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Friday, Aug 01st

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Nations sign cluster bomb treaty

The first of more than 100 countries have begun signing a treaty to ban current designs of cluster bombs, at a conference in Oslo, Norway. Campaigners are hailing the treaty as a major breakthrough.

But some of the biggest stockpilers, including the US, Russia and China, are not among the signatories.

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TVNL Comment: The strongest military powers in the world, including Israel, refuse to sign.  How is this a 'major breakthrough' rather than a 'major failure'?

Raul Castro to Sean Penn: he'd meet Obama at Gitmo

Cuban President Raul Castro said in an interview released Wednesday that he would like to meet President-elect Barack Obama on "neutral ground" - and he suggested the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

Penn asked if Castro would meet with Obama in Washington. The Cuban president said he "would have to think about it," but that it would not be fair for either leader to go to the other's territory. Instead he suggested the base at Guantanamo.

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UBS clients seek amnesty on U.S. taxes: report

Some wealthy clients of UBS AG are coming forward to make amends with U.S. tax authorities after a former UBS private banker was indicted, a sign that U.S. efforts to battle offshore tax evasion are having the desired effect.

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TVNL Comment: Hey, can the rest of get in on this?  Can us ordinary folks avoid taxes and than ask for amnesty?  Just asking.

Germany drops attempt to ban Scientology

Germany is dropping its pursuit of a ban on Scientology after finding insufficient evidence of illegal activity, security officials said Friday. Domestic intelligence services will continue to monitor the group, officials said. The German branch of the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology has been under observation by domestic intelligence services for more than a decade.

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Debate Flares Over Israel’s Access to American Secrets

Investigative writer James Bamford contends in his new book, “The Shadow Factory, the Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America,” that at least two high-tech companies with alleged ties to Israeli intelligence mined American communications data on a mass scale. The companies were hired to help major American telecommunications firms that were cooperating with the National Security Agency on its controversial eavesdropping program.

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Blackwater gunboats will protect ships

The American security company Blackwater is planning to cash in on the rising threat of piracy on the high seas by launching a flotilla of gunboats for hire by the shipping companies.

The firm, which gained international notoriety when its staff killed civilians in Iraq, has already equipped one vessel, called The McArthur, which will carry up to 40 armed guards and have a landing pad for an attack helicopter.

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Obama could change dynamics in the Arab world

To many in the Middle East, he is that rare thing: a minority who, with breathtaking speed and without a military coup, has risen to political prominence. This strikes deeply in a part of the world where repression carries a twofold meaning: Western power and military dominance, and Arab regimes that silence dissent.

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