This is nothing unusual. It has helped us a lot, it has solved lots of our problems. We appreciate it. …This is cash. It is the choice of the U.S. government. If tomorrow the State Department decides to give us such cash, I’d welcome that, too.Afghan President Hamid Karzai • Responding to criticisms of cash payments (reportedly literal bags of cash), sent from the CIA directly to Karzai’s presidential palace in Kabul. Karzai suggested that the money was used for such diverse purposes as paying off warlords, funding scholarships and tending to wounded members of the presidential guard, though this explanation leaves unattended the main criticisms that have been waged at both his administration and the CIA over this — corruption, opacity, and accountability. Both present and former Afghan sources indicated in reports last week that the cash amount delivered in this manner, over the last decade or so, totaled tens of millions of dollars, while Karzai himself said they were “not allowed to disclose” the official figure. source
I’m going to go back at this. I’m going to reengage with Congress to try to make the case that [Guantanamo] is not something that’s in the best interests of the American people.President Obama • Restating, over four years after his initial promise as President, that he wants to close America’s detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This is an issue which Obama gave a push early in his first term, but the effort fell apart in light of a politically reluctant congress, after which the question of how to deal with the now 166 detainees still housed at Guantanamo largely passed by the wayside. But now, Guantanamo detainees have taken matters into their own hands, with a majority of those 166 embarking on a grueling hunger strike, emaciating themselves to the extent that some have been force fed with tubes to keep them alive. Of all the possible outcomes at Guantanamo, a big chunk of those still there starving themselves to death is a macabre endgame that nobody wants to see. And as that risk has increased, so too has media attention to the situation. source
District residents and their elected representatives should not tolerate commercial or other use of derogatory terminology relating to any people’s racial identity, or which dishonors any person’s race, or which dishonors the name Washington. Washington’s name has been dishonored by association with the word ‘Redskins.’ Because it is well known in America and in nations afar that American Indians have experienced utmost suffering and disrespect over the years.A non-binding resolution by Washington D.C. Council member David Grosso • Arguing in favor of changing the name of the Washington D.C. NFL team, from the “Redskins,” to a less offensive one (Grosso himself suggests Redtails, a reference to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, which is undeniably pretty catchy). The controversy over the team’s name is not especially new, but as years continue to slide by, it is undeniably startling to see a professional sports team bearing such an overt racial slur as its name, as well as its merchandising brand. One person not so down for a change? Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, who tweeted his displeasure at the discussion: “In a land of freedom we are held hostage by the tyranny of political correctness.” source
[We’re satisfied] in terms of the team that we’ve succeeded in putting together, for the willingness that we’ve encountered, for the talent that has put itself at the service of the country. [There’s] satisfaction [also] in terms of the female representation that this government today will be able to show.Incoming Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta • Speaking on his success in amassing a coalition government including his center-left Democratic Party, and the center-right People Of Freedom Party of disgraced former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. While Berlusconi will not be a member of the new coalition government, he figures to hold some sway over party politics, as Letta met with him for hours today ahead of this announcement. This may portend a new look ahead for the people of Italy and their government — while the right-wing will be on stable footing with the left, Letta himself has spoken on moving away from the financial austerity policies of recent years. source
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To the best of our professional understanding, the regime used lethal chemical weapons against gunmen in a series of incidents in recent months.Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, research division chief for Israeli army intelligence • Claiming that Syria’s Assad government has used chemical weapons against it’s people (though offering no corroborating evidence), in remarks at the Institute for National Security Studies. of Tel Aviv University. Secretary of State John Kerry says he spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning, and that the leader “was not in a position to confirm” his military’s assessment. This isn’t a new concern for the United States, which has been under some international pressure to address claims to the UN by France and Britain, both allies, also suggesting that pro-Assad forces have used chemical weaponry. This has major political and diplomatic implications for America, as the administration has engaged in “red line” rhetoric on the matter of chemical weapons. source