Thursday, December 29, 2011

Muslim condmemnation of violence

Muslims Stand Up Against the Horrific Attacks Against Christians in Nigeria

This article, written by a Muslim believer and columnist, condemns violence against Christians (and all believers) on Islamic grounds, including scriptural references for the writer's position drawn from the Qur'an
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In the Name of God The Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Dear Fellow Brothers and Sisters in Islam, it is with great sadness that we have heard the devastating news of the deplorable acts of violence committed against our brothers and sisters of the Christian faith in Nigeria. Our prayers go out to the family, friends and community of all those who have lost loved ones and those who were injured.
These horrific acts of violence demand from us Muslims and people of all faiths around the globe to stand up against all those who perpetrate such horrific acts. Violence of any kind against any people cannot be ignored. Transgressions against people's rights are occurring today across all boundaries. Regardless of what perpetrators of such acts claim to hold over any other person, to live safely is a right, and we must all stand up to protect the right for all people. "Stand for justice even if it is against yourself" (Quran Surat-un-Nisa, Chapter 4, Verse 135).
It is those who truly know the religion of Islam who, despite our differences, engage in peaceful dialogue and wholeheartedly forsake acts of violence like this. As dedicate worshippers we recognize that an injustice in one part of the world is never validated by another injustice. Human life is sacred and it is never acceptable to take a person's life to promote a political agenda.

Putting on a good face

Putting on a good face

Saving face?

Why am I not surprised that this was invented in Japan?

Halloween huh?
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1. The disturbingly accurate mask of your own face 
A Japanese startup called REAL-f began selling "three-dimensional photo forms," or frighteningly realistic masks of human faces made from a chloride resin modeled on several photos of a person's face taken from a variety of angles and positions. (See some samples here.) If you have a spare $4,000, said Mariella Moon at Tecca, it's essentially "the best Halloween mask ever."

The formal end of Bachman

Michelle Bachman has been toast for a long time already, but her comment on defector Sorenson marks the official end of her bid.

Politics is politics. There comes a time in the path of each novice hopeful in which they reveal that they are unfamiliar with the nature of politics in big leagues.

In the case of odd-ball and spoiler Ross Perot, he goofily blurted that opponents darkened his daughter's wedding. That was the end of Perot. It was as much as saying "Hi, I know nothing about politics. Vote for me"

Here Bachman makes the absurd declaration that her boy bailed out for money. Good night Ms. Bachman. Please give us a call if you are interested to know any other realities about politics in the big leagues.

Some things are known. Some things are not said.
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Michele Bachmann just lost one of her most high-profile advisers to none other than Ron Paul. Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson ditched the Minnesotan and jumped on the Libertarian bandwagon, announcing at a Paul rally, "Tonight's a little tough for me; I've been serving as Michele Bachmann's state chair for the last year. And while Michele has fought tremendously for my conservative values, I believe we're at a turning point in this campaign. I believe that we have an opportunity to elect a conservative, someone who holds our values dear." The two-timing aide had appeared with Bachmann at another event in Iowa just a few hours before he announced his loyalty to Paul. Bachmann, meanwhile, said that Sorenson said he was “selling out” after being offered a large sum of money.

Bachmann's Iowa Chair Endorses Paul
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Thoughts on mortality

Same car

Bigger me!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Youcef Nadarkhani of Iran to serve another year in prison

The Qur'an itself does not prescribe any earthly punishment for apostasy; Islamic scholarship differs on its punishment, ranging from execution – on an interpretation of certain hadiths – to no punishment at all as long as they "do not work against the Muslim society or nation."

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TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has to serve at least one more year in prison before he may be executed for refusing to abandon his faith in Christ and return to Islam, an official assisting him has said.

Iran’s judiciary wants to use that time to “use whatever means necessary to cause him to convert to Islam”, explained Jason DeMars, director of advocacy group Present Truth Ministries (PTM).

“The order was to not issue a verdict and hold Youcef in prison,” DeMars quoted an attorney of the pastor as saying. The court was told “to use whatever means necessary to cause him to recant and return to Islam,” DeMars added.

The 34-year-old Nadarkhani, who has a wife and two children, was detained in his home city of Rasht in October 2009 while trying to register his house church.

Nadarkhani was eventually found guilty of “apostasy”, or abandoning Islam, in September 2010 and sentenced to death by the Rasht court.

In June this year Iran’s Supreme Court did not overturn the ruling but instead asked the Rasht court to “re-examine” whether the pastor was a practicing Muslim before he became a Christian at age 19.

