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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Photostream : Afghan

Afghan soldiers look at a dog during an operation in Marjah, ...

Afghan soldiers look at a dog during an operation in Marjah, Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death.

U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Nathaniel Dabney, of Prescott, Ariz.,   ...

U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Nathaniel Dabney, of Prescott, Ariz., right, looks out the window as he transports an Afghan civilian boy with a gun shot wound aboard a U.S. Army Task Force Pegasus helicopter during a medevac mission, in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday Feb. 21, 2010, with the boy’s father is pictured at left. Pegasus crews have come under fire nearly every mission while on evacuating those wounded as U.S. and Afghan troops take part in the assault in the Taliban-held town of Marjah.

U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Nathaniel Dabney, of Prescott, Ariz.,   ...

U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Nathaniel Dabney, of Prescott, Ariz., comforts an Afghan civilian boy with a gun shot wound just after take off on a U.S. Army Task Force Pegasus helicopter, with father of boy looking on from behind, during a medevac mission, in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday Feb. 21, 2010. Pegasus crews have come under fire nearly every mission while evacuating those wounded as U.S. and Afghan troops take part in the assault in the Taliban-held town of Marjah. No names given and reason for gun shot wound unknown.

U.S. Marines carry an Afghan civilian boy with a gun shot wound   ...

U.S. Marines carry an Afghan civilian boy with a gun shot wound to a U.S. Army Task Force Pegasus helicopter during a medevac mission, in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday Feb. 21, 2010. Pegasus crews have come under fire daily while on missions evacuating those wounded as U.S. and Afghan troops take part in the assault in the Taliban-held town of Marjah.

Father Carl Subler, U.S. Cpt. Chaplain from Versailles, Ohio ...

Father Carl Subler, U.S. Cpt. Chaplain from Versailles, Ohio blesses a rosary of U.S. Army Sgt. Paul Bliss from Willits, CA of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, at the end of a mass service in an outpost in the Badula Qulp area, West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010.

U.S. Cpt. Chaplain father Carl Subler, from Versailles, Ohio ...

U.S. Cpt. Chaplain father Carl Subler, from Versailles, Ohio blesses U.S. soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, at the end of a mass service in an outpost in the Badula Qulp area, West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010.

U.S. Army Capt. Michael Kovalsky of Fords, N.J. , 26, of the ...

U.S. Army Capt. Michael Kovalsky of Fords, N.J. , 26, of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment of the 5th Stryker Brigade reads the Gospels as father Carl Subler, U.S. Cpt. Chaplain from Versailles, Ohio celebrates a mass service in an outpost in the Badula Qulp area, West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010.

U.S. soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, ...

U.S. soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, sit as father Carl Subler, U.S. Cpt. Chaplain from Versailles, Ohio celebrates a mass service in an outpost in the Badula Qulp area, West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010.

U.S. soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, ...

U.S. soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, pray as father Carl Subler, U.S. Cpt. Chaplain from Versailles, Ohio celebrates a mass service in an outpost in the Badula Qulp area, West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010.

U.S. soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, ...

U.S. soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, kneel as father Carl Subler, U.S. Cpt. Chaplain from Versailles, Ohio celebrates a mass service in an outpost in the Badula Qulp area, West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010.

U.S. soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, ...

U.S. soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, kneel as father Carl Subler, U.S. Cpt. Chaplain from Versailles, Ohio celebrates a mass service in an outpost in the Badula Qulp area, West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010.

Afghans walks in front of U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of ...

Afghans walks in front of U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines during an operation in Marjah, Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death.

An Afghan girl looks at U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the  ...

An Afghan girl looks at U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines during an operation in Marjah, Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death.

Afghans walks behind U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the ...

Afghans walks behind U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines during an operation in Marjah, Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death.

A Danish Leopard tank loader sits on his tank as he guards US ...

A Danish Leopard tank loader sits on his tank as he guards US army soldiers with Thorn Task Force, marines with 1/3 Charlie Company and British army soldiers with A Squadron, Household Cavalry Regiment as they clear IEDs from a main route in Trikh Nawar. Afghan police prepared on Sunday to take control of a town at the centre of a massive US-led offensive.

US army soldiers with Thorn Task Force and marines with 1/3 ...

US army soldiers with Thorn Task Force and marines with 1/3 Charlie Company clear Improvised Explosive Devices (IED)s with British army soldiers with A Squadron, Household Cavalry Regiment and a Danish Leopard Tank platoon in Trikh Nawar on the North Eastern outskirts of Marjah. Afghan police prepared on Sunday to take control of a town at the centre of a massive US-led offensive.

Afghan farmers sit next to Danish army Leopard tanks in Trikh ...

Afghan farmers sit next to Danish army Leopard tanks in Trikh Nawar on the North Eastern outskirts of Marjah. Afghan police prepared on Sunday to take control of a town at the centre of a massive US-led offensive, as US general David Petraeus said “tough fighting” continued.

A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines  ...

A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines walks during an operation in Marjah, Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death.

U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines  ...
U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines walk during an operation in Marjah, Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death.
A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines  ...

A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines gestures during an operation in Marjah, Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death.

A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines  ...

A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines provides medical help to a woman wounded last week during fighting in Marjah, Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death.

A U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th ...

A U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines runs for cover during a heavy gun battle in Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death.

U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines  ...

U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines run for cover through a canal during a heavy gun battle in Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death.

A U.S. Marine takes runs through a field after igniting a smoke  ...

A U.S. Marine takes runs through a field after igniting a smoke grenade to mark a landing zone for a U.S. Army Task Force Pegasus helicopter during a medevac mission, in Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Sunday Feb. 21, 2010. Pegasus crews have come under fire nearly every mission in Marjah while evacuating the wounded, as U.S. and Afghan troops take part in an assault on the Taliban stronghold.

U.S. Sgt. U.S. Ryan Mack, 25, from Defiance, Ohio, spotter at ...

U.S. Sgt. U.S. Ryan Mack, 25, from Defiance, Ohio, spotter at left, talks at the radio as Spc. Thomas Leuthold, 20, from Hills, Minn. sniper takes aim, as all of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, faces Taliban insurgents during a firefight in the Badula Qulp area, West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010.

From left, U.S. Army Sgt. Erik Grafford, 22, from Missoula, ...

From left, U.S. Army Sgt. Erik Grafford, 22, from Missoula, Mont., sniper, Sgt. U.S. Ryan Mack, 25, from Defiance, Ohio, spotter and Spc. Thomas Leuthold, 20, from Hills, Minn. all of the the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, aim their guns toward Taliban insurgents during a firefight in the Badula Qulp area, West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010.

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Photo : President Clinton In Haiti

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON : I met this young boy while I was touring a Haitian hospital last July. President Préval and I had been working together and were checking in on a number of projects, and this beautiful little guy was just one of the many children receiving medical attention because of partnerships between international donors and Haitians.

Just a few weeks ago, we were on a good path in Haiti. The Government and people there were building a stable and promising future for children like this boy — children who one day will support families of their own.

