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3:18am

Wed September 17, 2014
Parallels

Not Every Afghan Institution Is Efficient; This One Is

An Afghan firefighter emerges from the smoke from a fire in a Kabul clothing market in 2012. The fire department is remarkably professional in a city where few institutions function.
Mohammad Ismail Reuters /Landov

There are certain sounds you don't ever want to hear in life — in Afghanistan or elsewhere. One is the sound of sirens and a fire truck pulling up outside your house.

But, when flames are roaring out of your garage and are lapping at the side of the house, the sirens are a welcome sound of hope.

It started, we believe, when our aging generator caught fire. The flames don't even flinch at the spray of our household fire extinguishers.

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3:02am

Wed September 17, 2014
The Two-Way

Vikings Place Adrian Peterson On Exempt List

Andy Clayton-King AP

The change to running back Adrian Peterson's status will require him to stay away from the Minnesota Vikings while he takes care of legal proceedings regarding child abuse charges, according to a statement issued by the team.

Peterson faces a felony count for using a wooden switch to punish his 4-year-old son.

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3:02am

Wed September 17, 2014
Code Switch

'Breaking Bad' Fans Get Their Fix In Spanish

In Metástasis, Diego Trujillo (center) plays Walter Blanco, a chemistry teacher who sells crystal meth with his former student José Miguel Rosas, played by Roberto Urbina.
Manuel Rodriguez UniMás

How do you remake the award-winning AMC series Breaking Bad in Spanish?

Well, all you need — as the show's chemistry teacher-turned-drug dealer, Walter White, might say — is "a little tweak of chemistry."

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3:02am

Wed September 17, 2014
Book News & Features

How One Poet's 'Genius Grant' Became A Gift To Future Generations

Amy Clampitt published her first full-length poetry collection, The Kingfisher, in 1983.
Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation

The recipients of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius grants" will each receive $625,000 over five years, no strings attached. That made some of us wonder what past MacArthur fellows have done with their money, a question that led us to 1992 winner Amy Clampitt.

Clampitt, a poet, was on vacation when she heard from her friend, writer Karen Chase, that she had been named a MacArthur genius.

"She was furious with me because she thought I was teasing her," Chase recalls. "And by the end of the conversation she said, 'I'm gonna buy a house in Lenox!' "

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3:02am

Wed September 17, 2014
National Security

Unregulated Skies: Keeping Watch On America's Vertical Borders

Agents at the Air and Marine Operations Center in at an Air Force Reserve base in Riverside, Calif. track 20,000 to 25,000 flights a day for suspicious activity.
Master Sgt. Julie Avey AMOC

Inside a cluster of nondescript buildings on a military base in Southern California, the big radar room at the Air and Marine Operations Center looks vaguely like NASA Mission Control.

Thirty-two federal agents sit at Dell PCs, each one watching a different region of the country, monitoring private planes that might be carrying drugs or terrorists.

They don't find many. But they watch everything larger than an eagle that moves in U.S. airspace.

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