Saturday Morning Reads

Here are some noteworthy non Fiscal Cliff (you’re welcome) related articles:

-President Obama said on Thursday that he would attempt to sidestep whistleblower protection provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013. The stipulations would extend safeguards to federal contractors who report waste, fraud and abuse. The Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly reported that Claire McCaskill, a prominent champion of the provisions, wasn’t even made aware of the White House’s objections prior to the President’s signing statement.

The Independent reported that Shell Oil’s failed attempt to move an offshore oil rig from Alaska to Seattle was part of an effort to exploit a tax loophole. Had the move gone off without a hitch, Shell would have saved up to $7 million in taxes, according to a local Alaskan official. The rig ran aground off the Alaskan coast on New Year’s Eve. It hasn’t yet spilled any fuel.

-According to The Washington Post, a forthcoming Frontline documentary about former Washington DC public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee sheds light on a scandal that raised questions about the efficacy of her reforms. The documentary contains an interview with Adell Cothorne, a former principal at a school where teachers tampered with high stakes standardized tests to appear more capable according to metrics championed by Rhee. Cothorne said that city officials investigating the matter never even spoke to her, theorizing that “they didn’t want to hear what I had to say.”

The New York Times has profiled the modest lifestyle of Uruguay’s President, Jose Mujica, who “shunned the opulent Suarez y Reyes presidential mansion, with its staff of 42, remaining instead in the home where he and his wife have lived for years, on a plot of land where they grow chrysanthemums for sale in local markets.” The Times paints Mujica’s lifestyle as sort of a humdrum radicalism: “We have done everything possible to make the presidency less venerated,” he said. A former guerrilla who spent over ten years in solitary, Mujica has overseen a government that has legalized marijuana and same-sex marriage, extended reproductive health rights and has encouraged investment in renewable energy.

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.