Verbatim

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'We promise that we will go again and again to Gaza until Gaza and Palestine are free.'

DROR ELIMELECH FEILER, an Israeli-Swedish activist, speaking in Istanbul to a crowd that welcomed back the Mavi Marmara; nine Turkish activists died last May during an Israeli raid on the ship, which was attempting to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip

'I'm driving east on 26, and beyond that, it's a new adventure.'

MARK SANFORD, departing South Carolina governor, giving few details about his postoffice plans other than his desire to hit the interstate; Sanford was nearly ousted from the position more than a year ago following the revelation of his affair with an Argentine woman

'They're dead. They're gone.'

EMILY BRUNKHURST, biologist with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, on the state's bats; in 2009, New Hampshire lost half its hibernating bats to white-nose syndrome, an ailment that has killed bats across the U.S.

'It's certainly not going to close in the next month.'

ROBERT GIBBS, White House press secretary, responding to questions about a timeline for shuttering the federal prison at Guantánamo Bay; President Obama had originally promised to close the detention center by the end of January 2010

'Fear of war is never helpful in preventing war.'

LEE MYUNG-BAK, South Korean President, vowing to retaliate against North Korea if provoked again

'If this was in China, do you think the Chinese would have called off the game?'

ED RENDELL, governor of Pennsylvania, saying that the U.S. has become a "nation of wusses" after the NFL postponed a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings on account of a mere 5 in. (13 cm) of snow on the field

'It does not scare me because I believe in the intelligence of the American public.'

OPRAH WINFREY, when asked if the prospect of a presidential run by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin frightened her

TALKING HEADS

Fred Hiatt

Defending the First Lady's antiobesity campaign in the Washington Post:

"Obama has not endorsed nanny-state ... remedies such as ... imposing soda-pop taxes. Instead, she is pushing for [more] recess and physical activity, more playgrounds, more vegetable gardens, fresher food in schools and grocery stores, better education on the issue for parents and children. All of this makes total sense, and historians will marvel [that] anyone could doubt it."

--12/26/10

Ray Takeyh

Writing in the International Herald Tribune about the understated strength of the Iranian opposition:

"The ... victory of the Green movement is to hollow out the state and demonstrate to its loyalists that they are not defending a transcendent orthodoxy but craven and cruel men addicted to power at all cost. In the words of the reformist cleric, the late Ayatollah Hossein Montazeri, in the violent crackdown following the elections in June 2009, the Islamic Republic ceased to be either Islamic or a republic."

--12/27/10

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