Television cameras zoomed in on his hand Friday as Iran's supreme leader filled out the first ballot in the national election to replace outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei slipped the folded paper into the ballot box and turned to the cameras. His vote officially opened the ballots as he called on the 50 million Iranians eligible to vote to pick one of six candidates in the "epic" election.
"My expectation of our endeared people is for everyone to take part, and I would recommend that they go to ballot boxes as soon as possible and not to delay," he said.
Iranians appeared to heed their leader's call, with voters flocking to the country's 60,000 voting stations. The six candidates also have cast their votes, according to Iran's state-run IRNA news agency.FULL STORY
Claims and counterclaims came thick and fast Friday in response to the White House's declaration hours earlier that it believes the Syrian government has crossed a "red line" in using chemical weapons against rebels.
That conclusion - declared for the first time Thursday - is prompting the United States to increase the "scale and scope" of its support for the opposition, the White House said, although officials stopped short of saying it will put weapons in the hands of rebels.
The U.S. report won backing from the UK government Friday - but Syria and its allies in Moscow quickly sought to cast its integrity into doubt.
The Syrian foreign ministry accused Washington of releasing "a statement full of lies regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria," according to a statement on state TV.FULL STORY
Attorney General Eric Holder called the leaks about U.S. surveillance programs "extremely damaging" and vowed justice for whomever disseminated the information.
Appearing at a U.S.-European Union ministerial meeting Friday in Dublin, Holder was asked by a reporter why the United States hasn't requested the arrest of Edward Snowden, the self-avowed National Security Agency leaker.
Holder didn't mention Snowden's name and said the case remains under investigation. Snowden provided documents to journalists revealing the existence of secret programs to collect records of domestic telephone calls in the United States and the Internet activity of overseas residents.
"The national security of the United States has been damaged as a result those leaks. The safety of the American people and the safety of people who reside in allied nations have been put at risk as a result of these leaks," Holder said. "We are presently in the process of that investigation, and I'm confident the person who is responsible will be held accountable."FULL STORY
The forecast Friday provides little hope for firefighters trying to make headway against a raging wildfire northeast of Colorado Springs.
The high temperatures and blustery winds will be back, along with little chance for meaningful rain. The weather is expected to cool some over the weekend, with calmer winds, but no significant showers.
The Black Forest Fire has been dubbed the most destructive in state history after it scorched close to 16,000 acres, destroyed 379 homes and claimed at least two lives by Thursday evening.
Witnesses spoke to the two victims in the afternoon as the flames approached, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said.
"They said that they could see a glow to the west," he said. "They were packing their personal belongings, trying to get out."FULL STORY