Thursday, August 20, 2009 - Last Update: 11:37 AM ET (15:37 GMT)

Turnout Seen as Uneven in Afghanistan as Polls Close

KABUL — Voters defied threats from the Taliban and rocket attacks on Thursday in an election that has become a critical benchmark of the nation’s progress.

At War

Latest Updates on Afghanistan’s Election

With donkeys carrying some ballot boxes back to Kabul, results could take weeks to count, Reuters reported.

Men lined up to vote in Kabul. The polls for Afghanistan's presidential election opened on Thursday in a race that is proving tighter than expected.
Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Voters defied threats from the Taliban and rocket attacks on Thursday in an election that has become a critical benchmark of the nation’s progress.

Video: Kabul at a Crossroads

Afghanistan's President Karzai faces two strong challengers in the presidential elections: Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.

Switzerland Selling Its Stake in UBS

PARIS — The government says it expects to turn a profit of over $900 million after helping to rescue the troubled bank.

C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help in Plan to Kill Jihadists

WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency hired contractors from Blackwater USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda, according to officials.

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Scotland Lets Lockerbie Convict Return to Libya

LONDON — The decision to release the former Libyan intelligence agent on compassionate grounds was made after his lawyers said he was dying of prostate cancer.

  • The Lede: Scottish Statement
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Lead Sickens 1,300 Children in China

BEIJING — The lead pollution from an unlicensed manganese smelter is the second incident of mass lead poisoning in the past month.

U.S. Counterinsurgency Unit to Stay in Philippines

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates faced pressure to reassign members of the 600-soldier operation elsewhere.

U.S. Officials Get a Taste of Pakistanis’ Anger at America

KARACHI, Pakistan — President Obama’s representatives must defend American foreign policy initiatives in Pakistan in the face of rising anti-American sentiments.

Latest News From Asia
A Good-News Photo Op Embarrasses 2 French Ministers

PARIS — The ministers’ supermarket visit was met by supportive “shoppers.” The supermarket later admitted to staging the reception.

Latest News From Europe
2 Blasts Expose Security Flaws in Heart of Iraq

BAGHDAD — Insurgents struck at the heart of Iraq’s government, killing at least 95 people in the worst attacks since U.S. forces handed over security responsibilities in June.

Latest News From the Middle East
Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi was convicted of blowing up a jet over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Scotland Appears Poised to Return Pan Am Bomber

LONDON — There were strong signs that the Scottish government had decided to release the Libyan prisoner convicted in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988.

Latest News From Africa
5 Are Convicted in 2004 Blaze in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES — The decision to allow those convicted to remain free pending appeal — and to absolve the band playing at the club that night — prompted an uproar.

Latest News From the Americas
The site of AltaRock Energy’s geothermal project lies in one of the world’s most earthquake-prone areas. Now a separate issue is reportedly hindering the project.
Drilling Ordeals Said to Delay Geothermal Project

Already under review over its potential earthquake risk, a major test of geothermal energy faces further setbacks.

Latest U.S. News
Magazine | Saving the World’s Women

A School Bus for Shamsia

A writer returned to Afghanistan to buy a bus for Afghan girls who were attacked on their walk to school. But giving isn’t always easy.

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Readers’ Comments »

C.I.A. Hired Blackwater to Kill Top Al Qaeda

“One of the many things wrong with this approach is that the C.I.A. needs to accept whatever lawful oversight is required and then take responsibility ... for carrying out such lethal actions,” writes MC in Seattle.

At War: Your Questions

John Burns, the Times’s chief foreign correspondent, answers readers’ questions about the value of Afghan elections taking place today.

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