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Defense chief Panetta takes first trip to Afghanistan

CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan — US defense chief Leon Panetta visited troops in southern Afghanistan Sunday as part of his first trip to the country since taking up his post and ahead of a withdrawal of some US forces. The former CIA director, who took office on July 1 to replace…

Gaddafi forces counterattack southwest of Tripoli

GUALISH, Libya — Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi launched a counterattack on Sunday against rebel advance positions 50 kilometres (30 miles) southwest of Tripoli, an AFP correspondent reported. Loyalist forces fired half a dozen Grad rockets into the hamlet of Gualish. The rebels replied with anti-tank fire as…

Michigan murder trial reveals sex torture chamber at house

DETROIT (Reuters) – A Michigan murder trial over the killing of a man who was castrated has revealed an apparent torture chamber in the basement of a suburban Detroit house where men were castrated for sexual purposes. Robert Martin Nowak, 51, is charged with murder and criminal sexual conduct in…

Boehner backing down off $4 trillion figure for debt reduction

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An effort to craft a broad deal of up to $4 trillion in deficit-reduction appeared out of reach on Saturday as Republican leader John Boehner cited differences with the White House on taxes and proposed pursuing a more modest package. “Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground,…

Iraq veteran amputee dies after fall from roller coaster

A veteran who lost both legs in Iraq died at an amusement park in upstate New York after he fell from a 208-foot roller coaster, local press reported on Saturday. James Hackemer, 29, died Friday night at the Darien Lake Theme Park Resort near Buffalo, New York after falling from…

Softer pot laws saved Philadelphia $2 million in 2010

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office estimates that it saved the city two million dollars in revenue through a new program designed to deal with individuals arrested with less than 30 grams (slightly more than one ounce) of marijuana. According to The Philadelphia Daily News, new sentencing guidelines have meant that…

Marcus Bachmann’s clinic practices “reparative” anti-gay therapy: reports

Two reports were published claiming that Bachmann & Associates, the Christian counseling clinic owned by Rep. Michele Bachmann’s husband, practices “reparative therapy,” or psychological treatment targeted at reorienting homosexuals. The claim isn’t new — in fact, Marcus Bachmann has refuted it in the media for years. In 2006, he told…

Obama: political sacrifices needed for debt deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Saturday political sacrifices will be needed by both Democrats and Republicans to break a budget impasse and avoid a looming debt default. Under pressure to reduce America’s 9.2 percent jobless rate, Obama used his weekly radio and Web address to vow to…

Defense Secretary Panetta says al Qaeda’s defeat ‘within reach’

KABUL (Reuters) – New U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday, saying he believed the strategic defeat of al Qaeda was within reach if the United States could kill or capture up to 20 remaining leaders of the core group and its affiliates. Panetta, on his first…

Obama urges ‘balanced approach’ in deficit talks

US President Barack Obama urged Democrats and Republicans Saturday to take a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction ahead of a new round of key talks aimed at avoiding America’s default on its debt. “I believe we need a balanced approach,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “That means taking…

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