rely Heavily On Private Contractors --DOD officials: contractors would make up 50-55 percent of the total workforce -- troops plus contractors -- in the future 15 Dec 2009 Private contractors Mercenaries will make up at least half of the total military workforce in Afghanistan going forward, according to Defense Department officials cited in a new congressional study. As President Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan unfolds, the number of contractors will likely jump by between 16,000 and 56,000, adding up to a total of 120,000-160,000, according to an updated study from the Congressional Research Service.

Chilcot censors Iraq inquiry's live broadcast --Sir Jeremy Greenstock's evidence on political mistakes after invasion is interrupted 16 Dec 2009 Sir John Chilcot, chairman of the Iraq inquiry, cut the live video of today's hearings, raising fears that he is suppressing evidence on grounds of embarrassment rather that any damage to national security. "I interrupted the broadcast because of a mention of sensitive information," he said after hearing evidence from Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's UN ambassador before the invasion and special envoy in Baghdad afterwards.

Defence Minister urged to quit over air strike 'lies' 15 Dec 2009 Chancellor Angela Merkel's Defence Minister was under mounting pressure to resign yesterday over accusations that he lied over a German-ordered air strike in Afghanistan which killed dozens of civilians. Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, one of the country's most popular politicians, was appointed Defence Minister in October and given a mandate to be more honest about Germany's military role in Afghanistan - a deeply unpopular subject largely avoided by politicians.

US military warned Iraq of possible Baghdad blasts [i.e., an inside job] 14 Dec 2009 The U.S. military confirmed Monday it had warned Iraqi officials about possible attacks in Baghdad the same day bombers struck government sites in the country's capital. The U.S. military stopped short, though, of saying the intelligence provided to the Iraqis gave any insight into specific details of last week's attacks that killed 127 people and wounded more than 500.

Four blasts rock Baghdad's Green Zone 15 Dec 2009 A series bomb attacks in close proximity to Baghdad's Green Zone has killed at least four Iraqi people and injured fourteen others including Press TV's cameraman. "Four explosions rocked the heavily fortified [not so much] Green Zone in central Baghdad on Tuesday morning," Press TV correspondent reported. Three of the blasts were caused by car bombs and the other by a mortar shell, the report added.

NATO urges Russian help in Afghan war 16 Dec 2009 NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has demanded more Russian help in overcoming the common security threats in Afghanistan. Rasmussen's visit to Moscow is the first by the NATO chief since between the Western military alliance and Moscow soured on the heels of the August 2008 military conflict between Russia and Georgia.

Two British soldiers killed in Afghanistan 16 Dec 2009 A suicide bomber has killed two British soldiers who were on a "hearts on a mind" mission to meet members of the local community in Helmand. The men, from the 3rd Battalion, The Rifles, were on a foot patrol near the town of Sangin with Afghan forces two of whom also died in the explosion.

Kabul suicide bomber kills at least eight people 15 Dec 2009 At least eight people have been killed in a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital, Kabul, officials say. The blast happened near a hotel in Wazir Akbar Khan district, home to several aid agencies and embassies. Two bodyguards of former vice-president Ahmed Zia Massoud were among the dead, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said.

US to drill Iranian attack scenario --The test, scheduled for January, is expected to cost about $150 million. 15 Dec 2009 A top Pentagon official said Monday that a US missile defense drill would simulate an Iranian attack - a departure from the usual scenario of a North Korean attack - according to Reuters. "Previously, we have been testing the [Ground-Based Midcourse Defense] GMD system against a North Korean-type scenario. This next test... is more of a head-on shot like you would use defending against an Iranian shot into the United States. So that's the first time that we're now testing in a different scenario," Lt.-Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, head of the US Missile Defense Agency, said at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in Washington.

Iran tests new Sejjil-2 missile with success 16 Dec 2009 Iran has successfully tested an optimized version of the solid-fuel Sejjil-2 deterrent missile as part of its long-term plans to defend the country's borders. The high-speed surface-to-surface, which was launched on Wednesday morning, has been designed and built by the Iranian Ministry of Defense.

British court issued Gaza arrest warrant for former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni --Warrant issued over war crimes accusations was withdrawn when it emerged former minister had cancelled plan to visit 14 Dec 2009 A British court issued an arrest warrant for Israel's former foreign minister over war crimes allegedly committed in Gaza this year -- only to withdraw it when it was discovered that she was not in the UK, it emerged today. Tzipi Livni, a member of the war cabinet during Operation Cast Lead, had been due to address a meeting in London on Sunday but cancelled her attendance in advance. The Guardian has established that Westminster magistrates' court issued the warrant at the request of lawyers acting for some of the Palestinian victims of the fighting but it was later dropped.

A Professional Surgeon Arrived Gaza 15 Dec 2009 A professional surgeon [Dr. Christopher] arrived Gaza to train surgery medical staffs on the techniques of work in war and accident surgery. World Doctors Organization in France explained that the course will keep on for a week; the training which will be held in Naser Hospital, in Khan Younis. A number of patients in Gaza Strip will benefit from this course.

