First Slice 12-20-13: Unemployment rate for Georgia fell to 7.7% in November


According to the Georgia Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for Georgia fell to 7.7% in November. That is the lowest it has been in five years.

MARTA has started a pilot program to crack down on their elevators being used as urinals. Using increased lighting, better cameras and revolutionary splash sensitive “urine detection devices,” MARTA hopes to make elevator odor overload a thing of the past. MARTA currently has the system in place in a secret location in one of the Midtown stations.

In a bizarre move, the five-member board of Georgia’s state ethics commission voted to hire Robert Constantine, a former administrative law judge, to help the discombobulated agency carry out its day-to-day operations. The commission is currently dealing with the increased scrutiny of the federal government due to the commission’s handling of campaign finance allegations made against Gov. Nathan Deal.

President Obama will commute the sentences of eight federal inmates sentenced to lengthy jail terms based on crack cocaine offenses. This reflects the administration’s efforts to balance the disparity between mandatory sentencing based on possession of powder cocaine and crack cocaine, a disparity that many view as racially biased and politically motivated. The 2010 Fair Sentencing Act was the first major step in this effort. All of the pardoned inmates would have more than served their time under the current laws.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will pardon former billionaire tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, two members of the punk band Pussy Riot and the Greenpeace activists who were detained for protesting at a Russian oil rig. He will also pardon the journalists who were detained while covering the Greenpeace protestors. Putin announced a mass amnesty for at least 20,000 prisoners in all. This flurry of activity comes as the international spotlight focuses on Russia with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi fast approaching.

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