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  1. SYRIA Assad: I Didn't Start War IRIB TV, via AP

    1. Assad: I Didn't Start War

    Syrian president Bashar al-Assad denied that he was responsible for starting the civil war in his country in an interview on German television Wednesday. "We didn't launch the war and we didn't choose which kind of war," Assad said. He also denied having chemical weapons, saying "how can I use it to fight groups, small groups of terrorists everywhere, especially in cities...[it's] not realistic and not logical." Assad also called for a "national dialouge."

    February 20, 2013 8:56 PM

  2. Immigration debate Most Americans Support Deportation John Moore/Getty

    2. Most Americans Support Deportation

    Americans may not be as keen to ease immigration laws as the Obama administration is. According to a new poll, more than half of U.S. citizens think most or all 11 million illegal immigrants in the country should be deported. The Reuters and Ipsos released Wednesday found a quarter of those polled believe all illegal immigrants should be sent home, and a third said most should be allowed to stay. This fits the trajectory of polls in recent years. "It's not Americans' views that are shifting. It is that the political climate is ripe for this discussion," Ipsos pollster Julia Clark says.

    February 20, 2013 9:00 PM

  3. Confession Jesse Jackson Jr. Pleads Guilty Jackson Jr. enters court on Wednesday. (Win McNamee/Getty)

    3. Jesse Jackson Jr. Pleads Guilty

    Jesse Jackson Jr.’s fall from political grace is now official. The former U.S. representative pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges involving the misuse of more than $750,000 in campaign cash. Jackson was accused of spending campaign funds on Michael Jackson memorabilia, fur capes, and a $43,350 Rolex watch, among other things. His wife also pleaded guilty this afternoon to filing false tax returns. Jackson spent 17 years in Congress, but he took a sudden and mysterious leave of absence this summer for what was later described as bipolar disorder.

    February 20, 2013 5:00 PM

  4. BLADE RUNNER Police: Pistorius’s Story Adds Up Pistorius bail attempt on Wednesday in Pretoria. (Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty)

    4. Police: Pistorius’s Story Adds Up

    In what may prove to be a major setback for the prosecution, the defense presented police testimony in court Wednesday confirming that there were “no inconsistencies” in Pistorius’s story detailing the events that led to his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp’s death. The double-amputee Olympian insists that he shot and killed Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder. The defense’s powerful testimony comes on the heels of a major win for the prosecution earlier in the day, when they presented proof of steroids in Pistorius’s bedroom. Witnesses to the fatal Valentine’s Day shooting testified that they heard screams at Pistorius’s home before the fatal shooting. The Paralympic champion’s appearance in court marks the second day of what is likely to be a lengthy, messy battle.

    A brief history of Oscar Pistorius.

    February 20, 2013 11:25 AM

  5. HEY STRANGER Romney Reappears on Political Scene J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    5. Romney Reappears on Political Scene

    A former presidential candidate can only take so many trips to Costco before he starts to miss the political limelight. Mitt Romney is reportedly set to reemerge from his postelection recess to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference next week. Two sources say his speech will center on "economic and fiscal issues" and is likely to be delivered with a great deal of "optimism." Hopefully Romney's speechwriters have done their homework this time. At last year's CPAC conference, Romney infamously flubbed, referring to himself as a “severely conservative Republican governor." Better luck this time, kemosabe.

    February 20, 2013 1:55 PM

  6. Complicated Former Senator Reveals Secret Son Toby Jorrin/AP

    6. Former Senator Reveals Secret Son

    It took 30 years, but former senator Pete Domenici (N.M.-R) has decided to clean his closet of skeletons. And what a skeleton it is: Domenici says he fathered an out-of-wedlock son with the lobbyist daughter of a fellow Senate Republican, Nevada’s Paul Laxalt. Domenici says he kept the child a secret at the request of the mother, Michele Laxalt. The 90-year-old is still active in politics, and worked behind the scenes to build support for Romney in Nevada in 2012. 

    February 20, 2013 2:30 PM

  7. old media NY Times to Sell Boston Globe Michael Brown / Getty Images

    7. NY Times to Sell Boston Globe

    Another day, another newspaper sale. The New York Times Co. is selling the Boston Globe, the company confirmed Wednesday. The group is working with Evercore Partners to advise the sale, which would relieve the Times Co. of the last media brand outside the Times since they began shedding regional newspapers over the past year. A statement for the company said the move “demonstrates our commitment to concentrate our strategic focus and investment on The New York Times brand and its journalism.”

