June 29th, 2010
09:28 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

The five most popular CNN.com stories during the last 24 hours, according to Newspulse.

Florida police officers killed: A woman sought for questioning in the deaths of two Tampa police officers was taken into custody Tuesday.

The hottest on-screen bathing suits ever: History's best bathing suits aren't always practical but they're impossible to forget. InStyle fashion director Hal Rubenstein shares the top ten on-screen swimsuits that are forever in our memories.

Ex-teacher gets 10 years for sex with pupils: Former middle school math teacher Stephanie Ragusa was sentenced to 10 years in prison for having sex with two underage students.

Alleged Russian agent arrested in Cyprus: A suspect in an alleged Russian spy ring was arrested Tuesday in Cyprus a day after 10 other suspects in the case were arrested in the United States.

How bad are your past sins really: Will those margaritas, junk-food binges, forgotten condoms or bong hits eventually come back to haunt us?

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Filed under: Espionage • Justice • Showbiz
June 29th, 2010
07:26 PM ET

CNN's Larry King announces retirement from nightly show

Larry King, the iconic TV interviewer, will step aside from hosting of his prime time CNN show later this year, he said Tuesday. Read the full CNN.com story

King, 76, made the announcement with a short posting to his Twitter account, citing his desire to spend more time with his wife and young children.

"I want to share some personal news with you. 25 years ago, I sat across this table from New York Governor Mario Cuomo for the first broadcast of Larry King Live. Now, decades later, I talked to the guys here at CNN and I told them I would like to end Larry King Live, the nightly show, this fall and CNN has graciously accepted, giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids' little league games," King wrote. Read Larry King's full statement

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Filed under: Showbiz
June 29th, 2010
04:57 PM ET

What we've learned about Elena Kagan

After a long day of questioning by senators hoping to find out more about Solicitor General Elena Kagan, there's one thing they now know for sure: No matter how they try to get her to discuss her judicial philosophy, there's no hard answer. For Kagan, it's all on a case-by-case basis.

At least, that's the sense Kagan conveyed today over and over again when asked about her political views and how they might influence her role on the Supreme Court.

Asked about issues including abortion, military recruitment, "don't ask, don't tell," executive power and other hot-button issues, Kagan always asserted that the law was the law, precedent was binding, and that's how she'd plan on ruling if any of those issues fell before her if her nomination was confirmed. She often answered questions with phrases indicating she felt she would bring no bias to the bench.

FULL POST

June 29th, 2010
04:50 PM ET

Kagan hearings: Nominee answers big, tough questions

[Updated at 4:50 p.m.]

The hearing takes on a congenial tone as Senator Lindsey Graham continues to question nominee Elena Kagan, this time, about where she was when the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing attack occurred.

"Senator Graham, that is an undecided legal issue, which well, I suppose I should ask exactly what you mean by that. I'm assuming that the question you mean is whether a person who was apprehended in the United States is... "

"No I just asked you where you were at on Christmas," he interrupts. 

"You know, like all Jews, I was probably in a Chinese restaurant," she responds, provoking laughter from the crowd.

[Updated at 4:06 p.m.]

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina begins his questioning of nominee Elena Kagan by asking if she agrees with the assessment that she is "a progressive in the mold of Obama himself."

"I've been a Democrat all my life," she answers. "That's what my political views are."

"Would you consider your political views progressive?" he presses.

"My political views are generally progressive," she says.

Graham also asks her about D.C. attorney Miguel Estrada, Kagan's "seatmate"  at Harvard law school who submitted a letter endorsing her nomination.

President Bush nominated Estrada to the D.C. Court of Appeals, but Senate Democrats used a filibuster to prevent his final nomination on the Senate floor. 

Kagan praises Estrada, who was part of the team that successfully presented then-Governor Bush’s position to the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore.

"He's qualified to serve as an appellate judge, he's qualified to serve as a Supreme Court Justice," she says in response to Graham's question of whether he was qualified to serve as an appellate judge.

"Your stock just went up with me," Graham replies, eliciting chuckles from the gallery.

FULL POST

June 29th, 2010
04:45 PM ET

P.M. Security Brief

Petraeus nomination moves forward– The Senate Armed Services Committee has voted to favorably report the nomination of Gen. David Petraeus to the full Senate as they decide whether to endorse him as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Tuesday's hearings raised a number of issues with the U.S.-led action in Afghanistan, including differing opinions about a plan to withdraw troops as early as July 2011.

Four-star retirement- As the process moves forward for putting Petraeus at the head of the Afghanistan mission, the White House is considering how it will say goodbye to the former occupant of that position. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that the administration will do what it can to make sure Gen. Stanley McChrystal receives a four-star retirement after explosive comments in a Rolling Stone magazine by him and his staff about the mission in Afghanistan.

