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Thursday, Oct 23rd

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New Blackwater Iraq Scandal: Guns, Silencers and Dog Food

A federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food, ABCNews.com has learned.

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Al-Sadr Throws Down the Gauntlet on US-Iraq Talks

Firebrand Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday threw down the gauntlet: he threatened to resume attacks against U.S. troops if they don't leave Iraq "without retaining bases or signing agreements."

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Counting the dead gets more complicated in Iraq

This much is agreed - a double bombing in Baghdad struck a school bus and those responding to the first blast. But the difference in casualty figures was stark. Iraqi officials said 31 people died; the U.S. military put the death toll at five.

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Obama's biggest Guantanamo dilemma may lie in Yemen

President-elect Barack Obama's pledge to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, faces a major obstacle: Yemen.

Yemeni officials say they're ready to try many of the men and imprison those who are convicted, but they complain that U.S. officials refuse to share evidence with them.

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TVNL Comment: Just trust the US and jail hundreds of people without evidence. Democracy at its best.

How Israel helps eavesdrop on US citizens

It is well-known that the two largest American telecom companies AT&T and Verizon collaborated with the US government to allow illegal eavesdropping on their customers. The known uses to which information obtained this way has been put include building the government's massive secret "watch lists," and "no-fly lists" and even, Bamford suggests, to deny Small Business Administration loans to citizens or reject their children's applications to military colleges.

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Dems seem uninterested in regulating White House political office under Obama

Less than a month ago, Democrats excoriated President Bush and his administration over the conduct of the White House Office of Political Affairs, and a House panel recommended the office be closed or reorganized.

With Democrat Barack Obama preparing for his move into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the calls to reform the office, which coordinates the president's initiatives with key factions of his party, have grown silent, and all indications are that a political apparatus will continue to exist in the White House for the foreseeable future.

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UN: Clouds of pollution threaten glaciers, health

A dirty brown haze sometimes more than a mile thick is darkening skies not only over vast areas of Asia, but also in the Middle East, southern Africa and the Amazon Basin, changing weather patterns around the world and threatening health and food supplies, the U.N. reported Thursday.

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America the Illiterate

There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

The illiterate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so without the ability to make decisions based on textual information.

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GM Spends $17 Million Per Year on Viagra

Lifestyle drugs -- chiefly Viagra -- are costing General Motors $17 million dollars a year and the cost is passed along to car, truck and SUV consumers. The blue pill is covered under GM's labor agreement with United Auto Workers, as well as benefit plans for salaried employees.

GM executives estimate health care adds $1,500 to the price of each vehicle but they do not break out how much of the premium is caused by erectile dysfunction expenses. GM provides health care for 1.1 million employees, retirees and dependents and is the world's largest private purchaser of Viagra.

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