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  1. RED LINE Report: Assad’s Brother Linked to Chemical Attack Ramzi Haidar/AFP/Getty Images

    1. Report: Assad’s Brother Linked to Chemical Attack

    Who ordered the chemical-weapon attack in Syria that left scores of civilians dead? A United Nations official who has been monitoring the conflict in Syria says the decision may not have been a strategic one made by the country's embattled president, Bashar al-Assad. Instead, this official, who asked to remain anonymous, said it could have been made by Assad’s brother, Maher al-Assad, who commands the Syrian Army’s 4th Armored Division, the unit that opposition forces say launched the attack. Other experts in the region, however, are skeptical. It’s unlikely that the regime would cross President Barack Obama’s red line without Bashar’s approval, said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

     

     

     

    August 27, 2013 6:08 PM

  2. Calm Before the Storm U.S. Prepares to Act on Syria Salah Al-Ashkar/AFP/Getty

    2. U.S. Prepares to Act on Syria

    A deluge of previously undisclosed evidence has led U.S. officials to believe that the Syrian government did indeed use chemical weapons against its own people, prompting French, British, and American officials to talk on Tuesday about coordinating a response to the alleged attacks. Satellite images and intercepted communications reinforced the conclusion that the Syrian government attacked. Tuesday’s talks mark a sharp departure from the U.S. and its allies’ position as late as Friday, when United Nations inspectors were still asking Syria for permission to inspect the areas of the alleged attacks. On Sunday however, the U.S. urged the United Nations to pull the inspectors out of Syria, setting the stage for a potential miilitary response, according to officials.

    August 27, 2013 9:33 PM

  3. MORE TRANSPARENCY Facebook Reveals Government Data Requests Joerg Koch/AP

    3. Facebook Reveals Government Data Requests

    In an era where governments are collecting massive amounts of telecom and Internet data, Facebook is at least trying to have some transparency. The company released a partial list of numbers that detail the data-collection requests it receives from governments around the world. It's no surprise that the United States has the most requests out of the 25,000 Facebook revealed. In the first six months of 2013, the government had roughly 12,000 requests targeting about 21,000 accounts. India had the second highest number of requests at 3,245. But, the U.S. government doesn't allow the disclosure of certain types of requests so it's not clear how big the numbers really are.

     

     

    August 27, 2013 1:10 PM

  4. Sordid Details Aaron Hernandez’s Dark Past Revealed Ted Fitzgerald/Boston Herald via AP

    4. Aaron Hernandez’s Dark Past Revealed

    Former New England Patriots player and current murder suspect Aaron Hernandez seems to have led a darker, more troubled life than many previously thought. According to a Rolling Stone investigation, Hernandez from early childhood was surrounded by drug dealers and criminals and grew into an avid user of angel dust. The report also says that Hernandez had also cut himself off from family and teammates, preferring the company of “a cohort of gangsters.” And, perhaps most damningly, writer Paul Solotaroff uncovered evidence suggesting that Hernandez’s college football coach may have helped him cover up failed drug tests and two incidents of violence: an assault and a drive-by shooting outside of a bar.

    August 27, 2013 9:05 PM

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    5. New York Times Says It’s Been Hacked

    The Syrian Electronic Army strikes again. The New York Times website is down, and a spokesperson for the paper says the company believes it’s the result of a “malicious external attack.” A computer security expert noticed that the Times’ website briefly pointed to a domain for the Syrian Electronic Army, the pro–Bashar al-Assad group that has hacked a string of media companies in recent months. SEA has hacked the BBC, NPR, The Washington Post, and, most successfully, the Associated Press’s Twitter feed, which it used to claim that President Obama had been injured, causing the stock market to plummet. On August 14, the Times went offline due to an internal error.

    August 27, 2013 4:39 PM

  6. STILL? Gay Couples Denied Veterans Benefits Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images

    6. Gay Couples Denied Veterans Benefits

    The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act months ago, but the ruling didn’t remove every roadblock that same-sex couples face. Gay married couples are still being denied veterans benefits, writes Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki in a letter to Congress dated August 14. Shinseki says certain provisions in Title 38, U.S. Code, define “spouse” as a person of the opposite sex. “Under these provisions, a same-sex marriage recognized by a State would not confer spousal status for purposes of eligibility of VA benefits,” he writes. Unlike DOMA, a court has yet to deem the Title 38 definitions to be unconstitutional.

