We all applaud the successful thwarting of the Christmas-Tree Bomber and hope our government continues to do all it can to keep us safe. However, the latest round of publications of leaked classified U.S. documents through the shady organization called Wikileaks raises serious questions about the Obama administration’s incompetent handling of this whole fiasco.

First and foremost, what steps were taken to stop Wikileaks director Julian Assange from distributing this highly sensitive classified material especially after he had already published material not once but twice in the previous months? Assange is not a “journalist,” any more than the “editor” of al Qaeda’s new English-language magazine Inspire is a “journalist.” He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?

What if any diplomatic pressure was brought to bear on NATO, EU, and other allies to disrupt Wikileaks’ technical infrastructure? Did we use all the cyber tools at our disposal to permanently dismantle Wikileaks? Were individuals working for Wikileaks on these document leaks investigated? Shouldn’t they at least have had their financial assets frozen just as we do to individuals who provide material support for terrorist organizations?

Most importantly, serious questions must also be asked of the U.S. intelligence system. How was it possible that a 22-year-old Private First Class could get unrestricted access to so much highly sensitive information? And how was it possible that he could copy and distribute these files without anyone noticing that security was compromised?

The White House has now issued orders to federal departments and agencies asking them to take immediate steps to ensure that no more leaks like this happen again. It’s of course important that we do all we can to prevent similar massive document leaks in the future. But why did the White House not publish these orders after the first leak back in July? What explains this strange lack of urgency on their part?

We are at war. American soldiers are in Afghanistan fighting to protect our freedoms. They are serious about keeping America safe. It would be great if they could count on their government being equally serious about that vital task.

- Sarah Palin

 

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Last week, Johnson was the Greatest Guy Who Ever Lived after scoring three touchdowns in Buffalo’s 49-31 win over the Bengals. Johnson was fined by the NFL for his ‘Why So Serious’ undershirt but seemed to escape God’s wrath for worshiping a false idol like The Joker. Or so he thought

This week, with a chance to win their third-straight game and upset the vaunted Steelers, Johnson watched one of his five dropped passes fall through his hands as Pittsburgh forced overtime and defeated the Bills. It was the kind of humbling reminder that so many athletes take to heart and learn from.

Not Steve Johnson. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away and Stevie is PISSED RIGHT OFF!

Stevie Johnson’s Tweet:
I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…

It’s a fair point. I’d like to think Jesus Christ will think twice before sticking his nose in the outcome of football games from now on. At the very least, he’ll properly dole out positive yardage based on the number of times someone prays to him. That seems like a fair system.

 

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North Korea Pushing World to Brink of War

YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea – China tried Sunday to defuse tension over a recent North Korean attack on South Korea by proposing an emergency meeting in Beijing, hours after the U.S. and South Korea launched naval war games in a united show of force.

Beijing’s top nuclear envoy called for the meeting among the six nations involved in the stalled North Korean nuclear disarmament talks to calm tempers over North Korea’s artillery barrage last Tuesday that killed four people on South Korea’s front-line island of Yeonpyeong.

Nuclear envoy Wu Dawei said in a statement issued in Beijing that the international community, particularly members of the six-party talks — the two Koreas, Japan, the U.S., China and Russia — were deeply concerned about recent developments. He called for an emergency meeting of chief nuclear negotiations in China in early December.

However, it was unclear whether the proposal would be accepted. Seoul and Washington have resisted restarting the disarmament-for-aid talks until Pyongyang shows a concrete commitment to denuclearization.

South Korea responded cautiously. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the proposal should be “reviewed very carefully” and noted that North Korea’s recent revelation of a new uranium-enrichment facility has a “negative effect” on efforts to resume the talks. The facility, shown to a visiting Western scientists earlier this month, could signal an expansion of the North’s nuclear weapons program.

Japan will closely coordinate with Seoul and Washington in its response to China’s proposal, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama told reporters in Tokyo.

The troubled relations between the two Koreas, which fought a three-year war in the 1950s, have steadily deteriorated since a conservative government took power in 2008 with a tough new policy toward nuclear-armed North Korea.