Police shoot U.S. student's laptop upon entry to Israel 16 Dec 2009 Israel Border Police officers shot at an American student's laptop as she entered Israel via Taba, Egypt, two weeks ago. Lily Sussman, 21, wrote on her blog that border police subjected her to two hours of questioning and searches prior to shooting her Apple Macbook three times.

Guantánamo Bay war court moving to Illinois prison 16 Dec 2009 The White House said Tuesday that it will move its war court from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to an underused prison in Illinois, but officials couldn't say how soon or at what cost. Administration officials declined to estimate how many of the 210 detainees prisoners at Guantánamo would move to the Thomson Correctional Center, but White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he wouldn't dispute an estimate by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., of about 100 detainees.

Creating a 'Gitmo North' an Alarming Step, Says ACLU --Comment by Anthony D. Romero 15 Dec 2009 "The creation of a 'Gitmo North' in Illinois is hardly a meaningful step forward. Shutting down Guantánamo will be nothing more than a symbolic gesture if we continue its lawless policies onshore. Alarmingly, all indications are that the administration plans to continue its predecessor's policy of indefinite detention without charge or trial for some detainees, with only a change of location... In fact, while the Obama administration inherited the Guantánamo debacle, this current move is its own affirmative adoption of those policies. It is unimaginable that the Obama administration is using the same justification as the Bush administration used to undercut centuries of legal jurisprudence and the principle of innocent until proven guilty and the right to confront one's accusers. It is also greatly disturbing that the administration will continue the use of military commissions, which are no more acceptable in Illinois or any other U.S. state than in Guantánamo."

Task force: Adopt single policy for handling sensitive info 15 Dec 2009 The federal government should establish a single policy for designating so-called sensitive but unclassified information, a presidential task force concluded in a report released today. Current procedures vary widely across agencies... according to the Task Force on Controlled Unclassified Information, which was led by the Homeland Security and Justice departments. Across the executive branch alone, such information is identified by more than 100 unique markings and at least 130 different labeling or handling regimes, such as Law Enforcement Sensitive, For Official Use Only, Sensitive Security Information, and Limited Official Use.

CDC Issues Nationwide Recall of 800,000 Kids Swine Flu Vaccine Doses 15 Dec 2009 The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are recalling selected batches of Sanofi Pasteur manufactured H1N1 vaccine for children. The 800,000 swine flu shots were made for children aged six to 35 months. Today the CDC recalls 800,000 kids' swine flu vaccine doses made by Sanofi Pasteur. The agency stresses that the recall is not related to safety concerns. Instead, the manufacturer alerted officials that the potency of the children's H1N1 vaccine was below acceptable limits.

Dean: Health Bill 'Not Worth Passing' By George Stephanopoulos 16 Dec 2009 Former DNC Chairman, presidential contender and doctor, Howard Dean continued his assault on the Senate health reform bill this morning, telling me on "Good Morning America" the bill in present form is "not worth passing." Dean is leading a liberal revolt over health care reform, telling Vermont Public Radio Tuesday Democrats should just kill the health care bill and start over. "A very small number of people will get insurance, if at all, until 2014," Dean told me this morning, "This is the insurance companies' dream, this bill."

Mega barf alert! Obama thanked Lieberman privately for statement 15 Dec 2009 Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Aetna), the focus of mostly private condemnation from Hill Democrats, told President Barack Obama and the Senate Democratic caucus Tuesday that he "understood how people were upset with the position I took." ...Obama thanked Lieberman privately for his statement issued earlier Tuesday pledging support for the bill as long as the Medicare expansion and public option were eliminated from the bill, Lieberman said.

Connecticut Democrat calls for Joe Lieberman recall 15 Dec 2009 A House Democrat from Connecticut said Tuesday that Sen. Joe Lieberman should be recalled from office over his opposition to the Senate health care bill. "No individual should hold health care hostage, including Joe Lieberman, and I'll say it flat out, I think he ought to be recalled," Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told POLITICO. She said that millions of people die because they lack health insurance.

Senate rejects low-cost drug imports 15 Dec 2009 The Senate has narrowly rejected a plan to allow Americans to import low-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. The amendment by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan failed on a 51-48 vote. Sixty votes were needed to prevail. Importing prescription drugs for personal use is a violation of federal law. Dorgan's amendment would have lifted the ban, allowing access to low-cost medicines from developed countries where the government limits drug prices.

Drug data mining ban unlikely in Senate health bill --No vote seen for 'prescription mining' proposal 14 Dec 2009 A Democratic proposal to ban the collection of doctors' prescription records for marketing purposes is unlikely to be included as part of the Senate's overall health reform bill, a Senate staff member said on Monday. A member of the staff of Senator Herb Kohl, a main sponsor of the amendment, said the change was not likely to come up for a vote or be included as part of a package of changes to be offered later by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Democrats Drop Plan to Expand Medicare 15 Dec 2009 Senate DemocRATs on Monday evening dropped a plan to expand Medicare, winning the support of moderates and the reluctant acquiescence of liberals, in another major step toward building enough support to pass a health-care overhaul corporaterrorist giveaway. At an evening caucus of all 58 Democrats and the two independents who sit with the party, including Sen. Lieberman, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and other party leaders made clear they wanted to head off the dispute.

