Breaking the Bubble, Jan. 24, 2014

Mohammed Elnaiem , Contributor

– NATIONAL –

In an interview with “The New Yorker,” President Obama surprised many by making the argument that marijuana–still categorized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule 1 drug along with heroin and ecstasy–is not “more dangerous than alcohol.” While admitting that he still views the drug negatively, he still believes that the stigma with marijuana has been blown out of proportion. Since Colorado and Washington have already legalized recreational marijuana use, many are questioning whether or not America should revisit its approach towards the use of the drug. (The Huffington Post)

New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno has denied allegations from the Mayor of Hoboken that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie threatened to withhold disaster funds from the city after Hurricane Sandy. Christie was implicated in a scandal earlier this month that suggested that his staff orchestrated traffic gridlock to punish another mayor who refused to endorse his reelection. In the newest allegations against the governor, Christie has been accused of withholding disaster relief funds unless Mayor Dawn Zimmer approves a property development project by the Rockefeller Group. Federal officials are currently investigating whether these claims are true. (BBC)

The former governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted for acquiring more than $140,000 in the form of loans and gifts from political patrons looking for government favors (NYTimes).

– INTERNATIONAL – 

The European Commission listed its plans for renewable energy and climate change up until 2030. The new policies will be compulsory for EU states but not for member states (BBC).

The United States is pushing for the United Nations (UN) to revoke its invitation to Iran to be present at the peace talks on Syria this Wednesday. The opposition National Coalition, alongside the U.S., firmly holds that Iran should not be welcomed as they have failed to back the aim of the negotiations, which were set out to establish a transitional government in Syria. Syria’s president has also expressed that he will not share power with the National Coalition while the National Coalition initially rejected attending the talks altogether. Initially stating that they wouldn’t recognize a transitional government that includes Assad, they have now recently agreed to join in with the sole condition that Iran wouldn’t attend. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has stated that the need for peace talks is urgent to sort out the issue and has urged for the cooperation of the U.S. after being assured that Iran accepted the invitation “without preconditions.” (BBC News)

President Mamnoon Hussain has said that drone strikes in Pakistan are “counter-productive to the existing counter-terrorism drive in Pakistan.” Hussain has urged the international community to help Pakistan in its search for alternative measures to counter-terrorism. With troops scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Hussain has argued that any future “solution of Afghanistan lies within Afghanistan, and that it must be achieved through an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.” (The Nation)

Last week, 98.1% of Egyptian voters approved of a draft constitution that was proposed by the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces headed by General al-Sisi. While the government-owned media is celebrating the unanimous approval, many analysts are questioning the legitimacy of the referendum. With only a 39% voter turn-out, a boycott by Muslim brotherhood supporters and the imprisonment of those advocating a “no” vote, many are wondering how a very diverse voter makeup all voted for a “yes.” (ABC News)

 

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