Votes could end Homeland Security brinkmanship

John Boehner, Mitch McConnell(Republican leaders are at odds as a DHS shutdown looms. Image: AP/Politico)

With funding for the Department of Homeland Security set to run out on Friday, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell is proposing a way out of the logjam, offering a vote on funding the department, separated from a second vote on stopping President Obama’s  executive actions on immigration. The end result could see a short-term funding fix, but Democrats are pushing for a guarantee that the House would also accept the proposal. The House GOP leadership will meet on Wednesday to discuss next steps.

What Happens Now?

* WORLD * In the so-called “American Sniper” trial in Texas late on Tuesday, Eddie Ray Routh was found guilty of murder in the deaths of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. Routh was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The Justice Department said that George Zimmerman would not face civil rights charges for his role in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder said a “comprehensive examination” determined that there was not enough evidence for a federal hate crime prosecution. But he added that Martin’s “premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface.”

Secretary of State John Kerry told a Senate committee that the US expects to know “soon” if Iran is willing to agree to an “acceptable and verifiable plan” to restrict its nuclear program. The deadline for the current negotiations is end of March and Kerry is expected to leave this weekend to hold further talks with Iran. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected an invitation from Senate Democrats to meet separately from his controversial address to Congress on March 3. Chris McGreal writes at The Guardian:

Opinion polls in Israel show the public divided on the address to Congress with widespread suspicion that Netanyahu is using it for electoral advantage. The Labour party leader, Isaac Herzog – campaigning in coalition with other opposition parties under the Zionist Union banner – has called Netanyahu’s speech a “strategic mistake”, and accused the prime minister of using it for his own “political interest”.

Eurozone finance ministers approved a set of reform proposals by Greece to secure a four-month extension of the country’s bailout.

Prime Minister David Cameron said British troops would be deployed to Ukraine “in the next few weeks” in a training capacity. Cameron also warned of “deeply damaging” consequences for Europe if the EU did not stand up to Vladimir Putin.

* POLITICS * Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces a run-off election after failing to secure 50 per cent of the vote on Tuesday. Emanuel and second-placed challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia will run-off on April 7.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he won’t seek Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat.

President Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline bill. It was just his third veto and his first on a substantial piece of legislation.The Washington Post says it won’t be his last.

* BUSINESS * Variety reported that Tom Rothman is to be the new chairman of Sony’s motion picture group, replacing Amy Pascal, who was ousted following the cyber attack apparently launched by North Korea at the end of last year. Sony also said that Michael Lynton’s contract as CEO and chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment was being extended.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s testimony to the Senate banking committee was upbeat on the economy and signaled interest rate increases later in the year.

The FTSE hit an all-time high for the first time since 1999. The FT’s John Authers explains why that’s not necessarily a big deal.

* MEDIA * Despite Fox host Bill O’Reilly saying “I want to stop this now,” the squabble over the accuracy of his reporting during the Falklands conflict shows no sign of abating. The Washington Post has a summary of the issues so far. James Poniewozik at Time writes:

“..if O’Reilly is not likely to suffer Brian Williams’ fate, it has less to do with the difference in their stories and more to do with the fact that O’Reilly is not Brian Williams: he’s an entirely different kind of journalist. His audience has a different relationship with him, based not on veracity but loyalty, not information but identification.”

And talking of Brian Williams, ratings for the NBC Nightly News rose last week under Lester Holt’s anchoring, topping 10 million viewers.

ESPN suspended Keith Olbermann after the host was involved in a Twitter exchange regarding Penn State, for which he later apologized. Olbermann will not host his show for the rest of the week.

* CULTURE * Tuesday night saw the finale of Parks and Recreation on NBC. The show was given a nice send-off on Twitter, while Asawin Suebsaeng at The Daily Beast writes on how Ron Swanson became the unlikely libertarian hero of the Obama era.

* SPORTS * Fifa has recommended that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played in November and December, with the possibility of the final being held in the few days immediately before Christmas. The Guardian‘s Owen Gibson has the when, why and what.

The Daily Star has no doubt whose interests are being served.

starFIFA(image: Daily Star/Tomorrow’s Papers Today)

Separately, Ira Boudway at Bloomberg reports that the value of shirt sponsorship for Europe’s elite clubs has soared to $778million, and  the team breakdown emphasizes a growing divide between the top and lower clubs in each European league.

Finally, talking of money in sports, the Seattle Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch apparently filed a formal trademark request for the phrase “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”


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