Fast Five: March 10, 2014

    Each week, NBN Politics recaps the top five news stories from the past week and brings you a look at the week ahead. Welcome to the Fast Five.

    D.C. to decriminalize marijuana

    Washington D.C.’s City Council voted 10-1 on Tuesday to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. At the moment, those in possession of this amount of marijuana risk up to six months prison time with a fine of $1000. The new measure would reduce the punishment to a maximum $25 fine, yet publicly smoking would remain a misdemeanor punishable with up to six months in jail or a $500 fine. Mayor Vincent Gray said he intends to sign the measure.

    President Obama proposes $3.9 trillion budget

    The 2015 budget deal proposed by President Obama calls for tax hikes aimed mainly at the wealthy to help reduce the national debt to 69 percent of the GDP. The plan also calls for increased expenditure on childhood education, medical research and job training, among other things. Some are calling the budget a “wish list” because it contains what they view as populist proposals sure to be struck down by Congress. The budget is also seen as a blueprint for Democratic candidates in the upcoming mid-term elections.

    Egypt bans Hamas

    On Tuesday, an Egyptian court banned all activity by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has been repressed by the Egyptian government since Mohamed Morsi, one of the Brotherhood’s leaders, was ousted from the presidency in July. The ban signals the Egyptian government’s desire to strip Hamas of influence. Hamas has dismissed the significance of the court’s decision and some suggest the ban gives Hamas more sympathy among Palestinians and other Arabs.

    Netanyahu visits Obama

    In a D.C. visit earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned the United States and other world powers not to allow Iran to enrich uranium. Netanyahu also blamed the conflicts with Palestine on Palestinian failure to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. President Obama said that a two-state solution was possible but would require compromise on both sides. Obama warned that time is running out and hinted that the U.S. can’t permanently help Israel avoid European sanctions if a deal isn’t reached.

    Ukraine experiences unrest as well as aid 

    Over the weekend, Russian troops strengthened their grip on the heavily pro-Russian Crimea region in Ukraine. The move has led to stern criticisms of Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as threats of action from Western nations. The U.S. has offered Ukraine $1 billion in American loan guarantees to help out the struggling government. The European Union also offered aid totaling as much as $15 billion to help out the struggling economy of Ukraine.

    Ukraine bonus story
    Crimea, budget battles and challenges to the death penalty

    The country that continues to control the world’s attention will face many trials in the coming week. Whether bloodshed in Ukraine is avoided will depend heavily on Putin’s handling of the crisis in Crimea as well as the international community’s ability to put pressure on both nations to settle the conflicts diplomatically. In the coming weeks, Congressional leaders will likely issue their response to President Obama’s budget which has been projected to have small chance of getting approval from Congress. On Monday, the Supreme Court will reopen the debate on whether people with mental retardation can be executed.


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