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2008's Promise. Obama: "I still think the mission to get out of [Iraq] as soon as possible will be accomplished."

Barack Obama and Joe Biden

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President-elect Barack Obama on Monday announced Sen. Hillary Clinton as his pick for secretary of state, calling her an "American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence."

"Hillary's appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances," Obama said at a news conference in Chicago, Illinois. "I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda."

president-elect Barack Obama announced his nomination of Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state

Obama also confirmed that he is keeping Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his current post. Rounding out his Monday announcements, Obama named retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones as his national security adviser, Eric Holder as attorney general, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary and Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations.

"I am confident that this team is what we need to make a new beginning for American national security," Obama said.

Clinton said leaving the Senate would be difficult for her, but said she believes that the best way for her to continue to serve the country is by joining Obama's administration. "Mr. President-elect, I am proud to join you on what will be a difficult and exciting adventure in this new century," she said at the news conference. Video Watch what Clinton says about her new role »  read more »

History sees sharp turn: 1st time since WWII, German troops to station in France; France to withdraw from Germany

German troops to be stationed in France

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German troops to be stationed in France

11.27.2008

German soldiers are set to be deployed on French soil for the first time since the end of World War II in 1945, the two countries decided this week. President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed on the deal during a meeting in Paris earlier this week, government spokesman Thomas Steg told a press conference on Wednesday in Berlin.

The two countries share a joint army brigade of some 5,000 soldiers - 2,800 of which are German. Until now, they have been stationed only in south west Germany. "Germany has agreed in principle to transfer members of the Franco-German Brigade to France, that includes German troops," Steg said, calling the move "highly symbolic and historically significant".

A handful of German officers are already based in Strasbourg, east France, directly engaged with the NATO mission Eurocorps. However, no German military unit has been stationed in the country since the end of hostilities in World War II.

French President Jacques Chirac kisses the hand of German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon his arrival at the Chancellery May 3, 2007 in Berlin, Germany  read more »

Piracy renewed: almost 40 ships seized by Somali pirates & more than $150m(£101m) in ransoms paid so far this year

three British security guards board a helicopter to be transferred to a Royal Navy vessel

Troubled waters & age-old problem renewed: pirates inspired by Johnny Depp’s antics or by oil - the new treasure?

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Three escape pirate-hijacked tanker

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Three British guards jumped overboard and were rescued from the water after battling in vain to prevent pirates hijacking a chemical tanker off the coast of Somalia. The Liberian-flagged Biscaglia came under "sustained and heavy attack" early Friday morning, Nick Davis, Director of Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions (APMSS), said in a statement. The three APMSS-employed security guards -- all former British servicemen -- mounted "sustained non-lethal resistance" but were unable to stop the attackers seizing control of the ship, Davis said.

The trio were airlifted to safety by a German naval helicopter and flown to a French frigate after the vessel summoned assistance from coalition warships. They were later transferred to a British Royal Navy ship. All three were unhurt, Davis said. "I have spoken with my team leader on the phone and he informs me that the level of violence was significant and forced them reluctantly to leave the vessel after every effort was made to ensure the safety of the ships crew," Davis said. Pirates continued to shoot at the three in the water, Davis said. "The hijacked vessel with pirates in control then attempted to run them down."  read more »

Troop increases in Afghanistan; soldiers doubt sense of mission: “Politicians need to clarify it more clearly”

soldiers suffer doubts about the sense of their mission in Afghanistan

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German military troops are suffer from a lack of support from their countrymen, the new Protestant bishop for the Bundeswehr said on Tuesday, and soldiers suffer doubts about the sense of their mission there, Dutzmann said. “In Afghanistan the soldiers notice how painstaking the civil reconstruction is. Politicians need to clarify the sense of the mission more clearly,” he said. Chaplains serving the soldiers there are answering more questions about the sense of life from these troops who face life-threatening situations each day, he said.

US Army deserter seeks asylum in Germany

US Army deserter André Lawrence Shepherd has applied for asylum in Germany, his lawyer told reporters on Thursday. Shepherd said he did not want to participate in a war that violates international law. He said he had submitted his asylum request on Wednesday, although the Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees told the DPA news agency it did not have a record of such a document.