    February 20, 2013 4:15 PM

  8. WHOOPS Reporter Sparked ‘Friends of Hamas’ Rumor Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

    8. Reporter Sparked ‘Friends of Hamas’ Rumor

    Reporters don’t want everything they do to go viral. A Daily News reporter says he accidentally started a rumor that Chuck Hagel gave a paid speech to controversial groups. Dan Friedman asked a Republican aide whether Hagel had given speeches to the “Junior League of Hezbollah, in France” and “Friends of Hamas” (he says he was talking “hypothetically and hyperbolically”). His source never responded. Shortly after, ran the headline “Secret Hagel Donor? White House Spox Ducks Question on ‘Friends of Hamas.’” The rumor took off from there. The Breitbart reporter said that “Friends of Hamas” might not exist, but he used “very, very specific language” to avoid claiming that it did. Well, that didn’t work.

    February 20, 2013 8:40 AM

  9. GAMER’S HEAVEN PlayStation 4 Unveiled Live Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty

    9. PlayStation 4 Unveiled Live

    Sony, the struggling electronics giant, took to the stage Wednesday night to unveil the highly anticipated fourth-generation PlayStation to a live audience. PlayStation 4 is complete with an entirely redesigned and personalized user interface; social network, smartphone, and tablet integration; a touchpad controller; and a 3-D camera. “Nothing will come between the player, the platform, and the joy of the game,” lead architect Mark Cerny told the crowd. That is, unless players were hoping to use PlayStation 3 games—the console is not compatible with older versions.

    February 20, 2013 6:20 PM

  10. DAS RACIST Palestinian Oscar-Nominee Detained at LAX Damian Dovarganes/AP

    10. Palestinian Oscar-Nominee Detained at LAX

    No one will be thanking the Academy for this one. U.S. officials at Los Angeles International Airport stopped and briefly detained Oscar-nominated Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat, after they questioned "the validity of his Academy Awards invitation." Burnat, who was traveling with his wife and 8-year-old son, is nominated for his film 5 Broken Cameras, which he filmed over the course of five years. In order to convince the airport authorities of his authenticity, Burnat texted fellow filmmaker Michael Moore—who, ironically, was one of the film's harshest critics. Moore successfully vouched for Burnat, and tweeted later "apparently the Immigration & Customs officers couldn't understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee."

    February 20, 2013 6:14 PM

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  12. WELCOME BACK Robin Roberts Returns to ‘GMA’ Heidi Gutman/ABC

    11. Robin Roberts Returns to ‘GMA’

    Pour yourself an early-morning mimosa—America's favorite a.m. news host is back. After a six-month hiatus battling a rare blood disorder, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), Robin Roberts made a joyous return to Good Morning America on Wednesday. The welcome—which the show spent months prepping for—included thousands of messages from her fans on social media, many of whom claim they watch the show only for Roberts. Producers of the segment said they were ecstatic about her return, not simply for the show’s sake, but for her own. “It doesn’t matter about ratings,” one producer said. “She is alive!”

    February 20, 2013 10:25 AM

  13. TEAM COCO Conan O’Brien to Host Correspondents’ Dinner Brad Barket

    12. Conan to Host Correspondents’ Dinner

    Please be the next Stephen Colbert, for all the C-SPAN viewers out there. Conan O’Brien will headline the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 27, the association president announced Wednesday. It’s the second time O’Brien will headline the event—he hosted in 1995. Known as Washington’s “nerd prom,” the dinner brings together some of the biggest political and media players.

    Watch Conan O'Brien's best political jokes.

    February 20, 2013 10:38 AM

  14. EVERYONE GETS ONE Drone Makers Target: U.S. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

    13. Drone Makers Target: U.S.

    All I want for Christmas is a drone. American companies are trying to infiltrate U.S. markets with drone technology. The move comes as defense budgets are shrinking, and firms want to sell the technology to universities, the police, and border patrol companies. The FAA is looking for test sites to see if drones can coexist with commercial planes in American airspace—and they expect to increase drone use by 2015.

    February 20, 2013 11:55 AM

  15. Blast Body Found In Kansas City Rubble Emergency response to gas explosion in Kansas City on Tuesday night. (Ed Zurga/AP)

    14. Body Found In Kansas City Rubble

    Search crews found a body in the rubble of the Kansas City, Mo., restaurant that exploded last night. The natural-gas detonation at JJ's injured at least 15 other people, at least four critically, and sent flames shooting above the buildings of the downtown shopping district. “It sounded like thunder, but it felt like an earthquake,” said witness Tracy Truitt. Due to the smell of natural gas at the restaurant earlier in the evening, JJ’s employees had been canceling reservations—causing the restaurant to be relatively empty when the explosion happened.

