In America, second chances are, if not quite a constitutional right, a cherished value. And the power of presidents and governors to pardon lawbreakers and commute sentences can take on special significance. Such enormous executive powers are often misused, critics say, but they can also provide snapshots of Americans' political and cultural priorities. Many pardons occur around Christmas, in a nod to the spirit of the season. Also, around that time, many American's aren't paying much attention to the news – and some outgoing leaders are making their final decisions. Here are the Top 6 cases of pardon or clemency in 2010.
President Obama's selection of nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz as Energy secretary highlights a void in Washington. The nation's capital lacks scientists in key decisionmaking positions and in Congress.
North Korea says it plans 'higher level' test as part of its military deterrent in its confrontation with the United States. South Korea says that's code for multiple nuclear tests.
This week's good reads include Mexico City's bike-sharing and walkways, the gap between information and understanding, outsourcing personal chores, and a young American's insights on the 'hermit kingdom.'
A nine-member delegation, which includes Google chairman Eric Schmidt and former Gov. Bill Richardson, take a four-day tour of the communist country to learn about North Korean technology and support open Internet access.