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Obama agenda: On Al Qaeda, pot, and football

David Remnick, who wrote a biography of President Obama, interviews him for the latest New Yorker. Obama’s comments on marijuana and race have already gotten attention. But he also talked about al Qaeda and whether it’s been decimated, his view on the stalemate in Washington, and he reiterates he would not let his son play football.

On race and how it factors into his presidency: “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President. Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.”

On having said al Qaeda’s decimated, despite its flag showing up in places like Syria and Iraq: “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” 

He notes it's structural issues of American politics not necessarily his ability to schmooze for the stalemate in Washington: “When he [LBJ] lost that historic majority, and the glow of that landslide victory faded, he had the same problems with Congress that most Presidents at one point or another have. I say that not to suggest that I’m a master wheeler-dealer but, rather, to suggest that there are some structural institutional realities to our political system that don’t have much to do with schmoozing.”

With the Super Bowl on the horizon, here’s what Obama said about football: “I would not let my son play pro football. But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm.” 

“Should Edward Snowden ever return to the U.S., he would face criminal charges for leaking information about National Security Agency surveillance programs. But legal experts say a trial could expose more classified information as his lawyers try to build a case in an open court that the operations he exposed were illegal,” AP reports. “A jury trial could be awkward for the Obama administration if the jurors believe Snowden is a whistle-blower who exposed government overreach.”

“U.S. President Barack Obama has not gone far enough in reforming the monitoring activities of the National Security Agency (NSA) and is continuing to violate the privacy rights of individuals, the head of Human Rights Watch told Reuters.” 

“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Israeli negotiators in Washington on Monday and Palestinian officials later next week in U.S.-brokered peace talks to end their decades-long conflict, the State Department said,” Reuters writes.

Obama will meet with Pope Francis during an overseas trip March 27, NBC’s Peter Alexander reports

“Boston Red Sox pitchers Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa met with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy on Tuesday during a tour to share the 2013 World Series trophy with baseball fans in the country,” AP reports.