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Battle for Scalia’s successor, Spitzer accused of assault & more news

It’s Monday morning, so don’t do too much, too fast.  Wake up slowly with these news headlines. 

1. Thoughts, prayers, etc., etc.

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has triggered a new battle between President Obama and Senate Republicans. Obama has vowed to nominate a successor within weeks; the GOP has vowed to block any nominee the president might present. Democrats called this “an outrageous act of obstructionism.” Others predict this may hurt the Republicans in crucial swing states in November. Battle lines, drawn. — The New York Times

2. It’s a draw

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s current makeup of four liberal, three conservative and one moderate justices means we can expect some 4-4 ties on important cases in the near future. If that happens, the lower court’s ruling stands. There are six important cases coming up that are now anybody’s guess, on topics dear to both conservative and liberal hearts. Think immigration, abortion and contraception, among others. — The New York Times

3. Again

Eliot Spitzer, the so-called “Sheriff of Wall Street” and New York governor who resigned in disgrace after soliciting prostitutes in 2008, is now being investigated by authorities for alleging choking a mid-20s woman in the Plaza Hotel. Spitzer denies the allegation, but it’s possible that video will at least show him going to the room with the woman. Spitzer has been unable to reenter politics since his disgrace; one can’t imagine this would make it any easier. — NBC News

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4. Ultimatum

Senator John McCain has threatened to subpoena the ten U.S. sailors who were detained in Iran last month if the Armed Services Committee doesn’t have the debrief by March 1. McCain accused the Obama administration of dragging its feet in conducting its investigation as Iran exploits the incident for propaganda. An official told Reuters that McCain has been briefed several times and will continue to be updated. If these sailors though Iran was bad, wait until they’re pawns in U.S. politics. — NBC News

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5. Under the sea

A Disney ship has picked up 12 suspected Cuban migrants from a “rustic” — meaning not seaworthy and dangerous — vessel in the waters between Miami and Grand Cayman. There has been an increase in attempts at immigration as relations between the U.S. and Cuba are warming, and potential immigrants fear the U.S. will become less welcoming. The Disney ship turned them over to Grand Cayman authorities. Something tells me they weren’t allowed to use the pool. — CNN

6. Vacuum

According to a report released yesterday, civilian casualties hit a record high in Afghanistan in 2015. According to the United Nations, at least 3,545 civilians died in 2015; another 7,457 were injured, making 2015 the worst year since the U.N. began keeping track in 2009. Violence has increased in Afghanistan as international troops have pulled out of the country. Women and children have been particularly hit hard, with a 37 percent increase in casualties for women and 14 percent for children. — Slate

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