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  1. END IN SIGHT? Syrian General, 20 Soldiers Defect A Syrian rebel crosses the street in Aleppo on March 11. (JM Lopez/AFP/Getty)

    1. Syrian General, 20 Soldiers Defect

    A brigadier general and about 20 soldiers defected from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Army in two separate incidents on Saturday, a sign that the Army has seriously weakened in the two-year civil war. “It is not possible for anyone to accept any of the ideas of this regime unless they have achieved special interests,” said Brig. Gen. Mohammed Khalouf in a videotaped statement broadcast on Al Arabiya. There was no comment from Syrian state television. A study by the Institute for Strategic Studies found that Assad’s Army could have diminished to 50,000 people from an estimated 300,000 before the crackdown began. An estimated 70,000 civilians have died in the bloody civil war.

    March 16, 2013 6:44 PM

  2. SO HOT RIGHT NOW Rand Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll Senator Rand Paul at CPAC on Thursday. (Alex Wong/Getty)

    2. Rand Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll

    Young voters are ruling CPAC. The libertarian Kentucky senator won CPAC’s Saturday night’s presidential straw poll—which many people consider an indicator of how the Republican Party will swing in 2016. Paul has been somewhat of a star at the annual convention for conservative voters, although he received real competition from Sarah Palin, whose theatrical sip from a Big Gulp nearly stole the show on Saturday. While CPAC used to just be for the fringes of the Republican Party, this year’s convention has brought out Mitt Romney (in his first public post-election appearance, no less), Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rand Paul, with Tea Party Texas Sen. Ted Cruz giving the keynote address on Saturday night.

    March 16, 2013 6:09 PM

  3. Papal Priorities Pope Calls for Church Austerity Pope Francis before speaking with the media on Saturday. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty)

    3. Pope Calls for Church Austerity

    Must be those Jesuit roots. On Saturday, Pope Francis gave his clearest indication yet that his papacy will be marked by a focus on austerity and social justice. “I would like a poor church, and for the poor,” he said offhand to a group of reporters. He had been explaining the origins of his papal name, which was inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his peaceful nature and sympathy for the needy. His reign seems to be a shift from Benedict's inward-looking papacy, and he has already set a strong moral tone for what is to follow. Everyone, he said, should try to understand the church's “journey in the world” and, most of all, seek “truth, goodness, and beauty.”

    March 16, 2013 11:12 AM

  4. Green Man Obama Announces New Energy Plan Pres. Obama tours energy research facility in Argonne, Ill., on Friday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

    4. Obama Announces New Energy Plan

    Could it be true this time? President Obama announced in his weekly address on Saturday that a new energy plan could wean America off oil ... by drilling for oil. The plan is to use funds from drilling on public land to fund alternative energy research, using America's current oil dependence to find better alternatives. In fact, the address was filmed at a special location to underline the importance of the plan: the president spoke from a green-energy research lab in Lemont, Illinois. “After years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to take control of our energy future,” he said. Let’s hope it’s for real this time.

    March 16, 2013 11:09 AM

  5. How Dare You T.I. Blasts TMZ for Lil Wayne Reports VH1

    5. T.I. Blasts TMZ for Lil Wayne Reports

    After getting caught in 2010 with what looked like sizzurp in his car, we can see how T.I. sympathizes here. In Austin at the South by Southwest festival, SkeeTV talked to T.I., who criticized TMZ for its apparently premature report Friday night about Lil' Wayne's health. The celebrity news site reported that Wayne was dying and being given "his last rites" after overdosing on sizzurp, a cough syrup-laced drink. "TMZ, all of y'all take this entertainment shit way too far" T.I. said. "We live and hurt. We got mommas, we got kids. They hurt, we hurt." Lil' Wayne is now reported to be in critical condition but "recovering."

    March 16, 2013 4:07 PM

  6. Despicable

    6. Swiss Tourist Gang-Raped in India

    A Swiss tourist traveling through India on a cycling tour with her husband was raped by four men on Friday, police said. The attack occurred while the woman, 39, and her husband were camping in dense forest in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. A deputy inspector general of police said that the couple were attacked by seven or eight men and the woman, 39, was raped by four of the men. The couple was brought to a nearby police station by a motorcyclist, whom they stopped on a road some 400 yards away from their camp site. However, the woman had to travel another 53 miles to Gwalior to receive medical attention. Police are interrogating 20 suspects, but none have been arrested yet. This is the latest example of rising incidents of reported rape in India, with reports of gang rape becoming increasingly common especially in northern India.

    March 16, 2013 12:04 PM

  7. Tragic Seton Hill Team Bus Crash Kills Two Joe Hermitt/Patriot-News via Landov

    7. Seton Hill Team Bus Crash Kills Two

    A bus carrying the Seton Hill University women's lacrosse team crashed at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, killing the driver, and at least one other and injuring 24. Officials said one of the dead was the driver, and the other is reportedly the team coach, who was pregnant. All other passengers were sent to area hospitals as a precaution, with three of the most severely injured being flown to Penn State Hershey Medical Center for treatment. No cause for the crash, which resulted from the bus veering off a turnpike and hitting a tree, has yet been found. The team was on its way to an afternoon game.

    March 16, 2013 6:25 PM

  8. Progress U.N. to Fight Violence Against Women March on violence against women at the United Nations on March 8. (Jamie McCarthy/Getty)

    8. U.N. to Fight Violence Against Women

    It has been contentious, but on Friday night the United Nations approved a plan to fight violence against women worldwide. Against the wishes of the Muslim Brotherhood, which says the plan compromises Islamic principles and family values, Egypt joined 130 other countries in approving the 17-page document. The blueprint asks all countries to condemn violence and to ”refrain from invoking any custom, tradition, and religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination.”

    March 16, 2013 11:33 AM

  9. He's Good NFL Player Injured in Hot-Air Balloon Crash Jim Rogash / Getty Images

    9. NFL Player Injured in Hot-Air Balloon Crash

    NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth was among two people injured when the hot-air balloon they were riding collided with power lines in Miami, police said. The third person riding along was not injured. Stallworth suffered severe burns but is in stable condition, and his sports agent, Drew Rosenhaus, says he should be able to play again. “He was injured but will be fine,” said Rosenhaus. “He will be able to resume his NFL career.” Stallworth, who most recently played for the New England Patriots, is currently a free agent.

    March 16, 2013 5:02 PM

  10. Part 2 D’Souza Working on Follow-Up Film Cindy Ord / Getty Images

    10. D’Souza Working on Follow-Up Film

    Conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza is reteaming with Gerald Molen, the Oscar-winning producer of Schindler’s List to make a follow-up film to the second-biggest political documentary in box office history, 2016: Obama’s America. The new film, which will simply be titled America, will imagine what the rest of the world would be like without the United States. “President Obama looks at America as an oppressive force,” D’Souza said, “while I and millions of others around the world have a different view—that America has been a great blessing to its own people and to the world.” The trailer for the film will be revealed at CPAC this weekend, and D’Souza says the film should be in theaters by the middle of next year—just in time for the midterm elections. Will it be called 2018?

    March 16, 2013 5:54 PM

  11. Lighten Up NBC Exec and Leno Clashed Over Jokes Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images (FILE)

    11. NBC Exec and Leno Clashed Over Jokes

    What, NBC can't take a joke? Though the network has denied rumors that it plans to replace The Tonight Show host Jay Leno, three executives told The New York Times this week that Leno and Robert Greenblatt, the network’s top entertainment executive, have clashed over Leno’s jokes about NBC. Greenblatt complained in an email to Leno about monologue jokes that the host made last month in the wake of NBC’s fall to fifth place in the February sweeps, behind even Spanish-language channel Univision. Among the host’s jokes were one-liners like, “It’s so bad, The Biggest Loser isn’t just a TV show anymore; it’s our new motto.” And: “It’s so bad, NBC called Manti Te’o and asked him to bring in some imaginary viewers.”

    March 15, 2013 10:21 PM

  12. Bad Boy

    12. NY Assemblyman Katz Caught With Pot

    You can't deny the irony here. Putnam County, NY Assemblyman Steve Katz was ticketed for marijuana possession Thursday after he was stopped for speeding at 80 mph in a 65 mph zone on the New York State Thruway, state police said. Katz, a Republican who voted against a marijuana legalization bill last year, was found in possession of small bag during the speeding stop after a state trooper noticed the odor of marijuana coming from his car. 

    March 15, 2013 10:06 PM

  13. KEEP ‘EM COMING Murdoch Hit With 600 New Hacking Claims

    13. Murdoch Hit With 600 New Hacking Claims

    Just when you thought everybody in Britain had their phones hacked by the News of the World journalists, apparently there could be more. Sources told The Guardian on Friday that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has been hit with 600 new hacking claims, some new victims, and some people who had earlier decided not to sue. Scotland Yard’s new information reportedly comes from a former suspect turned informant for the police. The news comes just days before Britain’s high court will hear arguments from more than a dozen people—including Cherie Blair and David Beckham’s father—who settled last fall with News International, News Corp.’s British wing. With the new claims, the investigation into hacking at News Corp. could last well into 2015.

