Morning Constitutional – Monday, 15 December 2014

Good morning, everybody. Kourtney Kardashian had a baby (again). Now, your morning constitutional:

Five people have escaped a situation at a  Sydney, Australia, cafe where a gunman took an unknown number of people hostage Monday morning. The gunman released videos demanding an Islamic State flag and a phone call from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, and claiming he has bombs set up around the city.

The Guardian has a good live blog set up covering the crisis.

Philippine prosecutors have charged a U.S. Marine with murder in the killing of a transgender Filipino.

The $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the government that passed the Senate over the weekend is full of special-interest items, many of which were stand-alone bills that would never have passed otherwise.

In the process of moving the spending bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took advantage of an opportunity presented by an uprising by conservative members over immigration to move ahead on executive branch nominations that have been stalled for months.

How the spending bill passed the House.

Libyan troops from rival groups have been fighting for two days over the country’s two largest oil terminals, causing them to close.

A snap election over the weekend, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party increased their majority in parliament, which may help the prime minister in his effort to reform Japan’s economy.

The Federal Reserve stuck in a weird place in which the U.S. economy is booming while the global economy sags.

Why are Republicans defending the U.S. torture program?

We need to have more realistic expectations for our presidents.

Finally, Kentucky station reports on prison break, shows picture of John Wayne.

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