Dems, GOP Compromise On Health Care: Don't Get Sick, But If You Do, Die Quickly --"This is change I can believe in," said President Obama. "Now I can move on to other pressing issues, like how to get another peace prize for escalating the war in Afghanistan and for starting some new ones." Satire by R J Shulman 16 Dec 2009 After months of bickering and finger pointing, the Democrats and Republicans announced a compromise on health care reform they could both live with. "The Democrats want Americans to be well to get credit for reform and the GOP wants to save on costs and preserve health care industry profits, which makes this a win-win situation," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)... The Republicans have responded well to the call for people who get sick to die quickly as it saves money on treatment and preserves health insurance CEO bonuses.

U.S. gave up billions in tax money in deal for Citigroup's bailout repayment --Deal made to recover bailout firms exempted from rule when U.S. sells its stake 16 Dec 2009 The federal government quietly agreed to forgo billions of dollars in potential tax payments from Citigroup as part of the deal announced this week to wean the company from the massive taxpayer bailout that helped it survive the financial crisis. The Internal Revenue Service on Friday issued an exception to long-standing tax rules for the benefit of Citigroup and a few other companies partially owned by the government. As a result, Citigroup will be allowed to retain billions of dollars worth of tax breaks that otherwise would decline in value when the government sells its stake to private investors. While the Obama administration has said taxpayers are likely to profit from the sale of the Citigroup shares, accounting experts said the lost tax revenue could easily outstrip those profits.

Obama holds stage-managed meeting with Wall Street bankers By Tom Eley 15 Dec 2009 The stated aim of the gathering of Wall Street bankers at a private White House meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday was to cajole the nation's largest financial institutions into offering loans to cash-starved businesses and consumers. In reality, the event was a media exercise designed to placate growing popular anger toward the Obama administration. The true nature of the event was not lost on its attendees. "It's a PR [public relations] stunt," an unnamed CEO flatly told Time magazine prior to the meeting.

Pittsburgh Sets Vote on Adding Tax on Tuition --Tax would be first of its kind in nation 16 Dec 2009 The mayor of Pittsburgh calls it the "Fair Share Tax." But to officials at the city’s 10 colleges and universities and many of their 100,000 students, it is anything but. On Wednesday, the City Council is expected to give preliminary approval to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s proposal for a 1 percent tuition tax on students attending college in Pittsburgh, which he says will raise $16.2 million in annual revenue that is needed to pay pensions for retired city employees.

F.T.C. Accuses Intel of Trying to Stifle Competition 17 Dec 2009 The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday sued the chip maker Intel, accusing it of using its dominant market position "to stifle competition and strengthen its monopoly." In its complaint, the F.T.C. accused the chip maker of a systematic campaign to block rivals from selling their microchips by cutting off access to the market.

Gag me with a chainsaw! TIME: Person of the Year 2009 Ben Bernanke --The story of the year was a weak economy that could have been much, much weaker. Thank the man who runs the Federal Reserve, our mild-mannered economic overlord 16 Dec 2009

AP: Monsanto role in cornering seed biz revealed 14 Dec 2009 Confidential contracts detailing Monsanto Co.'s business practices reveal how the world's biggest seed developer is squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies and protecting its dominance over the multibillion-dollar market for genetically altered crops, an Associated Press investigation has found. With Monsanto's [deadly] patented genes being inserted into roughly 95 percent of all soybeans and 80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S., the company also is using its wide reach to control the ability of new biotech firms to get wide distribution for their products, according to a review of several Monsanto licensing agreements and dozens of interviews with seed industry participants, agriculture and legal experts.

Danish police hold 240 climate protesters 16 Dec 2009 Danish police detained 240 people on Wednesday when protesters stormed barricades around a global climate summit and briefly broke through a police cordon, witnesses and a police spokesman said. Green Business Police, some with dogs, used truncheons and pepper spray to keep back the hundreds of protesters who gathered outside Copenhagen's Bella Center, where world leaders are meeting to try to broker a new deal on global warming.

Koalas, penguins at risk of extinction: study 14 Dec 2009 Climate change threatens the survival of dozens of animal species from the emperor penguin to Australian koalas, according to a report released Monday at the UN climate summit. Rising sea levels, ocean acidification and shrinking polar ice are taking a heavy toll on species already struggling to cope with pollution and shrinking habitats, said the study from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an intergovernmental group.

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New Obusha war front opens; lamestream media yawns. But, we all know about Tiger's girlfriends, right? US 'sends special forces to Yemen' amid crisis 14 Dec 2009 US special forces have reportedly been sent to Yemen to train its army, as the Yemeni military backed by the Saudi Arabian army has been fighting local Houthi fighters in the north of the country. The development comes amid fears that foreign military intervention in the country has put Yemeni civilians in dire condition. American officials told The Daily Telegraph on Sunday that US forces have been sent to Yemen to prevent the country from turning into a "reserve base" for al-Qaeda. [Instead of providing universal health-care, the US keeps training other countries armies (aka death squads). No region on *earth* wants US terrorists infesting their country.]

