This just in: "We are working every day and making progress"

The State Department's press operation works in mysterious ways. For instance, this short transcript just arrived in my email in box, under the grandiose headline "Remarks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Before Their Meeting":

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, do you expect Turkey to finally agree on sanctions against Iran?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We are working every day and making progress.

QUESTION: Thank you.


I feel better informed already. For a more complete accounting of U.S-Turkish relations, see Josh Rogin's latest.


Raul deregulates barber shops

Raul Castro has made some modest reforms since taking over in July 2006. A few token changes, including the introduction of cell phones, DVD players, microwaves and computers, have been made - but access to these amenities has been prohibitively expensive. New salary incentives were also introduced in 2008, although such moves are not completely new.

All in all, the expected moves towards a market-oriented economy have been lacking. But now  there are some small signs that the leadership is planning to liberalize some sectors of its economy. Where will they start, you ask? It might not be where you would expect: barber shops and beauty salons.

According to the measure -- which state run media has not yet announced -- all barbers and hairdressers in small shops will be allowed to charge market prices and pay taxes (15 percent of average revenue) instead of getting a set monthly wage:

Daisy, a hairdresser in an eastern Guantanamo province, told the Reuters news agency that under the old system the government took in 4,920 pesos per month per hairdresser.

Now she will pay the government 738 pesos per month and keep any earnings above that.

‘We have to pay water, electricity and for supplies but it seems like a good idea,' Daisy said.

She said that while the plan did not turn the shops into co-operatives, employees would have to join forces to decorate and maintain the establishments."

Joe Raedle/Getty Images