No rush. During a news conference this morning, the 100th day of his second term, President Barack Obama said he would take his time to consider whether Syria had used chemical weapons in fighting between government forces and rebel groups. “We now have evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria,” he said. “But we don’t know when they were used, how they were used, or who used them.” At the time of the alleged attack in March, government and rebel forces blamed each other for crossing what President Obama has said would be a “red line” in the conflict. But if U.S. intelligence agencies can prove Bashar al-Assad’s regime used chemical weapons, President Obama acknowledged it would be a “game changer” that would cause the United States to consider options it has so far declined to employ.
Exemplary work? During the same meeting with the Washington press corps, President Obama also defended the FBI’s handling of the Boston bombing investigation. Law enforcement agencies did an “exemplary” job, he said, dismissing criticism as an attempt to grab headlines. Although they were lauded in the immediate aftermath of the bombing attack on the Boston Marathon for catching the suspects less than a week after the blasts, subsequent reporting has shown intelligence agencies had reason to believe at least one suspect might be planning an attack. Tamerlan Tsarnaev managed to travel to Russia, even though he was on a terror watch list. And FBI agents who interviewed him several years ago at the request of Russian authorities found no reason for alarm.
Lifetime ban. A Pakistani court has banned former military ruler Pervez Musharraf from running for political office for the rest of his life. Today’s ruling ruins Musharraf’s plans to run for parliament in next month’s elections, although judges had previously forbidden him from taking part in that contest. Musharraf’s lawyers say they plan to appeal to the country’s Supreme Court. But the former ruler doesn’t have many friends there after firing a number of prominent judges before he fled the country four years ago. He has been in self-imposed exile ever since.
3 … 2 … 1 … liftoff. Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is one step closer to sending tourists into space after his SpaceShipTwo made a 16-second test flight on Monday. The company has said it plans to offer commercial space flights, designed to give thrill-seekers the chance to feel weightlessness first hand (and have bragging rights at any upcoming dinner parties), by next year. But it’s not clear whether that timetable will hold. Branson originally hoped to start selling tickets in 2008. Each ride, for the first 600 passengers, will cost $200,000. That will at least help offset the company’s $350 million investment in the endeavor.