Chatter: Is General John Allen part of the Petraeus scandal?




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Need to know:
To anyone wondering if the David Petraeus scandal could get any crazier: yes, yes it could.

The Pentagon is now investigating General John Allen – aka the head of NATO forces in Afghanistan – in connection with inappropriate emails to one Jill Kelley, the Florida woman who claimed to have been harassed by Petraeus's lover, author Paula Broadwell.

Still with us? Good, because there's more. The FBI is said to have uncovered as many as 30,000 pages of communications between Allen and Kelley, mostly emails sent from 2010 right up to this year. While Pentagon officials wade through 'em, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered that Allen's appointment as NATO's top commander in Europe be "delayed."

Meanwhile, FBI agents have searched Broadwell's home as part of their ongoing investigation into whether she knew anything she shouldn't have.

You couldn't make this stuff up. Find GlobalPost's full coverage of the latest revelations – and oh, there'll be revelations – here.

Want to know:
Abu Qatada
, the man once described as Osama bin Laden's "right-hand man in Europe," is back on the streets of Britain.

This morning Qatada was released on bail from the English prison where he has been detained, without charge, for the past seven years. He has never been charged with any crime in the UK. He has, however, been found guilty in absentia of involvement in two terrorist bomb plots in his native Jordan, a conviction based on evidence obtained by torturing his co-defendants.

European and now British judges have ruled that Qatada cannot be extradited to Jordan for a re-trial, since there remains a risk that evidence obtained by torture will be used against him – which is contrary to all Europe's definitions of human rights.

It's all very aggravating for the UK's coalition government, which has battled for years to send Qatada home. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says the authorities remain "absolutely determined" to deport him: "He does not belong here... He is a dangerous person."

Dull but important:
Talk about giving with one hand, taking away with the other: euro-zone finance ministers have extended Greece's deadline for reducing its deficit, but delayed their decision on whether to give the country its next slice of the bailout pie.

Greece has asked its neighbors for another $40-billion tranche of rescue funding, without which it will struggle to repay its creditors. Some $6 billion of debt is due for collection this Friday. Yet the euro group decided yesterday that the Greek government hadn't yet done all it should to get their next cash injection, and said they would meet again in a week.

Athens issued short-term bonds this morning in an urgent attempt to raise the money it owes. As the country scrambles to avoid bankruptcy, the prospect of making a significant dent in its debt seems very far off – as the euro group acknowledged by giving Greece an extra two years to meet its deficit-reduction targets. It now has until 2016.

Just because:
Pinhole projectors at the ready: a total eclipse of the sun is due to take place later today.

It's expected to be a particularly impressive spectacle: 108 miles wide, it will coincide with the sunrise and last for the next three hours, traveling some 9,000 miles across the South Pacific Ocean.

You'll have to be in northern Australia or near it to see the eclipse in person, which rules most of us out. Sky gazers can, however, get their fix online – the show begins around 3:30 p.m. EST.

Strange but true:
Dear staff at the Oxford English Dictionary: forgive us for asking, but do you have too much time on your hands?

It's tempting to imagine that, now all the real words are down, OEDers spend their days trawling YouTube comments in quest of made-up ones to add. The latest neologisms they've identified include "Eurogeddon," "super PAC" and "YOLO" ("You Only Live Once." Nope, we've never heard anyone use it either).

But their word of the year, in American English, is "GIF." As in, the movey-picturey things. I GIF, you GIF, he/she/it GIFs, we're all GIFfed, etc. This may be your (British-born) blogger's patriotism talking, but I much prefer the UK English word of the year (or UKEWOTY, as next year's dictionary will no doubt list it): "omnishambles." From whence its spin-off, "Romneyshambles." Poetry!