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5:23 PM, August 27th, 2012
6:21 PM, July 31st, 2012

Inside the house, in a marble room with a shiny new lift that wouldn’t look out of place in a Manhattan hotel, a man in a long gown greets me like a long-lost daughter. At six feet tall, he towers a good seven inches above me. I feel my limbs wobble—his reputation is nearly as fearsome as his bushy moustache. He is General Abdurashid Dostum, Afghanistan’s most powerful warlord, head of the Uzbek tribe, unofficial ruler of the north, and, as the government’s chief of staff, commander of an army of over 25,000 men.

It is only when I tell myself I have nothing to fear that I remember the rumors that make your stomach turn and heart pound, such as the one about how, at Dostum’s command, women had been raped and their breasts cut off before they were killed during the siege of Kabul in 1991. Or the one that told how Dostum ordered 2,000 Taliban prisoners to be asphyxiated in metal shipping containers and left to rot in the desert a few years earlier. Or how he treated his prisoners—tying them to the muzzles of cannons before firing them into the air. Naturally, the General has always denied such stories.

This general tells Magsie Hamilton Little that the Taliban could be defeated in less than year. Read on.
9:49 AM, June 20th, 2012

Frontpage: Wednesday, June 20th

1. Mubarak’s ‘Health Worsens’: Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s health reportedly continued to deteriorate on Wednesday as he was moved from prison to an Army hospital in Cairo. He is reportedly in a coma and on life support.

2. Discipline Advised in Quran Burning: A U.S. military investigation recommended discipline—but not criminal charges—for up to seven soldiers who burned the Quran in an incident that roiled Afghanistan.

3. Assange Could Face Arrest: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could face arrest in Britain for violating his bail terms, Scotland Yard said Wednesday, one day after Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

4. Spain and Italy to Be Bailed Out: At this point, who hasn’t accepted a bailout? German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders reportedly agreed late Tuesday to allow two European rescue funds to buy back the troubled bonds in Spain and Italy in a $950 billion deal.

5. Heat Beat Thunder, 104-98: Will this be LeBron James’s chance to finally win the championship? The Miami Heat ousted the Oklahoma City Thunder 104–98 in Game 4 of the NBA finals, taking a 3–1 lead on Tuesday night.

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Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images:

The Microsoft tablet Surface is unveiled during a news conference at Milk Studios on June 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Read the full story here

11:16 AM, June 6th, 2012

Frontpage: Wednesday, June 6th

  1. Walker Wins Recall in WI: As numbers continue to be tallied, Gov. Scott Walker has been declared the projected winner in the Wisconsin recall election Tuesday night, beating out Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, whom he had defeated in the 2010 race.
  2. Greece: We’re Almost Broke: Greek officials said on Wednesday that despite the most recent bailout, they could run out of money as soon as July—shortly after the country’s pivotal elections.
  3. NATO Strike Kills Afghan Civilians: A local Afghan official said Wednesday that 17 civilians were killed in a NATO airstrike, although NATO officials said there were only two light injuries to civilians. The airstrike also reportedly killed six Taliban fighters.
  4. Clinton Backs Bush Tax-Cut Expansion: As if Democrats didn’t have a bad enough night, Bill Clinton gave the party some more headaches. The former president said on Tuesday he supports the extension of his successor’s tax cuts—a major break from President Obama’s position.
  5. Egyptian Protestors Return: Egyptian protesters returned to Tahrir Square on Tuesday night to protest the presidential candidacy of Ahmed Shafiq, former president Hosni Mubarak’s appointed prime minister during last year’s military crackdown.

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Photo via shortformblog:

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury: The “Fahrenheit 451” author, who wrote numerous other literary classics in his day, died Wednesday at 91. ”If I had to make any statement, it would be how much I love and miss him, and I look forward to hearing everyone’s memories about him,” Danny Karapetian, Bradbury’s son, said to io9. Sad news. 

