The Case For Clemency: Associated Press: " The New York Times and Guardian newspapers have called for clemency for Edward Snowden, saying that the espionage worker-turned-privacy advocate should be praised rather than punished for his disclosures. The papers—both of which have played a role in publishing Snowden's intelligence trove—suggested [in recent editorials] that the former National Security Agency contractor's revelations about the United States' world-spanning espionage program were of such public importance that they outweighed any possible wrongdoing."
Going Beyond What Is Realistic: NYT Public Editor's Journal: "Andrew Rosenthal, The Times’s editorial page editor, told me Thursday that the editorial had been under discussion by the editorial board for weeks. The Times has written strong editorials about Mr. Snowden ever since the former contractor for the National Security Agency emerged into the national consciousness last spring. In general, The Times’s editorial page has supported Mr. Snowden, calling him a whistle-blower who has done a public service for American citizens by revealing vast – and unconstitutional – government surveillance. But the moment for something larger arrived more recently, Mr. Rosenthal said. ... Does Mr. Rosenthal really think President Obama will take the board’s highly unusual recommendation seriously? ... 'Sometimes,' he added, 'you have to go beyond what is realistic' in an editorial recommendation, not necessarily saying what might happen but rather, 'this is what should happen.'"
King Responds: Politico: "Rep. Peter King went on an anti-New York Times tirade on Thursday afternoon, deriding the paper of record as a 'disgrace' and calling on Americans to 'reject' it for its editorial calling for clemency for Edward Snowden. 'Their editorial today and their whole pattern over the last several years, they’ve really made themselves a blame-America-first rag as far as I’m concerned, and why we exalt The New York Times is beyond me,' the New York Republican said on Fox News. 'They go out of their way to be apologists for terrorists and go after those in law enforcement and military who are trying to win this war.' King, who has long been a defender and proponent of the National Security Agency, called the editors 'a disgrace' and said he wishes they 'cared more about America than they did about the rights of terrorists' appeasers.'"
Reminder: This is nothing new for King, who suggested this summer that Glenn Greenwald should be arrested for breaking the NSA story with the help of Snowden's leaks.
It's Thursday, January 2nd, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest. Programming note: I'm back on vacation next week. A host of other Slate writers will keep the Slatest up and running, but the email newsletter and the PM post in specific may be MIA more often than not next week.
Kerry's Covert Climate Mission: New York Times: "In his first year as secretary of state, [John] Kerry joined with the Russians to push Syria to turn over its chemical weapons, persuaded the Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct peace talks and played the closing role in the interim agreement on nuclear weapons with Iran. But while the public’s attention has been on his diplomacy in the Middle East, behind the scenes at the State Department Mr. Kerry has initiated a systematic, top-down push to create an agencywide focus on global warming. His goal is to become the lead broker of a global climate treaty in 2015 that will commit the United States and other nations to historic reductions in fossil fuel pollution. Whether the secretary of state can have that kind of influence remains an open question, and Mr. Kerry, despite two decades of attention to climate policy, has few concrete accomplishments on the issue. ... Yet climate experts point to one significant, recent accomplishment. As a result of midlevel talks Mr. Kerry set up to pave the way for a 2015 deal, the United States and China agreed in September to jointly phase down production of hydrofluorocarbons, a greenhouse gas used in refrigerators and air-conditioners."
Practicing Law Without a Green Card: Los Angeles Times: "The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that a Mexican immigrant without a green card may be licensed as a lawyer, though his employment prospects will be limited. In an opinion by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the state's high court said a law passed late last year by the Legislature enabled the court to admit Sergio C. Garcia, 36, to the legal profession. The Legislature passed the law after the court indicated in a hearing in September that it was bound by federal restrictions to deny Garcia a license. ... The court said Garcia, who has been in the U.S. most of his life, will be able to practice law free of charge or outside the U.S. It is disputed, however, whether he could legally work for himself as an independent contractor and charge fees, the court said. ... Garcia emigrated from Mexico with his family when he was 17 months old. He returned to Mexico when he was 9 and reentered the U.S. illegally when he was 17. His father, an agricultural worker who has obtained U.S. citizenship, applied for a green card for his son in 1994. The federal government approved the application in 1995, but Garcia is still waiting for his green card."
Hercules, Hercules: Associated Press: "A storm expected to bring more than a foot of snow in places along with strong winds and punishing cold pushed into the Northeast on Thursday, extending Christmas break for some students while posing the first test for New York's new mayor and perhaps the last challenge for Boston's outgoing one. Some schools in New England and New York closed well ahead of the snow or planned early dismissals, while cities issued parking bans and readied homeless shelters. U.S. airlines canceled more than 1,800 flights nationwide on Thursday in advance of the storm. The heavy weather began rolling in just a day after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in to lead the nation's largest city and a few days before Boston Mayor Thomas Menino ends 20 years in office."
Future Tense: The Weather Is Hideous Pretty Much Everywhere Today
A Plunging Faith in Government: CBS News: "Two months after a Congress mired in partisan congestion gave way to the first government shutdown in 17 years, a mere one in 20 Americans believe the U.S. system of democracy works well and needs no changes, according to an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll out Thursday. Heading into the new year with a grotesquely pessimistic outlook on their country’s government, half of Americans said it needs either 'a lot of changes' or a complete overhaul. And 70 percent said they’re not confident lawmakers will manage to 'make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.' Those problems, respondents suggested, are topped by health care reform, jobs and the economy and the country’s debt, respectively. Eighty percent of Americans said they hope the government focuses substantial energy on those issues in the coming year, but only 76 percent said they expect to see real progress. ... In general, the population remains split on how active the government should be in the lives of citizens: half said 'the less government the better,' and 48 percent said 'there are more things that government should be doing.' Sloping faith in government is an aging trend: the percentage of Americans who think the United States governing system is heading in the right direction hasn’t topped 50 in almost 10 years."
Returning to Work: NBC News: "The Florida congressman charged with cocaine possession last year will be returning to work on Capitol Hill next week. Republican Rep. Trey Radel will be back on the job for the first time since he was charged with possession of cocaine after purchasing the drug from an undercover officer on October 29. ... Radel was sentenced to one year of probation after pleading guilty to the charge in November. He took a leave of absence, and returned to Florida to enter into a rehab program. He left that program less than a month later and announced that he would not step down from his House seat."
That's all for this today. See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.