This is what keeps me going. Decades ago, I made a commitment to the people of Haiti, because I believed in their potential to rise above their long history of neglect. I still believe in that, and I will not give up on them. They’re the reason I was in Haiti before the quake, and they’re the reason I’m here now, helping them stand on their feet again.

Photostream : New View of 9/11 Attacks Photos

In this Sept. 11, 2001, photo made by the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, smoke and ash rise above downtown high-rise buildings and engulf lower Manhattan after terrorists flew two airliners into the World Trade Center towers. The new views of the terrorist attacks – one of the most recorded events of all time – add to the hundreds of hours of amateur videos, images and stories gathered by the foundation building the memorial at ground zero.

In this Sept. 11, 2001, photo made by the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, a World Trade Center tower implodes in New York, after terrorists flew two airliners into the towers. Many of the photos, taken from police helicopters, have never been released before.

In this Sept. 11, 2001 photo made by the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, smoke billows from the grounds of World Trade Center in New York after terrorists flew two airliners into the towers

In this Sept. 11, 2001, photo made by the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, smoke billows from the grounds of World Trade Center in New York after terrorists flew two airliners into the towers.

In this Sept. 11, 2001, photo made the the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, the upper floors of the World Trade Center tower burns after terrorists flew an airliner into it.

In this Sept. 11, 2001, photo made by the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, smoke and ash rise as a World Trade Center tower burns at left center, after terrorists flew two airliners into the World Trade Center towers.

In this Sept. 11, 2001, photo made by the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, smoke billows from the grounds of World Trade Center in New York after terrorists flew two airliners into the towers.

In this Sept. 11, 2001 photo made by the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News Tuesday Feb. 9, 2010, shows a close-up of the upper floors of a World Trade Center tower in New York, after terrorists flew two airliners into the towers

In this Sept. 11, 2001 photo made by the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, smoke billows from the grounds of World Trade Center in New York after terrorists flew two airliners into the towers.

In this Sept. 11, 2001, photo made by the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News on Tuesday Feb. 9, 2010, smoke and ash engulf lower Manhattan after terrorists flew two airliners into the World trade Center towers. The photos were obtained by ABC News, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Institute of Standards and Technology last year. The NIST collected the images as part of its investigation into the terrorist attack.

GEN Odierno speaks about the future of Iraq at the Institute for the Study of War

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(KATAKAMI / FACEBOOK) Recently while in Washington DC, I was able to participate in a discussion with Dr. Kim Kagan, of the Institute for the Study of War, and members of the media concerning the future of Iraq.

We have a relationship with the Government of Iraq that gives us an important opportunity to develop a democratic Iraq that enjoys a long term partnership with the United States. I believe it’s critical that we take advantage of this opportunity because it’s hard to know if we will ever have this kind of chance again. We all want success and victory in Iraq, but as I stated during this talk we may not know until three to five to 10 years from now if we’ve been successful. But I do believe we are moving in the right direction.

We have been through so much with our Iraqi partners and I think many things have gone better than expected. The implementation of the Security Agreement in early 2009 has been a success. We’ve turned over the responsibility for the entire security file to the Government of Iraq, we’ve reduced our forces in Iraq and the Iraqis have been able to sustain, and in fact continue to improve, security over 2009. Additionally, we’ve seen incredible development of the Iraqi government. It’s nowhere near as mature a government that we see in some other Western cultures for democracies, but they certainly have made tremendous strides.

I believe these kinds of open discussions with leading thinkers and media here in the US are necessary, and an important way to educate our fellow citizens about our progress and future in Iraq.

GEN Odierno greets GEN Jack Keane (ret.) member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for the Study of War prior to speaking about the future of Iraq. (Photo by SSgt Mark Deanda)
GEN Odierno sits with Dr. Kim Kagan, CEO of the Institute for the Study of War during a discussion about the future of Iraq. (Photo by SSgt Mark Deanda)
GEN Odierno answers a question from the media during a discussion concerning the future of Iraq at an event hosted by the Institute for the Study of War. (Photo by SSgt Mark Deanda)
Members of the media listen as GEN Odierno discusses the future of Iraq with Dr. Kim Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War. (Photo by SSgt Mark Deanda)
GEN Odierno answers a question from the media during a discussion concerning the future of Iraq at an event hosted by the Institute for the Study of War. (Photo by SSgt Mark Deanda)
(MS)

Photostream : Troops in Afghan

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A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, ...
A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, takes aim as he tries to protect an Afghan man and his child after Taliban fighters opened fire in the town of Marjah, in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, February 13, 2010. U.S.-led NATO troops launched a crucial offensive on Saturday against the Taliban’s last big stronghold in Afghanistan’s most violent province and were quickly thrown into a firefight with the militants.

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A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, ...
A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, gestures as he tries to protect an Afghan man and his child after Taliban fighters opened fire in the town of Marjah, in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, February 13, 2010. U.S.-led NATO troops launched a crucial offensive on Saturday against the Taliban’s last big stronghold in Afghanistan’s most violent province and were quickly thrown into a firefight with the militants.

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U.S. Marines from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, ...

U.S. Marines from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, protect an Afghan man and his child after Taliban fighters opened fire in the town of Marjah, in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, February 13, 2010. U.S.-led NATO troops launched a crucial offensive on Saturday against the Taliban’s last big stronghold in Afghanistan’s most violent province and were quickly thrown into a firefight with the militants.

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US Marines take position on a rooftop on the northeast of Marjah.   ...

US Marines take position on a rooftop on the northeast of Marjah. Mines and militant sniper fire slowed progress in a massive US-led assault on a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan, commanders said after hailing early successes.

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A US Marine gears up for a mission in the northeast of Marjah.   ...

A US Marine gears up for a mission in the northeast of Marjah. Mines and militant sniper fire slowed progress in a massive US-led assault on a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan, commanders said after hailing early successes.

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Colonel Matt Beazeley of the 28th Royal Engineer Regiment talks   ...

Colonel Matt Beazeley of the 28th Royal Engineer Regiment talks to a local Afghan farmer in northern Nad Ali February 14, 2010.

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In this photo released by Britain's Ministry of Defense, a member   ...

In this photo released by Britain’s Ministry of Defense, a member of the F Company (Fire Support) 1 Royal Welsh takes a retina image of an Afghan during operation ‘Moshtarak’ Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010, near Marjah, in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. British troops are among the thousands of NATO and Afghan soldiers who stormed the Taliban stronghold of Marjah by air and ground Saturday.

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In this photo released by Britain's Ministry of Defense, members   ...

In this photo released by Britain’s Ministry of Defense, members of the F Company (Fire Support) 1 Royal Welsh take position during operation ‘Moshtarak’ Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010, near Marjah, in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. British troops are among the thousands of NATO and Afghan soldiers who stormed the Taliban stronghold of Marjah by air and ground Saturday.

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In this photo released by Britain's Ministry of Defense, a member   ...

In this photo released by Britain’s Ministry of Defense, a member of the F Company (Fire Support) 1 Royal Welsh takes position during operation ‘Moshtarak’ Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010, near Marjah, in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. British troops are among the thousands of NATO and Afghan soldiers who stormed the Taliban stronghold of Marjah by air and ground Saturday.

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A sniper with US Marines 1/3 Charlie company takes position ...

