Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Kabul Wednesday in a surprise visit on the eve of the inauguration of President Hamid Karzai.
Clinton went straight into a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, before having dinner with Karzai.
Her first visit to Afghanistan as secretary of state comes as President Obama is deciding whether to send up to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, as requested by McChrystal.
Clinton will attend Karzai's Thursday inauguration to a second term, showing U.S. support for his government, after an election which was tainted by fraudulent balloting.
(CNN) - Hollywood is getting behind Jerry Brown's bid to be the next governor of California with a coming out party Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
The fundraiser at Sandy Galin's house in Bel Air is co-hosted by Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, Diane von Furstenburg and Barry Diller, David Geffen, and Larry Ellison among others. Galin is a top Hollywood talent manager.
Brown has yet to declare for governor, but at this point it's considered a formality. In California Democratic circles it's understood the state's attorney general is in. Now that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has bowed out of the race, the path is clear for Brown , who was the state's youngest governor since the turn of the 20th century. Brown was 36 when he was first elected California governor in 1974. He was re-elected in 1978.
The expected donation for Wednesday night's event? Give or raise $50,000 for a co-chair, $25,000 for a sponsor, $10,000 for an couple and $5,000 for an individual. Organizers expect to raise more than $1 million for Jerry Brown's 2010 Exploratory Committee.
California's current governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is term limited and prevented from running for re-election next year.
Washington (CNN) - Sen. Robert Byrd will become the longest-serving member of Congress Wednesday, having logged a staggering 20,774 days representing his home state of West Virginia in either the U.S. House or Senate.
Most of Byrd's tenure in federal office has been in the U.S. Senate, where he will have served 18,583 days, from January 3, 1959, through Wednesday. He became that body's longest-serving member in June 2006, surpassing the record previously held by the late Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.
The West Virginia Democrat also served a total of 2,191 days, from January 3, 1953, to January 3, 1959, in the House of Representatives
The late Carl Hayden, D-Arizona, held the previous record for longest total congressional service. Hayden served in the House and the Senate for a total 20,773 days, from February 12, 1912, to January 3, 1969.
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) - North Korea's nuclear program and a free trade agreement will be front and center on President Obama's agenda as he visits South Korea - the last leg of his trip to Asia.
Obama landed in South Korea on Wednesday evening local time. He will visit the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Seoul, and meet with President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday.
The two leaders will have a bilateral meeting and then hold a news conference. They later will have a working lunch. Before Obama leaves Thursday, he'll visit troops at a U.S. Air Force base.
The nuclear program of North Korea - South Korea's neighbor to the north - has been a major concern for the United States and many Asian powers.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In her new memoir, "Going Rogue," Palin accuses two national reporters of trying to corner her young daughter Piper on the street in Juneau for an interview several months after the presidential campaign ended - a charge both the journalists and a former Palin campaign aide reject.
Palin writes in her book that after the race ended, "members of the national press continued to hang out in Alaska sniffing for tabloid stuff."
"In one early press conference we noticed that our local reporters were flanked by a couple of reporters from the Lower 48 who'd been hanging out around Juneau in search of material for their own Sarah Palin book," Palin writes. "We never shut our doors to anyone, so people of all kinds attended these press availabilities. But glancing along the side wall, I recognized these particular folks as the same ones who had cornered Piper on her walk home from Harborview Elementary School and talked to her for who knows how long about who knows what."
According to Palin, Piper returned home and told her mother: "Mom, remember those reporters who came on the campaign plane with us? You know, the ones Nicolle [Wallace] said didn't like us very much? They just interviewed me on the sidewalk." Palin adds after the incident, Piper was no longer allowed to walk to or from school by herself.
The journalists in question - Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, authors of the newly-published book "Sarah from Alaska" - deny Palin's characterization. Both traveled with Palin on her campaign plane throughout her 2008 vice presidential bid, and the precocious Palin daughter frequently visited with the press corps and became friendly with them, a fact Palin boasts about in her memoir.
Conroy and Walshe said in a statement Tuesday that in the course of reporting for their book, they conducted 190 interviews, including sit-downs with Palin's parents and her husband Todd.
Washington (CNN) - Six in 10 Americans favor a ban on the use of federal funds for abortion, according to a new poll which also indicates that the public may also favor legislation that would prevent many women from getting their health insurance plan to cover the cost of an abortion, even if no federal funds are involved.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday morning indicates that 61 percent of the public opposes the use of public money for abortions for women who can not afford the procedure, with 37 percent in favor of allowing the use of federal funds.
And by a 51 percent to 45 percent margin, those questioned in the survey think that a women who get abortions should pay the full costs out of their own pocket, even if they have private health insurance and no federal funds are involved. The 6-point difference is within the poll's sampling error.
The health care reform bill that narrowly passed in the House of Representatives on November 7 included tight restrictions on the use of federal money for abortion coverage. Abortion rights activists are strongly opposed to such restrictions.
"Roughly one in five Americans who oppose the House health care bill do so because it is not liberal enough," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The abortion issue may be one reason why. But for most Americans, potential restrictions on abortion may not be a dealbreaker."
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
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CNN: West Virginia's Byrd becomes the longest-serving member of Congress
When Robert Byrd came to Congress from West Virginia, a postage stamp cost 3 cents and kids were clamoring for a new toy called Mr. Potato Head. On Wednesday, almost 57 years later, Byrd became the longest-serving member of Congress in history.
ABC News: Sarah Palin: I Want to Play a Major Role in National Politics, 'If People Will Have Me'
Sarah Palin may be mum about her presidential ambitions, but the former GOP vice presidential candidate is opening up about her campaign experiences and has some harsh words for President Obama.
CNN: Congressional inquiry into Fort Hood sought
Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee have sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for an immediate Congressional investigation into circumstances surrounding the Fort Hood shooting.
USA TODAY: Senators have tough questions for Holder
Attorney General Eric Holder has said his decision to bring self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged accomplices to New York City to stand trial in civilian court was the "toughest" call in his short tenure as the nation's top law enforcement officer.
Washington Post: In Senate vote, signs of shift on detainees
The Senate on Tuesday rejected an attempt to bar using funds from a defense spending bill to build or modify prisons in the United States to hold detainees from Guantanamo Bay, a move that suggested congressional Democrats may be lining up behind President Obama's vision for closing the military prison.
CNN: White House reports billions of improper payments in 2009
The federal government made $98 billion in improper payments in fiscal 2009, and President Obama will issue an executive order in coming days to combat the problem, his budget director announced Tuesday.