Need to know:
Hillary Clinton has taken the blame for security failures at the US embassy in Libya, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died last month.
"I take responsibility," the secretary of state told reporters yesterday. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts." And here's the kicker: "The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals."
If that sounds like Clinton is trying to draw fire away from the White House, she basically said as much. "What I want to avoid is some kind of political gotcha or blame game," she stated, 24 hours before that prime-time blame game, a presidential debate.
Ambassador Stevens' father has said it would be "abhorrent" for his son's death to become a political football. But with the Benghazi attack a significant chink in President Obama's foreign-policy armor, it's unlikely that Clinton's mea culpa will end the arguments over where the buck stops.
Want to know:
Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader on trial for war crimes, should not be in the dock but collecting awards for promoting peace, according to... Radovan Karadzic.
Karadzic, the president of the Bosnian Serbs throughout the Bosnian War in the 1990s, began his defense at a UN tribunal in The Hague this morning. He is representing himself.
"Instead of being accused, I should have been rewarded for all the good things I have done. I did everything in human power to avoid the war. I succeeded in reducing the suffering of all civilians," he claimed, to cries of disbelief from the many conflict survivors watching from the gallery.
Karadzic is charged with one count of genocide for the massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, and nine other crimes related to ethnic violence. Needless to say, he denies them all.
Dull but important:
Cuba's citizens will soon be allowed to leave the country without an exit permit for the first time in more than 50 years.
The government-issued "tarjetas blancas," or white cards, have been a feature of Cuban life since Fidel Castro took power. Expensive and often hard to obtain – especially if you happen to disagree with the authorities – they made overseas travel difficult, and in some cases, impossible.
From January, Cubans will require only a passport and a visa to go abroad. They'll also be free to stay there up to 24 months, rather than just 11. It's the latest, and one of the most welcomed, in a series of drip-drip-drip reforms by President Raul Castro.
The UK has blocked the extradition of a British man to the US, where he is wanted on charges of hacking into government computers.
Gary McKinnon admits accessing US Defense Department systems, but denies that his actions were, as US authorities have claimed, the "biggest military computer hack of all time." They maintain he deliberately sought to control and damage key systems; he says he was looking for evidence of UFOs. And, crucially, he has Asperger's Syndrome and depression.
Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May announced today that sending McKinnon to the US, where he could face up to 60 years in jail, would breach his human rights. Doctors say, if extradited, he is at high risk of committing suicide. The question now is whether he will be put on trial in the UK.
Strange but true:
These popular musicians get a bad rep. (And some richly deserve it – oh, say, Jub Jub for example, South African rap star and freshly convicted child-murderer.)
So how refreshing it is to be reminded of the peace-bringing power of music, though admittedly by someone who probably knows more about peace than he does about beats. Ban Ki-moon (yes, him), the UN secretary general and secret K-pop fan, has praised South Korea's musical sensation Psy (yes, him).
For whatever reason, Ban says he's watched the Gangnam Style video "several times." Even though he presumably understands his compatriot's lyrics, Ban reminds us that "there are no languages required in the musical world... Through this promotion of arts we can better understand the culture and civilizations of other people."
What we've understood from Gangnam Style is that South Koreans like sexy butts and... um... invisible horses. You're quite right, Ban, we love you for it.