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A journalistic hero, First Lady power, and tennis screechers

The foreign correspondent I admire most is Anthony Shadid of the New York Times, who combines courage and great story instincts with wonderfully engaging writing.  Here, in an interview with Mother Jones magazine, Shadid -- the Times' Beirut bureau chief -- talks about his harrowing year just past as he reported on the Arab Spring, from Egypt to Libya to Syria.  He describes what he considers his own misjudgment in pursuing a story that resulted in his kidnapping (and that of three Times colleagues) by Libyan government forces.  Shadid's third book, "House of Stone," in which he returns to his family's ancestral village in Lebanon, is due out in late March.

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We all have our favorite First Ladies, and we all have our own reasons.  I'm partial to Betty Ford for her strength in battling addiction and Jacqueline Kennedy for her style and taste.  But here's quite another question:  Who are the most influential First Ladies -- the ones who made the biggest  difference during their time in the White House and beyond?  The Daily Beast offers this photo gallery, ranking First Lady power, based on a poll of experts.  Check it out and see if you agree.

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Tennis screamerslWhen Maria Sharapova, left, and Victoria Azarenka, right, meet tomorrow in the women's final of the Australian Open tennis tournament, you'll see some vicious serves and some pounding groundstrokes -- and, unfortunately, you'll hear some ear-splitting shrieks.  The Aussie final has managed to bring together the two loudest women's players on the tour, each of whom emits a high-pitched scream every time she hits the ball.  This tennis fan thinks there ought to be a law against the unnecessary noise pollution.  In the meantime, maybe they'll drown each other out.

(The photo is from Getty Images)

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