Eight months after the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship, North Korean troops showered artillery on Yeonpyeong, a South Korean-held island that houses military bases as well as a civilian population of 1,300, in an attack Tuesday that marked a new level of hostility.

Two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed and 18 others wounded when the North rained artillery on Yeonpyeong in one of the worst assaults since the 1950-53 Korean War. The attack sent residents fleeing into bunkers and reduced dozens of homes on the island to charred rubble.

North Korea blamed the South for provoking the attack by holding artillery drills near the Koreas’ maritime border, and has steadily threatened to be “merciless” if war games get too close to its territory.

As U.S. and South Korean ships — including the nuclear-powered USS George Washington — sailed into the waters off Korea’s west coast Sunday, China began launching its diplomatic bid to calm tensions.

Washington and Seoul had been pressing China, North Korea’s main ally and benefactor, to help defuse the situation amid fears of all-out war. China was slow at first to react after ally North Korea pummeled a South Korean island with an artillery barrage on Tuesday, but has quickened its diplomatic intervention in recent days.

Chinese state councilor Dai Bingguo made a last-minute visit to Seoul to confer with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

Lee pressured Dai, a senior foreign policy adviser, to contribute to peace in a “more objective, responsible” matter, and warned Sunday that Seoul would respond “strongly” to any further provocation, Lee’s office said in a statement.

The strong words were Lee’s first public comment in days. He was due to address the nation Monday morning amid calls from his people to take tougher action against the defiant North.

North Korea walked away from the disarmament-for-aid talks in April 2009 following international condemnation for launching a rocket seen as a test of its long-range missile technology.

Pyongyang, with Beijing’s backing, has shown an eagerness to get back to the talks, and has appeared increasingly frustrated by U.S. and South Korean reluctance to restart the negotiations to provide the North with much-needed aid in exchange for disarmament.

North Korea, which cites the U.S. military presence in South Korea as a main reason behind its drive to build atomic weapons, routinely calls their joint exercises between the allies a rehearsal for war.

Washington, which keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect the ally, insists the drills are routine and were planned well before last Tuesday’s attack.

U.S. and South Korean ships got into position in the Yellow Sea on Sunday for the four-day exercise, said Cmdr. Jeff Davis, spokesman for the 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan.

He said no live-fire drills were planned. Officials would not supply exact locations but Yonhap said the drills were taking place about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Yeonpyeong Island.

North Korea expressed outrage over the Yellow Sea drills and threatened “merciless counter-military strikes.”

The war games are a “pretext for aggression and ignite a war at any cost,” the National Peace Committee of Korea said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, warning that the U.S. and South Korea “will be wholly held accountable.”

Hours earlier, the rattle of new artillery fire from North Korea sent residents, journalists, police and troops on a front-line island scrambling for cover. None of the rounds landed on Yeonpyeong Island, military officials said, but the incident showed how tense the situation remains.

Saying they could not guarantee the journalists’ safety, South Korea’s Defense Ministry urged the media to leave the island and sent a ship to ferry them off. However, bad weather forced them to cancel the evacuation.

About 380 people, including 28 islanders and 190 journalists, were left on the island Sunday, according to Incheon city government officials who govern the island.

A similar burst of artillery fire Friday occurred just as the U.S. military’s top commander in the region, Gen. Walter Sharp, was touring Yeonpyeong Island. No shells landed anywhere in South Korean territory.

In Seoul, as monks chanted their morning prayers at Jogye Temple, Shim Jeong-wook, 74, said he didn’t think North Korea would attack again, not with a U.S. aircraft carrier group in South Korean waters.

“I don’t think North Korea will provoke while the U.S. Navy fleet is in the Yellow Sea,” he said. “But who knows what will happen when it leaves?”

 

Mohamed Osman Mohamud

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Somali-born teenager plotted “a spectacular show” of terrorism for months, saying he didn’t mind that children would die if he bombed a crowded Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, according to a law-enforcement official and court documents.