Reblogged from ShortFormBlog
11:03 AM, April 19th, 2012

Frontpage: Thursday, April 19th

  1. Poll: Condi Tops GOP VP List: Would Condi and Mitt make a good team? Republicans and conservative independents seem to think so, according to a new CNN poll released Wednesday in which former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice earned the most votes for preferred vice president (26 percent). 
  2. CIA Pushes Yemen Drone Campaign: There could be a lot more drone strikes in Yemen soon, if the CIA has its way. The agency is requesting permission to strike targets in the country based only on suspicious behavior, such as surveillance showing militants gathering at al Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives. The problem, say critics, is that al Qaeda is closely linked to the antigovernment opposition fighters, and it’s hard to tell the difference. 
  3. Three Secret Service Members OustedAt least three Secret Service members are being shown the door over the Colombia scandal. The agency announced that one will be fired, another will retire, and a third has been recommended for firing but will be allowed to appeal. Two of the ousted agents are senior supervisors with two decades of experience.
  4. Baghdad Blasts Kill 30: At least 30 people were killed and more than 100 injured Thursday in 12 bombings in Baghdad and other northern Iraq cities, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but a Baghdad military spokesman said al Qaeda was behind them. 
  5. The Sun’s Royal Editor ArrestedBritish police nabbed The Sun’s royal editor and two other people in a dawn raid. The editor, Duncan Larcombe, was arrested on suspicion of paying a public official for information. Scotland Yard says the arrests were based on information obtained from News Corporation’s management-standards committee, which Rupert Murdoch set up after the hacking scandal at News of the World. The Sun is one of Murdoch’s remaining British papers. 

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Photo: Famed entertainer Dick Clark passed away yesterday. Here’s Clark on Dec. 31, 2011, in New York’s Times Square, during what would be his final appearance on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. (Ida Mae Astute / ABC) See more iconic photos of Clark or read John O’Hurley remembering his mentor

2:28 PM, April 16th, 2012

Frontpage: Monday, April 16th

  1. Lawyers: Open Zimmerman File: Media outlets including NBC and The New York Times filed Monday to have the court records unsealed in the case against George Zimmerman, who has been charged with second-degree murder after shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. Court files are normally considered public records in the Sunshine State, but a judge sealed Zimmerman’s file last week. 
  2. Obama, DNC Net $53M in March: More supporters of President Obama are preparing to let their money do the talking for them as his reelection campaign goes into gear. Obama and the Democratic National Committee scooped up $53 million in March, the two announced in a video Monday, a $9 million increase over February and a nearly $14 million jump from January.
  3. Breivik Claims Self-Defense: Anders Behring Breivik, the man accused of killing 77 people in Norway last summer, claimed he did so in self-defense. “I acknowledge the acts but do not plead guilty, and I claim I was doing it in self-defense.” Breivik’s trial moved forward after an expert found him sane, overruling an earlier diagnosis. 
  4. Karzai Faults NATO for AttacksAfghan President Hamid Karzai pointed a finger at NATO for attacks by militants in Kabul and elsewhere in the country Sunday that left 51 people dead. “The terrorists’ infiltration in Kabul and other provinces is an intelligence failure for us and especially for NATO and should be seriously investigated,” Karzai told reporters Monday. 
  5. Scorching Temperatures at Boston MarathonThis isn’t a good sign: because of scorching weather in Boston, organizers of the city’s marathon asked participants to consider sitting it out. The 27,000 runners had low-70s temperatures as the race began, but forecasts call for temperatures to hit the mid-80s by the race’s end.

Photo: Orthodox Christians take part in the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Nir Elias / Reuters-Landov)

10:20 AM, April 10th, 2012

Frontpage: Tuesday, April 10th

  1. Syria: We Are Removing TroopsThe Syrian government said on Tuesday that it has begun to remove troops as the United Nations’ deadline for a ceasefire draws closer—but activists said 12 people had been killed by government forces early Tuesday. 
  2. Tulsa Suspects Confess: Police say the two men arrested in connection with the shooting spree in Tulsa, Okla., have confessed. Alvin Watts, 32, confessed to shooting two people, and Jake England, 19, confessed to shooting three. Three of the victims died and two were seriously injured. All were black, and authorities are still investigating whether the crime was racially motivated.
  3. Radical Cleric Can Be Extradited to U.S.The radical cleric Abu Hamza may soon be on his way to the United States, along with four other men, now that the European court of human rights has ruled their rights won’t be violated by extradition. In 2006 Hamza was sentenced to seven years in prison for inciting hatred at his north London mosque, and he’s also accused of attempting to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon in 1999. 
  4. At Least 15 Killed in Afghan Blasts: At least 15 people were killed by early-morning suicide bombings in Afghanistan, officials say. Eight civilians and three policemen were killed by a blast at a local government office in Herat, while another four policemen were killed by three suicide bombers at a police compound in southern Helmand province. 
  5. MD Teacher Trio Claims Winning Ticket: Three teachers from Maryland came forward to claim their share of the record-shattering Mega Millions jackpot, the state announced Tuesday. The teachers pooled $20 each to buy 60 tickets at various Maryland locations, and will each have $35 million wired to their bank accounts within the next 10 days.

