Christopher Hitchens, an author and pundit whose career spanned more than four decades, died Thursday night from pneumonia resulting from cancer complications. He was 62.
The provocative but beloved author passed away at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, according to a statement from Conde Nast, publisher of Vanity Fair magazine.
In June 2010 Hitchens cancelled a tour for his memoir “Hitch-22,” announcing that he was undergoing treatment for cancer of the esophagus.
Here’s more from the Associated Press:"Hitchens, a frequent television commentator and a contributor to Vanity Fair, Slate and other publications, had become a popular author in 2007 thanks to "God is Not Great," a manifesto for atheists that defied a recent trend of religious works. Cancer humbled, but did not mellow him. Even after his diagnosis, his columns appeared weekly, savaging the royal family or reveling in the death of Osama bin Laden."
Hitchens, a militant humanist, was well-known for his consistent, equal opportunity attacks of causes on both the political left and right. The Al Qaeda attacks on Sept. 11 caused Hitchens to veer away from the political left and criticize what he called "fascism with an Islamic face."
Hitchens became a media fellow at the Hoover Institution in September 2008. He is considered to be one of the world's most influential thinkers.
December 15, 2011
Republican candidates mocked President Barack Obama during the Thursday night debate in Iowa over his handling of the downed U.S. drone in Iran.Read it all here.
"This is a president that the spy drone being brought down, he says pretty please? Foreign policy based on pretty please? You have to be kidding," former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said. "This is a president who fundamentally believes that the next century is the post-American century. Perhaps it will be the Chinese century. He is wrong. It has to be the American century. America has to lead the free world."
On Monday President Obama acknowledged Iran had the drone in its possession. "We've asked for it back," he said. "We'll see how the Iranians respond."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry also chastised Obama, saying the U.S. should have either destroyed the craft or obtained it so that sensitive technology wouldn’t fall into Iranian hands. Perry called Obama’s reaction to the felled drone "the worst and the weakest."
The drone—a bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel—was on a CIA mission when it went missing on Dec. 4, according to US officials. Meanwhile Iran has promised it would "reverse-engineer" the craft to exploit its technology.
Iran was the hot foreign policy issue during the Iowa debate Thursday. [...]
Newt Gingrich was on the defense during Thursday’s GOP debate in Iowa, denying that money influenced his positions on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Several GOP hopefuls, including Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, criticized Gingrich, the new frontrunner of the race. Bachmann went as far to suggest Gingrich is guilty of "influence peddling" while he worked as a consultant for the two lenders.
"I have never once changed my positions because of any kind of payment," Gingrich said. "I was a national figure who was doing just fine doing a whole variety of things, including writing bestselling books."
Gingrich, who compared himself to Ronald Reagan, said he believes he "can beat Obama" during the Iowa debate.
"Barack Obama will not have a leg to stand on," boasted Gingrich.
Toward the end of the debate, Gingrich and Bachmann got into a heated exchange. The former speaker of the house said Bachmann didn’t have her "facts right" about his pro-life record. Gingrich took exception that his conservative stance on abortion would be questioned. Bachmann retorted that she is a "serious candidate" who is aware of the facts and that Gingrich had a chance to defund Planned Parenthood over performing abortions.
Iowans for Life has accused Gingrich of campaigning for "pro-partial birth abortion candidates" and chastised the former speaker for failing to keep taxpayers from Planned Parenthood.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is the newly presumed frontrunner of the GOP race followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. But can Texas Rep. Ron Paul still be discounted as a long shot?Read it all here.
Paul, who has spent most of his career in Congress, has already rocked the GOP race.
The latest Iowa poll puts Ron Paul at just a percent point from the new frontrunner in the state.
The Texas congressman has been nicknamed the "intellectual godfather" of the Tea Party movement. Paul favors cutting $1 trillion from the federal government, slashing the corporate tax rate and removing taxes on capital gains and dividens. He also supports the elimination of five federal cabinet agencies and strongly opposes federal health care, making him popular with groups that favor limited government.
Asked about earmarks during Thursday’s debate in Iowa, Paul said he has never voted for them, although he acknowledged using funds.
"I do argue the case for the people I represent to try and get their money back if at all possible," said Paul.
In a Thursday afternoon appearance on Fox News Paul attacked Newt Gingrich for allegedly dodging military service during the Vietnam War. Paul said Gingrich got several military deferments to avoid service.
"There was one other issue that I personally found annoying is that he's probably as aggressive with the military as anybody, he supports all the wars in the Middle East a thousand times more than I would," Paul told host Megyn Kelly.
Paul also defended a new web ad in which he calls Gingrich a “serial hypocrite.”
“Negative campaigning is calling people names, demagoguing issues … pointing out differences is my job,” Paul said.
December 8, 2011
The gunman who shot and killed a Virginia Tech police officer Thursday has yet to be identified by authorities. Two people were left dead in what appears to be a murder-suicide. Police said Thursday night that ballistics tests confirm the police officer and the man suspected in his shooting were killed using the same gun.Read it all here.
Virginia Tech was in lockdown mode shortly after noon local time for a couple of hours. The university’s website and Facebook page turned into an alert page, confirming that a police officer was shot and killed after performing a routine traffic stop in a parking lot. The shooter fled the scene on foot and headed to another parking lot on campus, according to witnesses.
A second unnamed man was later found dead in the parking lot and is believed to be the shooter according to several major news networks, although authorities have not confirmed the report.
The police officer, Deriek Crouse, 39, was a four-year veteran of Virginia Tech’s police force. [...]
Barbara Walters' interview with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad—excerpts of which aired on Wednesday—has earned the veteran journalist both praise and censure.Read it all here.
Clips of the ABC interview show Assad denying that he ordered a brutal crackdown on Syrian dissidents.
"We don’t kill our people," he said. "No government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person."
Assad also denied that he is in charge of the army.
"Many people criticize me, did they kill all of them, who killed who, most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government not the vice versa," Assad told Walters.
A United Nations Commission report has estimated that 4,000 protestors have been killed since March. Assad did not acknowledge the report and asked to see evidence that his regime has committed crimes against humanity.
"They don't have even the names, who are the rape people or who are the tortured people who are they, we don't have any names, they didn't," the Syrian president said.
Walters pressed Assad on abuse, citing the murder of Hamza al-Khateeb, a 13-year-old boy who was detained after a protest and tortured by authorities. [...]