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WASHINGTON - Barack Obama's choice for Secretary of Defence is Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and former Republican senator from Nebraska. White House officials have also confirmed to multiple sources that Obama is set to name his counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan as the new director of the CIA.

Both appointments must be confirmed by the Senate. The BBC reports that Brennan, who was closely involved in the planning of the 2011 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, would replace David Petraeus, who was forced to resign last year as CIA director after admitting to an extra-marital affair.

Hagel will be taking the reigns from Leon Panetta. Together with John Kerry, who is taking over from Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, these three men will help set President Obama's second term national security agenda.

According to CNN, taking over at to the Central Intelligence Agency would be a homecoming for Brennan, who spent 25 years there distinguishing himself as a Middle East and terrorism expert. Unaffiliated with either party, Brennan has spent much of his time in recent years working with the White House on the methods for pursuing terrorists.

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"The Situation Room". Brennan, standing second on right. Photo: Pete Souza via Wikipedia

The New York Times says that Hagel, 66, served as an enlisted man in Vietnam, won two Purple Hearts and still carries bits of shrapnel in his chest. He was the co-founder of a cellular telephone company and headed an investment banking firm before being elected to the Senate in 1996. He retired in 2009 and now teaches at Georgetown University, and serves as chairman of the Atlantic Council, a centrist foreign policy group.

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Chuck Hagel (L) shakes hands with Leon Panetta. Photo: US Dept of Defense via Wikipedia

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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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