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Asia
2:36 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Looking For Elephant Ivory? Try China

A Malaysian customs official examines elephant tusks at a port in Kalang. Malaysia has become an ivory transit hub, with African elephant tusks bound for China. Worldwide, authorities seized more than 5,000 smuggled tusks.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 7:53 am

Armed with tips from animal welfare activists, I recently went on an ivory hunt with my Chinese assistant, Yang, in an antiques market in Beijing.

Activists say China's growing purchasing power is driving global demand for products from vulnerable animals, everything from elephant ivory to rhino horn.

Two huge stone lions stood sentinel outside the four-story market nestled among a forest of buildings off one of Beijing's beltways. In China, vendors usually accost shoppers and try to lure them into stores.

Not here.

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Around the Nation
11:01 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Underground Cold War Relics As Doomsday Castles?

Larry Hall shows off the old vents and 9-foot-thick walls of a missile silo he's developing into condominiums.
Frank Morris

One clear threat once menaced civilization: nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The Cold War is over, but decades later, some of the fortifications built to fight that war still dot the American landscape.

Four years ago, Larry Hall bought a nuclear missile silo out on the open rolling land north of Salina, Kan. Hall paid $300,000 and spent much more to clean out all the scrap metal and stagnant water.

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Governing
11:01 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Government Backs Up On Rearview Car Cameras

A camera is used instead of a rearview mirror on the Toyota NS4 plug-in hybrid concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 10.
Mike Cassese Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 5:47 pm

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Governing
11:01 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Shrinking Community Grants Put Cities In A Crunch

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 5:24 am

Budget cuts approved by Congress in the past two years are trickling down to local communities, and officials there are not happy. They say that reductions in community development block grants will hurt the nation's most vulnerable neighborhoods.

Two years ago, the federal government gave out about $4 billion in such grants to low- and moderate-income communities. This year, the figure is $3 billion — a 25 percent cut. And as that pie has shrunk, those whose slices have shrunk even more are hungry for answers.

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Europe
11:01 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Putin Heavily Favored As Russians Pick A President

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin delivers a campaign speech during a rally of his supporters in Moscow, Feb. 23. Putin is mounting a vigorous campaign in the face of growing opposition but is expected to win Sunday's presidential elections.
Yuri Kadobnov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 7:12 am

When Russians go to the polls Sunday, they will have several choices for president. But none is a serious threat to Vladimir Putin, who has been the most powerful figure in Russia for the past 12 years.

Boris Makarenko, a longtime observer of Russian politics, says the candidates arrayed against Putin are all more or less part of what Kremlin leaders call "the systemic opposition."

In other words, he says, they are "the tolerable opposition ... which can never even hope of replacing them in the Kremlin."

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