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Photo: In 1941, the great American photographer Edward Weston accepted a commission to illustrate Leaves of Grass, by the great American poet Walt Whitman. A show opening April 21 at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts presents images from the project, all shot on a cross-country trip. See more.

(Edward Weston, Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

11:04 AM, March 21st, 2012

Frontpage: Wednesday, Mar 21st

  1. Romney Sweeps Illinois Primary: Mitt Romney took another major step toward silencing the GOP’s doubters with a decisive win in Tuesday night’s Illinois primary, where he took 46 percent of the vote to Rick Santorum’s 35 percent, and nearly three times as many delegates. 
  2. Obama Plans Korea Border VisitIn a bid to turn up the heat on North Korea before a critical nuclear-security meeting, President Barack Obama plans to visit the demilitarized zone on Sunday. The White House said the trip will show American support for South Korea as the country squares off against its neighbor to the north over nuclear disarmament.
  3. French Police Besiege Suspect: Two days after a shooter on a motorbike killed four people at a Jewish school in Toulouse, French police launched a predawn raid on a house in the city where the only suspect was hiding. Two cops were injured in the hours-long standoff, during which they exchanged fire with the suspect and arrested his brother, who was in the house. 
  4. Super PACs Outspend DonationsA Federal Election Commission (FEC) report filed today shows that the pro-Romney super PAC called Restore Our Future raised just more than $6 million in February—but spent twice that amount. The super PAC has $10 mil in cash left. 
  5. NYPD Boots 300 Occupiers: Spring weather means more Occupy protesters are coming out of hibernation, and the New York Police Department is getting straight to work. The NYPD, dressed in riot gear, threw 300 protesters out of Union Square Park overnight on Wednesday. One person was arrested. 

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Photo: Women celebrate the Persian New Year Nowruz in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Mustafa Najafizada / AP Photo, Mustafa Najafizada)

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11:39 AM, March 15th, 2012

Frontpage: Thursday, Mar 15th

  1. Dems Demand Domestic Abuse LawThe battle over President Obama’s contraception mandate is just winding down, but Congress looks set to divide along party and gender lines once again. This time the issue is the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation would extend grant programs to law enforcement and shelters for battered women, expanding free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence.
  2. Taliban Quits Peace TalksIn a blow to a nascent peace process, the Afghan Taliban announced on Thursday that they would be suspending their negotiations with the United States. The group cited Washington’s “alternating and ever changing position.” It’s not clear whether the pullout is related to the shooting of Afghan civilians on Sunday or the recent burning of Qurans at a NATO base. 
  3. Romney Dismisses Split Convention: Mitt Romney refuses to believe that the GOP primary contest will end without a presidential nominee. “We’re not going to go to a brokered convention,” he said on Fox News Thursday. “The states that remain will vote for that person, and that person will get the delegates, become the nominee.” 
  4. Syria Loyalists Mark Protest Anniversary: Bashar al Assad is marking what he is calling the anniversary of a “year-old conspiracy” against the country by sending thousands of regime supporters into the streets of Damascus. Meanwhile, tanks invaded the city of Daraa, where the protests first began, and shelling continued in Homs for a sixth straight day.
  5. Blagojevich Bids FarewellIn his final speech before heading to prison, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich said that he’s going to “follow the law.” Blago heads to Colorado to begin a 14-year sentence.

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Photo: Samantha Cameron, First Lady Michelle Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and President Barack Obama pose for a photo at White House state dinner. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images). More photos from the dinner

12:24 PM, March 14th, 2012

Frontpage: Wednesday, Mar 14th

  1. Twin Earthquakes Hit JapanTwo earthquakes rattled Japan on Wednesday, just days after the anniversary of 2011’s tragic tsunami. No damages or injuries have been reported from either incident. 
  2. Newt Vows to ContinueNewt Gingrich is sticking in the race, despite a disappointing second-place finish in Alabama and Mississippi. The GOP campaign is essentially a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, with Gingrich representing a potential drag on Santorum. But the former speaker doesn’t see it that way. 
  3. Santorum: ‘We Did It Again’: Rick Santorum was met with huge cheers from his supporters as he exclaimed at the opening of his victory speech in Alabama, “We did it again,” foreshadowing his subsequent win in Mississippi.
  4. Panetta Visits Afghanistan: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Afghanistan, pledging that the U.S. would not change its strategy, despite recent tensions. In a possible acknowledgment of tensions after a U.S. soldier allegedly massacred 16 Afghan civilians, Marines were asked to leave their weapons outside the tent before Panetta spoke.
  5. Goldman Exec Quits in NYT Op-Ed: Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith knows how to go out with a bang. “Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs,” he writes in a New York Times op-ed. He’s been at Goldman for 12 years, and says, “The environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”

