Quote of the day.
"It is long past time to give these American citizens who have chosen Washington as their home full participation in our democracy.” Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), introducing the New Columbia Admissions Act to make Washington D.C. the 51st state.
1. Boehner abandons plan to avoid ‘cliff.’
House Speaker John A. Boehner threw efforts to avoid the year-end “fiscal cliff” into chaos late Thursday, as he abruptly shuttered the House for the holidays after failing to win support from his fellow Republicans for a plan to let tax rates rise for millionaires.
2. Behind the scenes of a GOP meltdown.
Things were so bad for Speaker John Boehner Thursday night, support for his Plan B tax bill so diminished, the limits of his power with his own party laid bare, that he stood in front of the House Republican Conference and recited the Serenity Prayer.
3. With farm bill stalled, consumers may face soaring milk prices.
Forget the fiscal crisis and the automatic budget cuts. Come Jan. 1, there is a threat that milk prices could rise to $6 to $8 a gallon if Congress does not pass a new farm bill that amends farm policy dating back to the Truman presidency.
(New York Times)
4. Use of death sentences continues to fall in U.S.
Thirty-six years after the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, its use is waning, with prosecutors and juries preferring to sentence convicted murderers to life in prison without parole.
(New York Times)
5. Gun control debate heating up in statehouses.
As President Barack Obama urges tighter federal gun laws, state legislators around the country have responded to the Connecticut school shooting with a flurry of their own ideas that are likely to produce fights over gun control in their upcoming sessions.
6. On road to modernization, Church of England finds crisis.
The surprising defeat last month of a measure allowing the ordination of female bishops has plunged the Church of England into a crisis with one issue at its core: Should religion adapt to fit an increasingly secular society, or should it be the enforcer of tradition in fast-changing times?
7. U.N. backs Mali intervention force.
The U.N. Security Council has authorized an African-led military force to try to oust Islamists from northern Mali. The council unanimously voted to give the force an initial one-year mandate.
8. Caught between al Qaida and Iran, U.S. struggles over Syria conflict.
The bloodshed in Syria has continued for so long that extremist forces have taken charge, with U.S. officials saying they now face two familiar enemies in the struggle to find a resolution: al Qaida in Iraq cells and Iranian-backed sectarian militias.
9. New scenery for breaking the ice with the Taliban.
A year that began with hopes that the Taliban were ready to start talking peace is ending with a final initiative — informal talks outside Paris among Afghanistan’s competing factions, including militants — that, if anything, exemplifies how little progress has been made in 201 toward opening negotiations to end the war.
(New York Times)
10. A review of 2012''s environmental news.
The Guardian''s environment team pick their biggest moments of what was a tumultuous year for nature and green politics.