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NebraskaNebraska State Capitol HighsmithBy: Carol M. Highsmith

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  • It’s been a tough week for Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. First, on Wednesday, Ricketts lost a high profile standoff with the state legislature on the death penalty. Ricketts vetoed a Statehouse-backed ban on the death penalty only to have his veto overridden and the practice outlawed. Ricketts, however, was undeterred and vetoed a bill that would have allowed the children of undocumented immigrants to get state-issued driver’s licenses. On Thursday, the Nebraska Statehouse overruled the governor’s veto for the second time in two days.
  • Days after Nebraska lawmakers approved a bill that would repeal the death penalty in their state, Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts followed through on his promise to veto the legislation. Lawmakers last Wednesday voted 32-15 on LB268, a bill that would replace the death penalty with life without parole as the state's highest penalty. The legislature is expected to override the governor's veto, which requires 30 votes.
  • A Nebraska woman filed a handwritten lawsuit against homosexuals — all of them — in the U.S. District Court of Omaha last week, the Lincoln Journal Star’s Lori Pilger reports. Sylvia Driskell — acting on behalf of her plaintiffs God, and His Son, Jesus Christ — listed as the defendants anyone who is a homosexual or goes by the alias of “gay.” While it is clear that Driskell considers homosexuals to be abominations who shouldn’t be allowed to marry, it’s not clear what she expects the Omaha district court to do about it.
  • It was the end of the road for Chuck Hagel last week and the Washington press corps couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about writing his obituary. In terms of pure coverage, it may not have been Ferguson or the seven-foot deluge of snow that hit Buffalo, New York, but the avalanche of news reports was nothing to be sniffed at. There had been a changing of the guard in wartime Washington. Barack Obama’s third secretary of defense had gone down for the count. In the phrase of the moment, he had “resigned under pressure.” Sayonara, Chuck! With a unanimity that crossed political lines, the accounts read as if written by a single reporter.
  • Ashton Carter, the former second-in-command at the Pentagon, appears to be the top choice to replace outgoing Secretary Chuck Hagel. Pentagon insider may lead war on ISIS The candidates for Secretary of Defense Barring any last minute complications, Ash Carter will be President Barack Obama's choice as the new Secretary of Defense, several U.S. administration officials told CNN. An administration official had said that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, a former General Counsel at the Pentagon, was also still on the list of possibilities, but on Tuesday morning, sources said Johnson was no longer being considered.
  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure. The news emerged Monday morning, just a couple hours before an expected announcement by President Obama. It isn’t a complete shock — Hagel has long been derided as indecisive — but it amounts to one of the most significant administration shake-ups in Obama’s time in the White House.
  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down amid criticism of the president’s national security team on a series of global issues, including the threat posed by the militant group known as ISIS. Senior defense officials confirmed to NBC News Monday that Hagel was forced to resign. The officials say the White House has lost confidence in Hagel to carry out his role at the Pentagon. According to one senior official, “He wasn’t up to the job.” Another senior administration official said that Hagel has been discussing a departure from the White House "for several weeks.
  • Hagel had two kinds of failures as Secretary of Defense. The first kind are policy failures, and they're not insignificant. In Afghanistan, Hagel failed to gain enough ground against the Taliban to force them to accept some kind of peace deal; instead, the Taliban sees itself as winning outright and is largely ignoring American negotiators. In Egypt, Hagel took the lead in trying to convince defense minister Abdel Fatah el-Sisi not to depose Egypt's first-ever democratically elected president in a coup; Hagel failed and the coup went ahead. In Iraq and Syria, Hagel failed to devise a strategy that would prevent the rise of ISIS or that would roll it back. In Ukraine, Hagel has not contributed to the effort to roll back or deter Russia's still-ongoing invasion.

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