Quote of the day.
"A new year is like a trip. With the light and the grace of God, may it be the start of a path to peace for every person, every family, every country, and for the entire world." Pope Benedict XVI, in his New Year’s message.
1. Amid pressure, House passes fiscal deal.
Ending a climactic fiscal showdown in the final hours of the 112th Congress, the House late Tuesday passed and sent to President Obama legislation to avert big income tax increases on most Americans and prevent large cuts in spending for the Pentagon and other government programs.
(New York Times)
2. U.S. still faces political fights on spending, debt.
A last-minute deal will keep the U.S. from driving off the so-called "fiscal cliff," but higher taxes and continued political fighting in Washington threaten to shake the fragile economy well into 2013.
3. Cliff deal includes farm bill extension.
The giant New Year’s tax package rushed through Congress Tuesday includes a nine-month farm bill extension that forestalls any immediate spike in milk prices but also represents a bitter blow for farmers who had hoped for long-sought changes in the dairy support program.
4. From Congress to halls of state, in New Hampshire, women rule.
Women won the state’s two Congressional seats. Women already held the state’s two Senate seats. When they are all sworn into office on Thursday, New Hampshire will become the first state in the nation’s history to send an all-female delegation to Washington.
(New York Times)
5. Ten states raise minimum wage, rates up 10 to 35 cents/hour.
Ten states kicked off the new year with a minimum wage rise of between 10 and 35 cents, modestly boosting the incomes of nearly 1 million low-paid workers.
6. Shell drilling rig remains difficult to reach for rescue team.
In a pair of news conferences Tuesday, officials from Royal Dutch Shell, the Coast Guard, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said the rig appeared intact and there was no sign that any of the fuel, hydraulic fluid, or other petroleum liquids on board had spilled.
7. Fierce clashes erupt near Aleppo airport.
Fierce clashes have erupted near the international airport in Syria's second city of Aleppo, officials say. State news agency Sana said the army was tackling rebels who had targeted airport operations.
8. Gunmen kill seven Pakistani aid workers.
Gunmen have killed six Pakistani female aid workers and a male doctor in what appears to be the latest attack by Islamic militants on teams involved in public health campaigns.
9. Idle No More protests beyond control of chiefs.
The Idle No More movement is broadening into a call to shake off apathy, absorbing a range of issues from aboriginal rights and environmental safeguards to the democratic process.
(Toronto Globe & Mail)
10. In the Middle East, the Arab spring has given way to a Christian winter.
Today, the religious ecology of the Middle East looks more fragile than ever, as the Arab spring gives way to Christian winter. Ignorant western assumptions about cultural uniformity are mirrored by Islamists bent on purging other faith groups from their lands.