Here are the six must-read links for your morning:
01- “Afghan Driver Who Crashed Truck Near Panetta’s Plane Dies” by Elisabeth Bumiller for The New York Times, which offers updates about Panetta’s visit to Afghanistan and the Afghan civilian who crashed a pickup truck into the runway where the Defense Secretary was landing.
02- “In Reactions to Two Incidents, a U.S.-Afghan Disconnect” by Rod Nordland for the New York Times. In light of the recent violence inAfghanistan, Norland writes, “After more than 10 years, many deaths and billions of dollars invested, Americans still fail to grasp the Afghans’ basic values. Faith is paramount and a death can be compensated with blood money.”
03- “Carnage continues 1 year later in Syria” by the CNN Wire Staff. Today marks a year since protests inSyria began, and this article details the continuing violence in the country and the international efforts to stop the killing.
04- “Republican rift opens over Newt Gingrich’s future” by Ginger Gibson for Politico, in which she discusses the debate over Gingrich’s continuing presence in the GOP race. The article claims that “some Gingrich backers — none of whom would go on the record to say so — are quietly starting to question if his days are numbered.”
05- “Republicans to Romney: Fix your message” by CNN’s Peter Hamby. Hamby discusses the behind-the-scenes frustration about the state of the Romney campaign among leading Republicans, writing, “some of his supporters are asking the candidate to re-calibrate his strategy and make a stronger case to voters about why he deserves to be president.”
06- “Blagojevich puts on one last show” by Bob Secter and Andy Grimm for the Chicago Tribune. The article discusses Blagojevich’s last press conference before he is due to begin his 14 year prison sentence for corruption today. The Tribune writes that Blagojevich “launched into a campaign-style monologue reciting a laundry list of accomplishments and insisting he never intentionally broke the law.”
Watch “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien” for more on these top stories this morning at 7am Eastern.