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January 7, 2014 | By David S. Cloud, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
WASHINGTON - President Obama became progressively more pessimistic about prospects for a successful ending to the war in Afghanistan, goaded by inexperienced White House advisors and a dislike of Afghan President Hamid Karzai , according to his former Defense secretary, Robert M. Gates. In a forthcoming memoir that mixes strong praise with scathing criticism for Obama and his administration, Gates says Obama doubted his own policy after he decided to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan early in his first term.
December 22, 2013 | By Howard Blume
L.A. Unified is improving faster - in some categories much faster - than most other large, urban school systems, according to the latest results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which tests a sample of students nationwide. And while the district's overall scores remained relatively low, its progress elicited praise from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Los Angeles is among the school systems that are "examples for the rest of the country of what can happen when schools embrace innovative reforms," Duncan said.
December 21, 2013 | By Anthony York
SACRAMENTO -- Dan Schnur, a former GOP political strategist who went on to head the Fair Political Practices Commission and take a teaching post at USC, is preparing for another possible career move: candidate for California secretary of state. FOR THE RECORD: The headline on an earlier version of this article incorrectly said Schnur is a Republican; he dropped his Republican Party affiliation in 2011. Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, said he would probably run for the state's top elections post as an independent candidate.
December 16, 2013 | By Michael A. Memoli
WASHINGTON - The Senate confirmed Jeh Johnson as the next secretary of Homeland Security on Monday, capping a smooth approval process for the high-profile post. The former Pentagon general counsel will take office this week after a 78-16 vote, succeeding Janet Napolitano, who left in September to become president of the University of California system. An array of former officials from Democratic and Republican administrations, including all three former department secretaries, endorsed Johnson.
December 8, 2013 | Doyle McManus
Has John F. Kerry turned into the unexpected star of President Obama's second term? He was Obama's second choice as secretary of State (after Susan Rice). He's the same windy, stiff Bostonian who ran unsuccessfully for president a decade ago. And he's taken on a list of assignments that looked distinctly unpromising: nuclear negotiations with Iran, peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the civil war in Syria. But in 10 months, Kerry has embarked on a whirlwind of diplomacy.
December 7, 2013 | By David Zucchino and David S. Cloud
KABUL, Afghanistan - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in Afghanistan on Saturday for a previously unannounced visit, said he had been assured by Afghanistan's defense minister that a post-2014 bilateral security agreement would be signed soon. Hagel, who landed in Afghanistan in secrecy while on a scheduled trip to the Middle East, said the defense minister, Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, told him earlier Saturday that the stalemated 10-year agreement would be signed "in a very timely manner.
December 3, 2013 | By David S. Cloud
WASHINGTON - President Obama has named Christine H. Fox to be acting deputy Defense secretary, making the former chief of weapons cost analysis the most senior woman in Pentagon history. Fox will replace Ashton Carter, who has stepped down. She was described by officials as a temporary choice while the search continues for a permanent deputy to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Her hiring reflects the administration's need to place an experienced manager in the Pentagon's second-ranking position at a time when it is facing steep budget cuts.
November 22, 2013 | By Paul Richter
GENEVA - A deal to limit Iran's nuclear program appeared close to completion Friday as negotiators from six world powers and Tehran smoothed remaining conflicts and top diplomats began arriving to join the talks. After a rocky day Thursday, negotiators appeared for now to have overcome their differences on Iran's entitlement to enrich uranium and on how to curb progress on a partially built nuclear research reactor that Western powers view as a particular threat. U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry left late Friday for Geneva to help "narrow the differences and move closer to an agreement," the State Department said.
November 21, 2013 | By Carla Rivera
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis has taken a position as a scholar in residence at Cal Poly Pomona, officials said Thursday.' Solis began this week and will guest lecture in classes, mentor students in the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences and help faculty develop curriculum. A particular area of interest will be political science, Cal Poly spokesman Daniel B. Lee said. Solis received a bachelor's degree in the subject from the Pomona campus in 1979. “I look forward to being a part of this great institution, and engaging with both the faculty and students in meaningful discussions about public policy and many other important issues,” Solis said in a statement.
November 20, 2013 | By Shashank Bengali and David Zucchino
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Wednesday that the United States and Afghanistan had reached agreement on a security partnership after international combat troops withdraw, and that the deal would be presented to a gathering of influential tribal leaders beginning Thursday. The deal, whose terms Kerry did not disclose, will be subject to approval by the tribal assembly, known as a loya jirga, as well as the Afghan parliament. The tribal gathering is an advisory body only, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai has indicated he won't sign the security agreement unless the assembly approves it. "As we sit here tonight, we have agreed on the language that would be submitted to a loya jirga, but they have to pass it," Kerry said at the State Department.
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