Quote of the day.
"The pressure of One Billion Rising is forcing these people to have to say they''re going to do something about it. … I think we all know that we''ve reached a moment where it has to stop." Eve Ensler, whose V-Day organization led One Billion Rising yesterday, with thousands of events in 205 countries to end violence against women and girls.
1. Senate Republicans filibuster Hagel nomination.
Senate Republicans delivered a sharp rebuke to President Obama on Thursday when they began a filibuster of Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense.
2. Senate Democrats offer a proposal to head off automatic cuts.
Senate Democratic leaders reached agreement Thursday on a $110 billion mix of tax increases and spending cuts to head off automatic spending cuts through the end of the year.
(New York Times)
3. U.S. set deportation targets.
U.S. immigration officials laid out plans last year that would ratchet up expulsions of immigrants convicted of minor crimes as part of a push to ensure the government would not fall short of its criminal deportation targets, records obtained by USA TODAY show.
4. As VA struggles, delays and errors greet returning warriors.
The processing time for disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs worsened in a majority of its regional offices last year, and the VA has struggled with its much-anticipated plan to correct its problems, according to two recent audits and a review of department data.
5. North Carolina approves steep benefit cuts for jobless in bid to reduce debt.
In a debt-reducing effort, the Republican-controlled legislature voted to cut maximum weekly benefits to $350 from $535, a 35 percent drop; reduce the maximum number of weeks for collecting benefits to between 12 and 20 weeks from 26 weeks; and tighten requirements to qualify.
(New York Times)
6. Obama: Americans deserve to know more about drone war.
President Barack Obama on Thursday promised to be more forthcoming with the American public on his administration''s campaign of lethal drone strikes amid criticism over the targeting of suspected U.S. terrorism suspects abroad.
7. North Korea tells China of preparations for fresh nuclear test.
North Korea has told its key ally, China, that it is prepared to stage one or even two more nuclear tests this year in an effort to force the United States into diplomatic talks with Pyongyang.
8. Planning for pivot to Asia, Pentagon finds itself shifting to Africa instead.
In his first term, President Obama instructed the Pentagon to pivot its forces and reorient its strategy toward fast-growing Asia. Instead, the U.S. military finds itself drawn into a string of messy wars in another, much poorer part of the world: Africa.
9. UN concerned about Palestinian detainees.
Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, has expressed concern about the well-being of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, particularly Samer Issawi who has been on hunger strike for more than 200 days and is reportedly on the verge of death.
10. A laboratory for revitalizing Catholicism.
If there is any place that captures the challenges facing Catholicism around the world it is Brazil, the country with the largest number of Catholics and a laboratory of sorts for the church’s strategies for luring followers back into the fold.
(New York Times)