The United States on Tuesday rebuked Israel for comments attributed to Israel's defense minister suggesting that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace is messianic and obsessive. "The remarks of the Defense Minister (Moshe Yaalon) if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a brief statement that constituted a rare rebuke to close ally Israel.
Calling for "all hands on deck" to assist the economy, President Barack Obama is urging his Cabinet to identify ways to keep his administration relevant to people struggling in the up-and-down recovery. With two weeks left before delivering an economy-focused State of the Union address to Congress, Obama is picking up the pace of his jobs message and demonstrating how he can advance his economic agenda administratively, and through his ability to coax action from important interest groups. "We're not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we're providing Americans the kind of help they need," Obama said Tuesday, as he convened his first Cabinet meeting of the year. He said he would instruct his department heads to "use all the tools available" to assist the middle class. Winter Enterprises founder, Clark Winter, says government involvement could either help or hinder the recovery:
Thousands of Islamist and secular Tunisians marked the third anniversary of autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's downfall on Tuesday, celebrating in the closest the Arab world has to a model transition to democracy. Crowds jammed Habib Bourguiba boulevard in the capital, Tunis, waving flags and chanting in friendly rivalry near the interior ministry building where protesters once shouted "Leave" to Ben Ali. Ben Ali's flight from the country on January 14, 2011 inspired uprisings in Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria. But while those countries remain in turmoil or outright war, Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda party will compete for power later this year with its secular opponents at the ballot box, not on the street.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie opened his State of the State Address on Tuesday with an apology and a vow to fully cooperate with "all appropriate" investigations of an apparent scheme to cause massive traffic jams as well as the use of federal money for a state ad campaign. Christie, a charismatic conservative and an early favorite in the Republican bid for the White House in 2016, was re-elected in a landslide victory last November, but the pair of scandals coming in the first weeks of the year have put him on the defensive.