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POSTED January 8, 2013 9:24 p.m.

OFFICIALS: US MAY LEAVE NO TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN: WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration gave the first explicit signal Tuesday that it might leave no troops in Afghanistan after December 2014, an option that defies the Pentagon's view that thousands of troops may be needed to keep a lid on al-Qaida and to strengthen Afghan forces.

"The U.S. does not have an inherent objective of 'X' number of troops in Afghanistan," said Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser. "We have an objective of making sure there is no safe haven for al-Qaida in Afghanistan and making sure that the Afghan government has a security force that is sufficient to ensure the stability of the Afghan government."

The U.S. now has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of about 100,000 as recently as 2010. The U.S. and its NATO allies agreed in November 2010 that they would withdraw all their combat troops by the end of 2014, but they have yet to decide what future missions will be necessary and how many troops they would require.

IS IRAN BEHIND RETIRE FBI AGNET KIDNAPPING? WASHINGTON (AP) — Two years after a hostage video and photographs of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson raised the possibility that the missing American was being held by terrorists, U.S. officials now see the government of Iran behind the images, intelligence officials told The Associated Press.

Levinson, a private investigator, disappeared in 2007 on the Iranian island of Kish. The Iranian government has repeatedly denied knowing anything about his disappearance, and the disturbing video and photos that Levinson's family received in late 2010 and early 2011 seemed to give credence to the idea.

The extraordinary photos — showing Levinson's hair wild and gray, his beard long and unkempt — are being seen for the first time publicly after the family provided copies to the AP. The video has been previously released.

GATES: TEST SCORES NOT ENOUGH FOR TEACHER REVIEWS: SEATTLE (AP) — After three years of research on measuring teacher performance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Tuesday that it takes multiple measures to most accurately judge educators.

The Seattle foundation concluded in its final report on its Measures of Effective Teaching research that test scores or principal evaluations are not enough on their own. The findings mirror what teachers unions have been saying.

The federal government has been pushing states through incentive grants and waivers to update their teacher evaluation systems because it felt existing systems were inadequate. At the same time, the Gates Foundation was studying these issues, saying it wanted to add to the discussion. Most states and big city districts have adopted some elements of the recommendations.

Foundation officials say the more reliable systems include a balanced mix of evaluation methods: student test scores, lesson observation and student surveys.

POLICE: SUSPECT IN iPAD THEFT SHOWS SELF ON iCLOUD: WEST JORDAN, Utah (AP) — A suspect in an iPad theft used the tablet to take pictures of himself that were automatically uploaded to the owner's iCloud data storage account, providing detectives with an unusual lead.

The stolen iPad, however, has yet to show up — and police aren't certain what to make of the images of a man playing to the camera of the stolen device.

"That's certainly some good information and a fantastic investigative lead," West Jordan police Sgt. Rich Bell told The Associated Press. "It's proof that he's certainly involved with the theft, or was in possession of it at some point. Or maybe he's the suspect."

The man was arrested Saturday on unrelated charges. Bountiful police said he is a 31-year-old parolee who was picked up for traffic violations using a borrowed car — no iPad was recovered. He was listed Tuesday as an inmate at Davis County jail.

Andy Jeon said that shortly after the holiday theft of his wife's iPad from his vehicle, he noticed pictures of a stranger being uploaded to his iCloud account

$1 MILLION DONATIONS WANTED FOR OBAMA INAUGURATION: WASHINGTON (AP) — Planners of President Barack Obama's second inauguration are soliciting high-dollar contributions up to $1 million to help pay for the celebration in exchange for special access.

The changes are part of a continuing erosion of Obama's pledge to keep donors and special interests at arm's length of his presidency. He has abandoned the policy from his first inauguration to accept donations up to only $50,000 from individuals, announcing last month that he would take unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations.

A fundraising appeal obtained by The Associated Press shows the Presidential Inaugural Committee is going far beyond Obama's previous self-imposed limits and is looking to blow away modern American presidential inauguration fundraising records by offering donors four VIP packages named after the country's founding fathers.

Event organizers are hoping the packages will pay for expensive events surrounding Obama's inaugural on Jan. 21. Obama raised $53 million in private money for his first inauguration, when a record 1.8 million people packed the National Mall to see the nation's first black president take the oath of office. The celebration has been scaled down this year, with less than half the crowd expected and a cut from 10 inauguration-night balls to two.

PHOENIX POLICE SHOOT DRIVER WITH BOY IN FRONT SEAT: PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix authorities say a 5-year-old boy was found in a car's front passenger seat after police fired at the vehicle and fatally shot the driver.

Sgt. Trent Crump says the motorist evaded a traffic stop late Monday night after he appeared to be impaired.

Crump says officers later shot at the car and killed the driver after the vehicle struck a brick wall at a home and the man tried drive off — first in one direction toward officers and then in another direction toward a different officer.

Crump says the boy discovered in the car wasn't hurt.

 

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