The influential writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens died on Thursday at the age of 62 from complications of cancer of the esophagus. Hitchens confronted his disease in part by writing, bringing the same unsparing insight to his mortality that he had directed at so many other subjects.
Over the years, Hitchens' caustic attention was directed at a broad range of subjects, including Henry Kissinger, Prince Charles, Bob Hope, Michael Moore, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.
We are late to this news, but because it's just now picking up steam in the mainland United States, we'll share it. This was the official Christmas card of Jorge Santini, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, this year:
Iowa's popular Gov. Terry Branstad hasn't endorsed any of the Republican presidential candidates crisscrossing his state yet.
Which means he can at least claim to be above the intramural GOP fray scheduled to end in a few weeks when his state's Republican voters attend caucuses to choose their preference for their party's White House nominee.
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (L) speaks during a phone-in TV program in Moscow on Thursday. With widespread fraud alleged in recent parliamentary voting, Putin faced much more critical questioning than usual.
For the first time in more than a decade running Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is facing serious opposition to his rule. And that meant he faced tougher than usual questions Thursday at his annual question-and-answer session that lasted more than four hours on Russian television.
"Do you think the elections are honest and their results are fair?" the TV moderator asked him, reading an emailed question.
"The election results absolutely reflect the balance of power in the country," Putin said.
A subdued ceremony in Baghdad marked the official end of the U.S. military mission in Iraq. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was on hand in Baghdad Thursday for what's known as the casing of the colors — when the U.S. military's flag is put away and sent back to the United States.
The flag will then be retired and perhaps later go on display at the Pentagon.