A sniper with US Marines 1/3 Charlie company takes position on a rooftop on the northeast of Marjah. Thousands of US-led troops backed by helicopters Saturday stormed an Islamist stronghold in southern Afghanistan in NATO’s biggest operation since the Taliban regime’s overthrow in late 2001.

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US Marines with 1/3 Charlie company man a TOW missile launcher   ...

US Marines with 1/3 Charlie company man a TOW missile launcher as smike billows from an unidentified explosion in the northeast of Marjah. Thousands of US-led troops backed by helicopters Saturday stormed an Islamist stronghold in southern Afghanistan in NATO’s biggest operation since the Taliban regime’s overthrow in late 2001.

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Canadian soldiers in Kandahar province in 2008. A Canadian soldier   ...

Canadian soldiers in Kandahar province in 2008. A Canadian soldier was killed and four others were wounded in a training accident in the southern Afghanistan region of Kandahar, the defense ministry said Saturday.

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Thousands of US-led troops backed by helicopters stormed a Taliban   ...
Thousands of US-led troops backed by helicopters stormed a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan on Saturday in the first major test of President Barack Obama’s new surge policy. British and Estonian troops left from Camp Bastion, the main British military base in Afghanistan situated northwest of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province. Images and soundbites
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U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Michael G. Patangan, right, from ...

U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Michael G. Patangan, right, from Houston, Texas, and fellow flight medic Sgt. Bryan Eickelberg, of Arden Hills, Minn., center, hand off to Navy field hospital medics two of three wounded Taliban fighters, who were captured after a firefight in Marjah, according to the Marines on the ground, upon arrival to a forward operating base in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Saturday Feb. 13, 2010. The third captured man, pictured at left, is being frisked by a Marine MP. Aero-medical crews of Task Force Pegasus are positioned throughout southern Afghanistan.

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U.S. Marines point their rifles, scanning for Taliban fighters   ...

U.S. Marines point their rifles, scanning for Taliban fighters as they cover the departure of a U.S. Army Pegasus medevac helicopter which picked up a wounded Marine from their unit, in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Saturday Feb. 13, 2010. U.S. Army Task Force Pegasus aero-medical crews are are supporting U.S. Marines who are taking the Taliban-held town of Marjah in a major offensive to break the extremists’ grip over their southern heartland and re-establish government control.

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Airborne in a Black hawk helicopter on a U.S. Army medevac   misssion, ...

Airborne in a Black hawk helicopter on a U.S. Army medevac misssion, a Marine MP, left, guards a Taliban fighter who is wounded, along with two other seriously wounded Taliban fighters captured after a firefight, according to the Marines on the ground, over Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Saturday Feb. 13, 2010. Aero-medical crews of Task Force Pegasus are positioned throughout southern Afghanistan.

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Injured Taliban fighters receive medical treatment after they ...

Injured Taliban fighters receive medical treatment after they were captured, aboard an a Black hawk helicopter on a medevac mission, with U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Michael G. Patangan, left, from Houston, Texas, and fellow flight medic Sgt. Bryan Eickelberg, of Arden Hills, Minn., as they try to keep alive of two of three wounded Taliban fighters captured after a firefight, according to the Marines on the ground, over Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Saturday Feb. 13, 2010. The third is pictured at left and being guarded by a Marine MP, not pictured. Aero-medical crews of Task Force Pegasus are positioned throughout southern Afghanistan.

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U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Michael G. Patangan, right, from ...

U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Michael G. Patangan, right, from Houston, Texas, with Charlie Company, Task Force Talon, and U.S. Marines, carry one of three wounded Taliban fighters captured after a firefight, according to the Marines on the ground, in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Saturday Feb. 13, 2010. U.S. Army Task Force Pegasus aero-medical crews are supporting U.S. Marines who are taking the Taliban-held town of Marjah in a major offensive to break the extremists’ grip over a wide area of their southern heartland and re-establish government control.

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Airborne in a Black Hawk helicopter, U.S. Army fflight medic ...

Airborne in a Black Hawk helicopter, U.S. Army fflight medic Sgt. Bryan Eickelberg, of Arden Hills, Minn., with Charlie Company, All American Dustoff, flies on the outbound part of a pickup mission over Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Saturday Feb. 13, 2010. U.S. Army Task Force Pegasus aero-medical crews, whose helicopters were attacked with rocket-grenades and machines guns Saturday, are supporting U.S. Marines who are taking the Taliban-held town of Marjah in a major offensive to break the extremists’ grip over a wide area of their southern heartland and re-establish government control.

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U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and Marine   ...

U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and Marine engineers make camp for the night in a room at a gas station after entering the town of Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on Saturday Feb. 13, 2010.

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After jumping off his helicopter at a landing zone marked with   ...

After jumping off his helicopter at a landing zone marked with a smoke grenade, U.S. Army flight medic Staff Sgt. Robert B. Cowdrey, of La Junta, Colo., right, with Charlie Company, All American Dustoff, carries a stretcher to evacuate a U.S. Marine wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack, in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Saturday Feb. 13, 2010. Aero-medical crews, assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Pegasus, are positioned throughout southern Afghanistan.

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U.S. Marines carry a member of their unit, who was wounded minutes   ...

U.S. Marines carry a member of their unit, who was wounded minutes earlier in a rocket-propelled grenade attack, to a U.S. Army Task Force Pegasus Black Hawk medevac helicopter, in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Saturday Feb. 13, 2010. Pegasus aero-medical crews are supporting U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers, who stormed the Taliban stronghold of Marjah on Saturday, as a major offensive began to break the extremists’ grip over a wide area of their southern heartland and re-establish government control.

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US Marines battle Taliban in Marjah on February 12. Thousands ...

US Marines battle Taliban in Marjah on February 12. Thousands of US-led troops backed by helicopters have stormed a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan in the first major test of President Barack Obama’s new surge policy.

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US marines take aim during a battle against the Taliban in Marjah   ...

US marines take aim during a battle against the Taliban in Marjah on February 12. Thousands of US-led troops backed by helicopters stormed a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan in the first major test of President Barack Obama’s new surge policy.

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US marines fight the Taliban in Marjah. Thousands of US-led ...

US marines fight the Taliban in Marjah. Thousands of US-led troops backed by helicopters have stormed a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan in the first major test of President Barack Obama’s new surge policy.

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U.S. Marines from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, ...

U.S. Marines from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, take up position in the town of Marjah, in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, February 13, 2010. U.S.-led NATO troops launched a crucial offensive on Saturday against the Taliban’s last big stronghold in Afghanistan’s most violent province and were quickly thrown into a firefight with the militants.

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U.S. Marines from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, ...

U.S. Marines from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, take a break in the town of Marjah, in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, February 13, 2010. U.S.-led NATO troops launched a crucial offensive on Saturday against the Taliban’s last big stronghold in Afghanistan’s most violent province and were quickly thrown into a firefight with the militants.

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A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, ...

A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, takes aim during a gun battle in the town of Marjah, in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, February 13, 2010. U.S.-led NATO troops launched a crucial offensive on Saturday against the Taliban’s last big stronghold in Afghanistan’s most violent province and were quickly thrown into a firefight with the militants. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines ...

