Top Story: U.S. President Barack Obama described the failure of U.S. intelligence and security agencies to stop 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab -- who attempted to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas day -- as "totally unacceptable." Speaking from Hawaii, where Obama is vacationing with his family, he described the attempted terrorist attack as "a systemic failure."
Obama made the statement as U.S. officials told the New York Times that the United States was aware "a Nigerian" was planning an attack, but did not piece together the information to stop it. More details about Abdulmutallab emerged. The Washington Post reported on his internet postings, in which he describes himself as lonely and depressed.
To Watch: China has its eye, and its money, on Afghan copper.
- Unrest continued in Iran, where pro-government forces staged a mass rally and opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi attended his nephew's funeral.
- Two bombs in Anbar Province, Iraq, killed at least 24 and wounded the governor today.
- The United States is preparing sanctions on Iran, which today denied reports that it brokered a deal to import more than 1,000 tons of uranium ore from Kazakhstan.
- Hamas has rejected a deal and asked for more talks relating to the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, seized in 2006.
- Sudan passed a law allowing a 2011 referendum on independence for the southern half of the country.
- Ill Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua did not preside over the swearing-in of the country's chief justice, raising questions about the legality of the judge and the president's health.
- In Malawi, two gay men who held an engagement ceremony this weekend face time in jail.
- Pirates, again.
- The family of the Briton executed yesterday in China said the government did not do enough to try to save him.
- Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, through which the Flight 253 would-be bomber passed, will use full-body scans for passengers on flights to the United States.
- France's constitutional court rejected a carbon tax due to go into effect on Friday.
- The United States pledged $16 billion for training the Afghan Army.
- Japan announced a long-term growth strategy to create more than 4 million jobs.
- The United Nations sought access to the thousands of ethnic Hmong forcibly moved from Thailand to Laos this week.
- The United States might be gearing up for airstrikes on al Qaeda strongholds in Yemen.
- Recidivism among released Guantanamo detainees is complicating Obama administration plans to shut the facility.
Photo courtesy of U.S. government