US to expand drone attacks into Pakistani cities 14 Dec 2009 After confirmation that the CIA has been operating drone strikes in Pakistani territory, a new report says the US is seeking to expand the attacks into the country's cities. The Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday that top US officials were pushing to expand the air strikes beyond Pakistan's tribal region and into the major city of Quetta to allegedly target the Taliban.

Taliban stalls key hydroelectric turbine project in Afghanistan --Convoy diverted British troops from front but generator may never be used 13 Dec 2009 An enormous hydroelectric turbine dragged at huge cost by British troops through Taliban heartlands last year may never be installed because Nato has been unable to secure a 30-mile stretch of road leading to an isolated dam in northern Helmand. Senior British officers privately say the enormous diversion of scarce military resources for the operation allowed the Taliban to make major gains in other critical areas of the province, including Nad Ali, which subsequently saw some of the most intense fighting between British forces and insurgents. Now the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the wing of the United States government which has so far pumped $47m (£29m) into the project, intended to electrify much of southern Afghanistan, says it is packing the turbine parts away and looking for other energy projects to invest in across Afghanistan. [Can you believe this bullsh*t? We can't get any infrastructure projects in the US -- but US taxpayers pay corporaterrorists to pretend to fund hydroelectric turbines in *Afghanistan?* See also: US to Give $125 Million to Upgrade Pakistan's Power Sector 29 Oct 2009.]

Afghanistan: Germany says no to sending more soldiers to help US 13 Dec 2009 Germany has cast doubt on the value of sending extra troops to Afghanistan despite pleas from the US for its Nato allies to bolster the fight against the Taliban. Christain Schmidt, a junior German defence minister, said the country was not ready to commit additional forces to a revitalised military campaign to the war-torn state. "I don't think we will want to seek a majority in our country for a stronger security commitment without stronger commitment in the civil sector," he said at a security conference in Bahrain.

Militants kill 16 policemen in Afghanistan 14 Dec 2009 At least sixteen Afghan policemen have been killed after gunmen attacked two police post in the provinces of Baghlan and Helmand, according to authorities. "Eight police were killed in an attack on their post. Their post was in Baghlan Markazi district," Baghlan provincial governor Mohammad Akbar Barakzai said on Monday. The policemen from the Afghan National Police died after militants attacked them before dawn, Barakzai added.

General says Afghan troop surge will take longer 14 Dec 2009 The military may not finish its surge of 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan until nearly a year from now, a senior U.S. commander said Monday -- a slower pace than President Barack Obama has described. The reinforcements begin arriving next week, and the bulk of the troops are scheduled to be in Afghanistan by the end of summer. But it will probably be nine to 11 months before all the troops are in place, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez said.

Two killed in Iraq's Diyala violence 14 Dec 2009 Two people were killed and three Iraqi soldiers wounded on Monday in gunfire and roadside bomb attacks across Iraq's province of Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, a provincial police source said. Two civilians were killed when unknown [Blackwater?] gunmen showered them with bullets in the town of Khalis, near the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

UK court 'issued warrant for Livni' 15 Dec 2009 A British court reportedly issued an arrest warrant for Israel's former foreign minister on charges relating to Israel's 22-day war on Gaza, before apparently withdrawing it after it was found she was not in the country. Tzipi Livni, the leader of the opposition Kadima party, had been expected to travel to London this week for an event organised by the Jewish National Fund, followed by meetings with British government officials.

Supreme Court rejects Guantanamo torture case --Lawsuit named then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and 10 military commanders 14 Dec 2009 The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday that it rejected an appeal by four former Guantanamo Bay prisoners arguing that they should be able to proceed with their lawsuit against top Pentagon officials for torture and religious abuse. The justices refused to review a U.S. appeals court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit by the four British citizens over their treatment at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on the grounds the officials enjoyed immunity.

NORAD Flight Exercise Planned for Washington, D.C. 14 Dec 2009 North American Aerospace Defense Command will conduct exercise flights Dec. 15 in the skies over the National Capital Region (Washington, D.C.). The flights will take place beginning around midnight and continue into the early morning hours Tuesday. In the event of inclement weather, the exercise will take place the following day. People can expect to hear and see NORAD fighter aircraft, Civil Air Patrol aircraft, and Coast Guard helicopters as they participate in these exercises.

Four held in terror probe --16-year-old boy arrested under Terrorism Act 2000 14 Dec 2009 Four men were being questioned today on suspicion of instigating acts of terrorism, police said. Dorset Police and the UK Border Agency initially arrested five men in their 20s and 30s and a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of illegal entry into the UK in Ashley Road in Parkstone, Poole, on 9 December. Following an investigation, four of those, including the youth, were later arrested under section 40 (1)(b) of the Terrorism Act 2000 dealing with the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. On Saturday, a district judge at Bournemouth Magistrates Court granted officers permission to extend their detention until Thursday.

