As the news broke on Friday that President Obama signed the Patriot Act extension from France via autopen, you could almost hear thousands of Americans asking in unison, "What's an autopen?"
Well, it's a device that's often used by rock stars or sports heroes and yes, the President of the United States, usually to sign letters. This is the first time we know of that an autopen has signed a bill into law, though its use was carefully considered by the Justice Department in the George W. Bush administration.
Men throw stones at riot police during clashes in the coastal town of Banias, Syria, on Friday.
Syrian security forces opened fire on anti-government demonstrations Friday, killing at least eight people as thousands took to the streets despite the near-certainty they would face gunfire, tear gas and stun guns, human rights activists and witnesses said.
The casualties included three people in Qatana, a suburb of the capital, and four in the southern village of Dael, according to the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, which help organize the protests. One person also was reported killed near the border with Lebanon.
A Brazilian cigarette pack shows a pregnant smoker with the caption "The Ministry of Health warns: smoking during pregnancy is detrimental to child's health," while a woman lights a cigarette in the background.
Do smokers around the world really notice health warnings on cigarette packs?
Yes, especially if the warnings are graphic and rotated regularly to keep the messages fresh.
A survey of smokers conducted in 14 countries — ranging from Bangladesh to Uruguay — between 2008 and 2010 found that the warnings registered with most smokers. And among those smokers who noticed them, more than 25 percent said the messages led them to think about quitting.
The Charleston Gazette and NPR have together filed a legal motion with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to open up records related to the merger of Alpha Natural Resources and Massey Energy, the company that operated the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, where 29 mine workers died in a massive explosion in April 2010.