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  1. War on Poverty Obama Lays Out ‘Promise Zones’ Stelios Varias/Reuters

    1. Obama Lays Out ‘Promise Zones’

    On Thursday President Obama laid out his new initiative for reducing poverty and creating jobs by focusing on specific economic “Promise Zones.” The first five high-poverty areas that will receive attention are San Antonio, Texas; Southeastern Kentucky; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The plan aims to ensure more high school graduations, provide tax incentives for economic growth and bring mixed-income housing to these areas.

    January 9, 2014 2:42 PM

  2. UNDER FIRE Chris Christie: Staffer Lied to Me Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    2. Chris Christie: Staffer Lied to Me

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said in a press conference Thursday that he fired deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly for lying to him about her involvement in closing lanes of the George Washington Bridge to punish a Democratic mayor last year. The governor also said his staff was "stupid" and "deceitful." Despite saying he had "no knowledge or invovlement in this issue," Christie said is solely responsible for what happened. Christie will personally apologize to the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey in a trip there later today.

    January 9, 2014 11:11 AM

  3. NOT THE BEST IDEA Afghanistan to Release Prisoners Rahmat Gul/AP

    3. Afghanistan to Release Prisoners

    Dozens of Afghan prisoners accused of murdering Americans will be released, President Hamid Karzai announced Thursday, upping the stakes in his ongoing confrontation with the U.S. government. Karzai’s latest move comes in the face of warnings from the White House that releasing the prisoners without a trial could mean losing the support of American troops and violate a detainee agreement that was settled between the two governments last year. Afghan officials also lobbed claims that the U.S. is still torturing detainees in illegal “black prisons” and threatened to release additional, more treacherous prisoners.

    January 9, 2014 5:22 PM

  4. NOT LIKE YOU 50% of Congress Are Millionaires Jason Reed/Reuters

    4. 50% of Congress Are Millionaires

    Talk about overpaid! For the first time, most members of Congress are millionaires. The nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics reports at least 268 of the 534 lawmakers were worth an average of $1 million in 2012. The year before, only about 48 percent of lawmakers were that loaded. “Despite the fact that polls show how dissatisfied Americans are with Congress overall, there’s been no change in our appetite to elect affluent politicians to represent our concerns in Washington,” said the center’s executive director. 

    January 9, 2014 3:20 PM

  5. Olympic-Sized Problem

    5. Russia on Alert After Bodies Found

    So about those Olympic tickets… Russian security forces are on combat alert in the region near Sochi after a handful of unexplained killings using booby-trapped bombs were discovered. Six bodies were found in four abandoned cars with explosive devices nearby. The victims had been shot, and luckily only one of the bombs detonated and no one was hurt. The region just north of the Caucus Mountains is the site of widespread unrest in Islamic communities.

    Recently, two terror attacks in nearby Volgograd sparked fear around the world.

    January 9, 2014 12:52 PM

  6. INTENSE ‘Thug’ Toddler Now in Custody

    6. ‘Thug’ Toddler Now in Custody

    The Nebraska toddler seen repeating obscenities and racial slurs being thrown at him in an online video has been taken into child protective custody by Omaha police. While police said there was nothing criminal in the video, authorities took the infant and three other children into custody after an investigation found safety concerns. At one point in the video, the African-American toddler responds to one of the adults saying, “Shut up, bitch.” The police in Omaha called the clip part of a “cycle of violence and thuggery” in the community.

    January 9, 2014 6:59 AM

  7. WHY HELLO THERE Castro Makes Public Appearance Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo, via Getty

    7. Castro Makes Public Appearance

    Official papers and websites in Cuba ran a photo on Thursday which purportedly shows former President Fidel Castro making his first public appearance in nine months. The photo shows Castro talking to artist Alexis Leyva at the opening of an art studio in Havana. Castro, 87, handed over power to his brother Raul after leading Cuba for 48 years before falling dangerously ill in 2006. 

    January 9, 2014 1:03 PM


    8. Christie Pal Pleads The Fifth

    Not so chatty when you're not on email, huh? David Wildstein, former official in the New York-New Jersey Port Authority who closed lanes of the George Washington Bridge last year, invoked the Fifth Amendment at a New Jersey assembly inquiry Thursday. Wildstein would not even say that he worked for the Port Authority. "On the advice of counsel, I assert my right to remain silent," Wildstein said. "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Christie's deptuy chief of staff wrote via email last September. "Got it," Wildstein responded. 

