(You might want to play the song for ambience as you read…)
Good evening, fellow Americans. This is Howard Handupme bringing you DNN’s seven o’clock news.
At least 18 Iraqi military officers were killed by three suicide bombers in an ambush on Saturday in the Sunni Muslim-dominated Anbar province. Another 32 soldiers were wounded. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but officials are diligently monitoring Facebook and Twitter accounts for indications.
Ronnie Smith, 33, a chemistry teacher from Austin, Texas, who was working for more than a year in the International School Benghazi was killed on his morning jog when four unidentified assailants in a black Jeep shot him December 5. In a recent interview with DNN’s own Allosaurus Cooper, Smith’s wife sent her husband’s killers the message that ‘she loves them’.
DNN’s correspondent in Seoul is reporting that following protests against the secretive regime this week, North Korea sent a fax to South Korea on Thursday, threatening to “strike mercilessly without notice if the provocation against our highest dignity is to be repeated in the downtown of Seoul.”
Just in time for the holidays, there is excellent news on the economic front. U.S. stocks climbed on Friday, with the Dow and S&P 500 scoring record closes, after GDP data had the U.S. economy growing faster-than-projected in the third quarter, increasing optimism about the economic outlook. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 16,221.14, while the S&P 500 finished at 1,818.31, leaving it with a weekly gain of 2.4 percent. Financier Warren Buffett reportedly earned $380.34 a Second in 2013; according to economists, total economic recovery can’t be far behind.
In another positive indicator, sales of recreational vehicles have increased, and Beyonce’s new XO album smashed historic album sales, selling 829,000 worldwide in three days. Reading the current economic tea leaves, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke announced that he would likely begin $10 billion QE tapering in increments of $10 billion over the next year, citing increased employment and under control inflation as reasons.
In other good holiday news, a near miracle: a twelve year old girl from Addas Ababa who had been kidnapped and beaten by seven men trying to force her into marriage was saved by a pride of Ethiopian lions, who after chasing away the men, stood guard over her for a day until help arrived.
In news that may be disappointing to some, a Catholic Church official has said angels do exist – but that they ‘do not have wings or look like cherubs’. Father Renzo Lavator, an ‘angelologist’, said the heavenly beings, which are ‘back in fashion’ thanks to New Age religions, are in fact more like shards of light. ‘You do not see angels so much as feel their presence,’ he said at a conference on angels in Rome. ‘They are a bit like sunlight that refracts on you through a crystal vase.’
In other business news, a spokesperson for Walmart Corporation has announced that the company will be considering its position with Duck Dynasty after Christmas. But meanwhile, all products are widely available at stores except for the children’s pink camo bedspreads. A Walgreen’s spokesperson has confirmed that all Duck Dynasty sex toys are on the shelves in every store nationwide.
In other Walmart news, miffed at Target’s boycott of her iTunes album, Beyonce showed up at a Walmart in Tewksbury, MA and handed out $37,000’s worth of $50 Walmart cards to shoppers.
In health insurance news, the President promises that 2014 will bring the ‘breakthrough’ on ObamaCare, while the First Lady told the Reverend Al Sharpton on his program ‘Keeping it Real’ that ‘kids owe it to their moms to enroll in the program to give them peace of mind “in case something goes wrong”.
In related news, in response to a class-action lawsuit to block the mandate, a federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction Friday that prohibits the government from enforcing the ACA’s requirement that insurance coverage include access to the morning-after pill and similar contraceptives. The lawsuit was filed in October on behalf of 187 ministries that provide their employees with health benefits through GuideStone Financial Resources, the health benefits arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Late Friday night, the Senate passed a fast-track version of the $630 billion Defense Budget. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel praised the provisions that will crack down on military sexual assaults. An estimated 26,000 service members experienced rape or other sexual assault in 2012, according to Pentagon statistics released in May. Included in the bill is $81 billion for continuing to stabilize Afghanistan. Pressure on Hamid Karzai to sign a new Status of Forces Agreement having failed, DNN’s Monica Devertebrae tried to get Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey to give a drop-dead date for Afghanistan signing the agreement.
“Are you asking me for a redline date? I’m not going to give you one,” Dempsey said.
In other military news, the U.S. general who oversaw nuclear weapons boozed, fraternized with “hot women” and disrespected his hosts during an official three-day visit to Russia this year, according to reports.
Maj. Gen. Michael Carey led the 20th Air Force responsible for three nuclear wings, Carey oversaw the 20th Air Force, and was in charge of a total of 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles at three locations across the U.S.
He was relieved of duty in October because of loss of confidence in his leadership, the Air Force said at the time without providing specific details. Though his behavior did not impact highly sensitive nuclear weapons operations, officials said, it is unbecoming for a job in such a critical position. He was transferred to the Air Force space operation.
President Barack Obama conceded on Friday that NSA bulk collection of phone data may be unnecessary, and that there may be a better way of skinning the cat. He cited the ‘potential abuse’ of collected data cited as concern, but added that the treasonous Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden are collectively the greatest single weapon working against the US in the War for Pistachios. The President was quoted two days ago as saying that 2013 wasn’t his worst year if office. He is now in Hawaii for his seventeen-day respite from his not-worst year.
To begin our station’s end of the year coverage, DNN has decided to treat our viewers to our initial coverage of the War on Pistachios back in 1991: Operation Swamp Storm, and brought you our mini-series coverage instead of upsetting war footage of ‘The War Against the Four Leggeds to End All Pistachio Wars’:
There are three shopping days left before Christmas. Good night from DNN, and good luck.
(cross-posted at My.firedoglake.com)