Quote of the day.
"This is so important to me because I admired those women with their incredible fighting spirit. This is an area that you don't hear much about. We know very little about the role of women in the flight for freedom." Doris Wilkinson, professor emeritus at the University of Kentucky, on an exhibit she created: Warriors in the Shadows: Women of the Underground Railroad.
1. Congress heads out as the sequester blows in.
One day before automatic spending cuts were due to hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies, Congress on Thursday abandoned efforts to avert the reductions and left town for the weekend. The sequester is here, and policymakers have no plans to end it.
2. House renews Violence Against Women Act.
The House on Thursday gave final approval to a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, sending a bipartisan Senate measure to President Obama after a House plan endorsed by conservatives was defeated.
(New York Times)
3. Senate postpones deliberations on gun bills.
Senators working on legislation to curb gun violence postponed consideration of the measures for at least a week, a move that gives a bipartisan group working on a plan to expand the nation’s gun background check system more time to reach an agreement.
4. Americans had a right to know 'true cost of war.'
Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of the biggest unauthorized disclosure of state secrets in U.S. history, has pleaded guilty to being the source of the leak, telling a military court that he passed the information to a whistleblowing website because he believed the American people had a right to know the "true costs of war."
5. Incarceration rates for Blacks have fallen sharply.
Incarceration rates for black Americans dropped sharply from 2000 to 2009, especially for women, while the rate of imprisonment for whites and Hispanics rose over the same decade.
(New York Times)
6. Pope Benedict XVI leaves the Vatican.
The Swiss Guards vanished into the palace to change out of their colorful garb, their responsibility to protect the pope over for the moment. The papal apartment in the Vatican was sealed. Pope Benedict XVI's retirement had taken effect, propelling the Roman Catholic Church into a highly unusual and uncertain interregnum.
(Chicago Tribune/Los Angeles Times)
7. Japan to begin restarting idled nuclear plants.
Japan will begin restarting its idled nuclear plants after new safety guidelines are in place later this year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday, moving to ensure a stable energy supply despite public safety concerns after the Fukushima disaster.
(New York Times)
8. Iran sees chance to improve ties with U.S.
Iran's foreign minister said he sees a chance to improve ties with the United States, despite a longrunning standoff with major powers over his country's disputed nuclear program.
9. Rebel cooperation in Syrian town shows challenge of isolating Islamists.
Sophisticated new weapons now in the hands of rebels in north-central Syria underscore how difficult it will be, once more lethal aid begins to arrive, to keep those weapons from Islamist extremists who’ve become key to rebel military advances throughout the country.
10. Eurozone unemployment hits 11.9 percent.
The rate of unemployment in the eurozone rose to a fresh record high in January, official figures show.