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Friday, Dec 19th

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Germany's highest court: Are election computers unconstitutional?

A software expert is making a case before Germany's highest court (the "federal constitutional court") against election computers: They violate Article 38 of the constitution, as elections were no longer free, equal, secret (in casting) and public (in counting).

The Chaos Computer Club (hackers turned security experts) is arguing against election computers as well, because of their vulnerability: They easily replaced the vote-counting program in an election computer with a chess-playing program.

The trial starts today.

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Diplomats keen for an Obama victory

An informal survey of more than two dozen UN staff members and foreign delegates showed that the overwhelming majority would prefer that Senator Barack Obama wins the presidency, saying they think that the Democrat would usher in a new agenda of multilateralism after an era marked by Republican disdain for the world body.

William Luers, the executive director of the United Nations Association, said: "It would be hard to find anybody, I think, at the UN who would not believe that Obama would be a considerable improvement over any other alternative. It's been a bad eight years, and there is a lot of bad feeling over it."

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World Bank says West Bank land prices rocketing

The price of property in the West Bank is rocketing beyond the reach of most local businesses and home buyers, pushed up by a weak dollar and Israeli control of large chunks of the territory, a World Bank report said Thursday.

Israel, citing the need to prevent Palestinian attacks inside Israel and on Jewish settlers in the West Bank, has kept large swaths of Palestinian land and roads off limits to Palestinians.

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From London, a rebuke to U.S. approach on terrorism

Two senior British counterterrorism officials have in recent days criticized the United States for what they described as its overly militaristic approach to fighting terrorism and warned of a further erosion of civil liberties.

One of the officials, Dame Stella Rimington, a former head of the country's domestic intelligence agency, said that she hoped the next American president "would stop using the phrase 'war on terror."' She also said there had been a "huge overreaction" to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

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Rice defends Middle East legacy

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told the BBC she believes the Middle East is a better place for the policies of President George W Bush.

Asked to assess the outgoing US administration's legacy, she said she was especially proud of the situation in the Palestinian territories.

Ms Rice also said Iraq had become a "good Arab friend" of America.

"The Middle East is a different place and a better place," Ms Rice told BBC Arabic TV.

Iraq, far from being destroyed, was fully integrated into the Arab world, she said. 

TVNL Comment: Does Rice have a heroine problem? Does she take LSD? Did she have a big bowl of mushrooms for breakfast?

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MPs give up battle to restrict abortions in UK

The retreat came as Wednesday's vote on the government's embryology bill, seen by anti-abortionists at first as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the law on a woman's right to choose, risked descending into farce.

Downing Street had still not resolved a cabinet row over how to handle the bill yesterday. But it is expected that the time allotted for debate will be so sharply curtailed that dozens of rival abortion amendments tabled by both sides in the argument will not be put to a vote, meaning that the law is likely to stay unchanged.

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TVNL Comment: Sanity reigns across the pond!

W. Bank Settlers' Rage Grows

"They will not be my neighbors if I do what I have to do, which is take them back to their lands," he said. "We don't want them here. Expelling them is the solution."

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TVNL Comment: This is the hidden story that remains ignored as the US continues its unconditional support for Israeli policy.

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