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For Afghan Female Pilot, A Long, Turbulent Journey

Sep 14, 2011

Col. Latifa Nabizada, the only female pilot in the history of Afghan aviation, travels to some of the most remote and dangerous corners of her country with a devoted partner next to her in the cockpit – her 5-year-old daughter Malalai.

They walk hand-in-hand as they head into the hangar at Kabul's Military Airport, and then board a chopper. They have flown together on more than 300 missions over the past few years, and Col. Nabizada acknowledges the risks of having her daughter on board.

But she says she has no choice. The air force has no child care facility.

You'd be excused if you didn't lose sleep over the news that made its way across the blogosphere overnight: Tareq Salahi, who is better known as the husband in the duo who snuck into a White House state dinner last year, called the cops and the media to say his wife Michaele was kidnapped.

The Colorado Rockies Eliezer Alfonzo is joining some ignominious company: Today Major League Baseball announced it was suspending the catcher for 100 games, after failing a drug test for the second time. Alfonzo tested positive for PED in 2008, when he was in the minor leagues.

The Denver Post reports:

A congressional hearing on Tuesday over a company called Solyndra became a politically charged referendum on the administration's effort to promote green energy.

Until recently, Solyndra made solar panels. It received more than half a billion dollars in government loan guarantees back in 2009. Now, the company is in bankruptcy and is being investigated by the FBI.

Why You Should Wash A Melon Before Chowing Down

Sep 14, 2011

Have you ever heeded the advice to wash and dry a melon before digging in? Does anyone actually eat the skin of a honeydew or a cantaloupe anyway?

Well, even if you're not planning on a mega-dose of fibrous skin and rind, there is a good reason to rinse off that melon: germs. The knife that cuts through the melon's tough exterior can transfer nasty bugs to the sweet flesh you do consume.

For the second time in less than a week, President Obama on Wednesday visited a college campus, touting his new jobs plan. He told supporters at North Carolina State University that if Congress goes along with his proposal for tax cuts and new government spending, it will help to restore middle-class jobs.

A new CNN poll shows more Americans support the president's jobs plan than oppose it.

But that survey and others also find widespread disappointment with the U.S. economy — and Obama's handling of it.

Back in July, Pando Networks, a business focused peer-to-peer network, released the findings of a nationwide study on Internet speeds. It found Idaho has the slowest networks, while Rhode Island, New Jersey and Massachusetts are at the top of the pack.

Post-Irene Cleanup May Damage Environment

Sep 14, 2011

Scientists are beginning to get a picture of the environmental impact of Tropical Storm Irene, which ripped through some of the East Coast's most pristine rivers, triggering hundreds of oil, chemical and sewage spills.

Now, some environmental groups worry that the cleanup could cause even more harm.

Liu Ping's phone is tapped. She's followed by men in black cars. Her electricity was cut off. And she was detained and held incommunicado in a hotel for four days.

Her crime? Trying to run for election to the local People's Congress in her hometown of Xinyu in China's southeastern Jiangxi province.

At an evangelical Christian school in Virginia on Wednesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry found an audience warmly receptive to his message about his own religious commitment.

Perry, the current front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, visited Liberty University after what some considered a lackluster showing in this week's Tea Party debate in Tampa.

Perry didn't deliver his traditional stump speech: Instead of attacks on President Obama and his GOP challengers, Perry spoke about his inspirations and his personal faith.

"There's a long tradition of people who don't like a particular message turning to attack the person delivering the message," former Vice President Al Gore just said on NPR's Talk of the Nation.

That's why, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee added, "I view it as an honor, really," to be the target of Republican jabs on the issue of climate change.

As a new Libyan leadership assesses the country's financial condition, there were fears that ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi, his family and his cronies had looted the treasury.

But it now appears much of that wealth remains frozen in foreign accounts, and Libyan bankers say the billions of dollars worth of gold and cash held by the Central Bank remained basically intact throughout the chaos of the revolution.

One of the many rumors and claims was that a convoy of more than 200 Libyan military vehicles had crossed the border into neighboring Niger.

It's not often that a federal health agency gets to toot its horn about its portrayal in a Hollywood thriller. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took full advantage of the opportunity Tuesday, on the heels of the release of Contagion, a feature film about a deadly global pandemic and the public health workers who try to stop it.

A Slow-Motion Bank Run In Europe

Sep 14, 2011

Update: This post was published on Sept. 14. On Sept. 15, the European Central Bank, along with other central banks from around the world, announced a new lending program to fight the slow-motion run on Europe's banks. Here's more on that program.

For U.S. And Russia, Distrust Still Runs High

Sep 14, 2011

President Obama's policy of engagement with Russia has paid off in several concrete achievements, including a nuclear arms control agreement and greater cooperation on Iran and Afghanistan.

But both supporters and critics of the so-called reset policy worry that further victories will be harder to win.

Both nations are distracted by presidential politics, preventing policymakers from talking seriously about matters such as missile defense.

The harsh, tropical sunlight that dapples Bali's tourist-thronged beaches streams through the fingers of a palm leaf and lands on the shoulders of Nengah, who slumps like a rag doll amid a pile of tattered pillows in the island's far eastern reaches.

The poor village of Abang is remote, and Nengah spends her days in a heap, staring at hands that lie in her lap like dry leaves.

Today, Nengah is not alone. Neighbors have gathered in the mid-July heat to watch as her brother uses a stone to break a chain that has bound her to a concrete pit — her home — for nearly a decade.

NASA Unveils Next Generation 'Monster' Space Rocket

Sep 14, 2011

If things go without a hitch NASA announced that its new Space Launch System could take its first manned test flight in 2017.

The new design looks a lot like the Apollo era rockets that took American astronauts to the moon, but NASA said the new spacecraft is much more powerful than any other rocket they've made before and could set up astronauts for deep space exploration. The SLS will be NASA's first exploration-calss vehicle since the Saturn V took astronauts to the moon.

At the unveiling of the plans Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) called it a "monster rocket."

When U.S. forces launched the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, they were riding a wave of anger and a call for justice by a broad swath of the American public.

Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, says the initial support for the Afghan invasion was around 90 percent, and the war was closely followed by a large number of people. But since then, the public has been slowly disengaging, he says.

While there are still many open questions, some things are more certain in the sorry tale of Solyndra, the now bankrupt solar-cell manufacturer President Obama once praised as a model for the nation's renewable energy future.

One, U.S. taxpayers will take a loss on their $535 million federal loan guarantee that was part of the stimulus program.

Two, 1,100 workers have been laid off.

Three, the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week raided Solyndra's offices.

A story that's been getting some attention the past day or so — that AIDS researchers at the Mayo Clinic have inserted genes into cats that make the animals glow green in the dark — sounded familiar.

Haven't researchers been doing this sort of thing for years? We wondered.