Nadarkhani told the court however that he would remain faithful to Christ, said an official of the Church of Iran house church movement.

“Pastor Youcef was [therefore] four times invited [by the court in the northwestern city of Rasht] to recant [his faith] in Christ in order to avoid the execution,” explained Firouz Khandjani, a council member of the pastor’s Church of Iran movement to BosNewsLife earlier.

“He answered that he will not,”Khandjani said.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hunger in America

(US 2011 military spending: $1.030–$1.415 trillion)

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A growing number of families in the United States are struggling to put food on the table as poverty rises in major cities,

Half of those asking for emergency food assistance were people in families, while 26 percent were employed. The elderly accounted for 19 percent, with the homeless making up the remaining 11 percent.

About 24.4 million Americans are either out of work or underemployed and employment remains 6.3 million jobs below its level in December 2007 when the recession started.

According to government data, a record 49.1 million Americans were living in poverty in 2010.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

US and Pakistan - question of national sovereignty

An area where we can ill afford to be so unwelcome

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Central Intelligence Agency has vacated an air base in western Pakistan that it had been using for drone strikes against militants in the country’s tribal areas, the Pakistani military said on Sunday.

Pakistan had ordered the C.I.A. to leave the Shamsi air base in protest over NATO airstrikes that killed at least 25 Pakistani soldiers near the border with Afghanistan on Nov. 26. Pakistan has also blocked all NATO logistical supplies from crossing the border into Afghanistan since the clash.

Pentagon and Obama administration officials declined to comment publicly on the departure from the Shamsi air base.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Stanford University offers free on line courses covers more on these matters, not only this good news from Stanford.

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Two weeks ago, we mentioned that Stanford will be rolling out seven new courses in its experiment with online learning. Fast forward to today, and yet another seven courses have been added to the winter lineup, bringing the total to 14.

Courses start in January and February. Enroll today for free. And, if something doesn’t pique your interest below, don’t miss our big list of 400 Free Online Courses.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

US - no official response to killing Pakistani soldiers

Is there something a bit odd about killing people and then calling their friends and family on the phone to express condolences?

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(CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke Saturday with Pakistan's prime minister, the latest bid to address strained relations between the two nations exactly one week after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed inadvertently in an NATO airstrike.

After the attack -- which took place in western Pakistan, near the Afghan border

NATO later called the subsequent mass casualties caused by the strike "tragic (and) unintended." Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have called the incident a "tragedy" and offered condolences, though Washington has not issued a formal apology.

No such apology came in Saturday's phone conversation, according to a statement from the U.S. State Department.

Clinton "once again expressed condolences to the families of the soldiers and to the Pakistani people for the tragic and unintended loss of life," the statement said.

"She reiterated America's respect for Pakistan's sovereignty and commitment to working together in pursuit of shared objectives on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect."

During an exclusive interview Monday with CNN, Gilani said the country wants to maintain its relationship with the United States as long as there is mutual respect and respect for Pakistani sovereignty.

Asked directly if Pakistan is getting that respect, the prime minister said: "At the moment (it is) not."

"If I can't protect the sovereignty of my country, how can we say that this is mutual respect and mutual interest?" he asked rhetorically.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why is Hillary Clinton in Myanmar

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As Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Myanmar on Wednesday, the neighbors were watching closely.

The trip to the usually closed-off nation, the first by a U.S. secretary of state in more than half a century,

"We are quite uncertain what kind of role the U.S. is going to play in Myanmar," said Zhu Feng, an international relations expert at Peking University. "Myanmar will be a test for American policy toward China."

The concerns underline the complexity of relations between the United States and China. On one hand are economic ties that include more than $457 billion in trade last year and China's holding of more than $1.1 trillion in American Treasury debt.

Obama had told the Australian Parliament that the United States had made a "deliberate and strategic decision, as a Pacific nation" to take "a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future."

It's "part of the grand policy adjustment by the U.S. to reconsolidate its presence in the Asian Pacific, and its main driving force is concern about China," said Wang Yong, a professor of foreign relations and the director of the Center for International Political Economy at Peking University.

South Korea, which drew closer to the U.S. after China failed to condemn its North Korean allies for allegedly torpedoing and sinking a South Korean naval ship last year. China similarly said nothing after North Korea shelled a South Korean island.

