By Jack Fitzpatrick (@jackfitzdc)
TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: President Obama will not include a "grand bargain" on Social Security payments in his proposed budget. Lawmakers are calling for sanctions against Ukraine's government over the violence, a threat which Russia's foreign minister deemed "blackmail." Officials have agreed on a starting date and outline for negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. United Arab Emirates-based clerics have issued a fatwa against Muslims living on Mars. And Wal-Mart might have more to gain than lose from a raise in the federal minimum wage.
OBAMA'S BUDGET WON'T INCLUDE COMPROMISE ON SOCIAL SECURITY: The "grand bargain" aimed at getting more Republican support would have included less generous payouts of Social Security benefits, but after Republicans "showed a lack of willingness to negotiate," a White House official said, President Obama decided to go with his own vision. The budget would call for $56 billion in new spending on domestic and defense priorities. (Zachary Goldfarb, WaPo)
WHITE HOUSE 'OUTRAGED' OVER UKRAINE DEATHS: The White House urged Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to withdraw his security forces from downtown Kiev, and the State Department issued visa bans for 20 Ukrainian officials as lawmakers vowed to take further action. As many as 100 protesters were killed when riot police used automatic weapons. (Julian Pecquet, The Hill)
RUSSIA CALLS THREATS OF SANCTIONS 'BLACKMAIL': As the U.S. and European Union urged Yanukovych to stop the violence, Russia insisted that he should not be forced to compromise with protesters. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the E.U.'s intervention in Ukraine was just the "latest uninvited mission" from outsiders. (Myers/Castle, NYT)
OFFICIALS AGREE ON TIMETABLE FOR IRAN TALKS: Talks aimed at reaching a long-term agreement on Iran's nuclear program will begin next month. A U.S. official said any agreement must rule out military use of the nuclear program. (Jordain Carney, NJ)
WHITE HOUSE USES 3 EXECUTIVE ORDERS TO STOP PATENT TROLLS: One will create a new system of searching for existing patents so there aren't overlaps, and the other two allow for more training for patent examiners. (Dustin Volz, NJ)
TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: The National Governors Association begins its three-day winter meeting. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Sen. Al Franken, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will speak at 11 a.m. about increasing the federal minimum wage. The House is in session but the Senate is not.
FATWA BANS MUSLIMS FROM LIVING ON MARS: The United Arab Emirates-based General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment said Mars One's dangerous mission clearly violates verse 4/29 of the Quran: "Do not kill yourselves or one another." (Tom Kludt, Talking Points Memo)
ARE SCIENCE AND RELIGION REALLY AT ODDS? Aside from the Muslim Mars ban, not really. A recent survey shows only 27 percent of respondents believe religious and scientific beliefs are in conflict. (Brian Resnick, NJ)
WHY WAL-MART SHOULD (AND MIGHT) SUPPORT A HIGHER MINIMUM WAGE: Simple math. The company would have to pay employees more, but its low-income customer base would have more to spend. (Tim Fernholz, Quartz)
TURNS OUT, THE DEBT-LIMIT VOTE DIDN'T HAVE TO BE SO HARD: Debt-limit legislation can actually be immune to a filibuster through a process called "budget reconciliation." (Steven Dennis, Roll Call)
THE FRATERNITY PROBLEM: While hazing gets most of the attention, more serious issues like sexual assault are much more common. (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic)
DON'T FORGET ABOUT RICK SANTORUM: The 2012 runner-up for the Republican presidential nomination isn't getting much attention leading up to 2016, but that doesn't mean you can count him out. (Alex Roarty, NJ)
DIFFERENT PATHS TO A SENATE MAJORITY: Republicans are confident they can win control of the Senate. Democrats think they are overplaying their hand. But both parties agree at least 11 races will be competitive. (Rucker/Kane, WaPo)
LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 2 MINUTES: David Letterman report's on Mexico's disappointment that the U.S. is ending its dependence on foreign weed. (Mauro Whiteman, NJ)WHY FACEBOOK PAID $19 BILLION FOR WHATSAPP, IN TWO CHARTS: Mobile messaging online, rather than via SMS, is the future, and WhatsApp's users are even younger than Facebook's. (John McDuling, Quartz)