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Bomb kills three NATO troops in Afghanistan

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A roadside bomb attack killed three NATO troops in easternAfghanistan, one of the deadliest flashpoints in the 10-year war against Taliban insurgents, according to the military.

NATO’s US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) did not release the nationalities of the troops or give further details of the incident, which happened on Tuesday.

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The deaths take to 561 the number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year, according to an AFP tally based on figures from independent website iCasualties.org.

A total of 711 foreign troops were killed in Afghanistan last year, the highest annual total since the US-led invasion in 2001 ousted the Taliban from power.

There are about 130,000 international troops in Afghanistanfighting the Taliban-led insurgency, with 91,000 of them from the United States.

Much of the worst fighting takes place in the east of the country, close to the border with Pakistan, where US and Afghan officials say the Taliban use rear bases to regroup and plot attacks.

Pakistan closed its supply routes to NATO after US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26 close to the mountainous, porous border.

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Amid declining support for the war and a gloomy economy in the West, all foreign combat troops are due to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, by which time Afghan forces and officials are supposed to take full control.

On Tuesday, President Hamid Karzai called on NATO to disband an irregular security force operating in northern provinces, saying it had been set up “unilaterally” without coordination with the Afghan government.

NATO said Wednesday that all such security programmes are being disbanded or shifted to Afghan government control.

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ISAF said the Critical Infrastructure Protection Programme, which involves more than 1,500 personnel, had been one of several units set up to bolster security while regular Afghan forces were building to full strength.

Human rights groups warn that US-funded local armed groups sometimes used to fill the void in security have been linked to abuses, violence and extortion.

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Here’s how Mike Pence could step in to sabotage the impeachment trial in the Senate

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Vice President Mike Pence could ultimately end up playing a significant role in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial — and ensure that the case against the president isn't even properly presented.

Pence, being the vice president, is also president of the Senate. And as such, he has the power to resolve ties when senators deadlock. In terms of the final vote to convict, Pence will not need to break any ties, because 67 votes are required. But many other aspects of the Senate trial will be decided by a simple majority, including the rules package, and whether to override Chief Justice John Roberts' decisions on what evidence and testimony is admissible. And so even if a few Republicans break with their party on these issues, Pence may be able to step in and ensure the trial is conducted the way Trump wants it to be.

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Trump complained about Obama’s Hanukkah party — yet did it even worse himself

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President Donald Trump held the official White House Hanukkah party weeks before the holiday was slated to begin on Dec. 22.

Ironically, however, in 2011, Trump attacked President Barack Obama for holding an early Hanukkah party because he would be in Hawaii for the family's annual Christmas celebration.

"Why was the Hanukah celebration held in the White House two weeks early? @BarackObama wants to vacation in Hawaii in late December. Sad," Trump tweeted.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/145253073588203520

Just a few years later when it was his turn to hold a White House Hanukkah party, the goy-in-chief did it even earlier than Obama. In 2011, Obama held his party one week before the "eight crazy nights" began. Trump's party is 11 days out from Hanukkah. Trump lit the candles anyway.

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Israel heads for third election in a year as deadline to form government expires

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Israel is heading for an unprecedented third election within a year after a deadline to create a coalition government ran out at midnight local time on Wednesday and parliament was dissolved.

The prospect of a new election prolongs a political stalemate that has paralysed the government and undermined many citizens' faith in the democratic process.

Initial elections in April were inconclusive and a September re-run of the vote left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief challenger Benny Gantz short of securing the required parliamentary majority to form a government.

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