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News in Brief: US-Pakistan Aid Program Failing, and More

US-Pakistan Aid Program Failing

US-Pakistan Aid Program Failing

According to The Wall Street Journal, the $7.5 billion US civilian-aid program for Pakistan has not shown progress in achieving its goals since launching in late 2009. An official government assessment released by the Office of Inspector General of the US Agency for International Development, the Department of State and the Department of Defense found that aid officials on the ground in Pakistan could not offer empirical data on whether the funds were helping stabilize the country and improve America’s image among its civilians. The report found that the lead agency for the program, USAID, struggled to find enough staff to oversee the Pakistan program due to security threats.

Hillary Clinton: US Can’t Legalize Drugs Because There Is “Too Much Money in It”

During an interview with a Mexican news station, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argued that the United States cannot legalize drugs because “there is too much money in it,” Democracy Now! reports. “You can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped,” Clinton said. “They can’t be given an even easier road to take, because they will then find it in their interest to addict even more young people.” Critics said Clinton’s statements in the interview showed a misunderstanding of the drug war’s most basic problems, particularly her suggestion that legalizing drugs would further support illegal trade rather than shut it down.

Facing Bankruptcy, the Democratic Leadership Council Disbands

The centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) will be shutting its operations to avoid bankruptcy, according to Politico. The organization, which formed in the 1980s to redefine the Democrats as a more moderate party in favor of free trade, welfare reform and lower taxes, became an integral part of then-Arkansas Gov. and DLC Chairman Bill Clinton’s presidential agenda. Following the Democrats’ return to power, the DLC often faced criticism from moderate and leftist Democrats, who felt that the organization broke from party lines on important issues, such as in its support for President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

Protests Grow in Tahrir Square

Al Jazeera reports that thousands of anti-Mubarak protesters joined the crowds already demonstrating in Cairo’s Tahrir Square today as the uprising in Egypt continued for its 15th day. Many first-time protesters came out in Cairo and Alexandria after the release of Google executive Wael Ghonim, who was held in detention by state police for two weeks, while others petitioned for the country’s prosecutor general, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, to try Mubarak for allegedly stealing state funds. Mubarak’s recent offer of a 15 percent pay raise to public-sector workers, which will go into effect in April for six million Egyptians, was seen by the crowd as little more than a short-term solution. “Most of the people will realize what this is … it’s nothing meaningful,” protester Sherif Zein told Al Jazeera.

Keith Olbermann Joining Current TV

Keith Olbermann announced today that he will join Current TV in the spring to host a one-hour nightly news and commentary show following the sudden termination of his contract with MSNBC in January. Current TV is a public affairs network co-founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt. In addition to his prime-time show, Olbermann will also serve as the company’s chief news officer. The move is “truly the most exciting venture in my career,” Olbermann said during a press phone conference.

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