President Obama to sign farm bill
On Tuesday, Congress approved a $1 trillion dollar farm bill that lays out the policy over agricultural subsidies, nutrition programs and food stamps for the next five years. The bill seems to favor the benefits of farmers rather than the needs of the poor. It will cut food stamps by $8 billion over the next decade while expanding crop insurance for farmers by $7 billion. On February 7, President Obama will sign the Farm Bill at Michigan State University.
Scotland Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
The Scottish parliament voted 105 to 18 on a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry as early as this fall. In Scotland, same-sex couples currently have the option to enter into civil partnerships. The Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill was brought forward to fully extend marriage equality. The two main churches in Scotland were opposed to the bill, but under the bill they are not compelled to hold ceremonies for same-sex couples.
CVS to quit tobacco sales
CVS announced on Wednesday that it would stop selling all tobacco products by October 1. The company increased its revenue by 15 percent from 2011 to 2012, yet it estimates it will lose $2 billion annually from tobacco shoppers.
President and CEO Larry J. Merlo said that the move “is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health.”
CBO report says Obamacare will cause 2 million to quit jobs or cut hours
The Congressional Budget Office report released on Tuesday said that over 2 million Americans would quit working, reduce hours or stop looking for employment because of the new health benefits available under the Affordable Care Act. The White House was quick to respond with press secretary Jay Carney saying that under Obamacare “individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods.” Still, the report gave the GOP a new attack, one sure to be used this election season.
U.N. Panel decries the Vatican for handling of sex abuse by priests
A critical U.N. Panel indicted the Vatican for its response to sexual abuse within the church, accusing it of caring more about its image than about the victims. The report by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Children said, “Child victims and their families have often been blamed by religious authorities, discredited and discouraged from pursuing their complaints and in some instances humiliated.” The report condemned the “code of silence” and demanded that the Vatican turn in any clerics known for abuse.
Winter Olympics to begin amid controversy
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics begin this Friday and will run to February 23. There has been much controversy surrounding the event. From concerns about gay rights to poor hotel accommodations, the weeks up to the opening ceremony have been tumultuous. America has warned airlines with flights to Russia to be wary of bombs that might be hidden inside toothpaste containers or similar items. To alleviate worries, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the U.S. is prepared to evacuate all citizens from Sochi if an attack were to happen.