On to the next war: President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hold news conference to mark formal end of war in Iraq; "A new day is upon us," Obama says ... Meanwhile Iran refuses US request to return captured drone, demands apology instead ... Putin's party poops out: Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party stages rally in Moscow, but few show up - and many who do say they were forced to come ... Heads may roll: Lowes catches flak for pulling ads for TLC's "All-American Muslim" reality show in response to complaint from right-wing group in Florida that it's "propaganda" ... Heads do roll: Saudi Arabia confirms woman was beheaded for practicing "sorcery," making total of 73 beheadings this year ... The First Dude: Sarah Palin trying to pitch new reality show about husband Todd's career as champion snowmobile racer.
Tuesday, Dec. 13
Flavor of the week fading? New poll shows Newt Gingrich's lead in Iowa has evaporated; he's dropped 11 points among Tea Partiers and is in virtual tie with Ron Paul ... Trump dumped: Donald Trump bows out as moderator of planned Newsmax GOP debate after only Gingrich and Rick Santorum agree to participate ... Out of the loop? James Murdoch, son of Rupert, denies ever reading email telling of widespread phone hacking by Murdoch newspapers ... Last laugh? Association of Professional Airline Attendants demands "30 Rock" be banned from American Airlines flights after star Alec Baldwin sends insulting tweet about AA flight attendants ... Star-crossed lovers: Toronto Zoo confirms its famous "gay" African penguins Buddy and Pedro have split up after Buddy finds female mate. Which is a good thing, because their species is endangered.
Wednesday, Dec. 14
Thrown under the bus: In move seen as attempt to appease protesters, Boris V. Gryzlov, head of Putin's United Russia party, resigns Russian parliament post ... Mustn't touch those "job creators": Obama, congressional Democrats drop demand for "millionaire surtax" to reach deal on extending payroll tax cut ... But just a little crazy, maybe? Romney describes Gingrich as "zany"; Gingrich says he isn't zany ... Shocking statistic: Government survey finds 1 in 5 American women say they've been raped or been target of attempted rape, 1 in 4 say they've been beaten by partner ... Getting some recognition: TIME magazine names "The Protester" Person of the Year for 2012 ... Grotesque: Duggar family of "19 Kids and Counting" shows photos of miscarried fetus that would have been Number 20 ... That's a good girl: Lindsay Lohan, on probation for - well, it's complicated - gets glowing praise from judge.
Thursday, Dec. 15
The trickle-down isn't trickling: New US Census data shows nearly half of Americans are either poor or low-income, defined as earning less than twice the poverty level ... Things are looking up? Weekly unemployment benefit applications fall to lowest level since May 2008 ... Mission completed, but what was accomplished? After eight years, war in Iraq officially ends as US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta holds ceremony at Baghdad Airport ... A blow to Sheriff Joe: Justice Department report says Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, famed for harsh tactics against immigrants, showed "systematic disregard" for constitutional rights of Latinos ... Dreaming big: Former GOP presidential contender Herman Cain tells Barbara Walters if he could have any job in new administration he'd pick secretary of Defense, says he's been "doing his homework" on stuff like geography.
Friday, Dec. 16
Slick bargaining: Senate agrees to deal to extend payroll tax cut two months into new year, but requires Obama to make quick decision on controversial oil pipeline ... Guess now he'll find out: Christopher Hitchens, 62, outspoken atheist and political commentator, dies after battle with esophageal cancer ... The more things change: At least two killed, 200 wounded as Egyptian government troops attack protest camp in Cairo ... Hero-worship gets out of hand: Students at a Long Island high school suspended for "Tebowing" - kneeling on one knee like hyper-religious Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow - in school halls; administrators say they were blocking traffic ... Neti with extreme caution: Louisiana officials warn against using tap water in Neti pots after two people there are killed by brain-eating amoebas (yes, there really are brain-eating amoebas) found in contaminated water.
Saturday, Dec. 17
Kicking the can: House Speaker John Boehner says he opposes Senate-approved deal to extend payroll tax cut only two months, wants a one-year extension ... Congress approves $1 trillion budget bill including broad spending cuts ... Follow the money trail: Accused of taking $1.6 million as consultant for Freddie Mac, which he's blamed for real estate meltdown, Newt Gingrich says the cash didn't go into his pocket but was spent on overhead for his company ... Love Afghanistan style: Afghan President Hamid Karzai intervenes to free woman imprisoned for being raped, says she won't have to marry her rapist if she doesn't want to.
Sunday, Dec. 18
Good news, bad news, good news: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, known to his country as "Dear Leader," dies of reported heart attack at age 69 ... Vaclav Havel, poet and leader of "Velvet Revolution" that freed Czechoslovakia from Communist rule in 1989, dies at 75 ... Last US troops leave Iraq, ending eight-year war that cost 4,500 American lives and $1 trillion ... May the farce be with you: More than 15,000 Czech citizens list their religion as "Knight of the Jedi" in census; in Britain, the "Jedi Church" claims 390,000 faithful.