Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Last Call For Honey Badger Mode

Sen. Harry Reid isn't wasting any time, for as soon as the Senate reconvenes next week, extended jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed will be on the table and up for a Monday vote.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told The Associated Press in an interview that the Senate will vote Monday on a three-month extension of federal unemployment benefits.
Calling the House a “black hole of legislation,” he offered no prediction on whether the lower chamber would take up the extension as well.

“We’ll see what happens,” he told the AP on Monday.

Reid had previously said taking up the extension would be his first priority when the Senate returns in January. Monday is the first day the Senate is back in session in the new year.

President Obama and Democrats are pressuring Republicans to pass an extension of the jobless aid, which expired on Saturday for about 1.3 million people. 
The Senate is expected to take up a bill sponsored by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), which would temporarily extend the benefits without offsetting the cost.

“I hope we can get that done,” Reid said.

President Obama has endorsed the proposal, but Republicans in the House have insisted that any renewal of the extended jobless benefits be offset.

It's that last part that guarantees problems for the House GOP.  Voting against jobless benefits in an election year with a down economy isn't going to make you they'll simply never vote on the Senate proposal, and pass a extended jobless benefits bill that makes brutal cuts elsewhere, then blame Reid.

Or at least, that's the plan.  Lately that hasn't always worked out for the GOP.  We'll see if they overplay their hand again.

Meanwhile, millions lost their benefits over the weekend and are facing a very hard New Year this week because Republicans cut an extension out of the latest budget deal.  Every week that goes by, things are only going to get worse.

An Israel/Palestine Reality Czech

Meanwhile, in Prague, a real spy thriller is shaping up.

The Palestinian ambassador to Prague was killed in an explosion at his residence on Wednesday that Czech authorities believe was probably an accident. 
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said ambassador Jamal al-Jamal had been trying to open a safe that was recently moved to his new home and a Czech government source told Reuters that the explosion was probably caused by a security device on the unit. 
It was unclear what that was. Some safes can be fitted with mechanisms designed to destroy secret documents in the event of the lock being tampered with. The Czech source said the government did not believe it was a terrorist attack. 
Czech police said the ambassador died of his injuries in hospital after the explosion on the morning of New Year's Day in the two-storey suburban residence. No one else was injured, police said, although Jamal's family was at home at the time. 
No signs of damage to the house was visible from the street. 
"There has been a detonation of a so far unidentified explosive mixture," police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova said. "The ambassador was ... taken to hospital with serious injuries."

A safe with a serious failsafe just happens to go off killing the ambassador?  Something about that doesn't make sense.  Sure, it's a great way to destroy sensitive documents, but also a great way to, you know, kill an ambassador.

There's more to it than a mere fatal accident, especially when the Palestinians are involved.  Because wherever there's Palestinian ambassadors, there's Israel...and they play for keeps.  Not saying Israel had a hand in this, but they're probably not losing any sleep over this accident, either.

Not a wink.

Operation Sonia Says

Justice Sonia Sotomayor took a whack at the Obamacare pinata last night, granting a temporary stay from Affordable Care Act provisions for a group of nuns.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a temporary exemption late Tuesday to a small group of Catholic nuns that shields it from having to comply with a part of President Obama's healthcare law that requires it to provide contraceptive coverage in its insurance plans. 
She acted on an emergency appeal from lawyers for the group who said the nuns faced "draconian fines" beginning on New Year's Day if they failed to comply with the law widely known as Obamacare. 
Sotomayor gave the government until Friday to file a response in the case. Her order extends only to the group of nuns and does not apply more broadly to the Affordable Care Act and its requirements.

So it's a very narrow stay for a specific group, and so far it's the only stay granted, but whether or not it means she is showing her hand as the fifth vote in favor of November's Hobby Lobby case, I cannot tell you. We'll see, but I don't think it's a good thing for the law's mandate.

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