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Photo: Indian and U.S. army soldiers performed drills during a two-week joint military exercise in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India. (Dinesh Gupta / AP Photo)

11:04 AM, March 13th, 2012
Frontpage: Tuesday, Mar 13th
Afghans Burn Obama in Effigy: There may be no “rush for the exits,” as President Obama said yesterday, but the administration is weighing changes to its Afghanistan withdrawal strategy, according to The New York Times. The plan was to end combat operations by the end of 2014, but with the recent Quran-burning scandal and last weekend’s massacre of Afghan civilians, the administration is debating whether to accelerate the process. Meanwhile thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Afghanistan to protest Sunday’s massacre, some burning Obama in effigy.
Newt Backer Sued for $375 Million: Sheldon Adelson—the Las Vegas billionaire known for bankrolling Gingrich’s presidential aspirations—is now facing down a $375 million lawsuit. Adelson and his family own Las Vegas Sands, a casino operator, which is being sued by former partner Asian American Entertainment for breach of contract regarding the company’s successful bid for a gambling license in Macau.
Rebekah Brooks Arrested Again: Rupert Murdoch’s flame-haired former deputy Rebekah Brooks is back in jail, part of a police sweep that took in five others in an investigation into phone hacking at News Corp. Brooks’s husband, horse trainer Charlie Brooks, was also taken in. 
Syria Laying Border Land Mines: Report: The forces of Bashar al-Assad have reached a new low, if a report from Human Rights Watch is true. The group says it has multiple accounts of land mines on Syria’s border with Lebanon and Turkey, along routes used by refugees to escape the violence. 
Ohio Bill Targets Viagra Users: A female Ohio legislator introduced a bill Monday that would require men to have medical tests and visit a sex therapist before getting a prescription for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs. Ohio state Sen. Nan Turner said that if lawmakers want to put limits on women’s reproductive health, men’s reproductive health should also be examined. 
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Photo: Prince Harry playing polo. Prince Harry is killing it. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)

Frontpage: Tuesday, Mar 13th

  1. Afghans Burn Obama in Effigy: There may be no “rush for the exits,” as President Obama said yesterday, but the administration is weighing changes to its Afghanistan withdrawal strategy, according to The New York Times. The plan was to end combat operations by the end of 2014, but with the recent Quran-burning scandal and last weekend’s massacre of Afghan civilians, the administration is debating whether to accelerate the process. Meanwhile thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Afghanistan to protest Sunday’s massacre, some burning Obama in effigy.
  2. Newt Backer Sued for $375 Million: Sheldon Adelson—the Las Vegas billionaire known for bankrolling Gingrich’s presidential aspirations—is now facing down a $375 million lawsuit. Adelson and his family own Las Vegas Sands, a casino operator, which is being sued by former partner Asian American Entertainment for breach of contract regarding the company’s successful bid for a gambling license in Macau.
  3. Rebekah Brooks Arrested Again: Rupert Murdoch’s flame-haired former deputy Rebekah Brooks is back in jail, part of a police sweep that took in five others in an investigation into phone hacking at News Corp. Brooks’s husband, horse trainer Charlie Brooks, was also taken in. 
  4. Syria Laying Border Land Mines: Report: The forces of Bashar al-Assad have reached a new low, if a report from Human Rights Watch is true. The group says it has multiple accounts of land mines on Syria’s border with Lebanon and Turkey, along routes used by refugees to escape the violence. 
  5. Ohio Bill Targets Viagra UsersA female Ohio legislator introduced a bill Monday that would require men to have medical tests and visit a sex therapist before getting a prescription for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs. Ohio state Sen. Nan Turner said that if lawmakers want to put limits on women’s reproductive health, men’s reproductive health should also be examined. 

