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Coming Soon: Women in Combat! Associated Press: "Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military's ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war. The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta's decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women." More on what the move means over at The Slatest.
Hillary Goes to the Hill: Washington Post: "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, testifying Wednesday in a Senate hearing that was politically charged and at times emotional, defended the Obama administration’s response to last year’s deadly assault on a diplomatic post in Libya and challenged Republican lawmakers to focus on meaningful ways to make diplomats safe instead of engaging in partisan attacks. Four months after the assault, Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made clear that they hold Clinton personally responsible for the attacks that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, at a diplomatic outpost and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi. Clinton said she took responsibility, but she argued that the exact trigger for the terrorist attack — be it a protest that boiled over, as the administration wrongly suggested at first, or 'guys out for a walk one night' — no longer matters."
The Slatest: How Salon (Accidentally) Gave 9/11 Truthers a Chance
House Passes Short-Term "No Budget, No Pay" Debt Deal: Wall Street Journal: "The House voted Wednesday to approve legislation suspending the debt ceiling for three months, a move that will allow the government to keep paying its bills and give lawmakers breathing room for long-term budget negotiations. The House bill, which needs a Senate vote and the president's signature, requires the Senate to pass a budget by mid-April and threatens to withhold lawmakers' pay if it fails to do so. ... House GOP leaders brought the bill forward as a way to avoid a potentially bloody showdown on the need to raise the debt ceiling to allow the Treasury to continue issuing debt to pay its bills, and kicks off a three-month debate over government funding priorities and whether or not to accept $1.2 trillion in spending cuts currently required under law."
So Where's the Loophole? If they don't pass the budget, they just have to wait until the end of the term to get paid in one lump sum. New York Times: "The debt ceiling legislation — mindful of constitutional hurdles imposed by the 27th Amendment on Congressional pay — would simply impound lawmaker salaries until a budget is passed or the 113th Congress ends, whichever comes first. And it would not require the House and the Senate to come to a compromise on the two spending and tax blueprints, which are likely to be very different. That will be the really difficult task."
Update From Lone Star College: Houston Chronicle: "[T]he gunfire that shattered the silence of a normal day of classes [on Tuesday] at Lone Star College's north Harris County location was sadly routine. Two young men became involved in an argument that ended when one pulled a handgun. Minutes later, the other man and a school maintenance worker lay wounded while panicked students dove for cover amid fears of an unfolding homicidal spree. Those fears quickly faded, but not before scores of police cars and emergency vehicles converged on the school in the 2700 block of W. W. Thorne shortly after noon."
Junior Seau's Family Sues NFL: Associated Press: "The family of Junior Seau has sued the NFL, claiming the former linebacker's suicide was the result of brain disease caused by violent hits he sustained while playing football. The wrongful death lawsuit, filed Wednesday in California Superior Court in San Diego, blames the NFL for its 'acts or omissions' that hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head. It says Seau developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from those hits, and accuses the NFL of deliberately ignoring and concealing evidence of the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries. Seau died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May. He was diagnosed with CTE, based on posthumous tests, earlier this month."
A Charlie Brown Arrest: CNN: "Peter Robbins was a child when he provided the iconic voice for Charlie Brown, still heard every year when the classic 1960s television movies are rebroadcast. Today, Robbins is in the San Diego County jail, inmate No. 13704837, facing charges of threatening a police officer, a doctor and two others with death. ... Border Patrol agents arrested Robbins late Sunday as he entered the United States from Mexico at the San Ysidro, California, port of entry, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman. A computer check of his passport revealed that Robbins ... was wanted in San Diego on a felony warrant ... The four counts of threatening death and one stalking charge involve four victims, including a San Diego Police sergeant."
Joe Biden's White House Dreams: Politico: "Biden, according to a number of advisers and Democrats who have spoken to him in recent months, wants to run, or at least be well positioned to run, if and when he decides to pull the trigger. Biden has expressed a clear sense of urgency, convinced the Democratic field will be defined quickly — and that it might very well come down to a private chat with Hillary Clinton about who should finish what Barack Obama started. 'He’s intoxicated by the idea, and it’s impossible not to be intoxicated by the idea,' said a Democrat close to the White House."
The U.K. and the E.U: BBC: "Germany and France have warned UK Prime Minister David Cameron that Britain cannot pick and choose EU membership terms after he pledged a referendum. Mr Cameron said a poll would be held if the Conservatives were returned to power at the next general election, which is expected in 2015. Voters would be asked to choose between renegotiated membership or exiting. Germany said the UK could not 'cherry-pick' while France said 'a la carte' membership was not on the table. However, in an apparent concession to Mr Cameron's concerns, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a 'fair compromise' between the wishes of Britain and other EU states."
Foreigners: Europe May Be the Last Superpower (Don’t Laugh!)
The Latest From Mali: Reuters: "The United States and African leaders threw their full diplomatic weight on Wednesday behind a campaign to expel Islamist rebels from Mali, as French air strikes harried the al Qaeda-allied fighters in their strongholds. For nearly two weeks, French jets and helicopters have been hitting carefully selected targets around rebel-held Malian towns such as Gao and Timbuktu, while African troops gather for a planned ground offensive against the Islamist forces."
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