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News Wrap: Crocker Sworn in as New Ambassador to Afghanistan

July 25, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
In other news Monday, Ryan Crocker was sworn in as the new American ambassador to Afghanistan. In his new role, he will be the top diplomat as the U.S. begins withdrawing 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Also, the Syrian government endorsed a draft law allowing other political parties to form.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The new American ambassador to Afghanistan was sworn in today and pledged there would be no rush to the exits. Ryan Crocker takes over as the U.S. begins withdrawing 10,000 troops by the end of the year. He said the U.S. has no interest in using Afghanistan to influence neighboring nations.

Meanwhile, the NATO toll in Afghanistan grew by one today. An Italian paratrooper was killed in an insurgent attack in the west. So far in July, 44 international troops have been killed in Afghanistan.

The government of Syria endorsed a draft law allowing other political parties to form. The move is part of a series of reforms President Bashar al-Assad and his ruling Baath Party promised in the face of a popular uprising. But the opposition has dismissed the law as largely symbolic. It came as Syrian security forces detained more people in Damascus and other cities for holding anti-government protests.

The maid who accused former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in a Manhattan hotel room broke her silence today. Nafissatou Diallo told Newsweek, “I want him to go to jail. I want him to know there are some places you cannot use your power.” She also told her side of the story in a televised interview with ABC News. Prosecutors have voiced concerns about her credibility, and are weighing whether to proceed with the case. Strauss-Kahn has denied the allegations against him.

For more on this, we’re joined by John Solomon, news director at Newsweek and The Daily Beast, who spent three hours with Diallo during a recent interview.

Thanks for being with us.

JOHN SOLOMON, Newsweek: Oh, glad to be here.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So, after those three hours, what about her side of the story struck you most?

JOHN SOLOMON: Well, the general consistency from what we heard in the public and from what we saw in the indictment.

She has told this story to an awful lot of people, detectives, and hospital workers, and the grand jurors, and the prosecutors. And everything we heard sounded very much like the body of evidence that we gathered at Newsweek when we did the story, conforming to hotel key records and phone records.

And there were also moments where you saw her evasiveness, her reluctance to talk about things, particularly about her past in Africa, when she was in Guinea. And I think that also struck us.

HARI SREENIVASAN: And so what was the reason that she gave for why she’s coming out now? Is the relationship between the prosecution that frayed?

JOHN SOLOMON: Yes, I think it’s really two factors.

One is that the relationship with the prosecutors has really gone south in the last month. After her lawyer came forward and disclosed some of the problems with her prior credibility, things went south there. And I think the second part is she personally was offended by the media coverage, where she is starting to be portrayed as a prostitute and as a gold-digging con artist.

And she wanted to correct the record. She said it really bothered her watching TV, seeing these headlines and being portrayed as something she felt she wasn’t.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, John Solomon of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, thanks so much for being with us.

JOHN SOLOMON: My pleasure.

The United Auto Workers opened contract talks with Chrysler today, the first in a new round of negotiations with all the Detroit automakers. Company and union officials wore matching jackets in a show of solidarity as they kicked off the talks. Workers are pushing for a bigger share of the profits, but Chrysler is looking to keep costs down. UAW members gave up raises and benefits to keep the industry afloat four years ago. Chrysler’s current contract with the union expires in mid-September.

The National Football League and its players have reached an agreement that will end a four-month-old lockout. Representatives of the Players Association met today in Washington and voted unanimously to accept a 10-year deal struck over the weekend with team owners. That bargain now goes to the Players Association, but is expected to pass. Training camps could begin as early as Wednesday, and the regular season would begin Sept.8, as scheduled.

Opponents of New York’s gay marriage law sued to overturn it today. Marriage ceremonies started yesterday, the first day same-sex couples could legally wed under a new state law. Hundreds of gay couples across the state began tying the knot. Opponents claim the New York Senate stopped lawmakers from speaking against the bill and that it didn’t go through the proper committees before coming to a vote in late June. New York joins five other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing gay marriage.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.