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Photo: Prince Harry playing polo. Prince Harry is killing it. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)

1:43 PM, March 12th, 2012

Frontpage: Monday, Mar 12th

  1. Mississippi Voters: Obama’s a Muslim: Many in the South are not still convinced that President Obama is a Christian. A survey by Public Policy Polling reveals that a majority of Republicans in Alabama and Mississippi—states with primary elections on Tuesday—believe the president is a Muslim. 
  2. Activists: Syrians ‘Massacred’ in Homs: Syrian activists and opposition groups said 26 children and 21 women were “massacred” Monday by pro-government gunmen in the besieged city of Homs. State media confirmed the deaths of at least 12 people, but instead blamed “armed terrorists”—a term Bashar al-Assad’s regime has used to describe the opposition. 
  3. Justice Dept. Strikes Texas Voter ID LawThe U.S. has scuttled a Texas law that would have required voters to show a photo ID in order to vote, arguing that it would have unfairly targeted the state’s Hispanic voters. What’s more, the Justice Department also argued that there was no problem to fix in the first place. 
  4. Afghans Want Public Trial for U.S. Soldier: The Afghan parliament is calling for a public trial against the U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 civilians Sunday. Lawmakers want the man, who allegedly shot dead nine children and three women, to face trial in Afghanistan, and passed a resolution saying that they’ve lost patience with foreign troops.
  5. Nixon Wrote Love LettersThe Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in California is celebrating the 100th birthday of his wife, Pat, with love letters that “Tricky Dick” wrote her years before rising to power. Nixon gushed and called his future bride “sweet ones,” “dearest heart,” and “Irish gypsy.” “Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you,” he wrote. “Let’s go for a long ride Sunday; let’s go to the mountains weekends; let’s read books in front of fires; most of all, let’s really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours.

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Photo: Free Syrian Army fighters console a comrade after an ambulance carried an injured friend to a hospital during fierce fighting against government troops in northern Syria. (Rodrigo Abd / AP Photo)

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10:55 AM, March 9th, 2012

Frontpage: Friday, Mar 9th

  1. Syria Opposition Rejects Talks: The leader of Syria’s main opposition group on Friday rejected the idea of holding talks with President Bashar al-Assad’s government, saying it was pointless to speak to a regime that massacres its own people. 
  2. February Adds 227K Jobs: Another good jobs report. The U.S. economy added 227,000 new nonfarm jobs in February, better than expectations, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the much-anticipated jobs data for the second month of the 2012 election year. 
  3. Israeli Ex-Spy Chief: Don’t StrikeEven the former head of Israel’s intelligence service doesn’t think a military strike on Iran is smart right now. Ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan said now isn’t the time to attack Iran over its nuclear program, and came to the defense of the country that’s often seen as the enemy of Israel.
  4. Taliban: Release bin Laden Wives: The Taliban on Friday pledged to attack the Pakistani government, police, and military officials if three of Osama bin Laden’s widows are not released from custody. 
  5. U.S. Agrees to Afghan Prisoners SwapThe United States has agreed to hand over some 3,200 detainees—most of them suspected Taliban insurgents—to the Afghan government Friday in a much faster transfer than previously expected. 

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Video: Angelina Jolie tells the story of Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Hawa Abdi at Women in the World Summit

10:22 AM, March 1st, 2012

Frontpage: Thursday, Mar. 1st

  1. Senate Takes Up Contraception Bill: An amendment that would allow employers to avoid insurance regulations that they find morally objectionable goes before the Senate for a vote Thursday. Put forward by Republican Senator Roy Blunt, the bill “is about the First Amendment,” said Blunt in a February press release. “It’s not about any one issue.” 
  2. Andrew Breitbart Dead at 43Andrew Breitbart, publisher, commentator, and new-media advocate who helped build the Drudge Report and the Huffington Post in addition to his own aggregation sites, has died. 
  3. 2 U.S. Troops Dead in Afghanistan: Two NATO troops were killed in what may be the latest incident involving an Afghan serviceman—or insurgent masquerading as one—shooting NATO soldiers. 
  4. Gas Could Spike to $5 a GallonTensions between the West and countries like Syria and Iran may conceivably hike gas prices up to $5 a gallon, especially as the summer months loom and Americans plan getaways. 
  5. Syria Rebels Pull Out of Homs: Following a brutal month-long assault—and threats from the Syrian government that they would “cleanse” and “mop up” the city—rebels have fled from the opposition hub of Homs.

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Photo: Carissa Westfall helps salvage products from Nature’s Sunshine Health Foods store in Branson, Missouri, after  storms that spawned tornadoes ripped through the Midwest. (Sarah Conrad / Landov) More photos of the day

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