Quote of the day.
“The punishment is supposed to fit the crime, but when a legislative body says this is going to be the sentence no matter what other factors there are, that’s draconian in every sense of the word. Mandatory sentences breed injustice.” Roger Vinson, federal judge in Tallahassee, Fla., on mandatory life without parole sentences for a third conviction.
(New York Times)
1. Obama, Boehner trade ‘cliff’ ideas but appear no closer to deal.
President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner were struggling late Tuesday to prevent negotiations from breaking down after they traded dueling proposals for averting the year-end “fiscal cliff” that made no progress toward an agreement.
2. Some Republicans OK with defense cuts.
This new generation of conservatives in Congress, freed from the ideologies of the Cold War and Reagan-era defense buildups, is pushing Republicans to buck their tradition and put defense on the chopping block in pursuit of a truly smaller federal government.
3. Should Michigan GOP brace for reprisal over 'right to work' law?
Now that GOP-led Michigan lawmakers have approved a so-called right-to-work law, defying hot-under-the-collar union members and most Democrats, the next question becomes this: Should they be worried about reprisal?
(Christian Science Monitor)
4. Court ruling on Illinois gun ban sets stage for fight.
A federal court ruling tossing out Illinois' ban on concealed weapons might end the last such gun prohibition in the country, but not without a fight.
5. Religious colleges challenge health care law’s contraception rule.
On Friday, in a cutting-edge case, attorneys for Belmont Abbey and Illinois-based Wheaton College will try to convince a key appellate court that their challenge to the law’s contraception coverage mandate is not premature. If the colleges prevail, they will be poised for a head-on religious liberty showdown.
6. U.S. force in Afghanistan may be smaller than expected after 2014.
The Obama administration plans on keeping 6,000 to 9,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014, fewer than previously reported, and will confine most of them to fortified garrisons near the capital, leaving Afghan troops largely without American advisors in the field to fight a still-powerful insurgency.
(Chicago Tribune/Los Angeles Times)
7. U.S. will grant recognition to Syrian rebels.
President Obama said Tuesday that the United States would formally recognize a coalition of Syrian opposition groups as that country’s legitimate representative, in an attempt to intensify the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to give up his nearly two-year bloody struggle to stay in power.
(New York Times)
8. Egypt referendum goes ahead in foreign embassies.
Egypt's referendum on a controversial draft constitution has begun in embassies abroad, days before the vote is due to take place at home.
9. North Koreans celebrate launch of long-range rocket.
North Koreans danced in the streets of their capital Wednesday after the Pyongyang regime successfully fired a long-range rocket, defying international warnings and taking a big step forward in its quest to develop a nuclear-tipped missile.
10. U.N. calls for more Afghan women protection.
A new report released by the UN says Afghan women are still victims of abuse despite some success by authorities in prosecuting cases of rape, forced marriages, and domestic violence.