US to send 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan

President Barack Obama vowed to “finish the job” in Afghanistan as he finalizes a decision on deploying tens of thousands of more troops to turn around the war against the Taliban.Amid reports he will authorize 34,000 more US soldiers to take on Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, Obama said he was determined to wipe out the insurgency and would end months of deliberation after Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Obama, accused of dithering on his decision, said he would make it clear “the Afghan people ultimately are going to have to provide for their own security,” and would call on allies in Europe and beyond to help. “After eight years, some of those years in which we did not have, I think, wither the resources or the strategy to get the job done, it is my intention to finish the job,” he said after talks on Tuesday with Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh. “We are going to dismantle and degrade their capabilities and ultimately dismantle and destroy their networks. And Afghanistan’s stability is important to that process.

Obama faces a public sharply divided on the war and calls from Democratic allies to set a flexible timetable for withdrawal eight years after US-led forces invaded Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks. “I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we are doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive,” he predicted. Obama also said “the whole world” has a responsibility to help the US-led mission in Afghanistan, and his announcement would detail “the obligations of our international partners.” The president has been weighing requests from his Afghan war commander, General Stanley McChrystal, to send up to 40,000 more troops to join 68,000 US troops already there.

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Google says sorry to US first lady

Google has apologized over a racially offensive picture of US first lady Michelle Obama, which appears when users search for images of Michelle, the BBC has reported. Google placed a notice over the image, warning “Offensive Search Results”, saying: “Some times, our search results can be offensive. We agree.” However, it refused to remove the picture from its search results. The White House did not comment. A BBC report said users who click on the notice above the image are directed to a statement from Google which explains that its results “can include disturbing content, even from innocuous queries.” We apologize if you have had an upsetting experience using Google,” it further adds.

Google says a website’s ranking in its search results relies heavily on computer algorithms, using thousands of factors to calculate a page’s relevance to a given query. But the search engine says it does not remove images simply because it receives complaints. “Google views the integrity of our search results as an extremely important priority,” it said, adding that: “Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it.” However, the company said it would take down certain images, if required by law to do so. A Google spokesperson would not give details on how the image ended up as top result for Michelle.

David Vise, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist and author of The Google Story told the BBC that Google results get to the top based on popularity, not because of any ranking system used by the search engine. “If Google got a call from the White House telling them it is against the law to have an offensive image of this kind which portrays the first lady in a racist manner as a monkey or an ape, then they would be obliged to take it down and I am sure they would do so immediately,” he said.

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