10 Things to Know for Thursday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. ASSESSING THE DRAWDOWN

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrives in Afghanistan to take stock of progress in the war and discuss plans for the troop drawdown, even as violence spiked in the south. This marks his fourth trip to the war zone.

2. LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH

Conservatives at the core of the Republican Party are coalescing behind likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney faster than expected after a punishing primary season in which they loudly sought someone else — almost anybody else — to carry the fight to President Barack Obama.

3. REOPEN TALKS, REOPEN ROUTE

The U.S. is trying to break deadlocked talks with Pakistan over reopening a route for NATO troop supplies into Afghanistan and may have a little more leverage on its side, thanks to an agreement struck with some Central Asian countries to carry NATO equipment out through their territory.

4. WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE ECONOMY?

That question is raising fears and dividing economists. And it’s one that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will be ready for when he visits Capitol Hill on Thursday.

5. STRATEGY TO END SYRIA CONFLICT

Against the backdrop of a new massacre in Syria, international envoy Kofi Annan will propose tasking a group of world powers and key regional players including Iran to come up with a strategy to end the 15-month conflict, U.N. diplomats say.

6. HIGH PRIORITY, HIGH COST OF ENERGY

Americans are thinking more about the rising cost of energy than hitting the beach or getting the latest tech gadget, according to a new AP-NORC Center poll that asked people to choose priorities.

7. BRADBURY REMEMBERED AT E3

If there’s one place where Ray Bradbury’s legacy is tangibly omnipresent, it’s the Electronic Entertainment Expo. He denounced video games but goers of the tech conference are remembering the late author — and his high-tech foreshadowing — fondly.

8. SANDUSKY TRIAL: SWAYING THE JURY

The child sex abuse trial for the former Penn State assistant coach starts Monday. That means attorneys arguing the case against him have just four days to figure out how to argue to a jury with strong connections to the school.

9. SOUTHERN POET LAUREATE

Natasha Trethewey becomes America’s 19th poet laureate on Thursday, and the first one to hail from the South since the Library of Congress chose Robert Penn Warren as the first poet laureate in 1986.

10. JOINING THE TRIPLE CROWN CLUB

On Saturday, I’ll Have Another makes a bid to win the Triple Crown. There have been 30 horses that came into the Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the honor. Here’s a look at some who just missed, and the alibis.

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