Israel’s attack on Gaza is, in effect, an attack on Iran’s empire, the first since its offensive on Iranian-backed Hezbollah in 2006. That attack failed for a number of reasons, not least of which was Israel’s poor intelligence on Hezbollah: historically, its intelligence on the Palestinians has been much better. Moreover, this attack seems more deliberately planned, with narrower, publicly stated aims – all in all, a more professional job. But there is a fundamental problem with what Israel is doing that goes to the heart of the postmodern beast that the Iranian empire represents.

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The higher speed of the Sun means the galaxy must have more mass — about 50 percent more — so as to generate a stronger gravitational pull to keep hold of the Sun, as well as all its other stars. That expands the Milky Way to roughly the heft of Andromeda.

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Madoff has caused losses basically equal to all the losses caused by all the conventional thieves in America for nearly three full years.

Media accounts immediately labeled the disappearance of $50 billion, masterminded by Bernard Madoff, as the largest fraud in history. It is a greater wealth loss than having one of many household-name companies — such as Walt Disney, 3M or Boeing — vanish without a trace.

The loss is mind-boggling. But the figure does nothing to convey the damage this alleged Ponzi scheme has done.

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So far, the Treasury Department has injected more than $250 billion into the U.S. financial sector. But precious little has come back out in the form of loans that were supposed to help get the economy going again.

In the meantime, banks have been anything but shy about using billions of dollars for other purposes, many of which seem to have little to do with getting the U.S. economy rolling. Top bailout recipients have spent billions on everything from purchases of foreign companies to extravagant spa retreats and from exorbitant golden parachutes and executive pay packages to CEO use of corporate jets for private trips.

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Two Democratic officials say President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former Clinton White House chief of staff Leon Panetta to run the CIA. Panetta was a surprise pick for the post, with no experience in the intelligence world. An Obama transition official and another Democrat disclosed his nomination on a condition of anonymity since it was not yet public.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Authorities say an elderly Port St. Lucie woman was so neglected by her son that her never-removed shoes had grown into her feet.

Investigators were called to an area hospital on Saturday after paramedics found 90-year-old Anna Chuboff emaciated and wearing clothes “soaked in urine.” She had been injured in a fall at her home.

Her son, 68-year-old Robert Rozenti, was arrested and charged with neglect of an elderly person. It wasn’t immediately known whether he had an attorney.

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Gertrude Baines told CNN two years ago that she has taken good care of herself, "the way (God) wanted me to."

Gertrude Baines, a 114-year-old California resident, will likely be crowned the world’s oldest woman, according to the organization that keeps track of such honors.

Gertrude Baines told CNN two years ago that she has taken good care of herself, “the way (God) wanted me to.”

The previous oldest woman was Maria de Jesus, who died this week in Portugal at age 115, Guinness World Records said.

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TOKYO (Reuters Life!) – Clad in suits, thousands of employees and executives flooded a Tokyo shrine dedicated to commerce on Monday, praying to the god to keep their businesses afloat in a new year with a grim economic outlook.


Businessmen and women waited patiently in the cold on the first working day of 2009 to approach the altar of the Kanda Myojin shrine, established some 1,300 years ago and dedicated to commerce god Ebisu-Sama. “Last year was a really tough year for real estate, and many companies have disappeared. But we’re determined to survive,” said Toshikatsu Takehara, a 34-year-old real estate sales manager who was praying at the shrine.

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AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters Life!) – The thought-provoking literary works of Mahatma Gandhi, India’s iconic freedom fighter, are set to go public after the copyright on his writings and speeches lapses this month.

Anyone will now be able to publish the writings and speeches of the legendary leader, often referred to as the Father of the Nation, since the copyright on these works expires 60 years after his death.

Gandhi, who pioneered the philosophy of non-violent resistance to the British occupation of India, was assassinated on January 30, 1948 in New Delhi by a Hindu radical.

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RICHMOND | Some legislators want Virginia to join the growing chorus of states that have defied the federal government by refusing to participate in a national identification program billed as a way to fight terrorism and identity theft.

Two pieces of legislation for consideration when lawmakers return to Richmond on Jan. 14 call for Virginia to ignore the federal mandate to come into compliance with the Real ID Act by the end of 2009.

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