Congressional leaders after their meeting with President Obama Friday. From left: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), House Speaker John Boehner (R) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R).
As President Obama and congressional leaders started negotiations Friday to find a way to avoid the nation's going over the fiscal cliff, it was fairly plain that even some of those who are wisest in the ways of Washington couldn't agree on whether policymakers would actually be able to prevent the federal government from becoming a cliff diver.
A diamond prospector filters earth from a river in Koidu, the capital of diamond-rich Kono district in eastern Sierra Leone. Koidu suffered some of the worst ravages of Sierra Leone's war in the 1990s as rebels forced citizens to mine at gunpoint. Ten years after the conflict, diamonds remain a contentious issue.
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Small-scale artisanal mining has sustained this area since diamonds were discovered in 1930, but it is hard work and the pay is low.
Sierra Leone's "blood diamonds" helped fuel atrocities in the impoverished West African nation in the 1990s. The war has now been over for a decade, and the country's most valuable resource is no longer known as the product of a conflict. But it remains a contentious issue.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, speaks to the media at U.N. headquarters in April.
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Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz., appear during a news conference Wednesday about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. Graham argued that Rice misled the public when addressing the attack, in which four Americans were killed.
President Obama hasn't even named his choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who plans to step down at the end of this term. But there's been a lot of heated rhetoric this week over one of the front-runners, Susan Rice.
Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, spoke on behalf of the administration on five Sunday talk shows days after the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. At the time, she suggested the attack began as a spontaneous protest over an anti-Muslim video. U.S. officials now say it was a terrorist attack.