Beautiful Mosques in the world

This is a slide show

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Europe's great churches were built centuries ago and the great monuments of Judaism are almost invariably antique, but massive, eye-catching Mosques have bloomed all over the world during the last several decades thanks to funding provided by the oil rich and royal. These magnificent structures praise God with their architectural elation, soaring towers, onion domes and brilliant coloring. They aslo draw inspiration from the architectural traditions of the places they've been constructed, from Brunei to Arabia.

See more at

Thursday, November 24, 2011

World's lightest material

Developed in California

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A team of researchers from UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories, and the California Institute of Technology claim to have created the "world's lightest" material. The findings, published in the Nov. 18 issue of the journal Science, say that the material is 100 times lighter than styrofoam, and capable of sitting atop a feathery dandelion without dispersing its seeds. Here's how it works:

Microlattice, reportedly the world's lightest material, is made of interlocking hollow nickel tubes that are each 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.

Microlattice, reportedly the world's lightest material, is made of interlocking hollow nickel tubes that are each 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. Photo: Dan Little © HRL Laboratories, LLC.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Continued clashes in Cairo's Tahrir Square

3rd day - More deaths

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Clashes have again erupted in the Egyptian capital as security forces continue their efforts to clear Cairo's Tahrir Square of protesters.

At least 20 people are reported to have died since the violence began on Saturday with hundreds more injured.

Some 1,750 people have also been reported injured in clashes across the country.

A group of senior Egyptian diplomats have also issued a statement condemning the way the protests have been handled,

Attacks on Capital: A New Phase for Syria

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at the offices of the ruling Baath Party in Damascus on Sunday in a highly symbolic strike that signaled a new chapter in the eight-month uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

It was the second attack in days in the capital, which had so far largely been spared the unrest in other cities.

Mr. Assad said in a newspaper interview that he had no choice but to continue his military campaign against dissidents and vowed that he was prepared to fight and die if needed

The Free Syrian Army, an insurgent group made of defecting soldiers and based in southern Turkey, claimed responsibility for both attacks.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Egypt protesters flee security in Tahrir Square

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Cairo (CNN) -- Hundreds of Egyptian army and police forces pushed into Cairo's Tahrir Square Sunday, making thousands of demonstrators flee in the face of tear gas and what sounded like live fire.

Clashes had broken out in the square earlier Sunday, the second day of unrest there ahead of the country's elections.

Egyptian riot policemen scuffle with a protester at Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, but before the army joined them later in the day, the situation appeared calmer than on Saturday, when rifts between police and protesters left two people dead in two cities, the health ministry reported.

At least 928 people have been injured from the clashes in Egypt, the health ministry said Sunday.

Also on Sunday, Israeli envoy Yitzhak Levanon was back in Cairo. In September, protesters stormed and ransacked the Israeli embassy there.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pentagon successfully tests hypersonic flying bomb

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The Pentagon on Thursday held a successful test flight of a flying bomb that travels faster than the speed of sound and will give military planners the ability to strike targets anywhere in the world in less than a hour.
Launched by rocket from Hawaii at 1130 GMT, the "Advanced Hypersonic Weapon," or AHW, glided through the upper atmosphere over the Pacific "at hypersonic speed" before hitting its target on the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, a Pentagon statement said.
Kwajalein is about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii. The Pentagon did not say what top speeds were reached by the vehicle, which unlike a ballistic missile is maneuverable.
Scientists classify hypersonic speeds as those that exceed Mach 5 -- or five times the speed of sound -- 3,728 miles (6,000 kilometers) an hour.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy NYC livestream

This site is the live stream for Occupy NYC

Fascinating to watch, the pace of tweets is almost too fast to read

Potential breakthrough for treating cancer

This looks very hopeful. Let's wish these researchers well in their continued efforts.

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Protein recycling in the body could be a critical part of tumour formation, researchers believe.

A report in Science Translational Medicine showed that protein recycling was accelerated in more than 30 types of cancerous cell.

When scientists interrupted the process in mice with cancer, the tumours began to shrink.

The recycling process studied was "chaperone-mediated autophagy" (CAM). It is a normal part of a cell's routine, removing damaged goods and recycling the raw materials.

Prof Ana Cuervo, one of the researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, believes cancerous cells are using this process in order to fuel their abnormally rapidly growth.

"Cancer cells seem to have learned how to optimise this system to obtain the energy they need," she said.

When they studied a variety of tissues, including lung, breast and liver, they found the level of CAM activity was higher in cancerous cells than normal ones.

The researchers then used a virus to infect cells with short snippets of genetic material, which would turn off the recycling process.

Using the virus slowed the growth of the tumours in mice with human lung cancers.

