Daily Digest: Obama’s hot mic, Afghanistan and James Cameron as Jacques Cousteau

Kyle Potter

Hot mic and hot waters

President Barack Obama is again being criticized for remarks intended to be private that were picked up by a hot microphone.

It happened Monday in Seoul, South Korea, where Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met and discussed European missile defense.

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama was overheard telling Medvedev, according to the Washington Post. “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

Republican presidential hopefuls like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney immediately jumped on the private moment gone public.

“President Obama signaled that he’s going to cave to Russia on missile defense, but the American people have a right to know where else he plans to be ‘flexible’ in a second term,” Romney said in a statement.

But Obama also signaled something else: confidence. In those few sentences with the outgoing Russian president, he referenced the political challenges of the election in November, but implied a second term is all but a certainty.

In November, Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy were caught complaining about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — again, thanks to a hot microphone. Don’t these people have aides to stop this kind of thing from happening?

 

Support for war in Afghanistan dropping

Four months ago, Americans were nearly split down the middle on whether U.S. troops should continue fighting in Afghanistan.

The latest New York Times/CBS poll released Tuesday shows that almost 70 percent of Americans now believe the U.S. should no longer be at war in the Middle Eastern country.

And more information from the poll indicates it’s not simply a partisan issue. Sixty percent of Republicans surveyed said they thought the conflict was going poorly, compared to 68 percent of Democrats. But three in 10 Republicans said they think the U.S. should stay in Afghanistan. Just one in 10 Democrats felt the same.

The five day poll was conducted starting March 21, just 10 days after Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly set out from the U.S. Army base in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, murdered 17 villagers and injured six others.

Exploring the abyss

James Cameron, director of blockbusters like “Titanic” and “Avatar,” has reached an all-time low. No, I’m not talking about an Avatar sequel.

On Sunday, Cameron crammed into a submersible called the Deepsea Challenger and dove nearly 7 miles under the surface into the Mariana Trench — the bottom of the ocean and among the lowest points on earth. He wasn’t the first to do so, but the first to do it alone —Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh did it in 1960, but only spent about 20 minutes on the seabed.

Cameron spent nearly three hours exploring the bottom of the sea. He called it “an alien world.”

“It was very lunar, a very desolate place. We’d all like to think there are giant squid and sea monsters down there,” but that wasn’t the case. On his dive, he saw “nothing larger than about an inch across.”

Apparently, this is the cool stuff you get to do when you direct the highest-grossing films of all time.