The northern Afghan town of Char Bolak is guarded by the Critical Infrastructure Police, an auxiliary police program. The U.S. is increasingly relying on ad hoc local militias to fight the Taliban, but residents and government officials have concerns about the militias.
NATO officials say they have reversed a disturbing trend in northern Afghanistan.
In 2009 and 2010, Taliban insurgents made inroads across the north of the country, which had been secure for years. NATO says that last year it brought the north back under control, but Afghan officials say it's thanks to one of the most controversial American tactics here: the use of ad hoc local militias.
Nathan Hoskins knew from an early age that he was gay. But when he was growing up in rural Kentucky, his mother took extreme steps to convince him otherwise.
"When I was in sixth grade, I had met a good friend and he wasn't interested in girls," Hoskins, who's now 33, tells his friend Sally Evans. "One day, he said, 'I have a Valentine's Day card for you.'"
"I asked him for it, and he said it was so special that he mailed it," he says. "And he didn't know he'd done a very terrible thing because at my house only one person got the mail — and that was my mother."
Was Mitt Romney a job-creating turnaround artist? Or was he, as some on the campaign trail have said, a "vulture capitalist"? That question has become a top issue in the Republican presidential primaries.
In the 1980s, Romney ran a private equity firm called Bain Capital. It's an industry where it's hard to avoid getting your hands dirty.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in December. In the past year, banks in New York and around the country have announced tens of thousands of job cuts, as there isn't the same need for some financial services as before.
It's hard to tell if the Occupy Wall Street protests had much impact on banks, but banks are doing some de-Occupying within their own ranks. It wasn't as bad as the massive layoffs following the 2008 meltdown, but last year was painful for Wall Street. Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman, Morgan Stanley — almost all the big banks — announced big layoffs, totaling more than 60,000 employees.
Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, testifies before Congress on July 14, 2010. He thinks religious conservatives should try to rally behind a candidate other than Mitt Romney.
Rick Santorum was fresh off his surprise showing in the Iowa caucuses and fielding questions on a radio program, when a caller challenged the Republican presidential candidate on his overt religiosity.
"He said, 'We don't need a Jesus candidate. We need an economic candidate,' " Santorum recalled later, at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. "And my answer to that was, 'We always need a Jesus candidate, right?' "