RSS
10 things you need to know today: January 11, 2013
Obama and Karzai to discuss Afghanistan troop levels, Biden clashes with the NRA, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Afghan President Hamid Karzai meets with Obama at the U.N. in September 2011. 
Afghan President Hamid Karzai meets with Obama at the U.N. in September 2011.  Getty Images

1. OBAMA AND KARZAI TO HOLD CRITICAL TALKS
President Obama is meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House on Friday for high-stakes talks that could determine how fast the U.S. brings home the 60,000-plus troops it still has in Afghanistan. The leaders also are expected to discuss how many, if any, American forces will remain in the country after the withdrawal is completed at the end of 2014. The Pentagon wants to leave thousands of soldiers to back up and continue training Afghanistan's still unsteady security forces. The White House this week said it was still considering the "zero option" — withdrawing everybody — as it did in Iraq, a suggestion adding pressure on Karzai, who wants assurances of America's continuing commitment to back his government, to accept a security pact offering immunity from prosecution for any remaining U.S. forces. [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. PAKISTAN ROCKED BY DEADLY BOMBINGS
A series of bomb attacks killed at least 118 people in Pakistan on Thursday, deepening rifts caused by months of sectarian violence. The most deadly blasts were two that hit 10 minutes apart at a billiards club in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province. Those attacks killed 85 people in an area heavily populated by the Shiite Muslim minority, and a Sunni militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, claimed responsibility. "Militants are looking for opportunities and unfortunately today they succeeded," city police Chief Mir Zubir said. [Bloomberg]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. BIDEN AND NRA CLASH OVER GUN CONTROL
Vice President Joe Biden, who's heading a White House task force on reducing gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, is putting the final touches on gun-control recommendations he plans to deliver to President Obama on Tuesday. Biden said his proposals would probably include "near universal background checks" for gun buyers and a ban of high-capacity magazines. Biden has met with gun-control advocates, and on Thursday he held talks with representatives of the National Rifle Association. After the meeting, NRA officials accused the Obama administration of trying to use the tragedy to impose unnecessary restrictions on law-abiding gun owners in what amounts to an "attack on the Second Amendment." [USA Today]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. CALIFORNIA TEACHER GETS STUDENT TO DROP GUN AFTER SHOOTING
A 16-year-old student allegedly blasted one California high school classroom with a shotgun on Thursday and had a "hit list" with names of others, but a teacher and the school's campus supervisor talked him into putting down his weapon, the local sheriff, Donny Youngblood, said late Thursday. An injured student — one of two who were reportedly targeted — was hospitalized in critical but stable condition. The teacher, identified as Ryan Heber, suffered a pellet wound. The suspect believed the targeted students had bullied him, Youngblood said. [CNN]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. PENTAGON BRACES FOR LOOMING CUTS
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says his department is drafting plans to put civilian personnel on unpaid furloughs, freeze hiring, and delay contracts in case Congress can't reach a deal to prevent looming automatic cuts from taking effect. Panetta told reporters Thursday that he wants Pentagon leaders to make sure the cuts they make are as easily reversible as possible, to minimize damage to military readiness. "The simple fact is that this fiscal uncertainty has become a serious threat to our national security," Panetta said. "We really have no choice but to prepare for the worst." [Associated Press]
………………………………………………………………………………

6. PASTOR DROPS OUT OF INAUGURATION OVER ANTI-GAY REMARKS
The Rev. Louie Giglio, an evangelical pastor from Atlanta, has bowed out from giving the benediction at President Obama's swearing-in ceremony at the start of his second term later this month, following a furor over a sermon he gave on homosexuality in the mid-1990s. The Presidential Inaugural Committee chose Giglio to do the benediction because of his work raising awareness of human trafficking, but gay-rights activists said he was the wrong person for the job. In the '90s sermon, which resurfaced this week, Giglio advocated "recovery" for gays, comparing them to alcoholics, and warned that gay marriage could undermine "the whole order of our society." [Washington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

7. SYRIAN REBELS SEIZE AIR BASE
The Free Syrian Army announced Friday that its fighters had taken control of Taftanaz Military Airport, a military air base in northwestern Syria from which government forces had launched helicopter attacks on rebel areas. The rebels, led by the jihadist groups al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Islamic Vanguard, had been attacking the base, which also provided vital supplies to the Syrian army. "This is the largest air base to be seized since the revolt began," one source told the AFP news agency. [BBC]
………………………………………………………………………………

8. REPORT DETAILS U.K. JIMMY SAVILE SEX ABUSE SCANDAL
A new report by British investigators has mapped out in considerable detail 50 years of rape and child sex-abuse allegations against the late Jimmy Savile, a longtime BBC host and radio DJ. The report describes the alleged abuse of children as young as 8, and covers 214 crimes, including 34 cases of rape or penetration and offenses at 13 hospitals. Police said victims' accounts painted a "compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex offender." Prime Minister David Cameron's office called the allegations "appalling," and said that every institution involved must investigate how such crimes could have been allowed to happen. [BBC]
………………………………………………………………………………

9. BASEBALL EXPANDS DRUG TESTING
Major League Baseball and its players union announced Thursday that they had struck a deal to expand a drug-testing program. Players will submit to blood tests for human growth hormone during the season for the first time, and a new test will be used to detect synthetic testosterone, a performance-enhancing trick gaining popularity because it washes out of the blood faster than other substances. The announcement came a day after the embarrassing news that no players had been elected to the Hall of Fame this year, which sportswriters called an indictment of an era tainted by widespread steroid use. [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

10. LINCOLN LEADS OSCAR NOMINEES
The Civil War-era presidential drama Lincoln topped the field of Oscar nominees with 12 nominations, including best picture. Steven Spielberg got a nod for best director, and the film's stars — Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, and Tommy Lee Jones — are up for acting honors. The other nominees for best picture were Amour; Ben Affleck's Iran hostage thriller Argo; independent hit Beasts of the Southern Wild; Quentin Tarantino's slave-revenge tale Django Unchained; Les Miserables; Life of Pi; Silver Linings Playbook; and Zero Dark Thirty, directed by Kathryn Bigelow. [TIME]

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week