Shepherd, 31, has previously served in Iraq where he repaired and maintained Apache helicopters. "I believe that the helicopters are responsible for a substantial number of civilian deaths," he told reporters in Frankfurt. "I am ashamed that I was a part of these horrible acts." Shepherd has appealed to both the Geneva Refugee Convention and EU guidelines that provide protection from persecution for deserters if the military services in question are seen as having violated international law.  read more »

Oldest WWI survivors join commemorations on Remembrance Day, pay tribute to fallen millions in 1st, 2nd World Wars

World War I Veterans Bill Stone, 108, Harry Patch, 110, and Henry Allingham, 112

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This year’s Armistice Day anniversary, com- memorating the millions of lives lost in the so-called War to End All Wars, comes 90 years after the guns fell silent in 1918. Anyone who was a part of it would have to be at least 108 by now. Astonishingly, there are still three men who fit the bill, three survivors who were in uniform 90 years ago as the First World War drew to a close. Yesterday, this trio marked Remembrance Sunday to the best of their abilities.

The Queen lays her wreath on Remembrance Day

The men - all well into their 100s - will attend a service at the Cenotaph in central London. Harry Patch, 110, a veteran of the horrors of Passchendaele, is the only survivor of the trenches. He ignored the rain and attended a parade at Wells, near his Somerset home. Allingham, Britain's oldest man at the age of 112, was an aircraft mechanic who saw action at sea, in the Battle of Jutland, and ashore on the Western Front. Bill Stone, a young pup of 108, ended up fighting two World Wars for the Royal Navy. Today, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, all three men will be on parade in London at the Cenotaph to mark the exact moment when the guns fell silent. Of the five million men and women who served in Britain's armed forces in the war, only four are still alive. The other surviving veteran, Claude Choules, 107, lives in Australia and will mark the 90th anniversary at local events there.  read more »

Aircraft & spacecraft once swiftest or slowest, graceful or ungainly, at standstill as if plucked from sky: Air and Space Museum

a Boeing 307 Clipper, the first pressurized passenger liner, with a tail section adapted from the B-17 Flying Fortress, seen at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va

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The first thing visitors encounter in the main display area of the Udvar-Hazy Center, the National Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles airport in the Virginia countryside, is a huge black spy plane. It’s an SR-71A Blackbird, the ultimate hot-rod aircraft, one of about 30 built at the Lockheed Skunk Works in California in the 1960s. This one last flew in 1990, traveling the 2,300 miles between Los Angeles and Washington in 1 hour 4 minutes 20 seconds - a transcontinental blur.

But now it’s at a standstill, giving visitors the chance to appreciate its outrageousness. There are the two massive engines on short, stubby wings; the tiny cockpit where the two-man crew was shoehorned in wearing bulky pressure suits; and the sweeping titanium fuselage that was built so loosely, to allow for expansion in the heat of supersonic flight, that the fuel tanks that made up the bulk of the plane routinely leaked, losing as much as 600 pounds of fuel taxiing to the runway.

SR-71A Blackbird, the ultimate hot-rod aircraft  read more »

Homeless: lost penguins stranded on Brazilian beaches get lift home from air force

Brazilian coast guard officer rescues a penguin in Cabo Frio, about 90 miles from Rio

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In between the bronzed bodies in skimpy thongs soaking up the rays on Copacabana beach, a tiny black and white bundle of feathers struggles to emerge from the surf. Exhausted and emaciated, its bones poking through the blubber, the young penguin finally collapses on the sand. It has strayed thousands of miles from home, one of more than 1,000 penguins to have washed up on the Brazilian coast this year, some of which have died along the way.

They have come ashore further north than ever before, with some making landfall just 400 miles from the Equator. Brazilian coastguards have found themselves acting as penguin first-aiders, protecting them from an over-enthusiastic public whose first instinct is often to stick the birds in an ice bucket. Hundreds of penguins have been returned to their native territory in the south Atlantic ocean by an air force plane after being found along Brazil's coast.

two of the more than 1,000 penguins that have washed ashore. Many have died  read more »

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