Quote of the day.
“I would imagine that even people who are made somewhat uncomfortable by the allusions to religion in such public moments will find an invocation by the widow of a martyr to be moving and poignant.” Jon Meacham, who has written on religion in American history, on President Obama’s selection of Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights icon Medgar Evers, to deliver the invocation at his public swearing-in later this month.
1. As Pentagon chief, Hagel likely to favor sizable Afghan drawdown.
A decorated Vietnam veteran acutely aware of the limits of military power, Chuck Hagel is likely to favor a sizable drawdown in Afghanistan, more frugal spending at the Pentagon and extreme caution when contemplating the use of force in places like Iran or Syria.
2. Choice to lead C.I.A. faces a changed agency.
The question that now faces Mr. Brennan, if he is confirmed by the Senate, is whether the C.I.A. should remain at the center of secret American paramilitary operations — most notably drone strikes — or rebuild its traditional espionage capabilities, which intelligence veterans say have atrophied during years of terrorist manhunts.
(New York Times)
3. Huge amounts spent on immigration.
The Obama administration spent nearly $18 billion on immigration enforcement last year, significantly more than its spending on all the other major federal law enforcement agencies combined, according to a report published Monday by the Migration Policy Institute,
(New York Times)
4. Giffords, Kelly launch gun control lobbying effort.
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband launched a political action committee aimed at curbing gun violence on Tuesday, the second anniversary of the Tucson shooting that killed six people and left her critically injured.
5. Growth in health care spending remains at record low in 2011.
Total U.S. health care spending hit $2.7 trillion in 2011, making for a three-year run of record-low annual spending growth after the onset of the Great Recession.
6. U.S. drone attacks 'counter-productive.'
The United States' use of drones is counter-productive, less effective than the White House claims, and is "encouraging a new arms race that will empower current and future rivals and lay the foundations for an international system that is increasingly violent," according to a study by one of President Obama's former security advisers.
7. Egypt’s Christians worried by Islamists’ rise.
Egypt’s Christians were worried about their safety on Monday as they marked the first Christmas under Islamist rule, with Coptic Pope Tawadros II urging worshipers “not to be afraid” and some complaining that their lives had gone from bad to worse in the nearly two years since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.
8. 'No food aid' for million Syrians.
One million Syrians are going hungry and helpless due to the 22-month civil conflict in the country, says the U.N. food agency.
9. Oil sands development polluting Alberta lakes.
Oil-sands development is polluting nearby remote Alberta lakes with rising levels of a toxic carcinogen, refuting long-standing claims that waterway pollution in the region is largely naturally occurring, a study has found.
(Toronto Globe & Mail)
10. Iranian oil minister concedes sanctions have hurt exports.
Iran’s oil minister acknowledged for the first time on Monday that petroleum exports and sales had fallen by at least 40 percent over the past year, contradicting his previous denials and providing an unusual public admission that the cumulative impact of Western economic sanctions has grown more severe.
(New York Times)