Prof Cuervo said it resulted in "dramatic tumour shrinkage and almost complete blockage of metastasis [spreading]".

The scientists believe their findings could lead to an anticancer drug. By finding a chemical which would interfere with the recycling process they hope to be able to mimic the effect the virus had.


UN nuclear agency IAEA seeks high-level Iran visit

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The head of the UN nuclear agency, the IAEA, has proposed sending a high-level mission to Iran, to address new fears about a possible military dimension to the country's nuclear programme.

IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano (C) at the board of governors conference at the agency headquarters in Vienna

IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said there was credible information Iran had carried out activities relevant to the development of a bomb.

He said there might be undeclared nuclear material and activities.

Tehran says its programme is for peaceful purposes.

"Our technical experts have spent years painstakingly and objectively analysing a huge quantity of information from a wide variety of independent sources, including from a number of member states, from the agency's own efforts and from information provided by Iran itself. The agency finds the information to be, overall, credible," Mr Amano said in a statement.

"It is consistent in terms of technical content, individuals and organisations involved, and timeframes. The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."

He hoped a date for the visit would be agreed soon, he added.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

King of Jordan Becomes First Arab Leader to Tell Syria’s Assad to Quit

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — King Abdullah of Jordan added his voice on Monday to the growing pressure on the president of Syria to relinquish power, becoming the first Arab leader on Syria’s doorstep to call for a change in government to end the increasingly bloody political uprising there.

The Jordanian monarch’s remarks, made in an interview with the BBC, came as Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, was still smarting from the Arab League’s unexpectedly strong rebuke over the weekend with its decision to suspend Syria’s membership. Syria also faced additional sanctions imposed Monday by the European Union.

“I believe, if I were in his shoes, I would step down,” King Abdullah told the BBC. “If Bashar has the interest of his country, he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life.”

The United Nations said this month that at least 3,500 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising started in March. The government disputed the death toll and has blamed the unrest on armed groups which it says have killed more than 1,100 soldiers and police officers.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thailand Floods 2011: Ancient Capital Damaged

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one of Thailand's greatest historical sites. Record flooding has turned Ayutthaya's ancient temples into islands, and a giant statue of the reclining Buddha appears to float miraculously on the lapping water.

Experts fear that at least half of the more than 200 waterlogged monasteries, fortresses and other monuments in the one-time royal capital have been damaged.

Capital of a powerful state for 417 years, seat of 33 kings, Ayutthaya has been described as one of the greatest cities on water ever, with a canal network that measured more than 85 miles (140 kilometers). Built on the flood plain of central Thailand at the confluence of three rivers, it was inundated annually, but its citizens lived in stilt-raised houses and used boats for transport.

Thailand Floods 2011

Water also defended Ayutthaya, which once held as many as 1 million residents, until a brutal sacking by the Burmese in 1767 forced relocation of the capital to Bangkok, 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the south – where the same floodwaters that inundated Ayutthaya are now nearing the inner city.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

India and Pakistan PMs pledge 'new chapter'

Let's hope this continues

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Pakistan's prime minister and his Indian counterpart have met in the Maldives, pledging to open a "new chapter" between the two nations.

Yusuf Raza Gilani (L) and Manmohan Singh in the Maldives, 10 Nov
Mr Singh (R) said the next round of talks should be "far more productive"

Talks between the two nations were suspended after the 2008 Mumbai (Bombay) attacks which India blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

But earlier this year, leaders vowed to resume their dialogue and find ways to build trust and promote peace.

The two prime ministers held an almost hour-long meeting on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (Saarc) meeting in the Maldives, which is being attended by eight heads of government.

"The next round of talks will be more positive, more constructive and will open a new chapter in the history of both countries," Mr Gilani told reporters.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Op-Ed: Iran and Nuclear Weapons

Iran and Nuclear Weapons

The Tuesday release of the IAEA report comes close to removing all doubt about Iran's nuclear program. More sanctions appear on the way. But will this solve the problem in the long run?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

U.N. Finds Signs of Work by Iran Toward Nuclear Device

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United Nations weapons inspectors released a trove of new evidence on Tuesday that they say makes a “credible” case that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device” and that the project may still be under way.

The long-awaited report relies on evidence of far greater scope and depth than any the International Atomic Energy Agency has made public before, and represents the harshest judgment the agency has ever issued in its decade-long struggle to pierce the secrecy surrounding the Iranian program. The findings have already rekindled a debate among the Western allies and Israel about whether increased diplomatic pressure, sanctions, sabotage or military action could stop Iran’s program.