Spies among us– A former Soviet spy who headed KGB operations in the U.S. in the 1970s, Oleg Kalugin, tells CNN he is "amazed" that Moscow is engaging so heavily in espionage against Washington. This, as Russian officials admits 11 suspected spies are in fact Russian nationals, but denies they were acting against the United States. Kalugin told CNN he was "amused" by reports of the arrests. "It is a sign of the decadence of the Russian intelligence services," he said.

The contractors' role– An interesting tidbit from Walter Pincus at the Washington Post focuses on the roles that contractors are playing in Psychological Operations. According to Pincus, the Department of Defense plans to spend some $1 billion on psychological operations in 2011, with nearly 40 percent of that money going toward contracted work. The congressionally-appointed Wartime Contracting Commission has been tackling the question of what is "inherently governmental" when it comes to government work that should not be hired out.

June 29th, 2010
02:58 PM ET

Committee votes to support Petraeus nomination

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Tuesday to favorably report to the full Senate the nomination of Gen. David Petraeus as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

The committee approved the nomination in a voice vote.

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Filed under: Military
June 29th, 2010
01:00 PM ET

Biden tells Petraeus he supports withdrawal policy

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, asked Gen. David Petraeus Tuesday whether he agrees with a statement supposedly made by Vice President Joe Biden that "in July of 2011 you're going to see a whole lot of people moving out, bet on it."

Biden's remarks, which referred to the planned date to begin a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, were reported in Jonathan Alter's book "The Promise."

Petraeus, in response, said that Biden recently told him in an Oval Office meeting that "you should know I am 100 percent supportive of (the current) policy." Petraeus also noted he will be hosting Biden at his current headquarters in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday night.

"Somebody needs to get it straight ... what the hell we're going to do," Graham said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
June 29th, 2010
12:51 PM ET

Latest developments: Russian spying arrests

Here are the latest developments on the arrests of 10 people in the United States and one in Cyprus on allegations that they spied for Russia:

NEW

[Updated 12:51 p.m. ET] - The Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed on its official website that the people arrested in the USA as part of an alleged spy ring are Russian citizens. The statement said that those arrested did not commit any actions directed towards American interests and asked for a guarantee that they would be guaranteed access to Russian consular officials and lawyers.

- Five more defendants in the Russian spying case have been scheduled to have court hearings Thursday, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley are scheduled to have a detention hearing in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, while a detention hearing for Michael Zottoli, Patricia Mills and Mikhail Semenko will be in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Richard Murphy, Cynthia Murphy, Juan Lazaro and Vicky Pelaez were already scheduled to have a detention hearing on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan, New York. Anna Chapman had a detention hearing Monday and has no additional hearings scheduled, the Justice Department said, updating earlier information that she would be back in court July 27.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Espionage • Russia
June 29th, 2010
12:39 PM ET

Bickering over Afghan troop withdrawal date marks Petraeus hearing

A Senate committee hearing on Gen. David Petraeus, picked by President Barack Obama to be the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was marked Tuesday by bickering over Obama's plan to begin withdrawing troops in July 2011.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, stressed the date's importance, saying it "imparts a sense of urgency to Afghan leaders" and is an important method of "spurring action." When the date was announced, Levin said, there was a surge in recruits for the Afghan army. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
June 29th, 2010
11:48 AM ET

Security Brief: Petraeus supports Pakistan role in Afghan dialogue

Gen. David Petraeus has told the Senate Armed Service Committee that Pakistan’s role in helping reconciliation in Afghanistan is “essential.”

“Such an agreement I think is going to depend on a number of factors that will play out over the course of the summer including creating a sense among the Taliban that they are going to get hammered in the field and perhaps should look at some options,” he said.

Petraeus said he had spoken with Afghan President Hamid Karzai about reports that he had recently met leaders of the Haqqani Network, an al Qaeda ally and one of the most effective insurgent groups operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“He assured me that he has not met with a Haqqani group leader … in recent days, or I think at any time.”

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Pakistan • Security Brief
June 29th, 2010
11:22 AM ET

Former spy arrests reminder of Cold War

Former Soviet spy Oleg Kalugin, who headed KGB operations in the United States in the 1970s and later left Russia to live in America, told CNN Tuesday he is "amazed" that Moscow is engaging so heavily in espionage against Washington.

Reacting to the recent arrests of 11 alleged Russian spies, Kalugin said that getting the type of information the FBI says the operatives collected "does not require such a massive assault" against the United States.

"I am amazed," he said. "It reminds me of the worst years of the Cold War." FULL POST

June 29th, 2010
10:59 AM ET

Petraeus on Marjah progress

Gen. David Petraeus acknowledged Tuesday that U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan's Marjah district are not going as well "as the most optimistic (initial) predictions." U.S. forces are making progress, he said, but it has been slower and harder than anticipated.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, cited the pace of operations in Marjah as one of the reasons for his opposition to the July 2011 date set to begin withdrawal of U.S. troops. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, also blasted the date, telling Petraeus he thinks the Taliban "has the perception (that the United States will) cut and run."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
June 29th, 2010
10:50 AM ET

Petraeus supports withdrawl date

Gen. David Petraeus told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that he "supports" and "agrees" with a July 2011 withdrawal date from Afghanistan.