    February 20, 2013 6:25 AM

  16. DREAM CASTING Wiig, Rogen to Guest on ‘Arrested Development’ Kevin Winter / Getty Images

    15. Wiig, Rogen to Guest on ‘Arrested Development’

    Annyong, Kristen Wiig! The Saturday Night Live alum and Bridesmaids breakout is set to guest-star, along with Seth Rogen, on the upcoming Netflix revival of Arrested Development. According to Vulture, Wiig will play—in a genius bit of casting—a younger version of Jessica Walters’s boozy, brassy matriarch Lucille Bluth. It’s unclear what role Rogen will play, or in how many episodes the actors will appear. Arrested Development launches on Netflix in May.

    February 20, 2013 11:42 AM

  17. HELP NEEDED Detroit Deemed a 'Financial Emergency' Bill Pugliano/Getty

    16. Detroit Deemed 'Financial Emergency'

    Motown's lost its mojo. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is reportedly close to enacting a takeover of The Motor City following a team review—which he ordered—that claimed the city is in a state of "financial emergency." Detroit's sinking economy is nothing new, but after a myriad of attempts to pull it out of financial ruin, Gov. Snyder is losing patience. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who opposes the idea of an "emergency financial manager," said the declaration by the Gov.'s review team wasn't surprising. Still, he's reluctant to handover the reins to the powers above. If the team's calculations are right—claiming the city's deficit will reach $100 million by June 30—he might have no choice.

    February 20, 2013 11:52 AM

  18. A Mockery?

    17. Harlem Reacts to ‘Harlem Shake’ Meme

    No surprise here. Several Harlem residents are less than thrilled with the viral “Harlem Shake” videos, wherein groups of people in crazy costumes thrash around to a song by Brooklyn producer Baauer. Filmmaker Chris McGuire recorded residents’ alternately confused and insulted reactions to the videos. “That’s not the Harlem Shake at all. That’s humping,” said one man. “It’s an absolute mockery of what it was because there’s actually a sense of rhythm that goes along with it,” said a woman. The original Harlem Shake was a dance that began in Harlem in 1981 and was derived from an Ethiopian dance, the “Eskista.”

    February 20, 2013 1:15 PM

  19. CONTROVERSY Mantel Book Sales Up Since Kate Dis Duchess of Cambridge on Tuesday. (Pool photo by Mary Turner)

    18. Mantel Book Sales Up Since Kate Dis

    Does it all seem worth it now? Booker Prize–winning author Hilary Mantel’s novels have increased sales since her comments that the Duchess of Cambridge “appeared to be designed by a committee and built by craftsmen with a perfect, plastic smile.” While Mantel’s essay has drawn plenty of criticism throughout Britain—even Prime Minister David Cameron weighed in, calling the comments “completely misguided”—she has had some defenders, who have pointed to the essay’s nuanced portrayal of the role of a modern royal, whose main job it is to produce an heir.

    February 20, 2013 8:37 AM

  20. YIKES Congress: 15 Percent Approve Joint congressional session for Pres. Obama's SOTU on Feb. 12. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

    19. Only 15 Percent Approve of Congress

    Oh, Congress. Just 15 percent of Americans approve of Congress and a whopping 81 percent disapprove of the way they are handling the job, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday. But things aren’t quite as bleak as those numbers seem: unbelievably, it’s up from Congress’s all-time low approval rating of just 10 percent from February to August 2012. It’s also a point up from January. Democrats fared slightly better than Republicans, with 19 percent approval, as opposed to Republicans, who mustered just 12 percent—which is a huge leap from its dismal 6 percent approval rating in January. Maybe the sun will come out after all for Congress after a long and lonely winter. Of course, there’s always the looming sequester drama …

    February 20, 2013 6:35 AM

  21. HISTORIC Cameron Visits Indian Massacre Site Cameron in Amritsar, India on Wednesday. (AP)

    20. Cameron Visits Indian Massacre Site

    British Prime Minister David Cameron made a historic visit on Wednesday to Amritsar, where at least 379 Sikh civilians were killed by British troops in 1919. Cameron quoted Winston Churchill, who was secretary of war at the time of the massacre, in describing the mass killing as “monstrous”—although Cameron stopped short of issuing an apology.  “This was a deeply shameful event in British history,” Cameron said. British troops opened fire on the civilians during a protest against oppressive laws enforced by the Punjab government—which was overseen by British colonial authorities. Sunil Kapoor, whose great-grandfather was killed in the massacre, said he is “not satisfied” with Cameron’s visit since he had not made an apology. “For 94 years, we are waiting for justice,” Kapoor said.