A U.S. Marine from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines gestures during a gun battle in the town of Marjah, in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, February 13, 2010. U.S.-led NATO troops launched a crucial offensive on Saturday against the Taliban’s last big stronghold in Afghanistan’s most violent province and were quickly thrown into a firefight with the militants.

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U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment react as ...

U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment react as an improvised explosive device is found and detonated by Marine engineers as they try to enter the city of Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand province Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010.

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An elderly Afghan man looks out from his home as U.S. Marines ...

An elderly Afghan man looks out from his home as U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment search his area of Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand province Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010.

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U.S. soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, ...

U.S. soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, take a break from duty and pretend to fish in a canal with a cardboard cutout in the Badula Qulp area, west of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010. This unit is operating in support of a U.S. Marine offensive against the Taliban in Marjah area.

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Clinton in VOA Interview: US Focusing Sanctions on Iran's Revolutionary Guard

(KATAKAMI / VOA) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is focusing sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, asserting that the elite unit has become too involved in security, political and economic decisions.

Clinton told VOA Tuesday that Iran is becoming a more belligerent and repressive nation as the Revolutionary Guard increases its influence.

Clinton suggested the power shift from clerical and political leaders to the Revolutionary Guard may stem from Iran’s inner turmoil that resulted from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in June.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki criticized Clinton for saying Monday that Iran has become a “military dictatorship.”  He accused the U.S. of being like a military dictatorship through its actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clinton also warned that Iran may trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East if it obtains an atomic weapon.

In a speech Tuesday at a women’s college in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Clinton said evidence does not support Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is being developed for peaceful purposes only.

President Ahmadinejad responded by saying he does not take Clinton’s comments seriously.

On the Middle East peace process, Clinton said it is imperative to remain optimistic about resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  She said both sides have so much at stake and will eventually realize it is in their best interest to return to the negotiating table.

Clinton spoke at the end of a tour of Persian Gulf states, where she sought to gain support from U.S. allies for tougher sanctions on Iran.

Obama, War Cabinet Meet After Taliban Capture

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(KATAKAMI / FOX NEWS ) President Obama is huddling with members of his war cabinet Wednesday to discuss strategy in Afghanistan after the recent capture of the Taliban’s top military commander.

Obama will meet in the White House Situation Room with top officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and General David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command.

General Stanley McChrystal, the senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Kabul, were to join the meeting via video conference, the White House said.

The meeting comes after Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s second-in-command, was apprehended in Karachi, Pakistan, by a joint CIA-Pakistani operation and officials said he “was talking.”

Baradar is being held in Pakistan by local authorities for the time being, but other options have been somewhat limited by new NATO rules — and by President Obama’s own policies.

Baradar, a close associate of Usama bin Laden, is the most senior Afghan Taliban leader arrested since the beginning of the Afghan war in 2001 following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Baradar’s arrest may also push other insurgent leaders thought to be sheltering in Pakistan toward talks with the Afghan government — a development increasingly seen as key to ending the eight-year war.

Baradar, in his late 40s, was the second in command behind Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar and was said to be in charge of the day-to-day running of the organization’s leadership council, which is believed based in Pakistan. He was a founding member of the Taliban and is the most important figure of the hardline Islamist movement to be arrested in the war.

Baradar, who also functioned as the link between Mullah Omar and field commanders, has been in detention for more than 10 days and was talking to interrogators, two Pakistani intelligence officials said Tuesday. One said several other suspects were also captured in the raid. He said Baradar had provided “useful information” to them and that Pakistan had shared it with their U.S. counterparts. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

The White House declined to confirm Baradar’s capture. Spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters the fight against extremists involves sensitive intelligence matters and he believes it’s best to collect that information without talking about it.

The arrest comes as relentless CIA missile strikes against militant targets in the border tribal region have killed several commanders.

Former members of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and security experts said the arrest would hurt the Taliban but was far from a decisive blow. They said Baradar would likely be quickly replaced and that local commanders had a lot of autonomy from the leaders based in Pakistan.

Nevertheless, the capture is likely to cause short-term disruption, since Baradar was the day-to-day commander of the Taliban and his successor would not have the same prestige.

“It’s a great tactical success that the coalition forces should be pleased with, but by no means is it the beginning of the end,” said Will Hartley, an analyst at Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in London. “This will have a noted effect on the short-term ability of the Taliban to operate the way it was. However, it has proved itself a resilient organization.”

Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said he could neither confirm nor deny that Baradar was captured but said the removal of any senior leader would have “an immediate impact to their operations.’

“But we’ve seen, too, that they then push successors into their place… How long it takes them to sort of reconstitute depends on the situation.”

Afghan analysts in the U.S. said they were closely watching for a stepped-up U.S. effort to capture or kill Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin, the brutal leaders of the Taliban arm that operates in eastern Afghanistan from bases in northwestern Pakistan.

Pakistan helped create the Taliban and supported the militants’ regime in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, when threats from Washington forced Islamabad to disavow the group.

But Pakistan’s spy agencies have long been accused of protecting top Afghan Taliban leaders — many of whom are believed to have fled to Pakistan during the U.S.-led invasion — to use them as tools to counter Indian influence in Afghanistan when the Americans withdraw.

With mounting U.S. casualties in across the border, American officials have pressured Pakistan to target the group’s leaders. Security forces here have largely resisted doing so, even while attacking Pakistani Taliban groups blamed for scores of terror attacks.

U.S. and Pakistani officials did not say what led them to Baradar or give details of the raid, triggering speculation that he may have been handed over by Pakistani intelligence officials as part of a trade off in negotiations over the future of Afghanistan or betrayed by other members of the Taliban.

“If Pakistani officials had wanted to arrest him, they could have done it at any time,” said Sher Mohammad Akhud Zada, the former governor of Afghanistan’s Helmand province and a member of the Afghan parliament. “Why did they arrest him now?”

The arrest could mark a shift in strategy by Pakistan’s powerful Inter Services Intelligence agency from protecting or turning a blind eye to the Afghan Taliban to arresting them.

“The Pakistani government have realized that the Taliban is too much of a threat to them, they’ve decided they’ve got to draw some red lines for both Pakistani and Afghanistan Taliban,” said Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute, a military think tank in London. “They decided they need to be seen to take the Taliban on, they need to push them back.”

Washington will be hoping that is true.

“It’s really evidence of a stronger cooperative effort that’s taking place,” Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CBS’ “The Early Show” from Islamabad, where he was on an unrelated visit when news of the capture broke.

Others cautioned it was too soon to say whether the arrest represented a strategic change or was a one-off event aimed at reducing some of the U.S. pressure on the country. Some said they believed it was simply the result of good intelligence work by the United States.

“I think the intelligence comes from the Americans,” said Rahimullah Yousafzai, a Pakistani journalist and expert on the Taliban. “They tell the Pakistanis that ‘we have to raid some place’ and the Pakistanis say ‘we will go along with you.”‘

The arrest strengthens reports that Karachi is increasingly being used by members of the Afghan Taliban as a base, possibly because their earlier havens close to the border are now the target of about three CIA missile attacks each week.

