Need to know:
Romney moved one step closer to becoming the most powerful man on Earth last night, accepting the Republican nomination for president and delivering a speech aimed at humanizing the man many have deemed cold and stiff. The speech was thin on foreign policy except for a few boilerplate items like denunciations of Obama's "apology tour" and Obama having thrown US allies like Israel "under the bus."
Romney lambasted Obama's hope and change agenda, predictably concluding that it has all but failed. "If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's President Obama?"
Romney's speech was quickly criticized for its lack of depth and detail. The Washington Post said that it was devoid of plans and policy altogether. CNN said that Romney may have helped us get to know him better but that it was a rather perfunctory oration. One commentator said, "It had a lot of heart. It needed more soul. It needed more poetry."
Want to know:
In a swift stroke of the pen, one of the most notorious chapters in American history was closed yesterday. The US Justice Department said that it had halted the case against CIA officers involved in the torture and deaths of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The decision marks the end of a three-year investigation into allegations of torture in secret prisons where it was said the CIA carried out waterboarding, beatings and other forms of torture on suspected militants and terrorists, of which two died in custody.
The investigation sparked serious tension between the administration and the intelligence community and was harshly criticized by former vice president Dick Cheney - undoubtedly because he was likely involved. It was also politically unpopular for President Obama going into an election. In a small act of defiance, Attorney General Holder said in a statement that the decision, "...does not resolve, broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct."
Dull but important:
A new IAEA report said that Iran is moving closer to nuclear capability having now installed three-quarters of the nuclear centrifuges required to build an underground site for the production of nuclear fuel. The report also accused Iran of cleansing another site so thoroughly that inspectors could never know what had taken place there.
Ever defiant, Iran rejected the report as a political move aimed at undermining the important work of the Non-Aligned Movement's conference in Tehran, where the government has been busy mis-translating delegates' speeches to make themselves feel better.
Turkey is busy taking the lead in promoting increased military action against their neighbor and one-time friend, Syria. The Turkish government appealed to the Security Council for a buffer zone within the war-torn country to protect civilians. The deeply-divided Council likely won't do much, however, as Russia and China continue to veto every resolution proposed on the issue.
The Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu minced no words in his appeal: "Let's not forget that if we do not act against such a crime against humanity happening in front of our eyes, we become accomplices to the crime."
France and Britain did, however, warn the Syrian government yesterday that military intervention was not out of the question if the killing doesn't stop.
Strange but true:
Brazil has given a 4-month "maternity leave" to a gay man to care for his adopted child. The apparent "mother" in the relationship, the man argued that not giving him the leave typically given to females was discriminatory (men only get five days leave in Brazil). A Brazilian court agreed.