    August 27, 2013 5:48 PM

  7. HEALTH CARE IRS Issues Rules for Obamacare Mandate Charles Dharapak/AP

    7. IRS Issues Rules for Obamacare Mandate

    The Internal Revenue Service issued its final guidelines detailing how the government will collect the revenue raised if people opt to pay a fine rather than purchase insurance as required by health-care reform on Tuesday. Those who choose not to get insurance will pay a penalty of at least $95 or 1 percent of their income starting in 2014. By 2016, the fine will be $695 per person or 2.5 percent of their income. The IRS’s rules explain what is considered the minimum level of coverage. The IRS also decided that people who get insurance through their union or a temporary staffing agency will not be penalized under the law.

     

     

    August 27, 2013 7:13 PM

  8. DAY 10 Yosemite Fire Moves to Higher Elevation Jae C. Hong/AP

    8. Yosemite Fire Moves to Higher Elevation

    The massive blaze in along California’s Pacific Rim moved to higher elevation Monday night, giving firefighters their first small break in fighting the fire, which has burned hotter and faster than any in the region’s history. At the higher elevation and out of the steep ravines of the Sierra Nevadas, crews can fight the fire on more level ground—and huge air tankers can drop retardant on accessible ridges. “This fire will burn until the snow flies,” said Tom Medema, a Yosemite National Park interpretative manager. “But today we finally had a chance to box it in.” Containment reached 20 percent Monday, as the fire had left 161,000 acres charred in its path, destroyed at least 23 structures, and threatened two groves of giant sequoias and historical structures in the national park.

    August 27, 2013 6:59 AM

  9. Meow Two New George W. Bush Paintings Emerge Gawker

    9. Two New George W. Bush Paintings Emerge

    Rejoice! Gawker has unearthed two new paintings by the artist known as former president George W. Bush—and this time there’s a cat. A black-and-white cat (apparently different from the furry gray subject of his previous feline portraits) languidly dangles two arms over a gray structure in front of what appears to be a wooden wall. In the other painting, two golden retrievers lounge on grass, one gazing off into the distance and another looking up happily at the viewer. Bush, between self-portraits and pictures of dogs, has produced at least two cat paintings before so we'd say he’s pretty much an expert now.

    August 27, 2013 4:13 PM

  10. CAPTIVATING Boston Manhunt Photos Released Sean Murphy/Massachusetts State Police, via AP

    10. Boston Manhunt Photos Released

    Boston Magazine has published several dramatic photographs from the manhunt for alleged marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The pictures show a bloodied Tsarnaev emerging from a boat and law-enforcement officials in action as they searched for their target. The magazine got the images from Sgt. Sean Murphy, a tactical photographer with the Massachusetts State Police, who chronicled the April 19 dragnet with his camera. Murphy released the photos because he was angry with the controversial Rolling Stone cover that depicted Tsarnaev as a normal teenager. He was placed on restricted duty and then assigned the night shift after the photos were published.

     

     

    August 27, 2013 4:43 PM

  11. RED LINE NBC: Syria Strike Could Be as Early as Thursday AP

    11. Syria Strike May Launch on Thursday

    A military strike in Syria could come as early as Thursday, NBC News reported Tuesday. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told the BBC on Tuesday that the military is “ready to go” and has “moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take.” Senior White House sources told The Washington Post on Tuesday that any strikes would involve sea-launched cruise missiles or long-range bombers hitting military targets not directly related to Syria’s alleged chemical-weapons arsenal—and would probably not last more than two days. The news comes just one day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that it was “undeniable” that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons last week in an attack on a Damascus suburb.

