U.S. Soldier Shoots Afghan Civilians; Two Children Found Dead In Bronx, Brooklyn; Japan Mourns At One Year Anniversary Of Quake, Tsunami

A U.S. soldier killed 16 Afghan civilians in their homes when he walked off base. Following the attack he turned himself in. The reports of the number of casualties have been varied. In addition to the at least 16 dead, five were wounded. The victims include girls aged 6 or younger. "We don't know why he killed people," a villager told the New York Times. In February, riots broke out in Afghanistan after Korans were burned at an U.S. military base. [MSNBC, CNN, NYT]

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Straphangers Sang Whitney Houston On The Subway Last Night

Usually when we post videos of things that happen on the subway, they show the underbelly of New York's underbelly. But sometimes lovely moments do happen on trains, like the one above via Gothamist. Last night, after news of Whitney Houston's death spread people on the 2 train responded with an impromptu "I Will Always Love You" sing-a-long.

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Whitney Houston Mourned; P.S. 87 Aide Arrested In Sexual Abuse Case Arraigned; NYU Expansion Protested

As we noted last night, singer Whitney Houston died yesterday at the age of 48. She was found dead of unknown causes in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen told the Associated Press that "there were no obvious signs of any criminal intent." The death of the woman with the unbelievable voice also rattled our area. Last night, the Apollo in Harlem saw mourning and memorials. The New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where Houston sang as a child, remembered Houston in a small early morning memorial service. Jennifer Hudson and Chaka Khan will perform in Houston's honor at tonight's Grammy ceremony. [AP, CBS, Star-Ledger, NBC NY]

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Singer Whitney Houston, 48, Dies

Sad news out of Los Angeles tonight: The Associated Press reported that Whitney Houston has died at the age of 48. Houston was found dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she was scheduled to attend producer Clive Davis' pre-Grammy party tonight.

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Next Step For North Korea: 'Kim Jong-il Haunting Things'

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Kim Jong-il's death has had a number of ripple effects, not least of which is the sudden obsolescence of the Kim Jong-il Looking at Things tumblr. Lucky for us, it's been replaced with a creepy new one: Kim Jong-il Haunting Things.

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NY Lifts Ban on Burying Human Ashes in Pet Cemeteries, to Pet Lovers' Delight

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New York state has OK'd the burying of human ashes in pet cemeteries, reversing a ban put in place earlier this year. According to an AP report, the decision comes after one lawyer's campaign to honor the wishes of her late uncle, who wanted to be buried next to his wife and their two dogs. One cat lover told the Post that the ban's reversal "was sort of like an early Christmas present."

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Wilson Ramos, MLB Catcher, Rescued From Kidnappers; Top Mexican Official Killed in Helicopter Crash; Solyndra Emails Released

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was rescued yesterday after being abducted outside his home in Venezuela. Ramos was living in Valencia, a town outside of Caracas, during the MLB offseason and was held in a mountainous region while his captors demanded a ransom. ESPN reports "the final moments had been hair-raising as police and the kidnappers exchanged heavy fire," but that Ramos was unharmed. Five of his kidnappers were detained after the battle. [ESPN]

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Al Davis: The Dark Side

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Al Davis, circa 1970.
The best and most balanced obit for the Oakland Raiders' Al Davis, who died Saturday, was by Bruce Weber in the New York Times. There is, however, a curious and unexplained line in the story: "Wherever the team called home, Oakland or Los Angeles, Mr. Davis was a fan favorite — until he wasn't."

Part of the explanation has to do with the word "extort."

We don't feel it's necessary to recount Davis's many accomplishments, and we grant that he was a "maverick," for whatever that may be worth. High on the list of those accomplishments is bringing a Hispanic coach, Tom Flores, and a black coach, Art Shell, into the NFL. He was also the first owner to put a woman, Amy Trask, into an executive position.

But it also should be remembered that he was one nasty son of a bitch when a player crossed him. We'll probably never know why he feuded with his great running back, Marcus Allen, unless Allen chooses to spill the beans. And Davis was an asshole to the end regarding the players' union.

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Steve Jobs's Death and the Legacy of the Foxconn Factory Suicides

It was a big day for American capitalism yesterday. Nothing captured the dichotomy of how citizens were thinking about it better than the above tweet on how a captain of industry was being eulogized (after the suicides of his de-facto factory workers have largely been ignored), on the same day Wall Street was under an assault like it's never seen at the hands of the American public*.

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9/11 Anniversary; Swedish Terror Arrests; Cliff Robertson Passes Away

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Commemorations of the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks are being held around the country to remember those lost a decade ago. At the site of the World Trade Center memorial--which opens to the general public tomorrow--President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush will speak, as well as other officials who will give short readings. You can watch a live stream here. [NYC.gov]

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