A chaotic city of 13 million people, Karachi has a large population of Pashtuns, the ethnic group that makes up the Taliban, meaning it is relatively easy for insurgents to hide there.

Taliban expert Michael Semple said Baradar was known as a “pragmatist” who could be prepared to enter into some kind of talks with the United States.

“If he could get guarantees, he would be willing to negotiate,” said Semple, who was expelled from Afghanistan in 2007 by President Hamid Karzai for negotiating with midlevel Taliban commanders when he worked for the European Union.

Semple said the arrest could lead to more pressure on Afghan Taliban commanders to negotiate with the Afghan government if they thought that Pakistan was no longer safe. “I think that this will make the other leaders more inclined to negotiate,” he said.

(Dora)

Photostream : Snow in Afghanistan

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Vehicles are seen covered with snow at an avalanche site at Salang Pass, some 115 kilometers (71 miles) north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010. The death toll from massive avalanches that blocked a mountain pass north of Kabul soared, as rescuers recovered 157 bodies, while hundreds more remained trapped in their snowbound vehicles, Afghan officials said Wednesday.

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Afghans, carrying a few possessions, walk towards a restaurant after being evacuated following heavy snow which caused an the avalanche in the Salang Pass, some 100 kms north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010. Avalanches roared down a mountain pass north of Afghanistan’s capital, killing at least 28 people and leaving hundreds more stranded in their vehicles on snow-blocked roads, officials said Tuesday.

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Afghan people wait in line to board army trucks after heavy snow caused an avalanche in the Salang Pass, some 100 kms noth of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010. Avalanches roared down a mountain pass north of Afghanistan’s capital, killing at least 28 people and leaving hundreds more stranded in their vehicles on snow-blocked roads, officials said Tuesday
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An Afghan man carries his luggage, Tuesday Feb. 9, 2010, as he walks towards an army truck during the evacuation from the avalanche which struck the Salang Pass, some 100 km north of Kabul, Afghanistan. Officials said the avalanches have killed at least 28 people and left another 1,500 stranded in a snow-blocked mountain pass, with the Defense Ministry releasing a statement saying another 70 people have been injured as rescue efforts continued to dig out hundreds of vehicles stuck on the pass north of Kabul.

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Members of the Afghan army carry the dead body of an avalanche victim at Salang Pass, some 115 kilometers (71 miles) north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010. The death toll from massive avalanches that blocked a mountain pass north of Kabul soared, as rescuers recovered 157 bodies, while hundreds more remained trapped in their snowbound vehicles, Afghan officials said Wednesday
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Afghan travellers enter the Salang Tunnel, some 160km north of Kabul. A total of 160 bodies have been recovered from an area hit by avalanches in a treacherous mountain pass in northern Afghanistan, a provincial governor has said.

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An Afghan woman, wearing a burkha, is seen with her son and a girl in a back street of Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010.

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An Afghan man pushes his bicycle through a snow-covered road in Kabul on February 8. Rescuers recovered 39 bodies Wednesday after a series of avalanches on a treacherous mountain pass in northern Afghanistan, bringing the death toll from the disaster to at least 68, the army said.

Snow-covered houses are seen in Kabul on February 8. Another ...

Snow-covered houses are seen in Kabul on February 8. Another 39 bodies have been recovered from the site of avalanches on a treacherous mountain pass in the northof the country, bringing the official death toll from the disaster to 68, an army doctor said.

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A U.S. soldier walks by an MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles with the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, at West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010.

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A US marine dog handler with 1/3 Marines Alpha company waits with his dog at a company operation base (COB) in Toor Ghar in the Helmand province on February 8. US Marines on Tuesday stepped up preparations for a major assault on a key Taliban bastion in southern Afghanistan hailed by officers as the biggest offensive of the eight-year war.

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A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter, right, used by Charlie Company, Task Force Talon, powers up before a mission, at a forward operating base, in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Tuesday Feb. 9, 2010. The Talon MEDEVAC in Helmand is one of several army aero-medical units positioned around southern Afghanistan by the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, known as Task Force Pegasus.

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A convoy from the U.S. Marines from the 2nd MEB, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines drive in the desert outside of Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand province Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010.

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An Afghan army soldier carries a child, Tuesday Feb. 9, 2010, during an evacuation from the avalanche which struck the Salang Pass, some 100 kms north of Kabul, Afghanistan. Officials said the avalanches have killed at least 28 people and left another 1,500 stranded in a snow-blocked mountain pass, with the Defense Ministry releasing a statement saying another 70 people have been injured as rescue efforts continued to dig out hundreds of vehicles stuck on the pass north of Kabul.

Afghans get into an army truck Tuesday Feb. 9, 2010, after being ...

Afghans get into an army truck Tuesday Feb. 9, 2010, after being evacuated from the avalanche which struck the Salang Pass, some 100 kms noth of Kabul, Afghanistan. Officials said the avalanches have killed at least 28 people and left another 1,500 stranded in a snow-blocked mountain pass, with the Defense Ministry releasing a statement saying another 70 people have been injured as rescue efforts continued to dig out hundreds of vehicles stuck on the pass north of Kabul.

Afghan men walk through a snow-covered road in Kabul on February ...
Afghan men walk through a snow-covered road in Kabul on February 8. An avalanche triggered by heavy snow has killed up to 30 people and left another 70 injured in the treacherous mountains of northern Afghanistan
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An Afghan man, who registers passengers’ names, take notes at a bus travel agency called Turkistan Bus Transportation in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010
An Afghan removes snow from the roof of his house, Tuesday Feb. ...

An Afghan removes snow from the roof of his house, Tuesday Feb. 9, 2010, near the avalanche struck Salang Pass, some 100 km north of Kabul, Afghanistan Officials said the avalanches have killed at least 28 people and left another 1,500 stranded in a snow-blocked mountain pass, with the Defense Ministry releasing a statement saying another 70 people have been injured as rescue efforts continued to dig out hundreds of vehicles stuck on the pass north of Kabul.

Afghan women struggle to get inside an army truck near Salang ...

Afghan women struggle to get inside an army truck near Salang Pass, after an avalanche struck, some 100 kms noth of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010. Avalanches roared down a mountain pass north of Afghanistan’s capital, killing at least 28 people and leaving hundreds more stranded in their vehicles on snow-blocked roads, officials said Tuesday.

An Afghan man works on an electricity pole in Kabul February ...

An Afghan man works on an electricity pole in Kabul February 9, 2010.

Obama calls capital’s blizzard `Snowmageddon`

WASHINGTON (KATAKAMI / AP) – “Snowmageddon” — that’s what President Barack Obama calls the storm that’s shut down Washington.

His motorcade made it a few blocks through deserted streets so he could speak at the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting on Saturday.

In his opening remarks, Obama thanked activists for being willing to brave the blizzard. The streets around the hotel where the meeting was held were blocked by snow and police ahead of Obama’s arrival.

California Rep. Mike Honda was delayed on the slow-running subway. Other officials who stumbled into the hotel were caked in snow and ice. Obama said he saw a sign that said “Californians for Obama” — and he joked that “you guys aren’t used to this.”

The party chairman, Tim Kaine, said “it’s like an April day in Chicago” — that’s Obama’s hometown.

