4:20pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Afghanistan

For U.S. Troops, Fighting Starts At Afghan Border

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 11:37 pm

Staff Sgt. Joshua White (center), Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell (left) and Brigade Sgt. Maj. Mike Boom (right) observe a joint patrol of U.S. Army and Afghan National Army soldiers and Afghan police in Paktika province, Afghanistan, on Oct. 3. The mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan has become a new front line in the Afghan war.
Matt Ford AP

The mountains along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan would be cruel enough without the war raging on below — cliffs drop from 8,000-foot peaks that are spotted with only a few trees among the rocks.

But Afghanistan's eastern border has become the focus of the conflict as militants plot their attacks inside Pakistan, then slip across the rugged frontier to carry them out.

In Afghanistan's southeast Paktika province, Forward Operating Base Tillman looks across toward Pakistan over craggy peaks that American troops have nicknamed "Big Ugly" and "Big Nasty."

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4:04pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Billionaire Dreamer, Aviation Pioneer Aim For Orbit

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 4:26 pm

A computer-generated image provided by Stratolaunch shows the planned carrier aircraft, with a rocket attached on its centerline and six jet engines suspended beneath its wings.
Stratolaunch Systems

4:03pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Around the Nation

How Alabama Banned Holiday Gifts For Teachers

A new ethics law in Alabama bans all government workers — including teachers — from receiving gifts.
Lisa Thornberg iStockphoto.com

This time of year, you might be thinking about what sort of gift or tip you'd like to offer your child's teacher for Christmas.

In Alabama, they won't let you get away with that kind of illegal behavior.

Alabama's new ethics law, which took effect in March, bans nearly all gifts to government workers — not just elected officials, but all state, county and municipal employees. That includes schoolteachers, as a lengthy opinion from the state ethics commission makes clear.

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3:55pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Europe

Europe Gets Austerity, But With Few Signs Of Growth

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 8:20 pm

A French man holds a flare during a protest against the government's austerity measures on Tuesday in Lille, northern France. European governments are proposing austerity measures, but critics say there should also be a plan for economic growth.
Philippe Huguen AFP/Getty Images

The plan European leaders agreed on last week to save the euro doesn't seem to have reassured the markets.

Two ratings agencies said the plan worked out in Brussels, which calls for greater fiscal integration, failed to address the immediate crisis of rising debts and the crushing costs of borrowing.

And some economists worry that the EU leaders are wrong to put so much emphasis on austerity without any real plans to stimulate economic growth.

For example, Portugal's growth rate last year was anemic, and the economies of Greece and Ireland shrank.

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3:30pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Do You Ignore Your Phone While Driving?

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 3:32 pm

Just put it in the cupholder.
Michael Smith Getty Images

"No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life."

That's the message from the National Transportation Safety Board, which today recommended that states "ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers."

That means put the phone down and leave it there.

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3:23pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Middle East

For Some Arab Revolutionaries, A Serbian Tutor

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 7:21 pm

Srdja Popovic, who runs the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies, speaks in Belgrade in February. He played a prominent role in ousting Serbia's dictator in 2000, and has worked with Arabs involved in uprisings in their countries during the past year.
Darko Vojinovic AP

Srdja Popovic, a lanky biologist from Belgrade, helped overthrow a dictator in Serbia a decade ago. Since then, he's been teaching others what he learned, and his proteges include a host of Arab activists who have played key roles in ousting Arab autocrats over the past year.

"This is a bad year for bad guys," Popovic says with a broad grin in a New York cafe.

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3:15pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Law

Immigration Detainees Seek Prison-Rape Protection

Human rights advocates are calling on the Obama administration to do more to protect people in immigration detention centers from sexual assault. A new federal rule that will take effect next year covers inmates in jails and prisons, but some Homeland Security officials want an exemption for facilities that house illegal immigrants.

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3:00pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

You're Fired, Trump Tells Himself; He Won't Be Moderating Any Debate

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 3:59 pm

Donald Trump on the FOX & Friends set last week.
Astrid Stawiarz Getty Images

He'd hinted that this might happen.

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2:58pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Research News

No 'God Particle' Yet, But Scientists Say Stay Tuned

This image, from a sensor at the particle accelerator at CERN, is an example of the data signature a Higgs particle might generate. Researchers will spend into 2012 sifting through data in an attempt to find the Higgs.
CERN

Physicists have a grand theory that describes how tiny particles interact to form all the stuff we see in the universe — everything from planets to toasters to human beings.

But there is one particle predicted by this theory that has never been detected in experiments. It's called the Higgs boson. Scientists are dying to know if it really exists — and now researchers are closer to finding out than ever before.

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2:44pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Facebook Aims To Prevent Suicides With Online Help

iStockPhoto.com

If you're considering suicide, Facebook now stands ready to get you some help.

The gigantic social-networking site said Tuesday that if any of its 800 million users type a post saying they are contemplating suicide, the site will offer to connect them to a crisis counselor through the site's chat system.

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