    January 9, 2014 1:36 PM

  9. BRIDGEGATE U.S. Attorney to Open Inquiry David Goldman/AP

    9. U.S. Attorney to Open Inquiry

    After news broke about aides to Governor Chris Christie intentionally closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, federal prosecutors announced Thursday that they plan to launch a preliminary inquiry. The investigation comes after the issue was referred to the U.S. attorney’s office by the inspector general for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Meanwhile New Jersey Democrats are clamoring to subpoena every person mentioned in the emails, and the state assembly says it still has thousands of pages of unreleased internal documents.

    January 9, 2014 11:17 AM

  10. DESTINY’S CHILD REUNION Beyoncé Crashes Karaoke Party Christopher Polk/Getty

    10. Beyoncé Crashes Karaoke Party

    Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland made a couple of amateur crooners’ nights when they crashed a karaoke party in Miami Tuesday night. The former Destiny’s Children, Jay Z, and other friends were in a VIP room at the Sing Sing karaoke bar when they overheard two girls singing Beyonce’s Party, and decided to give them a surprise. The bar’s owner told The Miami New Times that she watched the stars crash the young ladies’ room and, initially, they had no idea who was crashing their party. “All of a sudden, one of the girls looks at Kelly and says, ‘Oh, you look like Kelly Rowland,’ and she looks at Beyonce and goes, ‘Oh my god!’”

    January 9, 2014 1:48 PM

  11. $ Buys Everything Malta to Sell EU Passports Philippe Wojazer/AFP/Getty

    11. Malta to Sell EU Passports

    Want to quickly become a European Union citizen? In a move set to make millions of euros for the small nation, Malta plans to sell 1,800 passports for around $880,000 a pop to prospective citizens. Each applicant can also buy less expensive passports for children up to age 26, a spouse, and the couple's parents and grandparents. The new passport holders will be able to travel and work in all 28 EU states, a point that has caused concern in member countries. The European Union will hold a debate on the plan during the first plenary session this year.

    January 9, 2014 11:36 AM

  12. TRAGEDY Suicide Bomber Kills 23 Recruits Ahmed Saad/Reuters

    12. Suicide Bomber Kills 23 Recruits

    A suicide bomber targeting volunteers joining Iraq’s military to fight al Qaeda militants killed 23 recruits and wounded 36 more in Baghdad on Thursday. The bomber blew himself up in the middle of recruits at the Muthanna airfield. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which came only a day after current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed to take down al Qaeda and its allies. With an estimated 8,868 people killed in 2013, violence in Iraq is at levels not seen in five years.

    January 9, 2014 10:38 AM

  13. UH OH Vermont Has a Heroin Crisis Andy Duback/AP

    13. Vermont Has a Heroin Crisis

    In what was likely not the most uplifting of speeches, Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont spent his entire State of the State speech on “a full-blown heroin crisis” facing the state of Vermont. Since 2000, treatment from opiate addictions in the state has increased 770 percent, Shumlin informed the crowd. Almost twice as many people died from heroin overdoses in 2013 than in 2012. “In every corner of our state, heroin and opiate drug addiction threatens us,” he said.

    January 9, 2014 7:01 AM

  14. STICK TOGETHER T-Mobile Wants to Buy Your Phone Spencer Platt/Getty

    14. T-Mobile Wants to Buy Your Phone

    The Gretchen Weiner of phone companies is at it again. T-Mobile, the country’s No. 4 carrier, announced it will pay the termination fees for individuals who leave their carrier. The move is just the latest in a slew of efforts from the company to break through in a competitive market. Previous to this change, T-Mobile has tried ending foreign-service charges, shortening upgrade time periods, and phasing out two-year contracts.

    January 9, 2014 7:08 AM

  15. OOPS BABIES Chinese Director Fined for 3 Kids Thomas Peter/Reuters

    15. Chinese Director Fined for 3 Kids

    Zhang Yimou, the popular director of movies including Hero and House of Flying Daggers, has been fined $1 million for violating China’s one-child policy. The fine was tabulated based on Zhang and his wife’s income, leaving them 30 days to pay it. Zhang is also known for directing the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. The policy, which was introduced in the 1970’s, will be relaxed for for couples that include parents who were an only child.