    August 27, 2013 9:38 AM

  12. AHEAD OF THE CURVE Nissan to Make Self-Driving Car by 2020 Nissan

    12. Nissan to Make Self-Driving Car by 2020

    In seven years, you may well be able to safely fall asleep at the wheel. Nissan will release self-driving vehicles by 2020. Having accomplished its goal of creating zero-emission vehicles by 2010, Nissan’s CEO said the company is working with several universities around the world—from MIT to the University of Tokyo—to develop technology for “Autonomous Drive.” Of course, Google is also working separately on developing autonomous-driving vehicles and testing them, though the tech giant has not set a date when they'll be on the market.

    August 27, 2013 5:36 PM

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  14. PROGRESS Walmart Grants Benefits to Same-Sex Couples Jae C. Hong

    13. Walmart Grants Benefits to Same-Sex Couples

    Arkansas has now “evolved.” On Tuesday, Walmart announced that it will now offer health-insurance benefits to partners of all U.S. employees beginning next year. Based in Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart employs 1.3 million works domestically, making it the largest employer outside of the federal government. The move comes as a bit of a surprise, as the retailer is not known for its progressive policies regarding employees and benefits. 

    August 27, 2013 5:12 PM

  15. SPANISH FLY Ex–JPMorgan Trader Arrested Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    14. Ex–JPMorgan Trader Arrested

    Looking for someplace to go to flee extradition? France and Spain are apparently lovely every time of year. Spanish police arrested former JPMorgan trader Javier Martin-Artajo, and the Spaniard faces possible extradition to the U.S. Earlier this month Martin-Artajo was charged, along with a former colleague, Frenchman Julien Grout, with wire fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying records in an attempt to cover up over $6.2 billion in trading losses incurred by trader Bruno Iksil, who made oversize bets on credit derivatives that earned him the nickname the London Whale. Martin-Artajo’s case has been handed over to Spain’s High Court, which decides on extradition requests, but sources close to both charged men claim it isn’t likely for either.

    August 27, 2013 1:35 PM

  16. HORRIFYING Mumbai Rape Suspect: This Was Not the First Victim Rajanish Kakade/AP

    15. Mumbai Rape Suspect: This Was Not the First Victim

    One of the men arrested for raping a photojournalist in Mumbai last week told police that woman was not their first victim. What’s more, the suspect said, they used video clips of their victims to intimidate them—and they thought it would work with the photojournalist. The five suspects, identified as Qasim Shaikh, Salim Ansari, Chand Shaikh, Vijay Jadhav, and Siraj Khan, also allegedly raped a rag pick worker and a sex worker at the same deserted mill where they raped the photojournalist. Despite the outrage among the citizens of Mumbai—a city that many associate with being modern and safe for women—the city’s police commissioner angered many when he said the residents have to choose between a “promiscuous culture” and safety for women.

    August 27, 2013 4:11 PM

  17. JUST KIDS ‘Playing Doctor’ Leads to Sexual-Assault Charge KRIV FOX 26

    16. ‘Playing Doctor’ Leads to Sexual-Assault Charge

    When a neighbor saw a little girl touching the privates of a 4-year-old boy back in April, she called the boy’s mother. Apparently, the children were with a group of kids “playing doctor” in a Houston apartment complex. But it went further. Police filed charges of aggravated sexual assault against the girl, who was 9 years old at the time, and she spent four nights locked up in a juvenile detention center. The girl was set to appear before a judge last week, but the date was moved to October, according to My Fox Houston. “In fact this was nothing more than inappropriate horseplay that has now [led] to a child that is 10 years old being charged with aggravated rape,” said local New Black Panther Party leader Quanell X.

    August 27, 2013 11:30 AM

  18. BIG THURSDAY COMING Syria Response Not About Regime Change Evan Vucci/AP

    17. Syria Response Not About Regime Change

    As President Obama explores a military response to Syria, Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that the White House hasn’t made a decision to take action yet. “The options that we are considering are not about regime change,” Carney said, when asked if Obama wants to oust Assad. Carney deflected questions about whether the president will convene Congress before making a decision—like David Cameron did. Carney did, however, say that there was no doubt that chemical weapons were used, and that Obama is considering a few options.

