Obama inauguration to be scaled back
WASHINGTON — Four years and one re-election after Barack Obama became America’s first black president, some of the thrill is gone.
Yes, the inauguration of a U.S. president is still a big deal. But the ceremony that Washington will stage in a few weeks won’t be the heady, historic affair it was in 2009, when nearly 2 million people flocked to the National Mall to see Obama take the oath of office. This time, District of Columbia officials expect between 600,000 and 800,000 people for Obama’s public swearing-in on the steps of the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 21.
“There certainly will not be the sort of exultation you saw four years ago,” said Mike Cornfield, a George Washington University political science professor. One reason why, Cornfield said, is it simply lacks the dramatic transfer of power from one president to the next.
“This is not a change that commands people’s interest automatically,” Cornfield said. “It’s a confirmation of power.”
Even Obama acknowledges he’s already, shall we say, a little washed-up the second time around.
Hearing may be ‘mini-trial’ for suspect in Colo. cinema shootings
CENTENNIAL, Colo. — The suspect in the Colorado movie theater killings returns to court this week for a hearing that might be the closest thing to a trial the victims and their families will get to see.
James Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 70 by opening fire in a darkened theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora last July.
At a weeklong preliminary hearing starting Monday, prosecutors will outline their case against Holmes, the first official public disclosure of their evidence. The judge will then determine whether to send the case to trial.
Legal analysts say that evidence appears to be so strong that Holmes may well accept a plea agreement before trial. In such cases, the preliminary hearing can set the stage for a deal by letting each side assess the other’s strengths and weaknesses, said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor and now a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
Preliminary hearings “are often the first step to resolving the case, a mini-trial so both sides can see the writing on the wall,” Levenson said.
Palestinian PM says his gov’t in ‘extreme jeopardy’ because of cash crisis
RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian self-rule government is in “extreme jeopardy” because of an unprecedented financial crisis, largely because Arab countries have failed to send hundreds of millions of dollars in promised aid, the Palestinian prime minister said Sunday.
The cash crunch has gradually worsened in recent years, and the Palestinian Authority now has reached the point of not being able to pay the salaries of about 150,000 government employees, Salam Fayyad told The Associated Press. The number of Palestinian poor is bound to quickly double to 50 percent of the population of roughly 4 million if the crisis continues, he said.
“The status quo is not sustainable,” Fayyad said in an interview at his West Bank office.
The Palestinian Authority, set up two decades ago as part of interim peace deals with Israel, is on the “verge of being completely incapacitated,” Fayyad warned. Only a year ago, he said he expected to make great strides in weaning his people off foreign aid.
The self-rule government was meant to be temporary and replaced by a state of Palestine, which was to be established through negotiations with Israel. However, those talks repeatedly broke down, and for the past four years the two sides have been unable to agree on the terms of renewing the negotiations.
By wire sources