Anti-American Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr yesterday called for “revenge operations” against U.S. forces to protest Israel’s offensive in Gaza. Sadr also “urged that Palestinian flags be raised on mosques, churches and other buildings in Iraq and that all countries shut down Israel’s embassies.”
Three rockets fired from Lebanon into Northern Israel today “raised concern that they could presage a second front in the conflict that would complicate peace efforts.” The Israeli military, however, dismissed the rockets as “a minor event” while Israeli negotiators arrived in Cairo, Egypt to begin cease-fire negotiations.
In a speech set to be delivered today at George Mason University, President-elect Obama says that the nation’s recession could “linger for years” unless Congress acts to pass a new $800 billion stimulus package. Obama adds that “[a] bad situation could become dramatically worse,” warning of double-digit unemployment and a loss of $1 trillion in economic activity.
A new poll commissioned by the AFL-CIO finds that “73 percent of adults said that they supported the Employee Free Choice Act when read the union’s descriptions of the bill’s three main provisions.” Seventy-eight percent said that they favored legislation to “make it easier for workers to bargain with their employers for better wages, benefits and working conditions.”
President-elect Obama is prepared to scrap Bush’s homeland security office and appoint longtime CIA official John Brennan head of a counter-terrorism unit to be folded into the National Security Council. Brennan would not require Senate confirmation. “The idea of merging the two councils has been recommended by a number of reports, most notably in November by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and by Third Way.”
Obama has selected Cass Sunstein as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, according to a transition official. Sunstein, a constitutional scholar at Harvard Law School, will “oversee reform of regulations, seeking to find smarter approaches and better results in the areas of health, environment and other domestic areas.”
The House passed a measure yesterday that would require future donations to presidential libraries to be publicly disclosed. The House also passed legislation that would make it more difficult for presidents to restrict access to certain documents.
In yet another 11th hour regulation, the Interior Department today “is publishing a rule that would lift a 79-year-old executive order prohibiting oil shale development in Wyoming and Utah.” Oil giant Shell had “pressed” Interior to issue the rule.
In a Republican conference meeting yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) discussed the “devastating loss of Hispanic voters and how that arose on the rhetoric on immigration,” according to a Senate Republican who attended the meeting. The need to reach out to Hispanics “was discussed big time,” Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) said. “We have to reach out to Hispanics. We need to go on Hispanic media much more.”
And finally: Yes, Pecan! That’s the name of Ben & Jerry has given their butter pecan ice cream in support of President-elect Obama. The Ben & Jerry’s website calls the flavor “an inspirational blend” of “amber waves of buttery ice cream with roasted non-partisan pecans.”
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