    March 15, 2013 9:59 PM

  14. Gun Control Kerry Cautious on U.N. Arms Treaty Secretary of State Kerry in Libya on Wednesday. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

    14. Kerry Cautious on U.N. Arms Treaty

    Don't worry, gun owners: the United Nations probably won't be coming after you any time soon. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement Friday that the U.S. will take a cautious approach to a new U.N. arms treaty, set to go into negotiations next week. The U.S. is the world's biggest exporter of guns and other arms, and U.N. activists say that cooperation from Washington is necessary for other major manufacturers, like China and Russia, to join in and prevent arms entering conflict zones such as Sudan and Syria. And NRA, calm down: Kerry made sure to clarify that the treaty would not affect domestic gun owners.

    March 16, 2013 11:25 AM

  15. Developing Report: Lil Wayne in Critical Condition Gustavo Caballero/Getty

    15. Report: Lil Wayne in Critical Condition

    TMZ reported Friday that rapper Lil Wayne is in critical condition at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, though the rapper then tweeted, "I'm good everybody. Thx for the prayers and love." Friends of the rapper have also tweeted that Wayne is "alive and well." The 30-year-old was rushed to the hospital Tuesday night after suffering multiple seizures but was released Wednesday. According to TMZ, only hours passed before one of his bodyguards discovered him unconscious on the floor of his bedroom and rushed him back to the hospital, where he did not stabilize. High amounts of codeine allegedly found in his system suggest the star went on a Sizzurp binge after being released Wednesday. 

    March 15, 2013 8:38 PM

  16. Funny Money Senate Questions JPMorgan Chase JPMorgan Chase bank in San Francisco, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty)

    16. Senate Questions JPMorgan Chase

    A long, uncomfortable Senate hearing began Friday for executives at JPMorgan Chase as they were questioned on their misrepresentation of a major trading loss in April, accused of downplaying what turned out to be a multibillion-dollar blowup. The hearing is the latest action in a nine-month inquiry investigating the loss. During the four-hour session, executives past and present were questioned on their bank’s risk-management and oversight policies as well as a “glowing” conference call with investors and regulators that downplayed the losses just weeks before they blew up. Better luck next time, bankers.

    March 16, 2013 11:21 AM

  17. Death to Death! Maryland to Abolish Death Penalty Reaction to the Maryland General Assembly approved ban on capital punishment on Friday. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

    17. Maryland to Abolish Death Penalty

    The Maryland House of Delegates voted 82–56 on Friday to approve a bill abolishing capital punishment. The Senate already gave its approval last week, and Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is a strong supporter, has already pledged to sign it. The last time the governor pushed for such action, in 2009, he came up short. When the bill is signed into law, which should happen after the legislative session ends in April, Maryland will become the 18th state without capital punishment.

    March 16, 2013 10:31 AM

  18. St. Paddy's Day

    18. Snakes Slither Over Ireland

    Turns out St. Patrick's miracle of driving the snakes out of Ireland had an expiration date. As a result of the economic crisis, the slithery creatures now roam over a land famous for its lack of indigenous snakes. It turns out that during the boom years, snakes became a popular pet among the bourgeoisie, but after the economy took a downturn those who could not afford their pets anymore released them in the countryside. Now non-native snakes of several species are being found in trash cans, vacant buildings, and other unexpected places. Paging St. Patrick: we have another job for you.

    March 16, 2013 11:28 AM

  19. Passive-Aggressive North Korea Tests Two Missiles S. Korean para-military police during drill in Seoul on Thursday. (Kim Jae-Hwan/AFP/Getty)

    19. North Korea Tests Two Missiles

    We get it, you didn’t want Dennis Rodman visiting. North Korea has test-fired a pair of missiles into its eastern waters, said a South Korean official on Saturday. It’s suspected that the test is in response to ongoing U.S.-South Korea military drills—and North Korea threatened to strike both Seoul and Washington after those drills were announced. A North Korean official insisted Saturday’s exercise was just a drill, but it came just one day after the U.S. announced plans to beef up its missile defense system on the West Coast in response to an increased threat from North Korea.

    March 16, 2013 10:57 AM