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Yushchenko Apparently Loses Ukrainian Presidency

Exit polls announced within minutes after elections ended in Ukraine indicate the country's current and former prime ministers will emerge from a field of 18 candidates to face one another in a run-off in three weeks.  Incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko appears out of the running with a reported fifth-place finish. An exit poll conducted by Kyiv's Razumkov Center shows Viktor Yanukovych, who was accused of rigging the 2004 election, has garnered more than 31 percent of the vote.  Yulia Tymoshenko, the current head of government, has more than 27 percent, a bit higher than expected.  Incu

Record Ransom Frees Hijacked Tanker off Somali Coast

A record ransom payment has secured the release of a massive oil tanker seized in November by Somali pirates.  Piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia nearly doubled in 2009 from the previous year. The Maran Centaurus was the second-largest vessel ever captured and was carrying an estimated $2 million barrels of oil. The pirates claim they received $5.5 million for the ship's freedom, but a separate figure places the amount dropped on the ship at $7 million.  Both are believed to exceed any previous figure paid to the Somali sea bandits. Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya-based East Africa

Operation Nets 3,500 Pounds of Drugs, Thousands in Cash

An Afghan-ISAF joint operation in the Panjawi district, Kandahar province discovered 3,500 pounds of marijuana and opium as well as about $48,000 (U.S.) (33,000 €) worth of Pakistani Rubies and $4,000 (U.S.) (3,000 €) in Afghan currency. In the course of the operation, a combined air assault and direct fire engagement, 10 insurgents were killed. No innocent Afghan civilians were injured in this operation. The joint force detained five men and protected 10 women. The joint force accounted for the money and turned it over to local authorities. The drugs were destroyed.

Florida Guard Establishes Flight Center for Haiti

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., Jan. 18, 2010 – The Florida Air National Guard's 101st Air and Space Operations Group here is paving the way for air operations in the emergency response to Haiti.  Florida Guardsmen have been working to assist the Haitian government, Federal Aviation Administration, and U.S. Southern Command in coordinating the flow of supplies into Haiti’s Port-au-Prince Airport since Jan.

Comfort Staff Readies for Haitian Patients

As the hospital ship USNS Comfort continues its race south to Haiti, sailors aboard the vessel race to get the facilities ready for the expected patients. The Comfort, bulling its way through stormy seas, will receive another 350 medical personnel and support staff when it reaches the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, Navy Capt. (Dr.) Jim Ware, commander of the medical treatment facility. This, he explained, will allow the staff to double the number of operating rooms. The staff wants 11 operating rooms ready upon arrival in Port-au-Prince, expected to be Jan. 21.

The gun cencus tax form myth explodes!

The Form 1040 is out...and surprise of surprises, there is no space to list all of your guns!

Haiti Earthquake Displaces 300,000

In its first estimate, the United Nations reports about 10 percent of the housing in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince has been destroyed, leaving some 300,000 people homeless.  The UN says a full assessment of the damages inflicted by the powerful earthquake will take several days to complete. The United Nations says some 3.5 million people are living in areas affected by the earthquake. Nearly three million are in the capital, Port-au-Prince, which was most seriously affected.  Aid agencies say it is too soon to know how many people were killed and injured.

US, China at Odds Over Taiwan Arms Deal

China is warning the United States that the recently announced sale of air defense missiles to Taiwan could damage trust between Washington and Beijing, and that further protests might follow.  China has called on the United States to end all arms sales to the island, but the missile deal is one of several advanced weapons systems that are likely to be approved by the U.S. Congress in the coming months. The planned U.S. sale of Patriot air defense missiles to Taiwan is part of a larger package of high-end military hardware that originally was approved by former U.S. president George W.