1. MAN OF THE PEOPLE

    Al-Assad Defiant in Public Speech

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad waves at supporters during a rare public appearance in Damascus on January 11, 2012 in which he vowed to defeat a "conspiracy" against Syria, a day after he blamed foreign interests for stoking months of deadly violence. AFP PHOTO/ STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP / Getty Images

    Chalk this one up as positive PR. Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad made his first public appearance in 10 months Wednesday, addressing a crowd of tens of thousands in Damascus. The audience cheered for al-Assad, as he said that the government would defeat the foreign conspirators it claims are behind the violence in the nation. Next to him were his wife and two children. In the 10-minute speech, al-Assad said he “belong[s] to this street.” The speech comes a day after his two-hour televised address to the nation. Meanwhile, in Homs, a French journalist was killed when violence struck a pro-government rally. As for the Arab League, one of the 165 monitors resigned, saying the entire operation was a “farce.” The U.N. estimates that more than 5,000 have been killed in al-Assad’s crackdown.

    Read it at The New York Times