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The latest US strategy against the Taliban calls for winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. But complaints of election fraud threaten the credibility of President Hamid Karzai, and contractors guarding the US embassy, have shocked Afghan sensibilities. We update developments as support in the US is on the decline for what’s called "Barack Obama's war." Pfizer gets the largest fraud fine in healthcare history. On Reporter's Notebook, do some pirates really believe in a higher cause?

Banner image: A car drives by as a poster of President Hamid Karzai reflects on the window in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)


Making News Pfizer Fined $2.3 Billion for Illegal Marketing of Drugs 7 MIN, 35 SEC

The Obama Administration today announced the largest fine ever levied for fraud in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The $3.2 billion penalty is part of a settlement reached with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer over illegal promotion of drugs, including Bextra, a painkiller that has been withdrawn from the market. Gardiner Harris reports on public health for the New York Times.

Gardiner Harris, New York Times (@GardinerHarris)

Main Topic Are Hearts and Minds Being Won or Lost in Afghanistan? 38 MIN, 20 SEC

General Stanley McChrystal says success against the Taliban depends on support from the Afghan people, but public opinion is fast turning sour. Reports of election fraud could sap all confidence in President Hamid Karzai and, if he wins, political opponents might turn to violence. If more US troops are needed, contractors for non-combat roles could reduce the number, but contractors guarding the US embassy are accused of misbehavior Afghans find shocking. We hear more today as questions remain about President Obama's objectives. 

Anand Gopal, New America Foundation (@anand_gopal_)
Stephen Biddle, George Washington University / Council on Foreign Relations (@ElliottSchoolGW)
Brian Katulis, Center for America Progress (@Katulis)
Adam Zagorin, Project on Government Oversight
Christine Fair, Georgetown University (@CChristineFair)

Reporter's Notebook A New Look at the Pirates of Yore 4 MIN, 48 SEC

hook.jpgIn the interest of stable government, just about every nation supports the death penalty for captured pirates. But piracy flourishes where governments are not stable, and new research suggests it's more complex than reputation suggests. In 1719, pirates off Sierra Leone saved a captain when his crew said they “never were with a better Man.” Off Central America, pirate booty was distributed by a democratic vote. Do today's Somali pirates also behave by codes of conduct? Caleb Crain's “Bootylicious” appears in this week's New Yorker.

Caleb Crain, Contributor, New Yorker

The Invisible Hook

Peter T. Leeson

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