    August 27, 2013 1:40 PM

  19. MISSING Teen Found Dead in Oregon Wilderness Courtesy of David Croom/Reuters

    18. Teen Found Dead in Oregon Wilderness

    A teenager from Arizona was found dead in the Oregon wilderness Monday, with his parents saying the 18-year-old had focused on living his life similar to the way Into the Wild's Chris McCandless did. Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild focuses on McCandless’s disappearance off the grid and eventual death in Alaska and had been a favorite of Johnathan Croom’s, though Croom had never been in the wilderness before. Croom’s body was found around 1,000 feet from his abandoned car. Police said they didn’t suspect foul play, but they did not speculate why Croom took his own life. Like McCandless, Croom traveled with very few belongings, and a sweatshirt, a bottle of water, and his ID card were found in his vehicle.

    August 27, 2013 7:22 AM

  20. MAFIA MEETS TENNIS? King: Sexes Match Wasn’t Fixed Ray Stubblebine/AP

    19. King: Sexes Match Wasn’t Fixed

    Was the historic 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match fixed? ESPN’s Outside the Lines reported that a golf pro in Tampa heard the Mafia saying that Bobby Riggs was going to intentionally lose the match to settle a gambling debt. Billie Jean King, the famed female player who beat Riggs, issued a statement saying the story is ridiculous. “I was on the court with Bobby, and I know he was not tanking the match. I could see in his eyes and body language he wanted to win.”

    August 27, 2013 8:13 AM

  21. CAN’T BE TAMED Miley Defends VMA Performance Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    20. Miley Defends VMA Performance

    Miley Cyrus defended her racy appearance at the Video Music Awards, tweeting Monday that it “had 306,000 tweets per minute. That’s more than the blackout or Superbowl! #fact.” Cyrus also retweeted a review from Rolling Stone that called her the “one star in the room who truly understood what the MTV Video Music Awards is all about.” (Is that a compliment?) Cyrus’s father, country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, tweeted a (kind of) supportive message, writing, “Thanking God for so many blessings tonight. Continue to pray for world peace. More love ... less hate.” And she had support on stage: Robin Thicke, whom she performed “Blurred Lines” with, called Cyrus’s performance “dope.”

    What happened to Miley Cyrus?

    August 27, 2013 7:26 AM

  22. MEDIA FEUD Brian Lewis’s Attorney Threatens Fox Jim Cooper/AP

    21. Brian Lewis’s Attorney Threatens Fox

    Let the saber rattling begin. Brian Lewis has broken his silence after being fired as Fox News chief Roger Ailes’ right-hand man following reports of unspecified “financial issues” and “complaints about complacency.” A month after Lewis was fired, his lawyer broke the news to Gawker on Tuesday that he has “just been retained” and is “still plotting our course of action,” but accused Roger Ailes “and his toadies” of “telling lies” about Lewis and said that Ailes and Newscorp have “a lot more to fear” than Lewis. Lewis had been with Fox News since April, 1996, until he was canned on July 25 for “multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

    August 27, 2013 2:18 PM

  23. NEW VILLIAN Report: Cranston Cast as Lex Luthor Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

    22. Report: Cranston Cast as Lex Luthor

    Who better to play evildoer Lex Luthor in the next installment of Man of Steel than the actor who portrays meth kingpin Walter White on Breaking Bad? Bryan Cranston has reportedly signed on to play the villian in the upcoming sequel. The news comes as the controversy surrounding Ben Affleck's casting as Batman for the same film reached a fever pitch. Rumors began circulating that Christopher Nolan, the man behind the successful Dark Knight trilogy, left the the 2015 Man of Steel project because of Affleck and because Nolan and his wife weren’t listed as executive producers of the film in the latest press release.

     

    With Ben Affleck set to play Batman, best bud Matt Damon put together a guide to being badass.

