France threatens to remove troops from Afghanistan; Iran shuts down toy stores for selling Barbie dolls; Gingrich releases his tax returns; and time to start paying for Showtime and HBO, the U.S. government has shut down Megaupload. Meanwhile, President Obama makes our “entertainment” section again this week – this time for singing Al Green at a fundraiser.
France threatens to pull its troops out of Afghanistan early, http://usat.ly/x55oyw
France has threatened to pull its troops out of Afghanistan after an Afghan troop killed four French NATO personnel. The deaths bring the number of French casualties in Afghanistan to 82. “The French army is not in Afghanistan so that Afghan soldiers can shoot at them,” President Sarkozy said. Afghan President Hamid Karzai will meet with Sarkozy in Paris next week. Six NATO soldiers were killed in a separate helicopter crash early this morning. Early signs indicate that they were Americans.
Iran shuts down shops selling Barbie dolls, http://apne.ws/wct2rX
Iran has confiscated Barbie dolls and shut down dozens of toy stores for selling them. An unnamed Iranian police official said that this marks a “new phase” in the country’s crackdown against “manifestations of Western culture.” Iran has banned the sale of Barbie dolls since the mid-1990s.
Gingrich paid just under $1M in taxes for 2010, http://usat.ly/yvNyHC
Gingrich kept his promise and released his tax return for 2010 during last night’s GOP debate. He paid taxes of $994,708 on an adjusted gross income of $3,142,066. On Wednesday, Gingrich said he paid an effective tax rate of 31% while Mitt Romney admitted earlier this week that he pays “closer to 15%.” Gingrich also said that if he were to debate Obama, it would be a battle of knowledge and a teleprompter. After being booed, Romney said he would release his tax returns once he’s the nominee. Ron Paul noted that he’s too embarrassed to show his numbers next to Romney and Gingrich while Santorum said his taxes are on his home computer.
Treasure haul as N.Z. police raid Megaupload guru, http://bit.ly/wSPIGB
Yesterday, New Zealand police raided the fortified mansion of Megaupload founder “Kim Dotcom,” who is now being accused of online piracy in one of the largest cases of of copyright theft in U.S. history. Armed officers arrested Kim Schmitz, a 37-year-old German citizen with New Zealand and Hong Kong residency, denying him bail with three other men on Friday in a court appearance. Police seized a pink Cadillac, a sawed-off shotgun, and froze millions of dollars in cash after raiding Schmitz’s mansion. The U.S. government shut down Megaupload yesterday causing a hacking sweep of government websites.
Senior al Qaeda figure killed in drone strike, http://reut.rs/wdbxtT
U.S. officials said Thursday that a “senior operations organizer” for al Qaeda was killed by a drone strike in Pakistan last week. Aslam Awan was the last member of a Pakistan-based al Qaeda cell that Pakistani police have been trying to eliminate since 2008.
Wildfire Near Reno Destroys More Than 20 Homes, http://nyti.ms/z5bt5P
More than 10,000 people had to evacuate their homes Thursday after a brush fire became out of control in Reno, Nevada. The fire started Thursday and has already damaged several homes. 82 mph winds caused the brush fire to become fast-moving. The area had gone a record 56 days without rain before a snowfall occurred earlier this week.
(via POLITICO) The Supreme Court has thrown out the Texas redistricting maps drawn by a San Antonio federal court. “Because it is unclear whether the District Court for the Western District of Texas followed the appropriate standards in drawing interim maps for the 2012 Texas elections, the orders implementing those maps are vacated,” the court wrote in its decision.
President Obama sings Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together,’ http://usat.ly/xNdcME
Elton John’s Husband Backtracks On Madonna Statements, http://on.mtv.com/zFAsXQ
Lana Del Rey: ‘I Don’t Love Live Television,’ http://on.mtv.com/wUXnFP
This year’s Sundance shorts go online, http://usat.ly/xAkgnT