Those tests “are strong indicators of possible weapon development,” it said.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Most powerful, most vulnerable, fear to initiate escalation.

I would add the special susceptibility to asymmetry

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If cyberwar is such a threat, why is the Pentagon doing so little to prepare for it?

Last month, while reviewing his
a few days before retirement, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike
Mullen discussed what he sees are the two "existential" threats facing the
United States. After nuclear weapons, Mullen listed cyberattacks, which, he
said, "actually can bring us to our knees."

But a more important argument against a cyberattack was the
desire to avoid setting a precedent that other adversaries could later exploit
against the United States. Similarly, the U.S. government considered
Osama bin Laden's bank accounts but refrained because officials
feared that such an attack could cause investors to lose faith in the
safeguards underpinning the global financial system. The common theme is that the
United States, including its military forces, is among the heaviest users of
computer networks and thus has the strongest incentive to avoid escalating
combat in this domain.


The Man Who Knew Too Much

Dark times

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Libyans may be celebrating the killing of
Muammar al-Qaddafi, but you'd better believe that Western governments are
breathing a sigh of relief themselves.

Whether the NATO countries -- who had only a few
years ago welcomed Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi back into the international fold in
exchange for his renouncing his chemical and nuclear weapons programs and
allowing U.S. and British experts to come and help dismantle them -- played any
role in what certainly appeared in first reports from the scene to have been
the summary execution of the Libyan dictator will probably never be known. What
the video evidence does prove is that the Libyan revolutionary forces did not
find him already dead or killed by a NATO airstrike; nor does the initial claim
that he was killed in "crossfire" between insurgent forces and diehard regime
loyalists stand up to even the most minimal scrutiny.

NATO does acknowledge that its planes bombarded
the convoy in which Qaddafi was fleeing the city of Sirte shortly before it was
intercepted on the ground by the insurgents, but it has denied it even knew he
was there. If that is true, and the French, British, and Americans did not try
to make their own luck, then they certainly were very lucky indeed.

Qaddafi was, quite simply, a man who knew too
much. Taken alive, he would have almost certainly have been handed over to the
International Criminal Court (ICC),
he would almost certainly have
revealed the extent of his intimate relations with French President Nicolas
Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the details of his government's collaboration
with Western intelligence services in counterterrorism, with the European Union
in limiting migration from Libyan shores, and in the granting of major
contracts to big Western oil and construction firms.
He would have had much to tell, for this
cooperation was extensive.
To the contrary, both the British and French governments were
soon falling all over themselves to curry favor with a newly "respectable" Qaddafi.
The Daily Mail reproduced a facsimile
of the letter that, while prime minister, Tony Blair wrote to Saif Qaddafi
to help him with his research for his LSE doctorate.
Sarkozy, to the consternation even
of many members of his own cabinet, invited Qaddafi to Paris in Dec. 2007, for
an official state visit, the upshot of
which was billions of dollars in contracts from Libya won by French firms.
Paris, or London -- links between Libyan intelligence and the CIA were
particularly strong, as an archive of secret documents unearthed
by Human Rights Watch researchers has revealed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

‘We Came, We Saw, He Died’ Hillary Clinton Reacts To Confirmed News Of Gaddafi’s Death

A Hillary Clinton moment of joy

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in the midst of a series of news interviews yesterday when news broke that Muammar Gaddafi had been captured. So press pool cameras were rolling at the very moment that Clinton learned of unconfirmed reports of Gaddafi’s capture, which elicited a stately “wow!” Shortly there after, the same cameras captured the moment she learned that Gaddafi was dead, which had the Secretary of State joyously proclaiming “we came, we saw, he died!”

It’s a candid moment of joy for a senior administration official celebrating

US vows to act unilaterally in Pakistan

The public accusation added to tensions in America’s relationship with Pakistan, which plummeted to a new low this year as Pakistan arrested a C.I.A. contractor and American commandoes killed Osama bin Laden deep inside the country in May.

The Obama administration decided to take a harder line with Pakistan in a meeting at the White House on Sept. 29 in the wake of a 19-hour assault on the American Embassy in Kabul by heavily armed insurgents linked to the Haqqani network.

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton;
the United States would act unilaterally if necessary to attack extremist groups that use the country as a haven to kill Americans.
“This is a time for clarity,” Mrs. Clinton declared in Kabul, Afghanistan,
“No one should be in any way mistaken about allowing this to continue without paying a very big price.”