"Morning Briefing: January 5, 2012"
President Obama will unveil a new Pentagon strategy today that will “streamline the military” to absorb billions in defense cuts and “reassess defense priorities in light of China’s rise and other global changes.” Though the strategy will not alter defense priorities much, it will “set the stage” for expected cutbacks in Europe and weapons programs while shifting focus on “immediate threats like cyber warfare and terrorism.”
As Obama seeks to tighten spending, the defense industry is reaching out to GOP candidates as part of its “campaign to avert deeper military cuts.” Their push for GOP candidates to focus on defense “could put pressure on the Obama administration to resist additional cuts.”
The NAACP condemned Rick Santorum’s recent comments about black people. The group’s president said, “Senator Santorum’s targeting of African Americans is inaccurate and outrageous, and lifts up old race-based stereotypes about public assistance.”
The Federal Reserve is calling on Congress to take action to revive the floundering housing market. Yesterday the central bank sent a 26-page white paper to lawmakers outlining a framework to boost the housing market, which they say will improve the economy overall.
Explosions in two Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad on Thursday left 30 people dead and increased fears that insurgents are stepping up their attacks after the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The explosions were followed by a roadside bomb, and police defused a fourth explosive device.
Afghan president Hamid Karzai endorsed direct talks between the Taliban and the United States, as the Taliban opened a new office in Qatar to engage in diplomacy.
President Obama’s recess appointments are “almost certain” to draw legal challenges, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has not decided if it will file a lawsuit, but a top official said that “it’s almost certain ultimately a court will decide if what the president did is legal or not.”
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) will support legislation to legalize gay marriage, she announced Wednesday. “It is time in Washington state for marriage equality,” Gregoire said of the legislation that will be introduced when the state legislature reconvenes. “It is time, it’s the right thing to do.”
Today, Obama will unveil a summer jobs initiative that is on track to create 180,000 “work opportunities” in the private sector, including mentoring, internships, and 70,000 paid jobs. The move is the latest in a series of executive actions the administration is relying on to boost employment after Congress refused to pass Obama’s American Jobs Act.
And finally: GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said yesterday that presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would have persecuted marijuana growers “more violent[ly]” than today’s standards, failing to remember that Washington and Jefferson both grew cannabis (for hemp) on their plantations.