Photostream : Obama And Snowmageddon

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Obama calls capital’s blizzard `Snowmageddon`

President Barack Obama walks to the Oval Office after returning to the White House following a trip to Nashua, N.H., Feb. 2, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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The swing set used by President Barack Obama’s daughters Malia and Sasha is covered in snow at the White House on February 6, 2010 in Washington, DC. The region is expected to get anywhere from 18 inches to 30 inches of snow before the storm moves on.

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The Oval Office of the White House is seen under heavy snowfall in Washington February 6, 2010. A blizzard producing heavy snow and powerful winds pummeled the U.S. mid-Atlantic on Saturday, causing at least two fatalities and paralyzing travel in the region. Local weather forecasters said the storm could bring the heaviest snowfall in 90 years to the Washington area.

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The motorcade for President Barack Obama holds on the South Lawn driveway of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010, after the president returned from speaking at the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting.

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Snow blankets the White House grounds during a blizzard February 6, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Snow blankets Lafayette Square near the White House in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010, as a winter storm hit the nation’s capital and much of the Mid Atlantic region.

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The snow covered grounds of the White House on East Executive Avenue in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010.

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Trees outside the Oval Office at the White House are covered in snow on February 6, 2010 in Washington, DC. The region is expected to get anywhere from 18 inches to 30 inches of snow before the storm moves on.

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New 9/11 Attack Aerial Photos Released

PHOTOSTREAM : New View of 9/11 Attacks

Government Agency Releases NYPD Photos in Compliance With News Station’s Request

(KATAKAMI / CBS) Newly released aerial photos of the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack show the towers coming down from a dramatic new angle.

The photos were obtained by ABC News, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Institute of Standards and Technology last year. The NIST collected the images as part of its investigation into the terrorist attack.

Photos: Aerial Images Released

ABC said it was provided 2,779 pictures on nine CDs. Many of the photos, taken from police helicopters, have never been released before.

Twelve of the photos appear on ABC’s Web site. One photo shows a close-up of the upper floors of the burning towers. Others show the towers’ dramatic collapse in a thick plume of smoke and debris and sweeping views of billowing smoke clouds.

The release of the photos comes as the Obama administration wrestles with deciding where to conduct the criminal trial against the terrorist attack’s alleged mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The administration recently said it would consider local opposition when deciding where to hold the terror trials.

Objections from New York City officials and residents have intensified since the Justice Department announced late last year it planned to put Mohammed and other accused Sept. 11 conspirators on trial in federal court in lower Manhattan.

In its new budget, the Obama administration is proposing a $200 million fund to help pay for security costs in cities hosting terrorist trials.

In 2008, the NIST notably solved the mystery behind the collapse of World Trade Center building 7, a source of long-running conspiracy theories.

The 47-story trapezoid-shaped building sat north of the World Trade Center towers, across Vesey Street in lower Manhattan. On Sept. 11, it was set on fire by falling debris from the burning towers, but skeptics have long argued that fire and debris alone should not have brought down such a big steel-and-concrete structure.

Scientists with the NIST said their three-year investigation of the collapse determined the demise of WTC 7 was actually the first time in the world a fire caused the total failure of a skyscraper.

The new views of the terrorist attacks – one of the most recorded events of all time – add to the hundreds of hours of amateur videos, images and stories gathered by the foundation building the memorial at ground zero.

The National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum launched a Web site on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the attacks with its collection of citizen journalism of the tragedy and is appealing for more 9/11 stories from all over the world.

Photostream : Secretary Clinton

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Hillary Clinton in Middle East to push Iran sanctions

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(KATAKAMI / TELEGRAPH.CO.UK) The US Secretary of State is visiting Qatar and Saudi Arabia to see a series of high-level diplomatic and military contacts.

She told the US-Islamic World forum the West was “encouraging Iran to reconsider its dangerous policy decisions” on its nuclear programme.

“Iran leaves the international community little choice but to impose greater costs for its provocative steps,” she said.

“It has consistently failed to live up to its responsibility. It has refused to demonstrate to the international community that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.”

Her comments came as retired Gen James Jones, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, warned Iran that additional sanctions could destabilise the country.

“We know that internally there is a very serious problem. We’re about to add to that regime’s difficulties by engineering, participating in very tough sanctions, which we support,” he told Fox News.

“Not mild sanctions. These are very tough sanctions. A combination of those things could well trigger a regime change – it’s possible.”

Mrs Clinton is due to hold a one-on-one meeting with Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, at the US-Islamic World Forum. Turkey, the only Nato member that has a border with Iran, insists the dispute should be resolved through dialogue, arguing that economic sanctions or military action against would destabilise the Middle East.

In Riyadh, Mrs Clinton is planning to meet King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia’s and Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister. She will also meet other Saudi officials in the Red Sea port of Jeddah.

The Obama administration is pushing for Iran to agree to a proposal to ship its low-enriched uranium abroad in return for nuclear fuel being provided for a Tehran medical research reactor. Last week, Tehran announced it would be enriching uranium to higher levels for medical purposes.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, flew out to Moscow on Sunday where he said he would press for support for “crippling sanctions” against Iran.

With Russia having hardened its stance, China is the sole veto-wielding country that could potentially block further sanctions at the UN Security Council and is still pushing for further negotiations

However US Vice President Joe Biden expressed confidence yesterday that the Chinese would ultimately join the other nations in backing measures to punish Iran.

“I believe we’ll get the support of China to continue to impose sanctions on Iran to isolate them, to make it clear that in fact they cannot move forward,” he said.

Britain and France – the remaining veto-wielding members – are backing more sanctions as well as from Germany, which has also been involved in months of negotiations to try and get Iran to change tack.

Iran is also under pressure for its brutal crackdown on domestic dissenters. On Monday, the United Nations human rights council is due to debate Tehran’s human rights record.

Mrs Clinton was also due to deliver a softer message to the Middle East on Saunday night in a speech in Doha, expanding on President Barack Obama’s call in Cairo last June for deeper engagement between the US with the Muslim world.

(MS)

Gunfire as some Taliban fight Marines in Marjah

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(KATAKAMI / AP) MARJAH, Afghanistan – It could take weeks to reclaim the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, a top Marine commander said Sunday as thousands of U.S. troops and Afghan soldiers fought for a second day in NATO’s most ambitious effort yet to break the militants’ grip on Afghanistan’s dangerous south.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean an intense gun battle, but it probably will be 30 days of clearing,” Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson said. “I am more than cautiously optimistic that we will get it done before that.”

Squads of Marines and Afghan soldiers occupied a majority of Marjah, but gunfire continued as pockets of militants dug in and fought. Sniper fire forced Nicholson to duck behind an earthen bank in the northern part of the city where he toured the tip of the Marines’ front line held by Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines.

“The fire we just took reflects how I think this will go — small pockets of sporadic fighting by small groups of very mobile individuals,” he said.

Explosions from controlled detonations of bombs and other explosives were being heard about every 10 minutes in the area.

“There’s really a massive amount of improvised explosive devices,” Nicholson said. “We thought there would be a lot, but we are finding even more than expected.”