"I saw (the establishment of the date) most importantly as the message of urgency to accompany the message of enormous (increased U.S.) commitment," he said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
June 29th, 2010
10:46 AM ET

Petraeus: "There's no love lost for the Taliban"

Gen. David Petraeus said Tuesday that one of his goals is to help ensure that the Afghan people know who "has been killing the vast majority" of innocent civilians in their country.

"There's no love lost for the Taliban," he said. Afghans remember the oppression of the Taliban regime, he noted.

Petraeus harkened back to his previous experience heading the U.S. military surge in Iraq. The terror group Al Qaeda in Iraq was hurt by successful U.S. efforts to give them an "extremist" label, he asserted.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
June 29th, 2010
10:35 AM ET

Petraeus defends U.S. mission in Afghanistan

Gen. David Petraeus strongly defended the U.S. mission in Afghanistan Tuesday, telling members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that "we should never forget that the 9/11 attacks were planned in southern Afghanistan and that the initial training of the attackers was carried out in camps in Afghanistan."

"Our task in Afghanistan is clear," he said. "We cannot allow al Qaeda or other transnational extremist elements to once again establish sanctuaries from which they can launch attacks on our homeland or on our allies."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
June 29th, 2010
10:30 AM ET

Petraeus urges passage of supplemental funding

Gen. David Petraeus on Tuesday urged Congress to pass an Afghanistan war supplemental funding bill now under consideration.

"Enabling further such progress ... and successfully implementing the president's strategy will require that our work in Afghanistan is fully resourced," he told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "It is essential for the conduct of this mission ... that the supplemental funding measure now before Congress be passed. This committee and the Senate have passed it, and it was heartening to see Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi's call last week for the House to do the same expeditiously."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
June 29th, 2010
10:27 AM ET

Petraeus on Afghanistan violence

Gen. David Petraeus acknowledged Tuesday that "recent months in Afghanistan have seen tough fighting and tough casualties."

But "this was expected," he said. "The going inevitably gets tougher before it gets easier when a counterinsurgency operation tries to reverse insurgent momentum. My sense is that the tough fighting will continue. Indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months. As we take away the enemy's safe havens and reduce the enemy's freedom of action, the insurgents will fight back."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
June 29th, 2010
10:20 AM ET

Petraeus highlights recent U.S. gains in Afghanistan

Gen. David Petraeus told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that "the Taliban and its affiliates had, until this year, steadily been expanding the areas they control and influence."

"This year, however, (U.S.-led forces have) achieved progress in several locations," he said. "The initial main effort has been in the Central Helmand River Valley. And Afghan, U.S., and U.K. forces have expanded security there, though, predictably, the enemy has fought back as we have taken away (extremists') sanctuaries. ... Nothing has been easy in those operations."

Petraeus also highlighted the U.S. buildup in Kandahar Province, "an an area of considerable importance to the Taliban."

"We are working hard to ensure that our operations there are based on a strong, integrated civil-military and Afghan-international approach to security, governance, and development," he said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
June 29th, 2010
10:17 AM ET

Petraeus offers praise for McChrystal

Gen. David Petraeus offered praise Tuesday for Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who resigned as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan last week after he and his staff were quoted in a Rolling Stone magazine article criticizing and mocking key administration officials.

"Gen. McChrystal has devoted his entire professional life to the defense of this nation, and he and his family have made enormous personal sacrifices," Petraeus said. "I can attest, for example, that the success of the surge in Iraq would not have been possible without Gen. McChrystal's exceptional leadership of our special mission unit forces there.

"Most importantly, of course, he has made enormous contributions in leading the coalition endeavor in Afghanistan over the past year.

"We now see some areas of progress amidst the tough fight ongoing in Afghanistan," Petraeus said. "Considerable credit for that must go to Stan McChrystal."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
June 29th, 2010
10:13 AM ET

Petraeus: July 2011 only the beginning of U.S. withdrawal

Gen. David Petraeus said Tuesday that it "is important to note the president's reminder in recent days that July 2011 will mark the beginning of a process, not the date when the U.S. heads for the exits and turns out the lights."

"We'll need to provide assistance to Afghanistan for a long time to come," he said, quoting President Barack Obama.

"Moreover, as President (Hamid) Karzai has recognized, and as a number of allied leaders noted at the recent G-20 summit, it is going to be a number of years before Afghan forces can truly handle the security tasks in Afghanistan on their own.

"The commitment to Afghanistan is necessarily, therefore, an enduring one, and neither the Taliban nor our Afghan and Pakistani partners should doubt that."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
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