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P.J. Crowley resigns over Manning remark

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© Associated Press photoCrowley’s public criticism angered some at the Pentagon and across the administration.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley has resigned after publicly crossing swords with the Pentagon over the treatment of an Army soldier accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military reports and sensitive diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

The chain of events that led to Crowley's exit was set in motion Thursday when Crowley appeared at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology seminar and called the Pentagon's handling of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is detained at the brig at Quantico, "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."

Crowley's public criticism angered some at the Pentagon and others across the administration because it put him directly at odds with Defense Department officials who have spent weeks trying to defend Manning's treatment. The soldier is being detained under near-constant lockdown, and he filed a formal complaint about being forced to strip each night at bedtime.

The State spokesman's predicament may have worsened further Friday afternoon, when ABC's Jake Tapper asked Obama during a White House press conference whether he agreed with Crowley.

"With respect to Private Manning, I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are," Obama said. "I can't go into details about some of their concerns, but some of this has to do with Private Manning's safety as well."

Bad Guys

Ukrainian police search for Palestinian allegedly kidnapped by Mossad

Ukrainian police said Friday that they are investigating the whereabouts of a Palestinian engineer reportedly kidnapped by Israeli secret agents several weeks ago.

Dirar Abu Sisi, 42, 'disappeared under unknown circumstances' on February 18 while riding a passenger train from the eastern city of Kharkiv to the capital Kiev, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

His Ukrainian wife, Veronika Abu Sisi, told the German Press Agency dpa that he later telephoned her and said he was being held in a secret Israeli prison.

'Dirar said Israeli secret agents had grabbed him and snuck him out of Ukraine,' she said. 'He has done nothing, and I am absolutely shocked.'

Bad Guys

Pakistan: Ex-ISI official alleges CIA, RAW, Mossad behind Baloch insurgency

The insurgents in Balochistan are Indians operating in connivance with US security firm Blackwater, former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Punjab chief Brigadier (retired) Mohammad Aslam Ghuman has alleged.

"Pervez Musharraf provided safe passage to the Indian intelligence agency RAW, which has established dozens of consulates in Afghanistan along the border with Balochistan," The Nation quoted Ghuman, as saying.

He claimed that days after the Russian federation collapsed, US' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Israel's Mossad carried out a comprehensive analysis and recommended launching a major operation inside Pakistan, especially Balochistan, to shake the state.

Propaganda

US: Clinton admits no 'real news' in US media

Hillary Clinton
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admits that American media outlets do not offer real news despite being the "most technologically advanced."

Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, Clinton said Washington is losing the "information war" in the world. She cited the quality of news channels like the Doha-based Al-Jazeera as one of the reasons justifying her opinion, The Huffington Post reported on Thursday.

"We're the most technologically advanced country in the world, so slowly but surely we've been trying to take back the airwaves in Afghanistan against Taliban with the most primitive kind of communication equipment. Now, take that as one example where I don't think we were very competitive, and we have worked like crazy to change that, and then go to the most extreme where you've got a global, a set of global networks, that al-Jazeera has been the leader in, that are literally changing people's minds and attitudes," she said.

Clinton also compared Al-Jazeera with US media outlets, and pointed out that the network is becoming increasingly popular in the United States because it disseminates "real news."

Rocket

US drone strikes kills 5 in Pakistan

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Terrorists in the skies: Over 1,100 Pakistanis were killed in unauthorized US drone attacks last year.
A non-UN sanctioned US drone attack has killed at least five people and wounded several others in Pakistan's northwest tribal area of South Waziristan, intelligence officials in the region say.

The five were killed on Sunday morning when a US drone aircraft fired two missiles at a vehicle in Azam Warsik, a militant hotbed on the Afghan border, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Meanwhile, locals said US predator drones were still hovering over the South and North Waziristan tribal regions.

The attack comes two days after two US drone attacks killed at least six people and wounded several others in North Waziristan Province near the border with Afghanistan.

The US frequently carries out such attacks on Pakistan's tribal areas. Attacks by unmanned American planes have left dozens of people dead in the volatile region over the past weeks.

Nearly 1,200 people were killed in 124 unauthorized US drone attacks in Pakistan in 2010.

Star of David

Israel to build more settlements in West Bank

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Tel Aviv has moved to approve a plan to construct hundreds more illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.

"The ministerial committee responsible for settlements had decided to build several hundred units at Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim, Ariel and Kyriat Sefer" in the West Back, announced the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a Sunday statement, AFP reported.

The move would further complicate the stalled talks between Israeli and the Palestinian Authority officials.

Early this month, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics said that the illegal settlement construction in the occupied West bank has climbed sharply in the past five months.

The data, released by the bureau on Saturday, indicates that the Israeli regime started over 114 settlement units during the 10-month construction freeze Tel Aviv announced in November 2009.

The 114 units, the construction of which began during the so-called freeze have now been completed, as well as over 1,175 other units that started constructing before the partial moratorium, which excluded al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Arrow Down

France: Sarkozy's popularity hits record low

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© Hughes Léglise-BatailleFrench teenagers tell a poster of Sarkozy what they think of him
A fresh opinion poll shows that more than seven out of ten people in France are unhappy with President Nicolas Sarkozy's performance.

The survey carried out by the French Institute of Public Opinion showed only 29 percent of the poll respondents approved Sarkozy's actions, Reuters reported on Saturday.

This is his worst approval rating since he took office in 2007. Sixty nine percent of the respondents said they disapproved his policies.

However, the drop in Sarkozy's popularity is not a reason for the opposition to celebrate. Only 39 percent of the poll respondents thought that the opposition would have done a better job if it was in power.

The unemployment rate in France among youth aged 15 to 24 years reached 25 percent in the third quarter of 2010, well above the European average of 20 percent.

Top Secret

US: Ronald Reagan Shooting Tape Released After 30 Years

Ronald Reagan and his bodyguards did not realise he had been shot during his assassination attempt, according to a new audiotape, released 30 years after the incident.


The audio, from March, 1981, details the chaotic immediate aftermath of the shooting, when one of his bodyguards reassures others that "Rawhide is okay".

It was only after more minute that Special Agent Jerry Parr's initial message that another announced: "We want to go to the emergency room of George Washington."

When "Rawhide" - Reagan's code name - arrived at the hospital minutes later, doctors discovered that he had a bullet lodged in his lung, which had ricocheted off his car. He lost half his blood and required emergency surgery.

Neither the president nor his agents realised that he had been shot, and it appears that an agent's snap decision to take him to a hospital when he noticed that the US president was bleeding from the mouth, might have saved his life.

Mr Parr is heard shouting "let's hustle" as Mr Reagan's limousine suddenly changed course.

Wine

US: Obama to a Party With Washington Reporters

President Barack Obama will speak at the 126th annual Gridiron Club dinner in Washington on Saturday evening.

The white-tie event is an opportunity for journalists to poke fun at public figures and political themes of the day. .

Eagle

US: Just Warm Enough for Golf, Obama Back on the Course

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© Brian Snyder/ReutersUS President Barack Obama watches his tee shot while golfing at Mink Meadows golf course
President Obama just could not wait for spring weather to arrive.

For the second week in a row, the most powerful man in the world stepped away from the White House to hit the golf course.

Even as his administration and the U.S. military help Japan recover from a devastating earthquake, and as the world worries about Fukushima's nuclear reactor, the president could not resist taking advantage of the 48-degree weather in the Washington, D.C., area.

The president left the White House Saturday afternoon for a short trip to Joint Andrews Base in Camp Springs, Md.