12:01am

Fri December 16, 2011
Monkey See

Diablo Cody Explores The Ugly Side Of Pretty In 'Young Adult'

Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary in Young Adult.
Phillip V. Caruso Paramount Pictures

Charlize Theron is ugly in Young Adult, the new film from the Juno team of director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody — both literally and personally. In parts of the film, she still looks like her knockout movie-star self, but in other parts, she looks like she's aged a year for every day since her character, Mavis Gary, left high school.

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12:00am

Fri December 16, 2011
Remembrances

Writer Christopher Hitchens Dies At 62

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:06 pm

Writer and commentator Christopher Hitchens died Thursday. He was 62.
Amanda Edwards Getty Images

The influential writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens died on Thursday at the age of 62 from complications of cancer of the esophagus. Hitchens confronted his disease in part by writing, bringing the same unsparing insight to his mortality that he had directed at so many other subjects.

Over the years, Hitchens' caustic attention was directed at a broad range of subjects, including Henry Kissinger, Prince Charles, Bob Hope, Michael Moore, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.

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6:17pm

Thu December 15, 2011
The Two-Way

Puerto Rican Mayor Causes A Stir With Wild Christmas Card

A Santini family portrait.
Jorge Santini

We are late to this news, but because it's just now picking up steam in the mainland United States, we'll share it. This was the official Christmas card of Jorge Santini, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, this year:

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5:59pm

Thu December 15, 2011
It's All Politics

Iowa Gov. Branstad On GOP White House Contest: 'It's A Wide Open Race'

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 9:14 am

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Iowa's popular Gov. Terry Branstad hasn't endorsed any of the Republican presidential candidates crisscrossing his state yet.

Which means he can at least claim to be above the intramural GOP fray scheduled to end in a few weeks when his state's Republican voters attend caucuses to choose their preference for their party's White House nominee.

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5:58pm

Thu December 15, 2011
Europe

After Protests, Russia's Putin Takes To The Airwaves

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:10 pm

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (L) speaks during a phone-in TV program in Moscow on Thursday. With widespread fraud alleged in recent parliamentary voting, Putin faced much more critical questioning than usual.
Alexey Druzhinin AFP/Getty Images

For the first time in more than a decade running Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is facing serious opposition to his rule. And that meant he faced tougher than usual questions Thursday at his annual question-and-answer session that lasted more than four hours on Russian television.

"Do you think the elections are honest and their results are fair?" the TV moderator asked him, reading an emailed question.

"The election results absolutely reflect the balance of power in the country," Putin said.

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5:28pm

Thu December 15, 2011
Leaving Iraq

U.S. Flag Comes Down, And Iraq War Is Officially Over

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 8:22 pm

A U.S. convoy departs from Contingency Operating Station Kalsu, a U.S. base about 60 miles south of Baghdad. For many U.S. troops, it is the last stop in Iraq on the way out of the country.
Sean Carberry NPR

After nearly nine years of war in Iraq, a subdued flag-lowering ceremony in Baghdad on Thursday marked the official end of one of the longest U.S. military missions in American history.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta watched over what's known as the casing of the colors — when the U.S. military flag is put away and sent back to the United States. The flag will then be retired and perhaps later go on display at the Pentagon.

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5:21pm

Thu December 15, 2011
World

New Iran Sanctions, And Fears They Could Backfire

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 7:40 pm

Reporters interview Iranian Minister of Petroleum Rostam Ghasemi before the start of the 160th meeting of the OPEC Conference in Vienna, Dec. 14. The global market for oil complicates the issue of U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Xu Liang Xinhua /Landov

The U.S. Congress has approved legislation that targets the Central Bank of Iran and is intended to make it more difficult for that country to sell its oil abroad.

But the latest sanctions could backfire. Reduced oil supplies on the world market could mean higher prices, and therefore Iran could actually make more money from its oil even if it sells fewer barrels.

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5:10pm

Thu December 15, 2011
The Salt

When The Formerly Rich Need Help Buying Food

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:27 pm

Food stamps aren't "stamps" anymore — they're debit cards. But they won't get you a trip to Hawaii.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

The image of rich folks using food stamps to buy filet mignon is becoming the 21st-century version of the Reagan-era "Welfare Queen."

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5:01pm

Thu December 15, 2011
NPR Story

Iowa Gov. Discusses GOP Presidential Field

It's a big night in Iowa: The Republican presidential candidates are holding their final big debate prior to the Iowa caucuses, which take place on Jan. 3. Melissa Block talks with Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad about various candidates' strengths and weaknesses. In short, he says there's a lot of excitement, and he's reserving judgment on who the winner will be.

4:57pm

Thu December 15, 2011
NPR Story

Tracking An Order In Real-Life Santa's Workshops

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 8:23 pm

Javier Polendo, an employee at a largely automated Target.com fulfillment center in Tucson, Ariz., scans items to be shipped to online customers.
Ted Robbins NPR

There's a world of activity between the time online shoppers click the "place order" button and when a holiday package is delivered to their doorsteps. The National Retail Federation estimates that 38 percent of holiday purchases will be made online this year, which is keeping fulfillment centers large and small very busy.

Target.com runs five fulfillment centers. One of them, in Tucson, Ariz., stretches the length of 16 football fields.

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