A conversation with a Turkish protestor

Earlier this morning, I had the chance to speak via Gchat with a Turkish acquaintance of mine who is one of the thousands of protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. I had read numerous news stories about the protests, but this was my first chance to speak with somebody on the ground, albeit through an internet chat. His name has been changed for his protection. “Just the fact that I am afraid enough to hide my name shows the amount of democracy in Turkey,” he said.

The full, unedited transcript is below. Please forgive all of the typos and internet lingo. Read More…

A few inauguration photos

My crew arrived at our media riser around 5am, but there there were plenty of people already lined up and ready to see Obama's inauguration.

My crew arrived at our media riser around 5am, but there there were plenty of people already lined up and ready to see Obama’s inauguration.

Read More…

A big news day in Washington

President Barack Obama nominated Senator John Kerry to succeed Hillary Clinton as the new secretary of state.

President Barack Obama nominated Senator John Kerry to succeed Hillary Clinton as the new secretary of state. (Photo via NYT)

Fridays are generally the time of the week when politicians dump all of their unwanted news on the press in the hope that the weekend will save them from negative coverage. Today was a bit different.

Fiscal Cliff

In fact, today’s news actually began late last night, when the House of Representatives failed to vote on a piece fiscal cliff legislation proposed by Speaker John Boehner, and commonly referred to as “Plan B.”

It was a humiliating turn of events for Boehner, who had insisted that he had the necessary votes to pass the bill, but later admitted that wasn’t actually the case. Now the ball is very much in President Barack Obama’s court, but there is still a lot of uncertainty about the future of these negotiations as the House will break for Christmas and return to Washington on December 27. As the January 1 deadline approaches, it looks increasingly possible that country may indeed go careening off the cliff that politicians had unanimously said they would avoid. Read More…

Highlights from the Accountability Review Board on the Benghazi Attack on 9/11

Late last night, the State Department released the unclassified version of its Accountability Review Board report regarding the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya on September 11.

Many of the findings were highly critical of the State Department’s security posture ahead of the attack. Here are some extended excerpts: Read More…

Reporters Clash at State Department Briefing

Two of my colleagues who cover the State Department got into a bit of a shouting match immediately after the daily briefing today, which is something I haven’t seen in 18 months of covering the department.

The trouble started earlier in the briefing when Elise Labott of CNN asked the department’s spokesperson Victoria Nuland several questions about American leverage over Israel regarding their settlement activity before Said Arikat of Al Quds newspaper pushed Nuland with similar questions.

For whatever reason, Labott took exception to that and began excoriating Arikat mid-briefing. Once the briefing ended, Arikat pushed back, saying, “Elise, I can ask anything I damn well please.”

Ironically it was Nuland who eventually intervened and told to the reporters to “take it outside.”

Guns, Violence, and Tragedy in America

Flags fly at half staff at the Washington Monument.

Flags fly at half staff at the Washington Monument. (Photo via WaPo)

In just the past few weeks there have been several high profile cases of gun violence across the United States. First, Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher shot and killed the mother of his child before driving to his team’s stadium and shooting himself in the head in front of his coaches and general manager. Then on Tuesday a young man named Jacob Roberts went to his local shopping mall in Clackamas, Ore. and shot three people, killing two. The shooting yesterday was the most horrific of all, as a deranged young man named Ryan Lanza shot and killed his mother before inexplicably driving to the school where she taught and killing 25 more people, 18 of them helpless young children.

As with every other case of mass gun violence like the incident in Aurora, Colo. earlier this year, there will certainly be a process of finger pointing and saying “what if.” The country will look for somebody to blame, somebody who should have seen what was coming but did nothing to prevent this disgusting violence. Some way to explain the inexplicable.

Read More…

On the Lack of News at the United Nations General Assembly

President Obama’s speech at the UNGA broke no new ground on the pressing international issues of the day.

Let me begin as always by apologizing for not updating in so long. Needless to say there has been quite a lot going on the world of international politics over recent weeks from the continuing rise of tensions in East Asia to the recent violence that spread across much of the Middle East and North Africa and resulted in the killing of US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.

Despite all of this, American foreign policy has hit a period of stagnation with President Barack Obama not wanting to make any unnecessary ripples in the lead-up to the election in November. As poll numbers suggest that Mitt Romney is slipping further behind in crucial swing states, Obama is likely satisfied with the status quo and happy to watch Romney’s campaign continue to self-destruct. Read More…

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