He never got the chance. Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested Friday in downtown Portland after using a cell phone to try to detonate what he thought were explosives in a van, prosecutors said. It turned out to be a dummy bomb put together by FBI agents.

It is the latest in a string of alleged terrorist plots by U.S. citizens or residents, including a Times Square plot in which a Pakistan-born man pleaded guilty earlier this year to trying to set off a car bomb at a bustling street corner. Last month, another Pakistan-born Virginia resident was accused in a bomb plot to kill commuters.

In the Portland plot, Mohamud believed he was receiving help from a larger ring of jihadists as he communicated with undercover federal agents, but no foreign terrorist organization was directing him, according to a law-enforcement official who wasn’t authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on a condition of anonymity.

The official said Mohamud was very committed to the plot and planned the details alone, including where to park the van to hurt the most people.

“I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave dead or injured.” Mohamud said, according to the affidavit.

“It’s in Oregon, and Oregon, like you know, nobody ever thinks about it,” the suspect told an agent in one discussion.

Thousands of people had gathered Friday on a cold, clear night for the annual event at Pioneer Courthouse Square, a plaza often referred to as “Portland’s living room” because of its popularity.

Just 10 minutes before Mohamud’s 5:40 p.m. arrest, the lighting ceremony began. Babies sat on shoulders, and children cheered at the first appearance of Santa Claus onstage.

The tree-lighting on the bricks of the plaza went off without a hitch just as the arrest was taking place.

Mohamud, who grew up in Beaverton, was a former student at Oregon State University. He had been enrolled in courses from late 2009 until Oct. 6 before withdrawing, said Oregon State University spokesman Todd Simmons.

The law-enforcement official who spoke to the AP on Saturday said agents began investigating Mohamud after receiving a tip from someone who was concerned about the teenager. The official declined to provide any more detail about the relationship between Mohamud and that source.

In an e-mail exchange with an undercover agent Mohamud complained, “I have been betrayed by my family,” although he describes no specific action that family members took.

The FBI monitored Mohamud’s e-mail and found that he was in contact with people overseas, asking how he could travel to Pakistan and join the fight for jihad, according to an FBI affidavit.

According to the law enforcement official, Mohamud e-mailed a friend living in Pakistan who had been a student in Oregon in 2007-2008 and been in Yemen as well.

For reasons that have not been explained, Mohamud tried to board a flight to Kodiak, Alaska, from Portland on June 14, wasn’t allowed to board and was interviewed by the FBI, the affidavit states.

Mohamud told the FBI he wanted to earn money fishing and then travel to join “the brothers.” He said he had previously hoped to travel to Yemen but had never obtained a ticket or a visa.

On June 23, an undercover agent contacted Mohamud by e-mail, pretending to be affiliated with the “unindicted associate” Mohamud had sent e-mails to.

The FBI’s affidavit says the friend in Pakistan referred him to another associate, but gave him an e-mail address that Mohamud tried repeatedly to use unsuccessfully. The official said FBI agents saw that as an opportunity and e-mailed Mohamud in response, claiming to be associates of his friend, the former student.

The affidavit said Mohamud was warned several times about the seriousness of his plan, that women and children could be killed, and that he could back out. But he told agents: “Since I was 15 I thought about all this” and “It’s gonna be a fireworks show … a spectacular show.”

Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Corvallis, was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. A court appearance was set for Monday.

Authorities allowed the plot to proceed in order to build up enough evidence to charge the suspect with attempt. Mohamud sent bomb components to undercover FBI agents who he believed were assembling the explosive device, but the agents supplied the fake bomb that Mohamud tried to detonate twice via his phone, authorities said.

The FBI affidavit says the undercover agent first met Mohamud in person on July 30 and asked what he would do for the cause of jihad. The agent suggested that Mohamud might want to spread Islam to others, continue his studies to help the cause overseas, raise money, and become a martyr or put together an explosion but didn’t know how and needed training, the affidavit said.

The undercover agent said he could introduce him to an explosives expert and asked Mohamud to research potential targets.

