The Common Good

The Top 10 Stories of January 7, 2013

Quote of the day.
"I think there's something really attractive about the sense of service. Feeding people, the need for new farmers, the sense of mission. When you come out (of the military), that's what you miss." Michael O'Gorman, founder of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, which helps returning veterans become small farmers.
(McClatchy News)

1. Obama taps Hagel for Pentagon, Brennan for CIA.
President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, two potentially controversial picks for his second-term national security team. 
(Associated Press)

2. White House weighs broad gun-control measures.
A working group led by Vice President Biden is seriously considering measures backed by key law enforcement leaders that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.
(Washington Post)

3. McConnell takes taxes off the table in new talks.
The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, made clear on Sunday that he would oppose any effort by the Obama administration to raise more tax revenue and that he remained focused on finding ways to cut spending as the government grapples with its debt.
(New York Times)

4. Immigration law may hurt convention site.
Even though convention halls across the country have faced tough times because of the recession and tightening travel budgets, Phoenix officials say concerns about Arizona's image have exacerbated its troubles.
(USA Today)

5. Old farm bill extended as special interests worry anew about future.
As part of the fiscal cliff package that passed earlier this week, Congress and the White House cobbled together an extension of the nation’s massive farm bill that keeps many — but not all — of the country’s agricultural and food programs sputtering along until September.
(McClatchy News)

6. U.S. weighs fewer troops after 2014 in Afghanistan.
The Obama administration is considering keeping a force of 3,000 to 9,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014.… The new options under consideration are smaller than the 6,000 to 20,000 troops Gen. John R. Allen, the American commander in Afghanistan, is said to have previously suggested.
(New York Times)

7. New sanctions take aim at Iran’s crippled economy.
New U.S. sanctions have broadened the front in the West’s escalating economic conflict with Iran, targeting large swaths of the country’s industrial infrastructure even as Iranian leaders are indicating a willingness to resume negotiations on the country’s nuclear program.
(Washington Post)

8. U.S. decries Assad 'Western puppets' speech.
The U.S. has condemned a speech by Syria's President Assad that denounced his opponents as "puppets of the West." The state department said a peace plan outlined by Mr. Assad was "detached from reality," calling it "another attempt by the regime to cling to power."
(BBC)

9. Israel's PM plans to build Syria-Golan fence.
Israel's prime minister has pledged to build a fortified fence along the frontier with Syria, warning that hardline Islamist forces have taken over the area.
(Al Jazeera)

10. As biofuel demand grows, so do Guatemala’s hunger pangs.
In a globalized world, the expansion of the biofuels industry has contributed to spikes in food prices and a shortage of land for food-based agriculture in poor corners of Asia, Africa, and Latin America because the raw material is grown wherever it is cheapest. Nowhere, perhaps, is that squeeze more obvious than in Guatemala.
(New York Times)

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