• Bottom Line

    Last Thursday Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign. With his resignation now official, the Catholic Church is in a period known as the “sede vacante”- which means vacant seat- and the College of Cardinals has begun meeting in Rome to discuss the start of the conclave which will elect the new pope.

    Lots of you had questions about this process. Karen Marks asked: How do they come up with the nominees?

    Mariana tweeted: A resigning pope is big deal, does it mean they will be more open to changes? Like women holding priesthood? Younger popes?

    Adrienne McCarthy inquired: Once chosen, can the individual refuse?

    Esther Potter wrote in on Facebook: Okay, I'll bite. Who exactly is in charge during this interregnum? Are Catholics on their own spiritually until the next Pope is named? Is the old one still involved? Or are there acting pope-like individuals who carry on the work?

    And Stuart Countryman asked: What are the chances they will have a new

    Read More »from Papal politics: Will a new pope be selected by Palm Sunday?
  • Tommy Vietor’s journey with Obama: From van driver to National Security Council spokesman

    Politics Confidential

    Tommy Vietor started working for Barack Obama when he was still Senator Obama--well before he became a presidential candidate--and until Friday, the 32-year-old Vietor hadn't stopped. His first job for Obama was as the driver of a press van, and he rose up the ranks through the 2008 campaign, and then the White House press office, to become the National Security Council spokesman.

    Now leaving the White House to open a political communications firm with the president's departing speechwriter Jon Favreau, Vietor says it's been the privilege of a lifetime to work for the president.

    "It's been kind of a front seat at some historic events--killing bin Laden, ending the Iraq war, a whole bunch of things--so it's been extraordinary," Vietor says.

    The longtime Obama staffer says it's not without some sadness that he moves on, recalling a recent conversation he had with the president.

    "I said 'Sir, you know, talking about it, and I feel it's a little sad to be leaving,'

    Read More »from Tommy Vietor’s journey with Obama: From van driver to National Security Council spokesman
  • The new diplomat on the block: Kerry’s tough take on Syria and Iran

    On the Radar

    At the end of his first overseas trip as secretary of state, John Kerry says the international community is facing a "challenging moment" in negotiating a peaceful solution with Iran over its nuclear program and says the United States, along with the other countries involved in aiding Syria’s opposition forces, has "ratcheted up support" to bring an end to the two-year long conflict.

    The newly minted secretary of state says that while Iran has been allowed to cross red lines in the past, President Obama is determined to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

    "This is a very challenging moment with great risks and stakes for everybody because the region will be far less stable and far more threatened if Iran were to have a nuclear weapon," Kerry tells On the Radar. "It will spur a nuclear arms race. It has risks for greater terrorism. It will be destabilizing."

    And while the stakes are high with Iran, Kerry says the level of cooperation among the international

    Read More »from The new diplomat on the block: Kerry’s tough take on Syria and Iran

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