2:02pm

Tue October 23, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Activists Attack Assad Regime, With Puppets

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 7:07 am

This episode of Top Goon featured the Syrian president on the left, a member of the security forces on the right, and a photo of the former president, Hafez Assad, who is the father of the current leader.
YouTube

"I'm not crazy," the figure says, standing alone in a dark room, as if trying to convince himself.

"I'm not crazy?" almost a question this time.

"I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy!" he yells, finally making up his mind.

And, of course, he sounds crazy.

Meet Beeshu, an avatar of the embattled president of Syria, Bashar Assad, rendered in papier-mache and mounted on someone's finger. He's the star of the show Top Goon and the inspiration for its title.

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1:41pm

Tue October 23, 2012
The Impact of War

Iraq Vet Seeks Atonement For Early War Tragedy

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 2:09 pm

A scene from the early days of the fighting in Iraq in the spring of 2003. In one incident, three members of an Iraqi family were killed. A U.S. Marine involved in the shooting recently tracked down the family to ask for forgiveness.
Laurent Rebours AP

On April 8, 2003, in the early days of the Iraq War, the Kachadoorian family found themselves in the middle of a firefight at a major intersection in Baghdad.

They had approached the intersection in three cars and didn't respond to Marines' warnings to stop and turn around; so the Marines opened fire, killing three men and shooting a young woman in the shoulder, not realizing that the people in the car were civilians.

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1:24pm

Tue October 23, 2012
It's All Politics

The Race To 270: A Swing State Scorecard

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 7:11 am

From now until Election Day, the U.S. might as well consist of just eight or so states, not 50.

Those are the battleground states where President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, their running mates and spouses will be spending much of their time in what remains of the 2012 race for the White House.

It's all about amassing the 270 electoral votes required to be elected president. NPR's analysis of the race at this point suggests the eight states that are most in play are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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1:07pm

Tue October 23, 2012
It's All Politics

During Debates, Silence On Some Issues Was Deafening

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 8:13 pm

Demonstrators clash with riot police in Athens while protesting the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Oct. 9. The euro crisis is one of several issues that came up little, if at all, during the U.S. presidential debates.
Max Gyselinck AFP/Getty Images

It's possible that the presidential debates will be remembered mainly for trivia — Big Bird, binders and bayonets.

But Mitt Romney and President Obama did discuss issues of paramount importance, including taxes, entitlements and the role the U.S. should play in the Middle East.

Those issues — and above all else, the economy — dominated discussion throughout the debate season. That meant other important topics such as immigration were barely mentioned, while others never came up at all.

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1:03pm

Tue October 23, 2012
The Two-Way

Update: USAID Says Figures On Flood Aid In Pakistan Misinterpreted

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 3:11 pm

Aug. 28: A flooded road in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Umar Qayyum Xinhua /Landov

Update at 6 p.m. ET:

Our original headline on this post was "U.S. Pledges Exceed Pakistan's Spending On Its Own Flood Relief." As we reported, the Christian Science Monitor has looked into the details of a Congressional Research Service report and concluded that U.S. aid to Pakistan for flood relief exceeded that country's own spending.

But Ben Edwards, a spokesman at the U.S. Agency for International Development, tells us in an email that:

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12:54pm

Tue October 23, 2012
Asia

Cambodia Vs. Sotheby's In A Battle Over Antiquities

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 1:18 am

The United States and Cambodia are locked in a legal battle with the auction house Sotheby's over this 1,000-year-old statue of the Hindu warrior Duryodhana that may have been looted from the Cambodian temple complex at Koh Ker.
Courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's Office

The governments of Cambodia and the United States are locked in a legal battle with the auction house Sotheby's over a thousand-year-old statue. The two governments say the statue was looted from a temple of the ancient Khmer empire. Sotheby's says this can't be proved, and a court in New York will decide on the matter soon.

The case could affect how collectors and museums acquire artifacts, and how governments recover lost national treasures.

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12:40pm

Tue October 23, 2012
It's All Politics

Horses, Bayonets And The Modern Military

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 12:58 pm

U.S. Army Special Forces ride horseback as they work with members of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in 2001.
AP

President Obama said during Monday night's debate that the U.S. Army has fewer horses and bayonets than in the past.

That's true. Although Army Special Forces were on horseback in Afghanistan when they helped defeat the Taliban in 2001, the Army's horses are now used only for ceremonial occasions.

As for bayonets? The last bayonet charge was during the Korean War in 1951.

The bayonet has somewhat gone the way of the horse cavalry, as far as the Army is concerned (although Marines still use bayonets in training).

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12:04pm

Tue October 23, 2012
The Two-Way

Court Lays Bare Strip Club's Argument That Lap Dances Are Art

In New York State, she's not an artist.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

No, the Nite Moves strip club in Latham, N.Y., can't claim that lap dances, pole performances and other moves in its ladies' repertoire are "art" and therefore exempt from sales taxes, New York State's highest court ruled today in a 4-3 decision.

According to The Associated Press:

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11:26am

Tue October 23, 2012
The Salt

Buying Food Past Its Sell-By Date Tough To Swallow For Greeks

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 7:00 am

Bargain-hunting Greek shoppers may soon have more options at the grocery store. The government is asking retailers to discount expired nonperishable products in response to rising food prices.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

Austerity measures continue in Greece as the country sinks deeper into a recession. Incomes have dropped nearly 50 percent in some cases, but food prices are at record highs. The Greek newspaper Ekathimerini recently reported that the country has some of the most expensive food and the costliest dairy products in the entire European Union.

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11:26am

Tue October 23, 2012
Animals

Baby Beluga, Swim So Wild And Sing For Me

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 1:18 am

This image, from an archival video, shows the white whale NOC swimming around and under researchers' boats.
Current Biology

Whales are among the great communicators of the animal world. They produce all sorts of sounds: squeaks, whistles and even epic arias worthy of an opera house.

And one whale in particular has apparently done something that's never been documented before: He imitated human speech.

The beluga, or white whale, is smallish as whales go and very cute, if you're into marine mammals. Belugas are called the "canaries of the sea" because they're very vocal.

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