The Senate Judiciary Committee has recently passed a motion to ban assault-style weapons in the US. This measure can now go to a full Senate vote as part of a gun control "package."
However, there is little chance that this motion will actually become law due to extensive opposition by the NRA and Rand Paul's recent marathon filibuster.
There is significant push to limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, but many Senate Republicans are not receptive to the more severe gun control regulart
President Obama is set to visit Israel this coming Wednesday, and he may find an interesting welcome wagon - a hunger strike. A new wave of popular activism is rising in Israel is support of Jonathan Pollard, an American sentenced to life in a North Carolina prison for spying on the US for Israel. Israelis in support of the campaign say that Mr. Pollard has served more than enough time for his crime (28 years). Even former director of the CIA, James Woolsey, acknowledged the fact that three other spies convicted of spying on the US for friendly countries were only sentenced to prison for five years - not life.
Pollard started spying for Israel in 1984 while he was a US Navy intelligence analyst. He was discovered 18 months later, and tried to seek amnesty at the Israeli embassy, but was denied entry. He pleaded guilty in court and was sentenced to life in prison. In 1995, however, Israel granted him citizenship; and in the late 1990s Prime Minister Netanyahu officially acknowledged him as an Israeli agent. Mr. Pollard's assignment was to give Israel US information on its Arab adversaries in the region.
President Obama has said that he "has no plans for releasing Mr. Pollard immediately."
Recently, Iran has claimed to have decoded video footage from a US spy drone that they downed in December 2011. About a month after the drone was initially taken down, President Obama asked the Iranian government to return the drone. They flatly refused.
Iran recently released black and white aerial footage narrated by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh. The narrator claims that the drone was responsible for operations in Iran and Pakistan and that it "guided many of the clashes" in those places.
This information comes at a time when when the US drone program is being debated in Congress. New policies may even be put into place that allow the government to target American citizens overseas
Last Thursday, Secretary of State candidate Susan Rice withdrew from consideration. Now, President Obama is expected to nominate Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts for the position. Kerry is the current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, and has extensive experience working with foreign governments as well as traveling. If nominated for Secretary of State and subsequently confirmed by the Senate, Kerry would vacate his Senate seat and the governor of Massachusetts would nominate a new Senator. A special election would then take place to decide who would accept Kerry's vacated seat in Congress.
On Thursday, November 29, the United Nations voted 138 to 9 (with 41 abstentions) to upgrade Palestine's status as a "non-member observer entity" to a "non-member observer state," in spite of vehement opposition from the United States and Israel. This means that Palestine is now formally recognized as an independent state by the UN. However, Palestine is not a full member of the UN, because that would require a majority vote in the UN Security Council, of which the US is a prominent member. Any attempt to petition for full membership would be quickly blocked by the US.
This successful upgrade to statehood will most likely be followed by an effort for Palestine to become a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, if Palestine joins the ICC, members of the Israeli military in West Bank and Gaza could be arrested and charged for acts committed in war zones.
The US was unilaterally opposed to Palestine's bid for statehood, due to support of Israel and the belief that only peaceful negotiation will help solve the conflict between the Hamas and Israel.