US AIRLINE SECURITY: A top United States official says intelligence agencies "got" the
message after President Barack Obama lashed out at them following a
failed attempt to blow up a U.S-bound plane on Christmas Day (December
Following a meeting with Mr. Obama, National Intelligence Director
Dennis Blair promised to "outwork, outthink and defeat" new terrorist
tactics and said intelligence agencies will do what is necessary to
prevent future terrorist attacks.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama said the failure to stop the plot to bring down
the plane was a "screw-up that could have been disastrous."
YEMEN: Yemeni officials say police have arrested three al-Qaida militants
responsible for a security threat that prompted a two-day closure of
Western embassies in the capital.
Officials say the three militants fled a Yemeni government assault
Monday and sought treatment for their wounds at a hospital north of
Sanaa. It says police arrested the militants at the hospital and
detained four other people suspected of hiding them there.
Yemen's government says its forces killed two al-Qaida militants in
Monday's operation, but the group's suspected local leader escaped.
YEMEN SDBR - GUANTANAMO: U.S. human rights groups have criticized President Barack Obama's decision to halt the transfer of detainees to Yemen from a U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Obama suspended the repatriation of Yemeni detainees Tuesday because of what he called an "unsettled" security situation in Yemen. Some U.S. lawmakers had expressed concern that freed inmates could join Yemen-based al-Qaida militants plotting attacks on the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union says U.S. authorities had cleared the release of about 35 Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo.
PAKISTAN: Pakistani police say a suicide bomber killed four soldiers and wounded nearly a dozen others in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.
The regional police chief (Javed Iqbal) says the explosion
took place near army barracks in the town of Rawalakot Wednesday.
Police officials say the attacker detonated himself when guards stopped
him at the gates to the barracks. Such violence is rare in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, but just over a
week ago a suicide bomber struck a Shi'ite mosque in the regional
capital Muzaffarabad killing at least 10 people.
AUSTRALIA - JAPAN - WHALING: An international anti-whaling group says a boat it uses to protest
Japanese whaling efforts in the waters off Antarctica has been struck
and cut in two by a Japanese ship.
A spokesman for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says its
high-tech powerboat, dubbed the Ady Gil, is sinking after the collision
with the Shonan Maru. The group says all six crewmen aboard the Ady Gil
were rescued. But one crewmember suffered rib injuries.
Wednesday's incident is the most serious since the the Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society began sending ships to the Southern Ocean to
harass Japanese vessels operating in the region as part of Japan's
annual whale hunt.
BURMA - JAILED REPORTER: Two press freedom groups are denouncing a long prison sentence handed down to a reporter working in Burma. Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association say Hla Hla Win was recently sentenced to a 20-year prison term by a court in the northern town of Pakokku. She was arrested in September after visiting a Buddhist monastery in Pakokku. The 25-year-old woman is a freelance video reporter who worked for the Democratic Voice of Burma, an exile broadcaster based in Norway. The groups say the she was charged with an alleged violation of Burma's Electronics Act. A person arrested along with Hla Hla Win was given a 26-year sentence.
US - POLITICS: Two leading Democrats in the U.S. Senate are set to step down -- moves
that could have a major impact on the balance of power in Washington.
Sources close to Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd (from the eastern
state of Connecticut) say the veteran lawmaker will announce his
The sources spoke to U.S. media on the condition of anonymity because
the senator has not yet made his decision public.
Dodd played a key role in the U.S. response to the financial crisis,
but recent polls show his popularity has fallen significantly.
JAPAN - POLITICS: Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has accepted the resignation of Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii.
Mr. Hatoyama made the announcement Wednesday during a nationally
televised speech. The prime minister said he had no choice but to
accept the resignation, due to Fujii's recent health problems.
The 77-year-old veteran lawmaker, the oldest member of Mr. Hatoyama's
Cabinet, was admitted into a hospital last week, suffering from
exhaustion and high blood pressure after weeks of drafting the 2010
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