    January 9, 2014 11:45 AM

  16. time to diversify ‘SNL’ Hires 2 Black Female Writers via Twitter @Lesdoggg @LaKendraTookes

    16. ‘SNL’ Hires 2 Black Female Writers

    It's a veritable trend. Fresh off the recent hire of its first African-American female actress in five years, Saturday Night Live announced it would add two African-American women to the writer's room. Comedians LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones will begin next week after being discovered at recent auditions in New York City and Los Angeles. It was the first time SNL specifically focused on recruiting African-American women.

    January 8, 2014 5:05 PM

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  18. CHILL OUT ALREADY Khamenei Accuses U.S. of ‘Enmity’ Office of the Supreme Leader/AP

    17. Khamenei Accuses U.S. of ‘Enmity’

    Pot meet kettle. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attacked the U.S. Thursday, just hours before nuclear talks in Geneva were to resume. “We had announced previously that on certain issues, if we feel it is expedient, we would negotiate with the Satan (the United States) to deter its evil,” Khamenei said. He continued, claiming, “The nuclear talks showed the enmity of America against Iran, Iranians, Islam and Muslims.” The meetings in Geneva are a coming together of Iran and the European Union to discuss implementing the previously agreed upon nuclear agreement.

    January 9, 2014 6:57 AM

  19. getting smoky NY OKs Medical Marijuana Spencer Platt / Getty Images

    18. NY OKs Medical Marijuana

    In the puff of smoke that's engulfed the nation, New York became the latest state to relax constrictions on medical marijuana. On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would authorize the use of pot for medical purposes starting with up to 20 hospitals that can prescribe the drug. "We will monitor the program to evaluate effectiveness in the feasibility of medical marijuana system," he said. Twenty other states already have similiar legislation.

    January 8, 2014 3:55 PM

  20. RIP Militant U.S. Indian Leader Dies Doug Dreyer/AP

    19. Militant U.S. Indian Leader Dies

    On February 27, 1973, 32-year-old Native American Carter Camp led an armed group to seize Wounded Knee in South Dakota. It was announced Wednesday that Camp passed away at age 72 last month. Wounded Knee was the site of the last battle of the American Indian Wars, where as many as 350 Lakota Sioux were massacred by U.S. soldiers. When Camp and his group seized Wounded Knee, they took 11 hostages in what would become a 71-day standoff that ended with two Indians dead and a federal marshal paralyzed. Camp spent three years in prison afterward.

    January 9, 2014 7:10 AM

  21. MOVING ON Dennis Rodman Apologizes Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty

    20. Dennis Rodman Apologizes

    According a statement from Dennis Rodman’s public relations firm, the former basketball player is apologizing for comments he made about imprisoned U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae. “I embarrassed a lot of people. I’m very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I’m truly sorry.” The PR firm said Rodman had been drinking on a stressful day when he made the comments on CNN. Not one for long apologies, Rodman is now allegedly on a plane where he is to headed to a new, multimillion-dollar ski resort in North Korea.

    January 9, 2014 6:55 AM

  22. Price Cut Macy’s to Lay Off 2,500 Spencer Platt/Getty

    21. Macy’s to Lay Off 2,500

    In a series of moves the company expects will save it $100 million a year, Macy’s will lay off 2,500 workers and close five stores. In the wake of the cuts, Macy’s shares went up more than 6 percent in after-hours trading. Following the changes, Macy’s, which also operates Bloomingdale’s, will employ about 170,000 associates in 844 stores.

    January 9, 2014 7:06 AM

  23. Bridgegate Christie to Face the Press Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty

    22. Christie to Face the Press

    In what may be the most important appearance of his career to date, Chris Christie will be taking questions from the press at 11 a.m. on Thursday about a scandal involving a bridge. Emails released Wednesday between the governor's deputy chief of staff and two executives at the Port Authority show officials closed lanes of the George Washington Bridge to create traffic problems for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee who did not endorse Christie for reelection. In a statement Wednesday, Christie said that "this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge," adding that "people will be held responsible for their actions." 

    January 8, 2014 10:55 AM