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WASHINGTON: Petraeus ordered covert operations across Mideast

The top U.S. military commander in the Middle East signed a secret order last fall that set the stage for increased clandestine and covert operations against militants and other threats across the region, defense officials said Tuesday. Gen. David Petraeus signed an order in September authorizing Special Operations forces to enter allied and hostile nations in the Mideast, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to conduct surveillance missions and work with local forces, two officials said on condition of anonymity because the document is classified. Petraeus' seven-page order also appears to authorize specific operations in Iran, most likely to gather intelligence about the country's nuclear program or identify dissident groups, according to The New York Times, which first revealed the directive. Citing anonymous sources, the Times said the new order does not authorize offensive action.

MICHIGAN: Ex-mayor gets five years

Time and again, Kwame Kilpatrick's exceptional oratory skills rallied Detroit voters to his side despite his frequent troubles as mayor. But all his swagger and professions of love for family, God and the city Tuesday failed to sway a judge, who sent Kilpatrick to prison for up to five years for violating his probation stemming from his conviction for lying under oath about an affair with his chief of staff. "Frankly, your continued attempt to cast yourself as the victim, your lack of forthrightness, your lack of contriteness and your lack of humility serve to affirm that you have not learned your lesson," Judge David Groner said in Wayne County Circuit Court. The criticism was some of the harshest leveled at the one-time Hip-Hop mayor and darling of Michigan's Democratic Party.

ALASKA: Palin has a complaint

Sarah Palin has taken to her Facebook page to complain about her new neighbor, a writer penning a book about her. Author Joe McGinniss has taken up residence in a house next to Palin's lakeside home in Wasilla. McGinniss wrote a critical expose on Palin for the Conde Nast publication Portfolio last year, and is planning a book tentatively titled, "Sarah Palin's Year of Living Dangerously." "Yes, that Joe McGinniss. Here he is about 15 feet away on the neighbor's rented deck overlooking my children's play area and my kitchen window," Palin posted on Facebook late Monday, hours after returning from a trip to the Lower 48.

WYOMING: One climber's body recovered

The body of a Montana man was recovered Tuesday after two people died while trying to climb a frozen waterfall below the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, officials said. Deteriorating weather delayed the effort to recover the second body until Friday, a Yellowstone spokesman said. Park officials said both men were in their late 20s and believed to have been residents of Bozeman. Rescuers found their bodies Monday on a rock ledge about 300 feet below the canyon rim. It appeared an ice column collapsed during their ascent.

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