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Noted and passed - Feb. 4, 2013

Posted: February 1, 2013 4:33 p.m.
Updated: February 4, 2013 5:00 a.m.

• Diplomatic posts have always been plum political prizes for presidents to hand out to supporters and donors; over the years, about 30 percent of such jobs have been awarded to people who were willing to pay for them. This year, with President Obama having a hefty list of well-to-do supporters, the price is higher than ever, one news outlet reports. Being called “ambassador” and receiving a post to a safe country with a stable political environment is quite a catch. Of course, Obama’s doing nothing different than his predecessors have; it’s just that the price tag has gone up.

• Two veteran U.S. senators, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, will step down at the end of their terms, setting up some heated political races. Sen. Saxby Chambliss of George will leave Capitol Hill, and it’s a good bet the GOP will be able to hold onto his seat. In Iowa, Sen. Tom Harkin is also retiring, and that one will be more in play. Democrats have seven more seats to defend next year than Republicans, so there will be a real push by the GOP to retake control of the Senate.

• Beyonce has finally admitted lip-synching The Star Spangled Banner at President Obama’s inauguration, and while it’s certainly no great crime, it does diminish her performance and the ceremony itself. She said she didn’t have time to rehearse with the Marine Band and she wanted things to be perfect, which is understandable. But “imitation singing” removes the intimacy and spontaneity of the National Anthem, which is a difficult song by any standards. We hope future presidents will give singers instructions: “Only live music, only live.”

• Tiger Woods, who’s been through about as rough a patch as can be imagined for the last few years -- yes, he brought it on himself -- started the 2013 PGA Tour campaign with a resounding victory at the Farmers Insurance Open in California. Woods played like the Tiger of old for most of the tournament, lasering iron shots close to the holes and making putts. The tour is more appealing with Tiger doing well, so all eyes will be on him as he goes on through the year and seeks his first major championship in five seasons.

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