Bay of tweets. The U.S. government covertly masterminded the creation of “Cuban Twitter” using taxpayer funds earmarked for international aid, the Associated Press reported today. The project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba’s stranglehold on the internet with a primitive social media platform. The plan was to push users toward dissent against the country’s communist. The U.S. Agency for International Development went to extensive lengths to conceal Washington’s ties to the project. It set up front companies in Spain and the Cayman Islands to hide the money trail, and recruited CEOs without telling them they would be working on a U.S. taxpayer-funded project.
You betcha, Vlad. Sarah Palin performed a flute-balailaka duet with Jimmy Fallon in the visage of Vladimir Putin on Wednesday’s episode of The Tonight Show. In the mock Palin-Putin phone call, Palin reminded the Russian president that in 2008 she predicted his invasion of Ukraine. “You get those troops out of Ukraine right now,” Palin said, to which Fallon-as-Putin responded “Whoa, captain buzzkill.” Palin did the skit to promote her new reality series Amazing America on the Sportsman Channel.
Settled. Oregon State University has paid $101,000 to the former editor of a conservative student newspaper for removing the paper’s distribution boxes from campus. In 2009, university officials trashed the distribution boxes for The Liberty to “beautify campus and facilitate traffic,” according to The Oregonian. But they left in place boxes that held competing student newspaper The Daily Barometer. In 2011, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the campus violated the First Amendment rights of the students who published The Liberty.
Holding court. Queen Elizabeth II took a turn meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican today. The queen’s visit followed President Barack Obama’s meeting with Pope Francis one week ago, when the pontiff reportedly criticized Obama for disrespecting religious liberty with his administration’s contraceptive mandate. The British monarch has previously met with four popes, starting with Pius XII in 1951, a year before her accession to the throne. She and her husband, Prince Philip, had a private, 30-minute audience with Pope Francis. Earlier in the day, the queen met with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.