At a second meeting on Aug. 19 at a Portland hotel, the agent brought a second undercover agent, the documents say, and Mohamud told them he had selected Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square for the bombing.

On Nov. 4, the court documents say, Mohamud made a video in the presence of one of the undercover agents, putting on clothes he described as “Sheik Osama style:” a white robe, red and white headdress, and camouflage jacket.

He read a statement speaking of his dream of bringing “a dark day” on Americans and blaming his family for thwarting him, according to the court documents:

“To my parents who held me back from Jihad in the cause of Allah. I say to them … if you — if you make allies with the enemy, then Allah’s power … will ask you about that on the day of judgment, and nothing that you do can hold me back …”

Friday, an agent and Mohamud drove to downtown Portland in a white van that carried six 55-gallon drums with detonation cords and plastic caps, but all of them were inert, the complaint states.

They left the van near the downtown ceremony site and went to a train station where Mohamud was given a cell phone that he thought would blow up the vehicle, according to the complaint. There was no detonation when he dialed, and when he tried again federal agents and police made their move.

Tens of thousands of Somalis have resettled in the United States since their country plunged into lawlessness in 1991, and the U.S. has boosted aid to the country.

In August, the U.S. Justice Department unsealed an indictment naming 14 people accused of being a deadly pipeline routing money and fighters from the U.S. to al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliated group in Mohamud’s native Somalia.

Officials have been working with Muslim community leaders across the United States, particularly in Somali diasporas in Minnesota, trying to combat the radicalization.

On Saturday, Omar Jamal, first secretary to the Somali mission to the United Nation and an advocate for Somalis in Minnesota, said Mohamud has a stepmother in Minneapolis. He condemned the plot and urged Somalis to cooperate with police and the FBI.

Jamal said he had spoken to two Somalis who knew Mohamud, and he was described as religious, quiet and innocent. Jamal said Mohamud is from southern Somalia.

“Everybody’s afraid, really really afraid,” Jamal said of members of Oregon’s Somali communities and elsewhere. “They’re afraid of, first of all, the label. The allegation is very serious …”

 

Nicole is A Junior from Wyckoff, New Jersey. She is a Business Communications major. Claims her smile is her faeature she likes most about herself. Absolutely loves Wedding Crashers. The Fray is her favorite band. The shows she TiVo’s are Keeping up with the Kardashians, So You Think You Can Dance, and One Tree Hill. Her fav webpages are SI.com and SPorcle. Her worst habit is staying glued to her Blackberry. After graduating she is dying to visit Italy. Her last meal on this earth would be her mothers Thanksgiving dinner. She is a huge NY Giants and NY Yankee fan. Brody Jenner is her celeb crush and she says she is Team Jacob(referr to Twilight).

 

Representative Ron Paul

Appearing on the Alex Jones Show today, Texas Congressman Ron Paul expressed his outrage and disgust with the TSA and its unconstitutional naked body scanners and genital groping under the transparent pretense of protecting the American people from terrorists in distant caves.

“If we tolerate this,” Paul said, “there’s something wrong with us.” He added that the American people deserve to be humiliated and demeaned by the government if they refuse to stand up and resist.

Paul predicted Americans will eventually boycott the airlines to put an end to the intrusive searches and the unconscionable use of dangerous backscatter radiation naked body scanners. “Maybe the Congress will get off their duffs and do something in January,” he said, “and insist we rein in the TSA.”

Responding to Alex Jones’ assertion that the TSA’s actions are akin to what the Nazis did in Germany during the 1930s, Ron Paul said that we long ago capitulated on “showing our papers” and now routinely provide Social Security numbers to employers and show our government issued driver’s license as an accepted form of identification. “Now the government wants us to show them our genitalia and they want to take pictures of us and put their hands into our pants,” he said.

Paul said due to pervasive coverage of TSA abuses by the corporate media, the American people are now beginning to ask serious questions about government conduct.

“I think it’s a healthy wake-up call to a lot of Americans,” Paul told Jones. “I just hope they can work that in to the whole concept of what’s been going on with our country for a long time – the government is too big and intrusive and abuses our rights and they do the things the shouldn’t be doing and they forget about the things they were instructed to do.”

Congressman Paul said in the course of his work representing the people of Texas he has to endure TSA abuse, including the latest “enhanced pat down” that verges on sexual molestation. “I have to go through that all the time because I have metal in my knees,” he explained. “I get prodded all the time and it is disgusting and I tell them so.”

When asked by Alex Jones if the TSA had subjected him to an “enhanced” screening, Ron Paul answered yes.

“Specifically,” Alex asked, “have you had the enhanced pat down, sir? Have they touched your crotch?”

“Yes. Absolutely, and like I said, absolutely disgusting,” Paul responded.

He said he believes a boycott of the airlines will be necessary if we are going to force the government to back down and stop acting like a sexual predator. “I am going to be doing everything conceivable to try to change these rules because they are not making us safer, they aren’t better for us – it’s just to enhance the power of the state.”

 

Russian, China Both Quit U.S. Dollar

Wen Jiabao and Valdimir Putin

St. Petersburg, Russia – China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday.

Chinese experts said the move reflected closer relations between Beijing and Moscow and is not aimed at challenging the dollar, but to protect their domestic economies.

“About trade settlement, we have decided to use our own currencies,” Putin said at a joint news conference with Wen in St. Petersburg.

The two countries were accustomed to using other currencies, especially the dollar, for bilateral trade. Since the financial crisis, however, high-ranking officials on both sides began to explore other possibilities.

The yuan has now started trading against the Russian rouble in the Chinese interbank market, while the renminbi will soon be allowed to trade against the rouble in Russia, Putin said.

“That has forged an important step in bilateral trade and it is a result of the consolidated financial systems of world countries,” he said.

Putin made his remarks after a meeting with Wen. They also officiated at a signing ceremony for 12 documents, including energy cooperation.

The documents covered cooperation on aviation, railroad construction, customs, protecting intellectual property, culture and a joint communiqu. Details of the documents have yet to be released.

Putin said one of the pacts between the two countries is about the purchase of two nuclear reactors from Russia by China’s Tianwan nuclear power plant, the most advanced nuclear power complex in China.

Putin has called for boosting sales of natural resources – Russia’s main export – to China, but price has proven to be a sticking point.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who holds sway over Russia’s energy sector, said following a meeting with Chinese representatives that Moscow and Beijing are unlikely to agree on the price of Russian gas supplies to China before the middle of next year.

Russia is looking for China to pay prices similar to those Russian gas giant Gazprom charges its European customers, but Beijing wants a discount. The two sides were about $100 per 1,000 cubic meters apart, according to Chinese officials last week.

Wen’s trip follows Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s three-day visit to China in September, during which he and President Hu Jintao launched a cross-border pipeline linking the world’s biggest energy producer with the largest energy consumer.

Wen said at the press conference that the partnership between Beijing and Moscow has “reached an unprecedented level” and pledged the two countries will “never become each other’s enemy”.

Over the past year, “our strategic cooperative partnership endured strenuous tests and reached an unprecedented level,” Wen said, adding the two nations are now more confident and determined to defend their mutual interests.

“China will firmly follow the path of peaceful development and support the renaissance of Russia as a great power,” he said.

“The modernization of China will not affect other countries’ interests, while a solid and strong Sino-Russian relationship is in line with the fundamental interests of both countries.”

Wen said Beijing is willing to boost cooperation with Moscow in Northeast Asia, Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as in major international organizations and on mechanisms in pursuit of a “fair and reasonable new order” in international politics and the economy.

Sun Zhuangzhi, a senior researcher in Central Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the new mode of trade settlement between China and Russia follows a global trend after the financial crisis exposed the faults of a dollar-dominated world financial system.

Pang Zhongying, who specializes in international politics at Renmin University of China, said the proposal is not challenging the dollar, but aimed at avoiding the risks the dollar represents.

Wen arrived in the northern Russian city on Monday evening for a regular meeting between Chinese and Russian heads of government.

He left St. Petersburg for Moscow late on Tuesday and is set to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday.

 




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