This week, former senator Rick Santorum officially broke the seal on 2012 election speculation by throwing his name into the running for the Iowa caucuses. Santorum's statements about homosexuality and his hard-edged conservatism make him a less than ideal GOP nominee--or maybe they make him the perfect nominee--but what about Santorum's competitors? Click through this slideshow for a look at the other Republicans who might run in 2012. Courtesy of Getty Images --Elise Foley and Noah Kristula-Green
Across the country, town hall discussions about health care are being drowned out by mobs of booing, threatening, and screaming activists. The phenomenon has worsened to the point that some, like Illinois Democratic Senator Richard Durbin, are refusing to hold such events at all during the recess--reasoning that disagreement is welcome, but "I don't have to put up a stage for them." What's making these town hall meetings so frustrating? Click through this video slideshow to see some of the drama. Photo courtesy of Getty Images --Elise Foley and Noah Kristula-Green
This week, senators and congressmen are fleeing the capital for the official August recess. Most will be going home, visiting family, and touching base with constituents--as well as angry town hall meeting hecklers. But some have bigger plans. Click through this slideshow to see other ways legislators are using their vacation time. Courtesy of Getty Images --Elise Foley
Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee returned to the U.S. today after former President Bill Clinton's visit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il yesterday. The two women were imprisoned for four months. After returning to the U.S., Ling spoke about her surprise at seeing Clinton: "We were shocked but we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end and now we stand here home and free." Click through to hear from other famous freed hostages. Courtesy of AFP/Getty Images --Elise Foley
China’s stimulus package, which was unveiled in November, will spend an estimated $586 billion over the next two years to improve infrastructure, rebuild areas hit by natural disasters, and reform the economy. Not only does the China stimulus package represent a greater proportion of their GDP than the U.S. package, as Zachary Karabell argues in TNR today, it's also being used much more effectively. Where exactly is the money going? Click through this slideshow to find out. Photo courtesy of Getty Images --Elise Foley
There are a few things we know about President Obama’s pick for Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin. She is a well-respected family practice doctor, the winner of a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant, and the first black woman to head a state medical association in the U.S. She is the founder of a medical clinic in rural Bayou La Batre, Alabama, where many of the patients are poor, uninsured and unable to pay their bills--and Benjamin is known for treating them anyway.
Legal changes have been slow to come in Iraq, with legislation moving through the parliamentary system at a snail's pace--or not at all. Bills intended to aid the weak economy have been held up in parliament for years, while laws regulating the oil industry and banning official corruption remain notably absent. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki recently began lobbying for a switch to a presidential system of government, which he said would be more efficient and democratic than the current parliamentary system. Iraq experts said they could see why he'd want this change.