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December 26, 2003

Patriot Act II already signed into law
sacurrent.com | Submitted by: wingnut
"On December 13, when U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein, President George W. Bush not only celebrated with his national security team, but also pulled out his pen and signed into law a bill that grants the FBI sweeping new powers... Consequently, while most Americans watched as Hussein was probed for head lice, few were aware that the FBI had just obtained the power to probe their financial records, even if the feds don't suspect their involvement in crime or terrorism. The Bush Administration and its Congressional allies tucked away these new executive powers in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, a legislative behemoth that funds all the intelligence activities of the federal government. The Act included a simple, yet insidious, redefinition of 'financial institution,' which previously referred to banks, but now includes stockbrokers, car dealerships, casinos, credit card companies, insurance agencies, jewelers, airlines, the U.S. Post Office, and any other business 'whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory matters.'" [And of course none of this would have caught the 9-11 hijackers.]

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Buddhist monk self-immolates in North Carolina
News 14 Charlotte | Submitted by: Paul
"A Vietnamese-born Buddhist monk who set himself on fire outside a pagoda in Charlotte sacrificed himself to call for an end to religious repression in his native country, a Paris-based Buddhist support organization said Friday. Thich Chan Hy, 74, set himself on fire at 5 a.m. Wednesday at an altar outside the Lien Hoa Pagoda in Charlotte. He did not disclose his plan to anyone and left a note explaining his act as a plea that: 'All Vietnamese may enjoy freedom of religion and belief. I wish that all Vietnamese will be entitled to human rights and democracy.'"

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Mad Cow investigation pooched from the get-go
Washington Post | Submitted by: Reid Fleming
"Cattle in other states may have eaten the same contaminated feed that infected a Washington state Holstein with mad cow disease, but investigators who want to track the infection to its source are being confounded by the lack of an organized system that would lead them to the herd where the cow was born, officials said yesterday. The lack of a reliable tracking system, and a complex trail of clues, rumors and false leads, means it could be days or months - or never - before all the links are fully explored, officials said... Investigators want to track down who supplied the birth herd with infected feed four or five years ago to deduce whether contaminated feed was also sent to other farms. There are gargantuan challenges in figuring out which other animals ate such infected feed, where they may be now - and whether they might already be in the domestic and international food supply."

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Michael Jackson still oblivious
CNN | Submitted by: Carneby Liggle
"Jackson, 45, is charged with seven counts of performing lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent. He remains free on $3 million bail. Asked by Bradley if it was still OK to sleep with children given the charges against him, Jackson answered, 'Of course... If you're going to be a pedophile, if you're going to be Jack the Ripper, if you're going to be a murderer, it's not a good idea. That I am not.'"

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Swede arrested for allegedly baking baby
Sydney Morning Herald | Submitted by: wingnut
"Police have arrested a mother for allegedly baking her five-month-old baby in an oven, seriously burning the infant, media and officials said today. The child received second-degree burns all over his body during the incident last weekend, and was in stable condition in a Gothenburg hospital, a clinic spokeswoman said."

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Woman killed by forcible Russian roulette
Newsday | Submitted by: Rich
"Stephanie Jenkins wanted to play with her son on Christmas Eve, not with a gun. But Allan Murphy, her boyfriend and father of her unborn child, insisted that she join in a game of Russian Roulette, law enforcement sources said. They said Jenkins, 23, of Harlem, died in Murphy's Brooklyn apartment after he yanked a .38-caliber revolver from her hand, put the gun to her head and pulled the trigger."

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Howard Dean not quite ready to string up Osama
Fox News | Submitted by: Keldon
"Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean says it's premature to recommend what penalty Usama bin Laden should face before he's been legally determined to be guilty of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Asked whether bin Laden should be tried in the United States and put to death, Dean told The Concord Monitor, 'I still have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Usama, who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to prejudge jury trials.'"

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Pentagon not thrilled with DIY vehicle armor
Washington Post | Submitted by: lemmiwinks
"Members of the U.S. Army Reserve's 428th Transportation Company turned to a local steel fabricator to fashion extra armor for their five-ton trucks and Humvees before beginning their journey to Iraq earlier this month. But their armor might not make it into the war, because the soldiers did not obtain Pentagon approval for their homemade protection... The 72 vehicles operated by the 428th are not designed for battle. They have thin metal floorboards and, in some cases, a canvas covering for doors."

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