Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recommended Marine Corps General James Mattis July 8 to head the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the joint military command for the Middle East that includes supervision of the Iraq and Afghan wars. The U.S. Central Command combines theater command of the four service branches as well as special operations for the Middle East and Central Asia.

French parliamentThe French parliament voted unanimously June 29 to  give final approval to a new law to criminalize “psychological violence,” prompting criticism from judges and rights groups who worry about privacy violations and how the rule will actually be enforced.

Following a meeting on July 7 between Cuban President Raul Castro and Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, the diocesan office released an announcement that the Cuban government has agreed to set free 52 political prisoners and allow them to leave the country.

In his inaugural speech as President, Thomas Jefferson entreats us as a people, a nation, and a government to be friends of all nations but to avoid entangling alliances with all. One of the best ways to express our friendship with other nations in a way that requires no treaties, no trade agreements, and no alliances, is through international competition.

Octavia Nasr, a senior Middle East editor at CNN, has been fired from her position after writing in a post on Twitter that she "respected" Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah — a Lebanese Shia Muslim leader with links to the terrorist group Hezbollah who died on July 4. Nasr wrote: "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.... One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot."