WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama will keep 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan when he leaves office in 2017, according to senior administration officials, casting aside his promise to end the war on his watch and instead ensuring he hands the conflict off to his successor. Obama had originally planned to pull out all but a small, embassy-based U.S. military presence by the end of next year, a timeline coinciding with the final weeks of his presidency. But military leaders argued for months that the Afghans needed additional assistance and support from the U.S. to beat back a resurgent Taliban and hold onto gains made over the last 14 years of American bloodshed and billions of dollars in aid. The president was to announce the changes Thursday morning from the White House. Officials said he would outline plans to maintain the current force of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of next year, then draw down to 5,500 troops in 2017, at a pace still to be determined by commanders. The officials previewed the decisions on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly ahead of the president. U.S. officials have been hinting at the policy shift for weeks, noting that conditions on the ground in Afghanistan have changed since Obama's initial decision on a sharper troop withdrawal timeline was made more than two years ago. The White House has also been buoyed by having a more reliable partner in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who succeeded the mercurial Hamid Karzai last year. "The narrative that we're leaving Afghanistan is self-defeating," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday during a speech at the Association of the U.S. Army. "We're not, we can't and to do so would not be to take advantage of the success we've had to date."
There will be widespread lower to mid 40s across northeast Ohio. Despite this morning's nippy numbers, highs today will climb into the mid to upper 60s. We'll enjoy tons of sunshine through the morning but clouds thicken up this afternoon. Showers will move out overnight tonight, but as colder air moves in, lake effect rain showers will fire up tomorrow afternoon. These will linger into the evening. With a chilly air mass sitting over the region through the weekend, lake effect rain showers are also possible Saturday and Sunday, mainly in our Snow Belt areas. (A few wet snowflakes or sleet pellets may even mix in on Friday night/early Saturday but this shouldn't cause any travel troubles or accumulate.)
Saturday morning: 37° (Patchy frost possible)
Saturday afternoon: 46°
Sunday morning: 34° (A more widespread frost likely)
Sunday afternoon: 49°
Monday morning: 35° (Another frosty start)
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Lamar Odom didn't last long at the glittering intersection of championship success and Hollywood celebrity. Cut loose by his beloved Los Angeles Lakers, followed everywhere by reality television crews, the humble kid from Queens who married into the Kardashian clan saw his life spiral out of control, and so did everyone else. Khloe Kardashian tried to hide his addictions, then told the world she couldn't save him. The two-time NBA champion landed on Skid Row, a regular tabloid target. Then he seemed to drop out altogether before he was found unresponsive in a brothel and hospitalized, bringing his estranged wife, his former teammates and the world's attention back to his side Wednesday. Hospital authorities would not comment on the condition of the 35-year-old former NBA forward, but the Rev. Jesse Jackson was among his visitors Wednesday. Jackson said Odom was on life support and improving. "Apparently from what the doctor said, he was much better off today than yesterday. He at least has some responsiveness now," Jackson said. "He's got tubes in him now, but we felt inspired by his presence." Odom, who was embraced by teammates and television fans alike for his Everyman approach to fame, was found face-down and alone Tuesday after spending four days at the Love Ranch, a legal Nevada brothel.