Governor calls attack on UC Berkeley chancellor's home a 'type of terrorism' 13 Dec 2009 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger described Friday's attack on the home of the University of California at Berkeley's chancellor as a "type of terrorism" that will not be tolerated. Protesters angry about budget cuts and fee hikes [thanks to Schwarzenegger] vandalized Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's home on campus at about 11 p.m. Friday night, according to the university. "California will not tolerate any type of terrorism against any leaders, including educators," Schwarzenegger [R-Installed] said in a statement released Saturday.

8 arrested in vandalism of UC chancellor's home 13 Dec 2009 Eight people were in custody Saturday after a crowd of angry protesters broke windows and threw burning torches at UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's campus residence in protest of fee hikes and budget cuts, authorities said. As many as 75 people - some of them carrying torches - surrounded the mansion, known as University House, on the north side of campus off Hearst Avenue at about 11:15 p.m. Friday, police said.

22 million missing Bush White House e-mails found 14 Dec 2009 Two nonprofit groups say that computer technicians have found 22 million White House e-mails from the administration of President [sic] George W. Bush. The two groups say the electronic messages were previously mislabeled and effectively lost. An announcement Monday by the two groups is the latest development in a controversy that surrounded the failure by the Bush White House to install an electronic recordkeeping system.

Sellouts we can believe in: White House to Harry Reid: Cut deal with Joe Lieberman 14 Dec 2009 The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Aetna), which would mean eliminating the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill, according to an official close to the negotiations.

Dems consider dropping Medicare expansion 14 Dec 2009 The end game at hand, Senate DemocRATs appeared ready to jettison a proposed Medicare expansion from sweeping 'health care' legislation Monday in a bid to remove the largest remaining obstacle in the way of Christmas-week passage of the measure. [When no one is paying attention, this corporaterrorist giveaway is going to be forced upon us.]

Managed-Care Cos Rise As Lieberman Opposes Medicare Buy-In 14 Dec 2009 Shares of managed-care companies climbed Monday, with Aetna Inc. leading the pack, after independent Sen. Joe Lieberman threatened over the weekend to join Republicans in opposing health-care legislation that could allow uninsured people as young as 55 to purchase Medicare coverage. Wells Fargo Securities analyst Matthew Perry said Lieberman's comments are good news for managed-care stocks as anything that delays health-care reform is a positive for the group. "Every time the reform seems less likely that it will happen, the entire group trades higher," said Perry, who has advised his clients to buy shares of Wellcare Health Plans Inc., recently up 1.3% to $36.74, and Humana Inc., up 1% to $42.26. Among the other recent gainers in the sector, Aetna rose 2.7% to $32.65, Cigna Corp. added 2.3% to $36.41 and Well Point Inc. gained 2.7% to $58.07. Meanwhile, UnitedHealth Group Inc. added 1.6% to $30.99.

Lieberman Rules Out Voting for Health Bill 14 Dec 2009 In a surprise setback for Democratic leaders, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut Aetna, said on Sunday that he would vote against the health care legislation in its current form. The bill’s supporters had said earlier that they thought they had secured Mr. LIEberman’s agreement to go along with a compromise they worked out to overcome an impasse within the Democratic Party. But on Sunday, Mr. Lieberman told the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, to scrap the idea of expanding Medicare and abandon any new government insurance plan or lose his vote.

Video Surfaces of Lieberman Supporting Medicare Buy-In Just Three Months Ago By David Dayen 14 Dec 2009 There’s now video of Joe Lieberman supporting the Medicare buy-in concept -- not during his 2000 or 2004 national campaigns, but in a discussion with the Connecticut Post just three months ago, in September 2009... By September he was already talking down the public option. So he played up the Medicare buy-in as an alternative. Senate Democrats called his bluff. And he reversed himself without blinking an eye.

81% of Dems Want Lieberman Punished For Health Care Filibuster 14 Dec 2009 More than 80 percent of Democrats say they believe Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Israel) should be stripped of his powerful chairmanship in the Senate if he ends up supporting a Republican filibuster of health care reform, according to a new poll. The liberal action groups Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America commissioned a survey several days ago, in which they asked more than 800 voters whether Lieberman's position on health care should affect his status as head of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Bill O'Reilly lashes out at 'Law & Order' executive producer 11 Dec 2009 Fox News' Bill O'Reilly lashed out at "Law & Order" franchise creator/executive producer Dick Wolf Thursday night. The bombastic host, upset over how he was recently characterized on the long-running NBC drama, called the "far left" Wolf a "despicable human being" whose show is "out of control." Sparking O'Reilly's ire was an episode of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" that aired earlier in the week, in which a crazed anti-immigration activist set out to murder the children of illegal immigrants. In one scene, a character named Randall Carver, played by veteran actor John Larroquette, is sitting on a park bench talking to Fin, the detective played by Ice-T. In defending the actions of the man who killed the immigrants’ children, Larroquette's character says, "Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, all of 'em, they are like a cancer spreading ignorance and hate...They've convinced folks that immigrants are the problem, not corporations that fail to pay a living wage or a broken health care system..."