The second day of NATO’s largest offensive since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan also was marked by painstaking house searches.

Using metal detectors and sniffer dogs, U.S. forces found caches of explosives rigged to blow as they went from compound to compound down streets riddled with thousands of homemade bombs and mines. Shots continued to ring out in some neighborhoods.

They also discovered several sniper positions, freshly abandoned and booby-trapped with grenades.

The troops also found two large caches of ammonium nitrate — a common ingredient in explosives — totaling about 8,800 pounds (4,000 kilograms), said Lt. Josh Diddams, a Marine spokesman.

“We’re in the majority of the city at this point,” Diddams said. He said the nature of the resistance has changed from the initial assault, with insurgents now holding ground in some neighborhoods.

“We’re starting to come across areas where the insurgents have actually taken up defensive positions,” he said. “Initially it was more hit and run.”

NATO said it hoped to secure Marjah, the largest town under Taliban control and a key opium smuggling hub, within days, set up a local government and rush in development aid in a first test of the new U.S. strategy for turning the tide of the 8-year-old war.

At least two shuras, or meetings, have been held with local Afghan residents — one in the northern district of Nad Ali and the other in Marjah itself, NATO said in a statement. Discussions have been “good,” and more shuras are planned in coming days as part of a larger strategy to enlist community support for the NATO mission, it said.

Afghan officials said Sunday that at least 27 insurgents had been killed in the operation.

Most of the Taliban appeared to have scattered in the face of overwhelming force, possibly waiting to regroup and stage attacks later to foil the alliance’s plan to stabilize the area and expand Afghan government control in the volatile south.

Two NATO soldiers were killed on the first day of the operation — one American and one Briton — according to military officials in their countries. At least seven civilians had been wounded, but there were no reports of deaths, Helmand provincial spokesman Daoud Ahmadi said.

More than 30 transport helicopters ferried troops into the heart of Marjah before dawn Saturday, while British, Afghan and U.S. troops fanned out across the Nad Ali district to the north of the mud-brick town, long a stronghold of the Taliban.

Maj. Gen. Gordon Messenger told reporters in London that British forces “have successfully secured the area militarily” with only sporadic resistance from Taliban forces. A Taliban spokesman insisted their fighters still controlled the town.

President Barack Obama was keeping a close watch on combat operations, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

Vietor said Defense Secretary Robert Gates would have the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, brief Obama on Sunday.

In Marjah, most of the Marines said they would have preferred a straight-up gunbattle to the “death at every corner” crawl they faced.

“Basically, if you hear the boom, it’s good. It means you’re still alive after the thing goes off,” said Lance Corp. Justin Hennes, 22, of Lakeland, Florida.

Local Marjah residents crept out from hiding after dawn Sunday, some reaching out to Afghan troops partnered with Marine platoons.

“Could you please take the mines out?” Mohammad Kazeem, a local pharmacist, asked the Marines through an interpreter. The entrance to his shop had been completely booby-trapped, without any way for him to re-enter his home, he said.

The bridge over the canal into Marjah from the north was rigged with so many explosives that Marines erected temporary bridges to cross into the town.

“It’s just got to be a very slow and deliberate process,” said Capt. Joshua Winfrey of Stillwater, Oklahoma, a Marine company commander.

Lt. Col. Brian Christmas, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, said U.S. troops fought gunbattles in at least four areas of the town and faced “some intense fighting.”

To the east, the battalion’s Kilo Company was inserted into the town by helicopter without meeting resistance but was then “significantly engaged” as the Marines fanned out from the landing zone, Christmas said.

Marine commanders had said they expected between 400 and 1,000 insurgents — including more than 100 foreign fighters — to be holed up in Marjah, a town of 80,000 people that is the linchpin of the militants’ logistical and opium-smuggling network in the south.

The offensive, code-named “Moshtarak,” or “Together,” was described as the biggest joint operation of the Afghan war, with 15,000 troops involved, including some 7,500 in Marjah itself. The government says Afghan soldiers make up at least half of the offensive’s force.

Once Marjah is secured, NATO hopes to quickly deliver aid and provide public services in a bid to win support among the estimated 125,000 people who live in the town and surrounding villages. The Afghans’ ability to restore those services is crucial to the success of the operation and in preventing the Taliban from returning.

Clinton Travels to Qatar, Saudi Arabia

(KATAKAMI / VOA) Her trip will focus on talks with allies on Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has left on a trip to Qatar and Saudi Arabia for talks with U.S. allies on Iran and efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Clinton is expected to arrive Sunday in Qatar’s capital, Doha, where she will meet with the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, as well as Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who serves as both the prime minister and foreign minister.

Clinton will also deliver a speech to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, as part of the Obama administration’s bid to promote better ties with Muslim countries.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday appointed a special envoy to the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference ahead of Clinton’s appearance at the forum.

In a recorded video message to the conference, Mr. Obama said he was appointing White House lawyer Rashad Hussain to expand the partnership with the Muslim community that he has pursued since his Cairo speech last June.

President Obama said he looks forward to continuing the dialogue next month when he visits Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country.  Mr. Obama also acknowledged the challenges ahead, because he said the relationship between the United States and Muslims has, as he put it, “slipped into a cycle of misunderstanding and mistrust that can lead to conflict rather than cooperation.”

In Saudi Arabia, Clinton will meet with King Abdullah, the principal sponsor of the 2003 Arab League peace initiative offering Israel full relations with Arab states for progress made with the Palestinians.  A State Department spokesman said Clinton will try to persuade Arab leaders to re-engage with the stalled peace process.

Clinton is departing a day later than planned after her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, was briefly hospitalized for a heart procedure on Thursday.

Bill Clinton: ‘I have to keep working’

WATCH THE VIDEO

New York (KATAKAMI / CNN) — On the same day he was released from a hospital after undergoing a heart procedure, former President Clinton told reporters he has no plans to slow down.

“I have to keep working — that’s what my life is for,” he said outside his home in Chappaqua, New York, on Friday. “You know I was given a good mind, a strong body, a wonderful life and it would be wrong for me not to work.”

“I even did a couple of miles [walking] on the treadmill today,” he said.

On Thursday, Clinton, 63, underwent a procedure at New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Columbia campus to implant two stents in a clogged coronary artery.

Clinton has “no evidence of heart attack or damage to his heart,” and his prognosis is excellent after undergoing the procedure, according to Dr. Allan Schwartz, the hospital’s chief of cardiology.

Schwartz said the procedure was “part of the natural history” of Clinton’s treatment after his 2004 quadruple bypass surgery and “not a result of either his lifestyle or diet, both of which have been excellent.”

Clinton called the procedure “kind of a repair job” and said he’s “actually doing very well.” He said he began feeling tired around Christmas and traveled several times in recent weeks to Europe and Haiti.

“I didn’t really notice it until about four days ago when I felt a little bit of pain in my chest, and I thought I had to check it out,” he said.

Earlier Friday, Clinton, the U.N. special envoy for Haiti, issued a statement marking the passing of one month since a massive earthquake devastated the impoverished nation. He also has visited the island nation twice since the earthquake, a fact he noted on Friday.

