By Tracey Webb Follow @WebbWriterguru
Get your daily scoop of what State of the Union is watching today, March 13, 2014.
1. Malaysia plane mystery. Six days after it disappeared without a trace, still many questions and no answers about what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The Wall Street Journal reports that engine data shows the plane may have flown for as long as four hours after losing contact, but an aviation specialist tells CNN there is no technical data to support that theory. Meanwhile nothing has been located in an area where Chinese satellite photos objects floating in the sea, the families of the flight's passengers remain frustrated, and the search area, which now covers 35,000 square miles in Asian waters may expand to the Indian Ocean.
2. Drug sentences and prisons. Attorney General Eric Holder wants less jail time for most drug offenders in the nation's criminal justice system. His proposal, which would keep tougher penalties for the most violent drug traffickers, is part of an effort to reduce the bulging U.S. prison population. "Of the more than 216,000 current federal inmates, nearly half are serving time for drug-related crimes. This focused reliance on incarceration is not just financially unsustainable, it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate," told the U.S. Sentencing Commission Thursday.
3. Ryan's inner city blues. Rep. Paul Ryan (R) WI, is taking heat for comments he made during a radio interview about men in America's inner cities. The House Budget chairman said on conservative talk show host Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" program that there is a "tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Ryan's remarks "shameful and wrong," while Rep. Barbara Lee (D) CA, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said his comments were a "thinly veiled racial attack." Ryan, who has been on a series of listening and learning tours of inner city poverty, later described his comments as "inarticulate." "I was not implicating the culture of one community - but of society as a whole," he said in a statement.
4. King: Obama "strong" on Ukraine. Several Republicans have suggested the Ukraine crisis spotlights President Obama's overall weakness on foreign policy, but Rep. Peter King (R) NY, disagrees. "I believe that certainly everything the President has done over the last week has been very strong. Has been very assertive," said King, a member of the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees. "The fact that he is trying to marshal support to sanctions against Russia, it's in times like this we should stand with the President." Western countries re-issued a warning to Russia Thursday that it faces costs if it continues its intervention in Ukraine.