    August 27, 2013 11:30 AM

  24. HAPPY DAYS CBS to Reboot ‘Love, American Style’ ABC, via Getty

    23. CBS to Reboot ‘Love, American Style’

    CBS is creating an updated version of the classic sitcom Love, American Style, which ran from 1969 to 1974 until being revamped as Happy Days, according to a report in Deadline on Monday. The new comedy will not keep the anthology format—the network apparently learned its lesson from NBC’s failed Love Bites—but will follow the lives of four couples in various stages of their relationships. This isn’t the first attempt to revive the show, which has enjoyed a healthy afterlife in syndication, with the most recent attempt being a 1999 pilot starring Melissa Joan Hart.

    August 27, 2013 7:44 AM

  25. $200K to $300K Zimmerman Will Ask FL to Cover Bills AP

    24. Zimmerman Will Ask FL to Cover Bills

    George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in July in the killing of Trayvon Martin, will file a request to have the state of Florida cover an estimated $200,000 to $300,000 in legal expenses. The law requires the state to pay legal costs, not including lawyer fees, to a defendant who is acquitted. Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, announced the motion "is in the works." Public agencies have already spent around $902,000 in the five-week trail. O'Mara estimates that he is owed more than $1 million in payment for the case, which Zimmerman has not yet paid.

    August 26, 2013 10:50 PM

  26. MATERIAL GIRL Madonna Highest-Earning Celebrity Gregorio Borgia/AP

    25. Madonna Highest-Earning Celebrity

    But did anyone even buy Madonna’s album MDNA? Apparently that doesn’t matter, since Madonna topped the list of highest-earning celebrities, according to Forbes. The singer, 55, brought in an estimated $125 million between June 2012 and June 2013, with her latest tour grossing $305 million. Perhaps most surprising is that Madonna made more money than Oprah Winfrey (the list is pre–The Butler), who topped Forbes’s list of 100 most powerful celebrities in June, but fell to No. 13 on the earners’ list. Coming in second behind Madonna was Steven Spielberg, who brought in $100 million off the success of Lincoln. And tied for third place was 50 Shades of Grey author E.L. James, with earnings of $95 million.

    August 27, 2013 7:30 AM

  27. AWFUL Taliban Execute 12 Afghans Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty

    26. Taliban Execute 12 Afghans

    The Taliban executed 12 Afghans accused of being “government workers” in two provinces Tuesday, the latest in a series of attacks on civilians as the country grapples with the withdrawal of U.S. troops next year. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in Pakistan, condemned the attacks while also blaming “foreign masters” (a.k.a. Pakistan) who “want Afghanistan to be an impoverished and underdeveloped country forever.” Six people were killed in Herat, long considered one of the most stable in the country. The victims, four engineers and two trainers, worked for a World Bank–funded program created by Karzai’s government. The other six victims, all drivers, were killed by the Taliban in the eastern province of Paktia.

    August 27, 2013 7:11 AM

  28. WARNINGS Russia: Syria Strike Would Be ‘Catastrophic’ Salah Al-Ashkar/AFP/Getty

    27. Russia: Syria Strike Would Be ‘Catastrophic’

    As reports trickle out of Washington on Tuesday that the U.S. is considering a military strike on Syria, Bashar al-Assad’s main allies, Russia and China, warned that a possible strike would be “catastrophic,” despite allegations of a chemical-weapons attack by Assad’s government. “Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial, groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region, are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries in the Middle East,” Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement. Meanwhile, worldwide oil prices rose rose to a five-month high in early trading Tuesday, and demand for the yen rose as well. Stocks opened low due to “risk-off trading.”

    August 27, 2013 7:08 AM

  29. KEEPING UP Agent: Lamar Odom Not Missing Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

    28. Agent: Lamar Odom Not Missing

    Our long national nightmare is over: Lamar Odom is not missing, his agent confirmed Monday. The basketball player is reportedly staying in a Los Angeles hotel, trying to kick his drug habit. “His wife knows exactly where he is,” said Jeff Schwartz, Odom’s agent, refuting a TMZ report that Khloé Kardashian hadn’t heard from him in days. TMZ reported Sunday that Odom had been missing for three days while on a crack binge. Kardashian didn’t respond directly to the report, but tweeted Sunday that “it’s really hard to sit here and listen to people talk shit about my family.”

    August 27, 2013 7:42 AM