    February 20, 2013 6:55 AM

  22. He Said, She Said Clarkson ‘Bullied’ by Davis Memoir Harper Smith

    21. Clarkson ‘Bullied’ by Davis Memoir

    And let the backlash begin. Kelly Clarkson has penned an open letter on her blog in response to claims made by music mogul Clive Davis in his new memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life. Clarkson, whom Davis and Simon Fuller signed to RCA Records after she won the first season of American Idol, says she feels “bullied” by Davis, who claims she burst into “hysterical sobbing” after he forced her to include “Since U Been Gone” on her 2004 Breakaway album. But Clarkson insists “his stories and songs are mixed up.” “I cried after I played him a song I had written about my life called ‘Because of You,’” Clarkson wrote. “I cried because he hated it and told me verbatim that I was a ‘sh--ty writer who should be grateful for the gifts that he bestows upon me.’” The singer also refutes Davis’s claims that she did not co-pen any hit songs on her third album, My December.

    February 19, 2013 6:39 PM

  23. last-minute decision Georgia Court Halts Execution via AP

    22. Georgia Court Halts Execution

    Better last-minute than never. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals halted the planned execution of a Georgia man who killed a fellow prisoner in 1990 after recent affidavits by doctors changed their mind and agreed he has a mental disability. Warren Lee Hill was granted a stay of execution as he was being prepared for lethal injection Tuesday night, after the Supreme Court of Georgia and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop the execution. The appeals judges wrote that further review was necessary after “all of the experts—both the State’s and the petitioner’s—now appear to be in agreement that Hill is in fact mentally retarded.”

    February 19, 2013 10:40 PM

  24. GUN CONTROL? Joe Biden: ‘Buy a Shotgun’ Hunter Martin/Getty

    23. Joe Biden: ‘Buy a Shotgun’

    Out gun shopping and not sure which firearm will best suit your needs? Just ask Uncle Joe. Vice President Biden, who’s been guiding the administration’s gun control legislation, says he told his wife, Jill, that she should get a double-barreled shotgun as protection for herself and their home. Assualt weapons, he said, are not effective. “You don’t need an AR-15—it’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use, and in fact you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself,” he said in a Facebook town hall with Parents Magazine on Tuesday. Of the White House’s gun-control agenda, he admitted it won’t be a cure-all, but over time, will be impactful.

    February 19, 2013 8:30 PM


    24. Texas Mom Has Two Sets of Twins

    A Texas woman gave birth last week to two sets of identical twin boys on the same day—a feat that doctors say is likely only to happen in one in 70 million births. Ace, Blaine, Cash, and Dylan were born on Valentine’s Day to Tressa Montalvo, 36, and her husband, Manuel, 43, in Houston. Twins only occur in about 2 percent of all births, and identical twins, when a fertilized egg splits in two, make up just 30 percent of all twins. In this case, two fertilized eggs split, resulting in quadruplets that are really two sets of identical twins. The boys will join older brother Memphis, 2, but the Montalvos said they may someday try for a girl. Some parents are never satisfied.

    February 20, 2013 7:20 AM

  26. SHAKEUP Report: Soledad O’Brien Leaving CNN Soledad O'Brien on Feb. 6. (Jennifer Graylock/Getty for The Heart Truth)

    25. Report: Soledad Leaving CNN

    On the bright side, Soledad O’Brien can probably start sleeping in now. The Starting Point anchor is reportedly leaving the network after a deal for a primetime gig never materialized, sources told the New York Post on Wednesday. Erin Burnett will be taking over O’Brien’s slot alongside new co-anchor Chris Cuomo in part of a “flurry of announcements” at the network, sources said. “Soledad is talented at producing in-depth, serious pieces of journalism, and is a tough interview,” a source said. “That doesn’t seem to fit the direction the network is going.” O’Brien recently commented that she was “fairly confident” she wouldn’t be “cooking salmon and doing fashion shows” once Jeff Zucker takes over the network.

    February 20, 2013 7:15 AM

  27. TRAGIC

    26. Russian Questions Adoptee’s Death

    Russian officials said Wednesday that they are investigating the death of a 3-year-old boy who was adopted by a family in Texas—a case Moscow is using to garner support for a ban on U.S. adoptions. Maxim Shatto, found dead on Jan. 21 in his home in Texas, has been called “yet another case of inhumane treatment of a Russian child adopted by American parents” by Russian Foreign Ministry human-rights representative Konstantin Dolgov. More than 60,000 children have been adopted from Russia in the past 20 years, but Moscow recently instated a ban on U.S. adoptions as retaliation for a U.S. law that prohibits Russian officials accused of human-rights violations from visiting—although Moscow has used the deaths of 19 children over the past decade as justification for the adoption ban.

    February 20, 2013 7:00 AM