“I will continue to work with the Haitian government and people, international donors and multilateral organizations, the Haitian Diaspora, NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], and the international business community to fulfill unmet needs,” Clinton said in the statement, released Friday.

“Haiti still has a chance to escape the chains of the past and the ruins of the earthquake,” he said. “But we all will have to do what we can today.”

Clinton said he had helped collect 200,000 donations for Haiti through his partnership with former President George W. Bush — the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund — and through the Clinton Foundation Haiti Relief Fund, calling those efforts “especially impressive.” He said he has helped allocate $7 million in relief.

The 7.0-magnitude quake of January 12 leveled most of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, killing more than 212,000 people and injuring 300,000, according to Haitian government estimates. It left more than a million homeless.

Clinton underwent a procedure called angioplasty, the hospital said, in which a balloon catheter is threaded through an artery to the blocked vessel in the heart. When inflated, the balloon opens the vessel and restores blood flow. Many times, a scaffolding-like structure called a stent is left in place to keep the artery open.

How stents open arteries

President Obama called Clinton on Thursday evening and wished him a speedy recovery so he can continue his work on Haiti and other humanitarian efforts, a senior administration official said.

Schwartz said Clinton began experiencing “pressure or constriction” in his chest several days ago, episodes he described as “brief in nature but repetitive.”

An initial electrocardiogram and blood test showed no evidence of heart attack, Schwartz said. Subsequent pictures of Clinton’s arteries revealed that one of the bypass grafts from his 2004 surgery was “completely blocked,” prompting the stent procedure, which took about an hour, Schwartz said.

Schwartz said Clinton was up and walking about two hours after the surgery.

Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, were with him at the hospital Thursday night, Schwartz said.

Hillary Clinton was scheduled to leave Friday on a planned trip to the Middle East, but her departure has been delayed until Saturday, a senior U.S. official said.

Bill Clinton has maintained an active schedule since leaving the White House in 2001, devoting much of his time to global philanthropic interests and speeches.

Friends have expressed concerns that his “frenetic pace” was taking a toll on his health, sources told CNN.

Clinton maintained that frenetic schedule all the way up to the surgery, said Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton friend and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

In fact, as doctors were wheeling Clinton into the operating room, Clinton’s phone had to be taken out of his hand, said McAuliffe.

“He was on a conference call dealing with Haiti,” McAuliffe told CNN Friday morning. “And I guarantee as soon as he gets back today he’s going to be back on the phone. He’s passionate about helping the folks down there.”

In addition to his trips to Haiti, Clinton attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, said Clinton was exhausted and had a cold after returning from his second trip to Haiti earlier this month.

But Schwartz stressed Thursday that Clinton’s lifestyle has nothing to do with his hospitalization.

“He has really toed the line in terms of both diet and exercise,” Schwartz said, adding that he told Clinton he could be back in the office Monday.

Dr. Spencer King, who has not treated Clinton, rejected as outdated suggestions that the former president needs to slow down.

“This is kind of a ’50s concept,” he said Thursday. “Now we’ve got a lot of fantastic ways to prevent progression of heart disease — medications, things that can be done. The outlook for people is totally different.”

“If he slows down, he slows down,” said King, president of St. Joseph’s Heart and Vascular Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. But he added, “It would be very hard to show any data that would tell you he’ll have more trouble if he hangs it up.”

Clinton’s 2004 surgery was performed at the same hospital where he was admitted Thursday. Doctors in 2005 operated again on Clinton to remove scar tissue and fluid that had built up after his bypass surgery.

Schwartz said Thursday that the type of bypass graft used in Clinton’s 2004 surgery “has a 10 [percent] to 20 percent failure rate after five or six years.”

King said Thursday’s stent procedure may not be the end of Clinton’s heart woes.

“The problem there is that that vein graft is developing disease, and sometimes it goes on and develops more,” he said. “There’s a substantial chance over the next three, four, five years that it could close up again.”

(ms)

Photostream : Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Burak, a 4-year-old Saluki, from Beverly Shores, Indiana waits ...
Burak, a 4-year-old Saluki, from Beverly Shores, Indiana waits in the lobby to check into the Pennsylvania Hotel, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010 in New York. Competition in the134th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will take place Feb. 15 and 16 at Madison Square Garden.
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In this undated photo provided by the Westminster Kennel Club, ...

In this undated photo provided by the Westminster Kennel Club, a Norwegian Bundhund is shown. The dog, a member of the Herding Group, is one of three new breeds being introduced at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club’s Dog Show in New York. The 134th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show starts Monday, Feb. 14, with the ‘Best in Show’ being chosen on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

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In this undated photo provided by the Westminster Kennel Club, ...
In this undated photo provided by the Westminster Kennel Club, an Irish Red and White Setter is shown. The dog, a member of the Sporting Group, is one of three new breeds being introduced at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club’s Dog Show in New York. The 134th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show starts Monday, Feb. 14, with the ‘Best in Show’ being chosen on Tuesday, Feb. 15
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In this undated photo provided by the Westminster Kennel Club, ...

In this undated photo provided by the Westminster Kennel Club, a Pyrenean Shepherd with a smooth coat is shown. The dog, a member of the Herding Group, is one of three new breeds being introduced at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club’s Dog Show. The 134th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show starts Monday, Feb. 14, with the ‘Best in Show’ being chosen on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

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Trouble, a 2-year-old Pug, works out on a treadmill at the doggie ...

Trouble, a 2-year-old Pug, works out on a treadmill at the doggie spa at the Pennsylvania Hotel, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010 in New York. Competition in the134th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will take place Feb. 15 and 16 at Madison Square Garden.

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Ms Lucy, a 1-year-old Blue Chihuahua, wearing a spring flower ...

Ms Lucy, a 1-year-old Blue Chihuahua, wearing a spring flower sunset dress stikes a pose in the lobby of the Pennsylvania Hotel, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010 in New York. Competition in the134th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will take place Feb. 15 and 16 at Madison Square Garden.

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Zack, left, and Heather Helmer, display Harvey's 14 inch ears ...

Zack, left, and Heather Helmer, display Harvey’s 14 inch ears at the Pennsylvania Hotel, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010 in New York. Harvey, a 3-year-old Bloodhound is in contention for the Guinness Book of World Records for longest dog ears. Competition in the134th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will take place Feb. 15 and 16 at Madison Square Garden.

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Jack, an Italian Greyhound breed, is seen inside the lobby of ...

Jack, an Italian Greyhound breed, is seen inside the lobby of the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York February 12, 2010. Dogs from around the world are descending on New York for the 134th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show that begins February 15th.

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Ace, a Shetland Sheepdog breed, yawns while being groomed inside ...

Ace, a Shetland Sheepdog breed, yawns while being groomed inside the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York February 12, 2010. Dogs from around the world are descending on New York for the 134th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show that begins February 15.

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In this undated photo provided by the Westminster Kennel Club, ...

In this undated photo provided by the Westminster Kennel Club, a Pyrenean Shepherd with a rough coat is shown. The dog, a member of the Herding Group, is one of three new breeds being introduced at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club’s Dog Show. The 134th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show starts Monday, Feb. 14, with the ‘Best in Show’ being chosen on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

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