You get better news this way: "As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq," reports The Los Angeles Times.

None too soon: Two years and none months into it and 2110 dead military personnel later, the White House announces its "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" this morning. Just a few days ago, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Col Lawrence Wilkerson, called the White House's post-invasion planning "as inept and incompetent as perhaps any planning anyone has ever done."

UK abets CIA terror flights? The Times Online reports on "potentially devastating allegations" that the British government participated in the US' practice of flying suspected terrorists to "black site" prisons in countries where torture is not prohibited. According to the human rights group Liberty, which threatens legal action if investigations into the practice aren't begun in earnest, "[f]light records show that at least 210 private jets carrying detainees apparently leased by shell companies attached to the CIA have stopped over in the UK since September 2001." The EU is already seeking answers from the Bush administration about the alleged use of such sites in eastern Europe.

Changing the Subject: With a bungled war, a GOP that's fast losing favor, and corruption throughout the party, you might think that the highest ranking House Republican would have something better to focus on than to work at renaming the Capitol "Holiday Tree" the "Capitol Christmas Tree." All these war-on-Christmas zealots seem to forget that the conifer used in celebrations of Christ's birth was actually nicked (pun intended) from pagan tradition.

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