A plea for leniency. The New York Times published an editorial today asking President Barack Obama to give National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden clemency if he returns to the United States. The newspaper’s editorial board describes Snowden as a “whistleblower” who exposed the excesses of the government’s electronic surveillance programs. The crime Snowden committed—he is accused of espionage, although he hasn’t been formally charged—was actually a service to his country, the paper argues. The Obama administration has taken a hard line on Snowden, insisting he should be punished for leaking thousands of classified documents to several newspapers, including The Guardian in London. But the president also has acknowledged the country’s security agencies need to change the way they monitor threats. Snowden has taken refuge in Russia, which offered him one year of asylum.
Snowmageddon? A massive winter storm came roaring out of the Midwest today, headed for New York and New England. According to the Weather Channel, 100 million Americans are under some level of storm warning, watch, or advisory from southern Indiana to eastern Maine. The storm may be gaining strength from its name—Hercules. This is the second year the cable news channel has named winter storms. Maybe it should stick with something a little less … dramatic. But, of course, drama makes for great ratings, as any storm-chasing reporter with a microphone and a snow shovel will testify.
Forgiveness. The parents of the teen killed during the recent school shooting in Arapahoe, Colo., said they have forgiven the shooter and asked others to follow their example. Karl Pierson was so blinded by rage and emotion he didn’t know what he was doing, Michael Davis said during a New Year’s Day memorial service for his daughter, 17-year-old Claire Davis. Pierson, 18, shot himself after firing on Davis, whom police believe was an innocent bystander. Investigators said Pierson brought a gun, a machete, and three Molotov cocktails to Arapahoe County High School on Dec. 13 with the intention of killing the teacher who removed him from the school’s debate team. Davis died eight days later. Michael Davis, with his wife Desiree at his side, said forgiving Pierson honored his daughter’s memory: “Unchecked anger and rage can lead to hatred, and unchecked hatred can lead to tragedy, blindness, and a loss of humanity. The last thing Desiree and I would want is to perpetuate this anger and rage and hatred in connection with Claire.”
Driving forward. Fiat announced yesterday it will buy the remaining 41.5 percent stake in Chrysler it didn’t already own, making it the Detroit automaker’s sole owner. The Italian company helped bring Chrysler out of bankruptcy in 2009. Its chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, said for years it was his goal to sit at the helm of a truly global automaker. Although the company’s stock price soared on news of the deal, worth almost $3 billion, Italian unions fear it will cost them job security. They’ve asked the Italian government to force the company to offer them guarantees. About one-third of Fiat’s 215,000 employees are in Italy, making it the country’s largest private employer.
No surprise here. A poll conducted by the Associated Press shows Americans have little confidence in their government going into the new year. Just one in 20 people surveyed said the government works well and needs no changes. Seventy percent said they lacked confidence in the government’s ability “to make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.” According to the survey, healthcare reform topped the list of the government’s problems, followed by jobs, the economy, and the nation’s debt.