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Afghanistan
3:20 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

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

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

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 10:37 pm

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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The Two-Way
3:04 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Billionaire Dreamer, Aviation Pioneer Aim For Orbit

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

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 3:26 pm

Remember when the space shuttle — aka "space truck" — was going to make make trips into Earth orbit a routine thing? It really didn't turn out the way people had hoped. Now there's a new pretender to throne, another team ready to try and make bring flights into space a little closer to an everyday reality.

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Around the Nation
3:03 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

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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Europe
2:55 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Europe Gets Austerity, But With Few Signs Of Growth

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

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 7:20 pm

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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The Two-Way
2:30 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Do You Ignore Your Phone While Driving?

Just put it in the cupholder.
Michael Smith Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 2:32 pm

"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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