Friday’s Mini-Report

With the edge of Folsom Lake, Calif., more than 100 yards away, Gina, 8, left, and Sydney, 9, Gerety walk on rocks that are usually at the waters edge, Jan. 9, 2014.
With the edge of Folsom Lake, Calif., more than 100 yards away, Gina, 8, left, and Sydney, 9, Gerety walk on rocks that are usually at the waters edge, Jan. 9, 2014. Reservoirs in the state have dipped to historic lows after one of the driest calendar years on record.
Photo by Photo by Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Today’s edition of quick hits:
 
* California: “Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday declared a drought emergency in California, where rivers and reservoirs are dangerously low after one of the driest years on record, and asked the people to cut their water use by 20 percent. He did not rule out mandatory conservation measures later.”
 
* Afghanistan: “The Taliban struck a restaurant popular with Westerners in downtown Kabul on Friday in what appeared to be a well-coordinated assault, with a suicide bomber clearing a path for two gunmen, who rushed in and opened fire on the patrons dining inside, the police said. At least 16 people were killed, most of them foreigners.”
 
* Another school shooting, this time in Philadelphia: “A boy hanging out in a high school gym with fellow students on Friday afternoon shot and wounded two of them before fleeing and being captured near his home, police said.”
 
* Chapter 11: “It took just one week for Pennsylvania coal mining executive Cliff Forrest, the new owner of Freedom Industries, to discover that one of the six-decade-old storage tanks he had acquired at the end of December was leaking a toxic chemical into the Elk River that supplies water to more than 300,000 West Virginians. And it took just one more week for Freedom Industries, facing class-action lawsuits and a Justice Department investigation, to declare bankruptcy.”
 
* Russia: “Seeking to head off one of several simmering controversies ahead of next month’s Winter Olympics, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said on Friday that no one would be targeted at the Games under a federal law banning “homosexual propaganda” among minors, even as he defended the law as a way to protect children from exposure to nontraditional relationships.”
 
* Cruel and unusual: “The family of an Ohio inmate whose Thursday execution took nearly 25 minutes and was marked with ten minutes of gasping and struggling will file a lawsuit over the circumstances of his death.”
 
* Done deal: “The Senate approved the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill Thursday, sending it to the White House for President Obama’s signature and sparing the government from another government shutdown.”
 
* This seems about right to me: “It’s reasonable to suspect that the modifications to the N.S.A.’s telephone-metadata program that Obama announced on Friday are simply cosmetic changes meant to short-circuit the pressure for substantive reform. For example, Obama made it clear that he wanted the ‘capability’ of the telephone metadata ‘preserved.’ But Obama’s speech was undoubtedly a victory for the reform side of this debate.”
 
* Meaningful efforts to combat poverty take resources. There’s no way around that: “There’s a simple way to tell whether the Republican Party’s newfound commitment to fighting poverty is more than rhetoric: Follow the money.”
 
* Fox News’ Andrea Tantaros complained this week that Americans don’t know enough about their history. “If you ask most people, they don’t even know why we left England,” she said. “They don’t even know why some guy in Boston got his head blown off because he tried to secretly raise the tax on tea. Most people don’t know that.” In reality, most people don’t know that because it’s not even close to being true.
 
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
 

Friday's Mini-Report