For the past decade, al-Qaida has been a top-down organization.
Letters seized at Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan showed that he was a hands-on manager, approving everything from operations to leadership changes in affiliate groups.
But there's early intelligence that al-Qaida may have had a small role in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, on Sept. 11.
If al-Qaida involvement is confirmed, it may signal that al-Qaida has changed.
LaVelma Byrd, photographed at the California Institution for Women in Chino, Calif., was convicted of murdering her husband in 1994. She never let on that her husband beat her on a regular basis. She is not eligible for parole until 2020.
Credit Courtesy of Sin by Silence
Brenda Clubine received a sentence of 15 years to life in 1983 for killing her husband. While in prison, she started the support group Convicted Women Against Abuse to help victims of domestic abuse like herself. When she was released in 2008, her first request was to see the beach in Venice, Calif.
Brenda Clubine is a platinum blonde with focused blue eyes and a no-nonsense demeanor.
She spent 26 years in prison for killing her husband. After enduring beatings and emergency room visits, she says, it finally ended in a locked motel room where he told her to give him her wedding rings.
"I said, 'Why?' He said, 'Because tomorrow they won't be able to identify your body without them,' " Clubine says.
President Obama and Mitt Romney are both calling on the U.S. to become less dependent on foreign oil, though their plans differ. Here, workers with Bramwell Petroleum set up a derrick for a new oil well near Spivey, Kan., in March.
Credit Lauren Purkey / MCT/Landov
The Obama administration has set higher fuel economy standards for cars and promoted alternative energy sources. Here, a Ford Focus electric car is shown during a test drive in San Jose, Calif., in July.
The pressing energy issue in the 2008 presidential campaign was how to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming. Four years later, the drive for "green energy" has been replaced by a new imperative: the need to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
"I will set a national goal of North American energy independence by 2020," Mitt Romney declared during a campaign speech in August. "That means we produce all the energy we use in North America."
He reiterated that goal in the opening minutes of the presidential candidates' debate in Denver this week.
If you want to vote in the November elections and you aren't registered yet — you'd better hurry. The registration deadline in five states is this weekend. By the following weekend, the deadline will have passed in more than half the states.
Pakistani pop singer Shehzad Roy (right) sings for teenage prisoners at a prison in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2008. Known originally for fluffy pop songs, Roy's music has taken a harder, more political edge, protesting injustice in Pakistan.
Credit Lauren Frayer / NPR
Roy is shown here at the Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School in Karachi, a poor public school being refurbished by his education nonprofit, Zindagi Trust.
Credit Lauren Frayer for NPR
Handmade decorations adorn the refurbished Fatima Jinnah girls school, where stray dogs once roamed the classrooms.