President Obama will nominate John Brennan for CIA Director and Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense; the State Department dismisses Syrian President Assad’s public speech; and the Chinese government announces it will end labor-camp sentences. Meanwhile, “Texas Chainsaw” was number one at the box office this weekend; Justin Bieber is photographed smoking pot; and Lindsay Lohan heads to court again.
Who Is John Brennan, the Man Touted to Be the Next CIA Director?, http://thebea.st/TdJo2s
President Obama will reportedly nominate counterterrorism advisor John Brennan for CIA Director on Monday. Brennan has been a proponent of the U.S. drone program, which could lead anti-drone advocates to dispute the nomination. Obama will also nominate former Republican senator Chuck Hagel to replace Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense. Hagel, who went against his party to oppose the Iraq war, may prove a controversial choice.
Five accused of rape in India appear in court for charges, http://reut.rs/UC3aqm
The five men accused of gang-raping and fatally beating a 23-year-old woman in New Dehli arrived in court today. Their charges include rape, murder, and abduction. The incident has caused public outrage in India, causing women to call for more protection due to India’s high number of sexual assaults. Because the case is so high-profile, the judge ordered that today’s court appearance be closed to the media in order to protect the suspects’ safety. The five men do not have lawyers as those admitted to the bar in India’s Saket district have refused to represent them. Police say they have recorded confessions from the suspects, two of which have offered evidence against the others in exchange for a lesser sentence. A prosecutor for the case has said that “The five accused persons deserve not less than the death penalty.”
Bank of America to Pay $10 Billion in Settlement With Fannie Mae, http://nyti.ms/XDga3J
Bank of America has agreed to pay Fannie Mae $10 billion in unsettled claims stemming from the housing market crash. Bank of America will pay Fannie Mae $3.6 billion and then buy $6.75 billion of discounted mortgages. In 2011, Bank of America paid Freddie Mac for the housing market crash. Its payment to Fannie Mae signals that it’s steering away from home-lending.
In Rare Damascus Speech, Assad Acknowledges Suffering, http://thebea.st/VttAdv
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a rare public address Sunday. Assad, speaking in front of a photo collage of Syria’s war victims, proposed peace in the form of a national reconciliation conference as well as a new government and constitution. The State Department, which has urged Assad to resign, has dismissed the speech as “meaningless.” “His initiative is detached from reality, undermines the efforts of Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, and would only allow the regime to further perpetuate its bloody oppression of the Syrian people,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
Clinton Scheduled to Return to Work Monday, http://nyti.ms/13dPPZq
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will return to work Monday. Clinton was admitted to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital on December 30th after doctors found a blood clot in her head. The State Department has released Clinton’s schedule, which shows her meeting with assistant secretaries Monday morning and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Washington on Wednesday.
Sen. Rand Paul’s son arrested at North Carolina airport, charged with underage drinking, http://bit.ly/VxgDzd
Senator Rand Paul’s 19-year-old son, William Hilton Paul, was arrested Saturday at North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International Airport for disorderly conduct at an airport, being intoxicated and disruptive, and consuming alcohol underage. The Senator’s office said in a statement, “Sen. Paul is a national public figure and subject to scrutiny in the public arena, however, as many parents with teenagers would understand, his family should be afforded the privacy and respect they deserve in a situation such as this.”
Chinese official says country will end labor camp sentences in move toward judicial reform, http://wapo.st/13aAxW7
During a press conference, China’s Meng Jianzhu, the head of the Communist Party Politics and Law Commission, said that the Chinese government will no longer give out labor-camp sentences. China allegedly has 310 labor camps holding 310,000 prisoners and employing 100,000 staff. It’s unclear what the proclamation means for current labor-camp prisoners. One activist said, “This announcement is a very good thing, but we’d still like to hear them say that they’re getting rid of reeducation through labor entirely.”
American Delegation Arrives in North Korea on Controversial Private Trip, http://nyti.ms/RBEoIm
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson arrived in North Korea Monday for what Richardson has described as a four-day private humanitarian mission. During the trip, Richardson is hoping to meet with an American citizen detained by North Korean officials for “hostile acts.” Richardson has said that Schmidt is joining him because he is “interested in some of the economic issues there, the social-media aspect.” The State Department is against the trip calling it “unhelpful.”
”Texas Chainsaw” movie kills rivals at North America box office, http://reut.rs/UBZt44
Justin Bieber Gets Caught Smoking Pot Post Selena Gomez Breakup, http://bit.ly/VKjLaP
Lindsay Lohan heads to court again, this time over New York nightclub fight, http://bit.ly/UBiNC6
Star Trek Fan Granted Dying Wish By J.J. Abrams Passes Away, http://bit.ly/ZxGRag
Eliot Spitzer quits Current TV following sale to Al Jazeera, http://fxn.ws/VKedgy