Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Assad reduced to conspiracy theories: “In his first public address in months, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria lashed out on Tuesday at the Arab League for isolating his country, mocked Syrian rebels as traitors and vowed to subdue what he said was a foreign-backed plot against his country. ‘We will defeat this conspiracy,’ Mr. Assad declared in a speech that lasted nearly two hours.”
* The obvious call: “Oklahoma’s referendum against state judges considering Islamic law is unconstitutional, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday (Jan. 10), upholding a lower court ruling that had blocked the measure. The ruling could affect more than 20 other states where laws against Shariah are under consideration.”
* Closing a Citizens United loophole: “In a terse four words, the Supreme Court on Monday issued an order upholding prohibitions against foreigners making contributions to influence American elections. The decision clamped shut an opening that some thought the court had created two years ago in its Citizens United decision, when it relaxed campaign-finance limits on corporations and labor unions.”
* Profits: “The Federal Reserve announced Tuesday it would be transferring $76.9 billion in profits to the Treasury Department. The total represents the entire amount the central bank earned in 2011 minus its operating expenses and other costs. Under Fed policy, any excess funds beyond those needed to facilitate Fed operations are transferred to the Treasury.”
* A good personnel move: “The White House will name Cecilia Munoz, the president’s point person on immigration and outreach to the Hispanic community, as director of the Domestic Policy Council, officials said Tuesday.”
* When it comes to big economic moves, President Obama needs Congress for just about everything. But mass refinancing is an exception, and should certainly be on the table.
* Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who doesn’t make much of an effort to hide his extremism, argued on a right-wing radio show this week U.S. military leaders should consider ignoring the orders of their commander-in-chief. He wasn’t kidding.
* Daniel Luzer: “One of the more troublesome things about student loan debt in the United States is that, unlike normal consumer debt, it can’t be charged in bankruptcy.”
* Pfc. Kyle Hockenberry’s extraordinary commitment to service: “A U.S. soldier who lost both legs and an arm from an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan wants to stay on active duty, if the military will have him, according to a report on the Army website.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.