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Lawmakers seek end to deal with Russian firm

A bipartisan group of senators is calling on the Pentagon to stop doing business with a Russian arms exporter that is providing weapons to Syria.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Monday, the 17 Republicans and Democrats cited reports that the company, Rosoboronexport, has shipped weapons to Syria and recently signed a deal for 36 combat jets with President Bashar Assad’s government.

Separately, the Defense Department is buying 21 helicopters for the Afghan military from Rosoboronexport. The lawmakers said this no-bid contract is worth $375 million.

The senators complained that U.S. tax dollars should not be “indirectly subsidizing the mass murder of Syrian civilians.”

Leading the lawmakers were Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and New York’s Kirsten E. Gillibrand.


First lady to appear on Letterman show

The first lady will appear on the “Late Show With David Letterman” on March 19. Mrs. Obama will discuss her Joining Forces initiative, which supports military families, and her plans for the program’s one-year anniversary.

CBS, which airs Mr. Letterman’s show, says this will be Mrs. Obama’s first appearance on the program. But she has made other stops on the late-night talk show circuit to promote her initiatives and stump for President Obama’s re-election campaign. Her recent appearances include “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and Jimmy Fallon’s “Late Night” program. Both shows are on NBC.


Obama campaign posts NCAA tournament pool

President Obama’s re-election campaign is trying to make some bucks off March Madness with its own version of the NCAA tournament office pool.

It’s called “The Obama Bracket Challenge.” Visitors to Mr. Obama’s campaign website,, are invited to pick the winners of each tournament matchup.

The prize isn’t much, though: The campaign says it will “publish a list of everyone who does better than the President” on the website. Anyone who fills out a bracket is invited to donate money to Mr. Obama’s campaign.

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