Christie Faces Dual Probes: Newark Star-Ledger: "Gov. Chris Christie's administration is dealing with dual investigations today as the controversy over the George Washington Bridge lane closings continues to swirl and federal investigators began probing the state's use of Hurricane Sandy aid money for a television advertising campaign. Both houses of the state Legislature announced today they will create a special investigatory committees to continue investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures. E-mails and text messages released last week showed at least two members of Christie's inner circle asked for traffic problems to be created in Fort Lee, a move some say was designed to retaliate against the mayor for not endorsing the governor for re-election. ... Meanwhile, the Christie administration found itself dealing with a second investigation today after federal officials announced a probe into he administration’s use of federal Hurricane Sandy aid money for an advertising campaign that featured the governor and his family."
An Emerging Pattern: Washington Post: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration cut off the access of the newly elected mayor of Jersey City to top state officials last summer, documents released Monday show. The move came after the Democratic mayor declined to endorse the Republican governor’s reelection. Christie’s staff initially set up a raft of meetings for Mayor Steven Fulop with state appointees shortly after he took office in July, according to e-mails and text messages released by Jersey City in response to a public records request by the Jersey Journal. But the meetings were scrubbed a few week later, about the time that aides to the Republican governor apparently learned that Fulop was not going to back him. The treatment of Fulop feeds the perception that the Christie administration has used the governor’s office to punish people viewed as political enemies."
Early Polling Steady: NBC News: "Opinions of Chris Christie haven’t changed much in the days since the emergence of a bridge lanes-closing controversy involving the New Jersey governor, according to new polling out Monday. A Pew Research poll conducted over the weekend found that 60 percent of Americans' opinion of Christie hasn't changed since the emergence of the scandal.... Six percent of Americans have a more favorable opinion of Christie in the controversy's aftermath, while 16 percent have a less favorable opinion of the Republican contender for the 2016 presidential nomination. The scandal's impact hasn't yet dented Christie's numbers in New Jersey, either. A Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll released on Monday found Christie with a 59 percent job approval rating among Garden Staters, a slight six-point decline since December. But a slight majority of New Jerseyans -- 52 percent -- believe Christie's explanation that he wasn't involved in the decision to close lanes on the bridge last September."
The Slatest: Obamacare Signup Figures Skew Older (So Far)
The Pope Is Still Catholic: USA Today: "Pope Francis on Monday called abortion 'horrific' and said it was part of a new 'throwaway culture' he said wasted human life as easily as it wasted food — his strongest words yet on a practice that is a divisive political issue in the United States. Until now, Francis has appeared to have stayed away from strong statements on the church's stands on moral behavior of individuals, preferring to focus on more positive messages about the teachings of Jesus Christ and the need to see to the poor. His comments during the start of his papacy that the church need not "obsess" about abortion and gay marriage bothered conservative Catholics who see the issues as ones that the church ought to object to strongly. On Monday, Francis put his own stamp on the church's long-held opposition to abortion."
An "Experimental" Execution: NBC News: "A federal judge refused Monday to block the Ohio execution of a convicted murderer and rapist who is sentenced to die by an untested lethal-injection cocktail later this week, even as he declared it an 'experiment.' Inmate Dennis McGuire's lawyers had argued that the combination of the sedative midozolam and painkiller hydropmorphone could leave to a painful and terrifying phenomenon called 'air hunger' before he actually dies. U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost said the condemned man did not present enough evidence that there is 'a substantial risk' he will experience the 'severe pain' that would constitute a violation of the ban on cruel and unusual punishment."
Future Tense: Wake-Up Call: U.S. Emissions Are Back on the Rise
An Obama Overhaul: Associated Press: "The Senate is set to confirm one of President Barack Obama's key judicial nominees and complete an overhaul of the country's second most powerful court. The late afternoon vote Monday on the nomination of Robert Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia would give Democratic appointees a 7-4 majority on the politically influential bench. The D.C. Circuit, second only to the Supreme Court, hears appeals of White House actions and federal rules and regulations. Wilkins' confirmation would be a new demonstration of Senate Democrats' ability to push through most presidential nominations by a simple majority."
Saving Detroit's Art: Detroit News: "National and local foundations have pledged more than $330 million to a fund to protect city-owned art at the Detroit Institute of Arts from being auctioned off, mediators in Detroit’s bankruptcy announced Monday. A statement from Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Rosen’s team of mediators called the financial commitments 'an extraordinary and unprecedented effort' to preserve the art collection and raise money for Detroit’s underfunded pension funds. ... Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr could use the foundations’ financial support as leverage in negotiations with creditors to get them to back away from pushing for an art sale, said Michael Sweet, a San Francisco bankruptcy attorney following Detroit’s Chapter 9 case closely."
Omega House Loses Landlord: ABC News: "California Democratic Rep. George Miller, a liberal lion of the House and close confidant of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has decided to retire at the end of this term, he announced in a statement on his website today. ... Miller, 68, was elected in 1974 at age 29. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who along with fellow Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois has shared a messy group house on Capitol Hill for years with Miller, tweeted that he is looking for a new roommate to fill Miller’s room. ... The trio’s sloppy living quarters inspired Alpha House, a television series produced by Amazon Studios, about four U.S. senators sharing a home in Washington. Former Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., used to live in the residence, which they call 'The Omega House.' Miller, who was the home’s de facto landlord, was the first of the veteran lawmakers to move into the home."
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