William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 8:47 P.M. ET:

AT LEAST THEY'RE ADMITTING IT – Five colleges report sending false data to US News for use in its annual rankings.  The schools are Tulane, Bucknell, Claremont McKenna, Emory, and George Washington.  What's pathetic is that schools would consider a magazine ranking so important.  They're to be commended for coming forward, but it's another example of the academic world being no better, morally, than a good chunk of the rest of civilization.

SPLIT – Testimony before Congress today revealed that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey both recommended that the U.S. arm some rebel groups in Syria.  The recommendation was turned down by the president.  This reflects a very deep split in the administration over a crucial issue, but we never had proof of it until today.  There is no word on whether Hillary Clinton made her own recommendation.  Our foreign policy is adrift, confused, and often appears weak.  It can only be fixed by the man at the top.  Don't hold your breath.

WEIRD – A Gallup poll taken in Iran reports that 63% of Iranians want their nuclear program to continue, despite the sting of sanctions.  The poll demonstrates that sanctions are not forcing the Iranian people to demand a change in their country's nuclear stance.  The sanctions are failing in their intended effect.  Crunch time is coming.

BLIZZARD – We are expecting blizzard conditions in the northeast, starting tomorrow afternoon.  Our own local area expects up to 14 inches of snow, with high winds.  Urgent Agenda is equipped to run on batteries for an extended period should we lose electricity, assuming the Verizon cell-phone network is functioning.  FEMA will spring into action, and they can run entirely on hot air. 

February 7,  2013