The WonkLine: December 21, 2010

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 9:30 a.m. roundup of the latest public policy news. This is what we’re reading. Tell us what you found in the comments section below. You can also follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.


Climate Change

Southern California “has been doused with rain for more than four days,” forcing the “emergency evacuation of nearly 2,000 residents of McFarland and the temporary closure of at least two highways because of mudslides,” and the extreme storms are going to continue for days.

A new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that ocean acidification decreases nitrification, dangerously altering the nitrogen cycle fundamental to oceanic life.

As “the United Nations urged governments on Monday to make deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions quickly,” corporate polluter opposition has caused South Korea and Japan to delay their pollution laws.

National Security

“Attorney General Eric Holder has an urgent message for Americans: While he is confident that the United States will continue to thwart attacks, ‘the terrorists only have to be successful once.'”

“The NATO force in Afghanistan denied Tuesday that the U.S. military intends to carry out ground raids inside Pakistan in pursuit of insurgent leaders hiding there.”

“A day after North Korea backed off threats of violent retaliation for South Korean artillery drills, analysts and policy makers in Seoul said on Tuesday that the North’s unexpected restraint might signal, at least for now, that it is shifting away from its recent military provocations.”


More than 29,000 troubled homeowners “have been stuck in mortgage modification purgatory for at least a year, with no end in sight,” under the Obama administration’s woefully lacking Home Affordable Modification Program.

“U.S. regulators are considering whether to require large financial firms to hold onto a chunk of executive pay to discourage the excessive risk-taking that contributed to the financial crisis,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The number of food stamp recipients increased 16 percent this year to 43 million, or about one out of every seven Americans.


More than half of teachers believe it’s too difficult to weed out ineffective teachers who already have tenure.

The Providence Journal reported that “there has not been a single day at Central Falls High School since Sept. 1 when all of its 88 teachers have come to work.” This is the same school where the entire teaching staff was fired and rehired in February.

Presidents at universities where the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) has been barred for decades, “said that the U.S. Senate’s vote Saturday to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ will usher the return of the program to their campuses.”


Senators are close to finalizing a disappointing deal on judges that will confirm only half of the nominees awaiting a vote. Worse, the deal denies a vote to anyone that Republicans have been able to make up a reason to oppose.

The number of annual executions in the United States is only slightly more than half what it was ten years ago.

Far-right Virginia lawmaker Bob Marshall (R) is pushing an unconstitutional bill to ban gay servicemembers from joining the Virginia National Guard once Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell repeal takes effect.


President Obama is scheduled to meet with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus today to discuss ways to move forward on immigration issues after the DREAM Act failed to clear the Senate.

Groups of college students and graduates in Los Angeles who supported the DREAM Act say they plan to take their fight for immigrant rights to the states and the 2012 election.

A record number of undocumented immigrants were deported from Arizona during 2010 — 92,592 immigrants between October 2009 and September 2010.