The Two-Way
5:30 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Alleged Iran Plot Is More 'Caper Novel' Than Spy Novel

The suspect: Manssor Arbabsiar (front, right) appearing in court Tuesday.

Shirley Shepard AFP/Getty Images

Here's another way to look at what U.S. law enforcement officials say was a plot by two Iranians — with assistance from "factions" of Iran's government — to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.:

Yesterday, we posted about how "brazen and bizarre" the alleged scheme appears.

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Economy
10:01 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

U.S. Banks Can't Hide From Europe's Debt Crisis

The Congressional Research Service estimated direct U.S. banking exposure in troubled European economies at $641 billion. U.S. banks say the amount is much lower.

Sandor F. Szabo iStockPhoto.com

For months now, Europe's debt crisis has hung ominously over the U.S. markets and economy. But even as U.S. banks begin lessening their investments in Europe, it remains difficult to quantify the threat they face.

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National Security
10:01 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

How Close Is Al-Qaida To Defeat?

Ayman al-Zawahiri (shown here in a still image posted online by al-Qaida in July) replaced Osama bin Laden at the top of al-Qaida's leadership. Some argue that eliminating a few key leaders would significantly weaken the group; others say the more dangerous threat — from al-Qaida affiliates — would be unaffected by changes in the group's core leadership.

Anonymous AP

A debate is raging in the intelligence community about what it means to defeat al-Qaida. Because America's efforts to capture or kill al-Qaida's key members have been so effective, some officials say the core group — al-Qaida's founders and longtime members hiding out in Pakistan — is near collapse.

One camp, which includes members of the Obama administration, says al-Qaida's core group is three to five members away from collapse. Others, however, say with al-Qaida affiliates gathering strength, any victory over the core will be a hollow one.

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Digital Life
10:01 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Comparing Apple's iPhone 4S And The Droid Bionic

Apple's new iPhone 4S, left, hits the market Friday — where it faces still competition from the speedy Android Bionic, right.

NPR

Apple's new smartphone, the iPhone 4S, lands in stores around the country Friday. The company says that consumers pre-ordered more than 1 million of the phones within 24 hours last week, when it became available online.

One of the new iPhone's biggest rivals will be the Motorola Bionic, which runs on Google's Android operating system. Both phones are very capable, and very fast — here's a chart outlining their features:

Test-Driving The iPhone 4S

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Business
10:01 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Gas Drilling Boom Brings New Life To Steel Industry

Chapman Corp. is expanding to take advantage of extra business it expects to get in coming decades because of increasing production in the Marcellus Shale play.

Jeff Brady NPR

A natural gas drilling boom in Pennsylvania is helping the economies of Rust Belt cities long accustomed to bad news. Drilling requires steel — lots of it — and that has manufacturers expanding and hiring new workers.

While much attention has been paid to the environmental risks of drilling into the Marcellus Shale, the economic benefits have been less prominent in the national discussion. But in Youngstown, Ohio, locals have been watching an old industry come back to life.

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Middle East
10:01 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Will Saudis Play Oil Card To Revenge Iranian Plot?

Adel al-Jubeir, shown in this 2004 photo, is Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S. and was the target of an Iranian assassination plot, according to the U.S. government.

Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

In capitals around the world, U.S. diplomats are laying out evidence that elements of Iran's government plotted to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington.

The United States is taking the lead in the push to hold Iran accountable. But Saudi Arabia may want to respond to Iran in its own way, and its weapon could be oil.

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The Two-Way
4:59 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

6 People Are Dead In Southern California Salon Shooting

A gunman opened fire killing six and wounding three others at an Orange County, Calif. hair salon this afternoon. The Orange County Register reports that the shooting rampage is one of Seal Beach's worst mass killings.

The paper reports:

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The Two-Way
4:29 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

In Exchange With Congressman, Buffett Discloses His Earnings, Taxes

Warren Buffett.

Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 4:42 pm

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and billionaire Warren Buffett have been involved in a cordial back-and-forth about Buffett's now-famous New York Times op-ed in which he implored the government to raise his taxes.

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Law
4:18 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Supreme Court Weighs Legality Of Strip Searches

The United States Supreme Court wrestled on Wednesday with a case testing whether some 700,000 people arrested each year on minor charges can be subject to automatic strip searches when taken to jail. Specifically, the issue the justices grappled with was whether jail authorities need some reasonable suspicion to conduct that kind of a search.

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Politics
3:09 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Will Free Trade Agreements Really Create Jobs?

Caterpillar products produced in Illinois, like the ones shown above, will be able to be exported to South Korea, Colombia and Panama duty free if Congress passes trade agreements with those countries on Wednesday. Obama says the agreements will provide a major boost to U.S. exports and support tens of thousands of jobs.

Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 7:27 pm

Congress approved with bipartisan support Wednesday much-delayed free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The Obama administration and supporters in Congress have labeled these agreements jobs bills, though there are questions about how many jobs will really be created.

When Bill Lane, the Washington director for the heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, looks at the three trade deals, he sees opportunity.

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