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Negroponte to State? You Heard It Here First.

Osama's Not Dead; He's Resting

And now, the Monty Python Dead Parrot Award for 2006. It's always best to wait till the very end of the year before declaring the winner of this prestigious spinmeister award -- given in honor of the iconic scene in which Michael Palin, as a pet-shop owner, insists that the obviously dead parrot he just sold John Cleese's character is merely napping.

And, sure enough, the winning entry came in on Dec. 28, when CNN's Ed Henry interviewed White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend.

Henry pressed her to admit that the administration's failure to kill or capture Osama bin Laden in the past five years was, well, a failure. She wouldn't.

"Well, I'm not sure," Townsend said. "It's a success that hasn't occurred yet. I don't know that I view that as a failure."

Britain, Finally in the Black

A happy new year to the Brits, who began 2007 debt-free for the first time since World War II. The British, according to wire services, transferred $84 million to the U.S. Treasury, the final installment in repayment of a $4.34 billion loan made in 1945 so they could stave off bankruptcy after having spent almost all their resources fighting Nazi Germany.

The loan, the equivalent of $232 billion in today's money, according to Bloomberg News, was double the size of Britain's economy at the time.

Castro's Down but Not Out

Meanwhile, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro sent a New Year's Eve message to the media to mark his 48 years in power. "Regarding my recovery," he said in the note read on state television, "I have always warned that it could be a prolonged process, but it is far from being a lost battle."

Castro, according to the Associated Press, "said he was still 'in the loop' when it came to matters of state."

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