Rest in peace
July 29, 2014
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Afghanistan's outgoing president, Hamid Karzai, lost a cousin, Hashmat Khalil Karzai, to a suicide bombing on Tuesday.

The late Karzai was a "staunch supporter of the president," the Associated Press reports, and he was involved in the country's campaign to select Hamid Karzai's successor. The AP notes that Hashmat Karzai was a campaign manager for Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who is competing against Abdullah Abdullah for the Afghan presidency. Afghanistan is currently holding an audit of the 8 million votes that were recently cast in the second round of its presidential election.

Hashmat Karzai was killed by a suicide bomber who hid explosives in his hat, according to a local official. The bomber blew himself and Karzai up when kissing his hand during the Muslim morning prayers for the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

"Just like all other Afghans who are the daily targets of terrorist attacks, our family too is no exception and as every other Afghan, we too will have to bear it," President Karzai said in a statement. Meghan DeMaria

What is 'impressive'?
11:05 a.m. ET

On yesterday's episode of the long-running game show Jeopardy!, host (and budding hip-hop artist) Alex Trebek got yet another chance to show off his rapping skills. This time, the subject was a theme song near and dear to the hearts of anyone who watched NBC in the early 90s:

Coming just a year after the "It's a Rap" category challenged Trebek to spit rhymes from Public Enemy and Doctor Dre, it's increasingly clear that Jeopardy!'s clue writers are just curious to see what they can get Trebek to rattle off on television. Maybe try some Twista next time? Scott Meslow

supremely awkward
11:03 a.m. ET

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has taken a confessional turn in his new bookA Time for Truth, which reveals that as a Supreme Court clerk in the 1990s, he looked at pornography with Justices William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor.

The court was considering a case which involved internet regulation, and a demonstration of the ubiquity of porn on the internet was set up to explain the situation to the elderly judges. As Cruz, Rehnquist, and O'Connor watched, a court librarian searched for a misspelling of "cantaloupe." 

"A slew of hard-core, explicit images showed up onscreen," Cruz recalls in his book. "As we watched these graphic pictures fill our screens, wide-eyed, no one said a word. Except for Justice O'Connor, who lowered her head, squinted slightly, and muttered, 'Oh, my.'" Bonnie Kristian

10:49 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

While some colleges have ponied up more than $200,000 to secure a speech from Hillary Clinton, the University of Missouri at Kansas City wasn't willing to drop quite that much cash. After being quoted $275,000 for an appearance by the former secretary of state herself, the school opted to bring in her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, instead.

At $65,000, Chelsea's own speaking fee is considerably less than her mother's — albeit still well above the national median household income of about $52,000. For this price, the University of Missouri got a 10-minute speech followed by 20 minutes of moderated Q&A time. The Clinton camp also carefully dictated the terms of the event, from the temperature of Chelsea Clinton's on-stage water to the content of the introduction read by a local high school student.

Clinton donated her fee to her family's foundation, which has been criticized in recent months over its alleged use by the Clinton family for personal profit and public corruption. Bonnie Kristian

Supreme Court
10:14 a.m. ET
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Supreme Court Justices said Tuesday that they will weigh in on a dispute between unions and California teachers who are contesting public employees' requirement to pay union dues. The teachers believe that it's a violation of their First Amendment rights to be required to pay fees to a union if they disagree with its positions, or are not members of it.

As the 38-year-old law stands now, unions can require non-members to pay union dues for the purpose of collective bargaining costs, so long as those collected fees are not used for for political purposes. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the teachers, the power of public employee unions to collect fees would be limited, which union officials worry could weaken unions and jeopardize membership. Becca Stanek

Nuclear negotiations
10:08 a.m. ET
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Iran has converted "a substantial amount" of enriched uranium — a material that is crucial to the production of nuclear weapons — into a material that can't be used to make a bomb, The Associated Press reports. This reduction, which was "a key condition of a preliminary nuclear agreement" reached in November 2013, is expected to be officially announced Wednesday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, diplomats tell the AP.

Today is the deadline for a more comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran, although both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have agreed to extend the conversation as a deal draws nearer. An agreement would curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for world powers lifting economic sanctions against the country. Jeva Lange

we'll never be royals
9:59 a.m. ET

More than 500 million fan votes have been cast for Major League Baseball's All-Star Game and the Kansas City Royals still dominate the American League field, with five players hanging on to spots — and that's knocked down from eight players two weeks ago.

"Prepare for the apocalypse," the Washington Post warned yesterday. "We're one week closer to a Royals-vs.-the-National League Midsummer Classic."

A whole 40 million more votes have been cast for Kansas City players this year as compared to last. Bob Bowman, the president and CEO of MLB Advanced Media, told the Washington Post that, overall, 2015 could see the most votes ever cast for the All-Star Game.

The Midsummer Classic will be held on July 14 in Cincinnati, and voting closes Thursday (you can submit your ballot here). Royals fans, don't forget — you can vote up to 35 times. Jeva Lange

Things are looking up
9:04 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

Last week was very good for President Obama — and his approval rating reflects it. For the first time in more than two years, Obama has the approval of 50 percent of Americans, a new CNN/ORC poll finds. That's a five percentage point climb since the May CNN/ORC poll, when 45 percent approved of the president's work and 52 percent disapproved. This month, only 47 percent disapproved, which is the second time in two years that Obama's disapproval rating has fallen below 50 percent.

Obama's popularity bump follows a week in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of ObamaCare and same-sex marriage — two defining issues of Obama's presidency. The president also delivered what some are hailing as his most important and moving speech in years, when he gave the eulogy at Rev. Clementa Pinckney's funeral and then sang "Amazing Grace" on national television. Becca Stanek

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