US and UK Suspend Syria Aid
The US and UK have suspended all “non-lethal assistance” for the rebels in northern Syria after Islamist fighters seized warehouses from western-backed rebels, sparking worries that supplies could end up in the wrong hands. Fighters from the Islamist Front – which recently broke from the Western-backed Free Syria Army – has taken control of the bases at Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Islamic Front had seized dozens of anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, undermining the Syrian Military Council’s assurances that no military supplies would fall into the hands of Islamist fighters. Humanitarian aid should not be affected.
US Budget Deal Reached
House and Senate budget negotiators have reached an agreement that raises military and domestic spending over the next few years, reversing about $45 billion worth of sequestration next year, and another $20 billion the following year. It raises some revenues to offset this, but none through the tax code – the increased revenue comes from higher security fees for air travelers, raising premiums for federal worker pensions and lowering payments to student loan collectors.
The deal is modest in scope, but it will fund the government through September 30th, 2015. It does not, however, address the debt limit, which will have to be raised sometime in February or March.
Indian Supreme Court Restores Anti-Gay Law
The Indian Supreme Court has struck down a 2009 landmark ruling by a lower court, which had found an 1861 British colonial law that forbids homosexual sex unconstitutional. The court has ruled that only Parliament can change that law, which it almost certainly will not do. As a result, homosexuality in India is again punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
In addition to everything else, the NSA is secretly piggybacking on the tools enabling advertisers to track consumers, using ‘cookies’ and location data to pinpoint targets for surveillance and hacking operations. This allows the NSA to single out one person’s communications in order to send out software to hack his or her computer.
This may shift the argument over privacy and advertisements – when companies follow people on the internet, it opens the door for similar tracking by the government. Companies have long argued that their tracking of people is innocuous.