Developing Countries Insist Kyoto Stays By Terna Gyuse 14 Dec 2009 The U.N. Climate Change Conference enters its final week under a cloud of uncertainty as the Africa Group led a protest of the developing world against a perceived attempt to abandon the Kyoto Protocol... Africa told the chair of the working group on a long-term treaty that it would simply not participate in any negotiations or contact group discussions until movement restarted on the parallel discussion of the Kyoto Protocol. The protest was supported by AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) and quickly became a G77 position, stalling the talks.

NASA Data Reveal Major Groundwater Loss in California 14 Dec 2009 New space observations reveal that since October 2003, the aquifers for California's primary agricultural region -- the Central Valley -- and its major mountain water source -- the Sierra Nevadas -- have lost nearly enough water combined to fill Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir. The findings, based on data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace), reflect California's extended drought and increased rates of groundwater being pumped for human uses, such as irrigation.

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Quixote, the Usurper, and the Prophet from Nowhere (A Political Allegory) The Rec Report By Michael Rectenwald 13 Dec 2009 Not only did the Prophet from Nowhere betray his promise to end the Usurper's war, he extended and intensified the war of his own, calling his war the Good War or the Necessary War, and trying not to mention the Usurper's Bad War even as it continued unheralded. The Prophet from Nowhere sounded the same words for the Good War as the Usurper had for the Bad War. And the two wars, it was suggested, might be joined in the middle against another state which harbored Ultimate Weapons, or so it was claimed.

US Iraq jail an 'al-Qaeda school' --'The Americans send those they want dead to extremist camps.' 12 Dec 2009 Extremists held in a US-run detention centre in Iraq were allowed to teach fellow detainees how to use explosives and become suicide bombers, a former inmate has told Al Jazeera. Adel Jasim Mohammed, a former detainee of Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr, said that US officials did nothing to stop radicals from indoctrinating young detainees at the camp. "Extremists had freedom to educate the young detainees. I saw them giving courses using classroom boards on how to use explosives, weapons and how to become suicide bombers," Mohammed said. "For the Americans we felt it was normal. They did not stop them [the radicals]."

Blackwater Loses a Job for the C.I.A. 12 Dec 2009 The Central Intelligence Agency has terminated a contract with the security company terrorist group formerly called Blackwater Worldwide that allowed the company to load bombs on C.I.A. drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan, intelligence officials said Friday. The contract gave employees with the company an operational role in one of the Central Intelligence Agency’s most significant covert programs, which has killed dozens of militants hundreds of civilians with Predator and Reaper drones. The company’s involvement highlighted the extent to which the C.I.A. had outsourced critical jobs to private companies since the 9/11 attacks.

Blackwater operating at CIA Pakistan base, ex-official says --Contractor said to be helping to load missiles 11 Dec 2009 The US contractor terrorist group Blackwater is operating in Pakistan at a secret CIA airfield used for launching drone attacks, according to a former US official, despite repeated government denials that the company is in the country. The official, who had direct knowledge of the operation, said that employees with Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services, patrol the area round the Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan province. He also confirmed that Blackwater employees help to load laser-guided Hellfire missiles on to CIA-operated drones that target 'al-Qaida' members suspected of hiding in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions, confirming information that surfaced in the US media in the summer.

Mercenaries? CIA Says Expanded Role for Contractors Legitimate --Blackwater, Other Firms Said to Be "Hired Guns" in Iraq, Afghanistan -- Combat Role Would Be Against U.S. Law 11 Dec 2009 The CIA and the military special forces have quietly expanded the role of private contractors, including Blackwater, to include their involvement in raids and secret paramilitary operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, four current and former U.S. military and intelligence officers tell ABC News. American law specifically prohibits the use of private soldiers or mercenaries in combat, according to Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University. "The United States Congress has never approved the use of private contractors for combat operations," Turley told ABC News in an interview.

Untouchable: Blair to give Iraq War evidence in secret --Former PM was happy to discuss invasion with Fern Britton on TV show -- but the Chilcot inquiry will hear his crucial testimony behind closed doors 13 Dec 2009 Key parts of Tony Blair's evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War will be held in secret, sources close to the hearings revealed last night. His conversations with President George Bush when he was prime minister, and crucial details of the decision-making process that led Britain into war, will fall under the scope of national security and the protection of Britain's relations with the US. But there are also suggestions by well-placed sources that anything "interesting" will also be shrouded in secrecy, leaving his public appearance containing little more than is already known.

Iraq offers one of its choicest oilfields 12 Dec 2009 Iraq on Saturday offers up one of its choicest oilfields on day two of a contract auction, as the country emerges from the shadow of war and seeks to leap into the top ranks of oil producing nations. The West Qurna Phase Two oilfield, with a massive 12.9 billion barrels of reserves, is expected to produce fierce competition among the 30-odd international oil companies that braved the threat of violence and attacks to come to Baghdad. [What happened to the insurgency? Obviously, Blackwater is protecting these oil f*ckers.]

