All smiles? "President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart — on opposite sides of a civil war but using delicate language about a difference of opinion — said Monday that they shared an interest in stopping the bloodshed in Syria, as the White House planned to announce more than $300 million in a new humanitarian aid package to go to the war-torn country and its neighbors," NBC News reports. "Obama and President Vladimir Putin met at the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland, their first time talking face to face in more than a year."
Never too early..... Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who was an early Obama supporter in 2008, announced she was backing a potential Hillary Clinton candidacy in 2016. McCaskill announced her endorsement through "Ready for Hillary," a group working to draft the former Secretary of State and first lady into the presidential race. McCaskill: “Hillary Clinton had to give up her political operation while she was making us proud, representing us around the world as an incredible Secretary of State, and that’s why Ready for Hillary is so critical,” McCaskill said. “It’s important that we start early, building a grassroots army from the ground up, and effectively using the tools of the Internet – all things that President President Obama did so successfully – so that if Hillary does decide to run, we’ll be ready to help her win.”
Political medicine. Dr. Donald Berwick, the Obama administration's former head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, will run for Massachusetts governor in 2014, the Boston Globe reports. Berwick's statement on Monday: “As a doctor, an educator, an innovator and someone who has dedicated his professional career to making things work better and to helping people – I am ready to lead."
Handing over. "U.S.-led international troops handed control of Afghanistan’s national security to local forces Tuesday -- a historic day marred by a suicide attack in another part of Kabul," NBC News reports. The formal transfer of responsibility is a major milestone in the process of withdrawal from the country, 12 years after the NATO-led mission began its mission to end Taliban rule. Most foreign combat troops will leave the country by the end of 2014, but international funding and humanitarian aid will continue - prolonging the political headache for" Obama "over America's involvement in the conflict."