Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Friday Flashback: NSA changes, unemployment benefits, Oscar noms and more

by Take Two®

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Alli McCracken joins activists protesting the surveillance of U.S. citizens by the NSA outside the Justice Department where U.S. President Barack Obama gave a major speech on reforming the NSA January 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama was expected to announce reforms including a requirement by intelligence agencies to obtain permission from a secret court before utilizing access to telephonic data gathered on U.S. citizens. Win McNamee/Getty Images

It's Friday, which means it's time for another Friday Flashback, our weekly look at the week in news. To help us with that we're joined by LA Times columnist James Rainey, and Nancy Cook of National Journal.

We start with what we just heard from President Obama. Is this going to change the NSA as we know it? Speaking of the President, last week we were tracking his work on unemployment insurance and this week, Congress failed to extend unemployment benefits for people who've been out of work for more than 26 weeks. That's going to affect about 1.3 million Americans. 

Some who opposed the bill say the recession is behind us, and 2014 is looking like it will be a good year for recovery and because of that -- extending unemployment benefits just isn't necessary... Who's winning here? Any sense of whether this will affect this year's mid-term elections?

Italy has agreed to serve as the transfer port for Syria's chemical weapons. That means they'll load them onto a U.S. cargo ship before they're taken out to sea and destroy them. They seem to be on schedule to get this done by June. How significant is this, Jim?

Here in California, this week we learned the verdict in a case that's grabbed national attention and that was the Kelly Thomas trial. He was a schizophrenic homeless man in Orange County who was beaten to death by Fullerton police officers who were acquitted on Monday.

There was graphic video of this beating but a jury ultimately found that the police officers were carrying out protocol within their training. How will case be remembered? Is this going to change anything about the way law enforcement officers are trained to deal with the mentally ill?

In New Mexico, a 12-year-old boy opened fire in his school gym with a sawed-off shotgun, fired three rounds and seriously injured two classmates. In response, the New York Times ran an article arguing that lock downs have become the new fire drills. Is this just the new normal, Jim?

Moving on to climate change. Today, California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to declare a drought here in California. We also learned this morning that Republican Senator Tom Coburn, a longtime climate change denier, announced he's retiring, This week California Senator Barbara Boxer announced a new climate change task force she's created in the Senate.

But its goals are to simply protect existing laws rather than to try and push through new laws. Is this a sign of resignation on the part of climate change activists?

Moving on to some lighter fare, it was Oscar noms week. "American Hustle" and "Gravity" swept the categories with the most nominations with "12 Years a Slave" close behind. Any surprises there?

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