Iraq's West Qurna-2 Is Main Prize in Oil Bid Round's Final Day 12 Dec 2009 Iraq’s "super giant" West Qurna oilfield will be the focus of bidding today as the holder of the world’s third-largest oil reserves concludes its second auction of crude development rights to foreign investors. Iraq awarded two service contracts to develop fields holding 15 percent of its total reserves to groups led by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and China National Petroleum Corp. yesterday, during the first day of the auction in Baghdad.

Shell wins 'gold rush' Iraqi oilfield auction 12 Dec 2009 Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch energy company [terrorist group], won the right to develop Iraq's giant Majnoon oilfield yesterday, beating Total of France which had long coveted the prize. An Iraqi oil executive called this auction, which marks the re-entry of foreign companies 37 years after the nationalisation of the country's entire oil industry, the "second gold rush".

US soldier dies of non-combat related injuries in Iraq 13 Dec 2009 The United States military has announced that another one of its soldiers has lost his life in Iraq due to non-combat injuries. "A Multi-National Division-North soldier died, Dec. 11, from non-combat related injuries. The soldier was discovered unresponsive in his living quarters by a non-commissioned officer in the unit," according to a US military statement issued on Sunday.

US: Soldiers Forced to Go AWOL for PTSD Care By Dahr Jamail 11 Dec 2009 With a military health care system over-stretched by two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, more soldiers are deciding to go absent without leave (AWOL) in order to find treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)... A 2008 Rand Corporation report revealed that at least 300,000 veterans returning from both wars had been diagnosed with severe depression or PTSD.

Obama Escalates War, Gets Peace Prize; Bush Can't Read, Gets Nobel For Literature Satire By R J Shulman 13 Dec 2009 In explaining President Barack Obama's award of the Peace Prize, Noble Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland said, "We gave the prize to Obama in hopes it would shame him into stopping the war." So far this may not have had the desired effect. When he accepted the award, Obama said, "when they said you could not get the Nobel Peace Prize for sending more troops into battle, I said, 'yes I can.'"

Five Americans in Pakistani custody moved to Lahore, police say 12 Dec 2009 The five Americans arrested in Pakistan amid suspicion that they were plotting terrorist attacks were transferred on Saturday from the small town where they were seized to a more secure location in a larger city, police said. The U.S. citizens were taken from the town of Sargodha, where they were arrested at a home on Wednesday, to Lahore.

Imam claims innocence in NYC terrorism case 11 Dec 2009 An imam charged with lying in the investigation of an alleged terrorism plot against New York says he's a loyal American who was framed. Ahmad Afzali told reporters before a pretrial hearing in Brooklyn on Friday that he is innocent and hopes "justice will prevail." Afzali is charged with lying to the FBI about the investigation of Najibullah Zazi. The Colorado airport driver is accused of getting training from al-Qaida [al-CIAduh] to build homemade bombs to attack New York City.

Protester hits Berlusconi at Milan rally 13 Dec 2009 Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was punched in the face at the end of a rally today by a man holding a small statue in his hand, leaving the 73-year-old media mogul with a bloodied mouth and looking stunned, police said. The 42-year-old man accused of attacking Berlusconi in Milan as he signed autographs was immediately taken into custody.

Drug money saved banks in global crisis, claims UN advisor --Drugs and crime chief says $352bn in criminal proceeds was effectively laundered by financial institutions 13 Dec 2009 Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations' drugs and crime tsar has told the Observer. Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.

Venezuelan Bank Fraud Case: Three Executives Flee, Government Intervenes in Related Companies --The Public Prosecutor had already issued ten arrest warrants for banking executives and 19 prohibitions on leaving the country for involvement in organised crime and for banking law infractions. 09 Dec 2009 Following the government’s nationalisation of two banks and liquidation of two others for banking law infractions, three bank executives fled to the U.S., and the government intervened in food companies owned by currently detained bank owner, Ricardo Fernandez. Interior Relations Minister Tareck El Aissami announced on Tuesday that two Venezuelans implicated in the bank scandals flew to Atlanta, and one to Miami, and that a fourth person was captured while trying to board a plane to Miami.

New maritime security law will deputize U.S. officers "in every part of Canada" during integrated operations By Stuart Trew 12 Dec 2009 Bill C-60, the Keeping Canadians Safe (Protecting Borders) Act, is being sold by Van Loan and Nicholson as a way to "strengthen cooperative bilateral policing efforts to stem the flow of cross-border criminal activity in shared waterways and further protect community safety and security in Canada." It is the legislative face of a cross-border "Shiprider" agreement... signed this May by Van Loan and U.S. Homeland Security czar Janet Napolitano. But Bill C-60 will go further than coastal waters. Section 11 states: In the course of an integrated cross-border operation, every designated officer is a peace officer in every part of Canada and has the same power to enforce an Act of Parliament as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Five Transportation Security underlings put on leave after airport screening files 10 Dec 2009 Five Transportation Security Administration underlings who put airport screening manuals online were put on administrative leave Wednesday, but the boss who ordered the posting has yet to be found. "I'd have to get back to you on that," David Heyman, assistant secretary for homeland security, told senators when asked who was to blame for the screwup.

