Chatter: Benghazi investigation slams US State Department




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Need to know:
Hillary Clinton told us to blame her – albeit indirectly – for the security failings that contributed to the deaths of four Americans at a US consulate in Libya when it was attacked on Sept. 11. Now that's what the official investigation has told us, too.

An independent report, released last night, roundly criticizes Secretary Clinton's State Department for "systemic failures" that resulted in "grossly inadequate" arrangements to protect the Benghazi consulate and its staff. Requests for extra security guards were ignored, the report said, as were warning signs that Benghazi was becoming an increasingly dangerous place for foreigners.

State Department officials claim they are already taking measures to correct their mistakes – including asking Congress for an extra $1.3 billion to spend on security.

"To fully honor those we lost, we must better protect those still serving," said Clinton. Blame games aside, it's hard to disagree.

Want to know:
The World Health Organization has all but called off its anti-polio campaign in Pakistan, after another two health workers were shot dead.

Eight people have now been killed since the vaccination drive began on Monday. Several others have been injured. The WHO has pulled its staff off the streets, and many local volunteers are, understandably, refusing to continue.

It's still not clear who is behind the attacks, which are some of the worst ever to target health workers. The Pakistani Taliban have long made threats against those involved in anti-polio efforts, though a spokesman denied that the group had carried out these latest killings. If not them, who would do such a thing?

Dull but important:
Remember LIBOR? The thing that sounds vaguely like a Harry Potter character but is actually the London Interbank Offered Rate, one of the world's most important financial benchmarks and the center of an international banking scandal?

Well, it's back. After Barclays of the UK became the first bank to pay fines for rigging LIBOR rates for profit, back in June, UBS has now agreed to settle similar claims – and for a lot more dosh. The Swiss bank will pay a total of $1.5 billion to US, UK and Swiss financial authorities, a sum that makes Barclays' $450-million penalty look like petty cash.

Barclays always maintained that its bankers' wrongdoing would pale in comparison to that committed on other trading floors. So far, it looks like it was right. And with more than a dozen other banks under investigation in the US, Canada, Japan and a number of European countries, further fines are sure to follow.

Just because:
There have been furious protests in Delhi today, as activists demand an end to what they call the rape crisis in India's capital.

Backing up that claim is the latest, and especially brutal, attack: on Sunday night, a 23-year-old woman traveling home on a bus was gang-raped, slashed with a knife, beaten with an iron rod, and eventually dumped on the roadside. She remains in critical condition.

That horrifying incident is only the latest in a string of violent crimes, committed almost casually and apparently without fear of prosecution. But at least now, GlobalPost's Jason Overdorf writes, India's brazen and spectacular violence has begun to prompt soul-searching.

Strange but true:
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer isn't just a festive myth
– at least (kids, look away now) the red-nosed part.

It turns out reindeer noses turn pinker the colder it gets, as extra blood flows there to keep the surface warm. Researchers say it's an evolutionary feature to keep their wee schnozzes from freezing.

Now if only we could find out why elves need such big ears, we'd have Christmas mysteries – ho ho ho – all wrapped up.