'It looks like Guantánamo when you see it.' Protests in Copenhagen: Rights groups press for inquiry into police tactics 13 Dec 2009 Denmark may be breaching European law, Danish human rights groups claimed tonight as they called for their government to launch an immediate inquiry after police in Copenhagen used controversial kettling and mass preventative arrest tactics for the third day running. Following the arrest of 68 people on Friday, and 958 yesterday on Saturday, police today arrested 257 demonstrators, "kettling" a section of a march near Osterport station, and as they had done on Saturday, cuffed the protesters and put them onto buses transporting them to a detention centre... A protester from Germany, Chris, who asked not to give his surname, described the way that the detainees were made to sit: "With our legs on either side of the people in front of us, and then leaning on the person behind us, with our hands still cuffed behind our backs. It was very painful for the person behind you and you were in pain from the person in front of you. It looks like Guantánamo when you see it." He described being kept in cages, constructed by police for holding detainees: "You have a cold solid floor and four mesh walls and a mesh ceiling, and outside cops walking around with dogs."

Danish police arrest 1,225 protesters 13 Dec 2009 As heads of state begin arriving for climate talks in Copenhagen, jittery police have arrested 1,225 people during two days of demonstrations in the Danish capital, prompting criticism from activists and the press. On Sunday, 257 people were arrested after police found stones and gasmasks in a van connected to an unauthorized protest. On Saturday, 968 others were arrested at a mass demonstration that attracted more than 60,000 people. Most were released within a few hours but activists complained that the sweeping arrests were indiscriminate and heavy handed.

Copenhagen climate summit: 1,000 anarchists arrested --Nearly 1,000 people were arrested in Copenhagen yesterday as anarchists and left-wing activists fought running street battles with police in the Danish capital as negotiations continued at the climate summit. 12 Dec 2009 Cobble stones were thrown through the windows of the former stock exchange building and foreign office buildings in the city [by government agents], but police made a large number of pre-emptive arrests under a controversial anti-hooligan law. Suspected troublemakers were herded into a closed-off street, made to sit down and then tied up with plastic cuffs. They were then bused to a detention centre set up for the climate conference.

Climate Activists Around the Globe Send Message to Copenhagen Conference --Tens of thousands of protesters marched in the Danish capital Saturday. Some demonstrators dressed as polar bears - a species threatened by global warming. 12 Dec 2009 Tens of thousands of people staged protests in Copenhagen and around the world Saturday to push for stronger international commitments at the climate change conference in the Danish capital. The worldwide protests are being staged as international negotiators entered their sixth day of climate change talks in Copenhagen that are currently centered on targets for carbon emission cuts and financing for developing countries. In Australia, organizers said about 50,000 protesters marched in Sydney and other cities calling for stronger action.

Dispute over radioactive dirt going to S.J. Valley site 11 Dec 2009 Activists are protesting a decision by the California Department of Public Health that would allow the Boeing Co. [Grade A sociopaths] and NASA to send contaminated dirt from a nuclear accident site to a waste facility in the San Joaquin Valley that is not licensed to accept radioactive waste. The Department of Toxic Substances Control, which has the final say, has sent a letter to the agency requesting more information on its decision that the dirt "does not represent a public health threat" [!?!] and could be sent to the hazardous waste facility in Kettleman City.

US trying to dump 70 million doses of H1N1 vaccine 08 Dec 2009 The U. S. is preparing to offer swine flu shots to everyone who wants one [LOL] in the next few weeks, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said Monday. About 70 million doses of the shot have been shipped to state and local health authorities in the U. S., Anthony Fiore, associate chief of policy and liaison activities at the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases' Influenza Division, said in an interview. San Francisco-based McKesson Corp. is distributing the vaccine from manufacturers to four undisclosed sites and then on to 150,000 local sites, said Michael Angelastro of the U. S. Biomedical Advancement Research and Development Authority.

Injunction Granted in CCR Lawsuit on Behalf of ACORN --Historic Win for Constitutional Rights (CCR) 11 Dec 2009 Today, U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon granted a preliminary injunction against the United States for unconstitutionally withholding funds from ACORN. In its decision, the court found that there is a likelihood the plaintiffs will be able to show that Congress’ targeted defunding of ACORN violates the Constitution’s prohibition against Bills of Attainder, legislative acts which single out a specific person or group for punishment.

Senate passes 1.1T year-end spending bill 13 Dec 2009 The Senate on Sunday passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill with increased budgets for vast areas of the federal government including health, education, law enforcement and veterans' programs. The 1,000-page-plus package, one of the last essential chores of Congress this year, passed 57-35 and now goes to President Obama for his signature.

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