After the Election
|Russell Berman and Erik Wasson ||November 14th 2012|
House conservatives returned to Washington on Tuesday determined to hang tough on taxes and spending in the face of a new post-election fiscal dynamic.
With President Obama winning reelection handily, Republican lawmakers are viewing the coming negotiations on the fiscal cliff with anxiety, unsure how much party leaders will ask them to give up to strike an agreement.
A Wednesday meeting of the conference will be a pivotal time for them to show solidarity.
Rank-and-file conservatives have thus far stood by House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) approach, but few are willing to commit specifically to immediate revenue increases in a deal that has yet to be brokered. Read more ..
|Daniel Strauss||November 14th 2012|
President Obama is taking a tough opening stance in talks over deficit reduction, pushing Republicans to accept a plan that calls for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over the next ten years, according to reports.
The figure is double the $800 billion last discussed by the White House and House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) during their 2011 negotiations on raising the debt-ceiling limit.
The president’s plan is based on his most recent budget proposal, which sought the $1.6 in new revenues by targeting the wealthy and corporations.
The president and congressional lawmakers are set to meet at the White House on Friday as both sides begin hammering out a deficit-cutting plan that helps the nation move past the “fiscal cliff” of rising tax rates and automatic spending cuts set to take effect in January 2013. Read more ..
|Ben Geman and Zack Colman||November 13th 2012|
The oil industry’s long record of success in defending its tax breaks faces new tests as lawmakers and the White House negotiate to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) won’t rule out targeting oil-industry deductions in a broad deal to avoid the higher income tax rates and deep automatic spending cuts set to take effect in 2013. “The details will have to be negotiated. Not going to speculate on what a final package may look like,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith told The Hill. The Speaker is seeking a deal with the White House that would include new tax revenues without raising rates, a stance that has shifted the focus to the deductions and loopholes in the IRS code.
The American Petroleum Institute (API), the industry’s biggest lobbying group, is bracing for fresh attacks against incentives that oil companies say are nourishing the nation’s oil-and-gas production boom. Read more ..
|Jeremy Herb and Jordy Yager||November 13th 2012|
Senior lawmakers on Monday sharpened their criticism of the FBI over its handling of the investigation that led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus.
The lawmakers questioned how FBI officials began an investigation into Petraeus and yet did not inform the congressional Intelligence Committee heads — or President Obama — that such a high-level probe was under way.
Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the FBI made a mistake by not alerting Congress or the White House of the investigation, and said her committee would launch an investigation into the FBI’s “puzzling” actions.
The chairwoman also said she was perplexed to learn that other lawmakers outside the Intelligence panels — including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) — learned of the affair and investigation before Obama or the Intelligence heads. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Jim Kouri||November 12th 2012|
Now that President Barack Obama has successfully garnered four-more years in the White House, attention to his second-term cabinet is increasing with many questioning the future of Obama's controversial U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, according to several police sources.
Over the weekend, several national news organizations pointed to statements Holder made regarding possibly leaving the Obama administration before the start of the president's second-term.
Many believe that if the GOP members of the House and Senate continue to delve into their investigation of an undercover gun-smuggling operation gone wrong, it will force Holder to resign. The Obama "attack dog" has already been found in contempt of congress for failing to comply with requests for documents related to the ATF's Operation Fast & Furious.
Although lawmakers and government watchdog groups are focusing on the Benghazi consulate attack, especially the discovery of more and more information that contradicts what the American people were told by the Obama administration and reelection campaign, many have not forgotten the so-called Operation Fast & Furious debacle and cover-up.
Just prior to Election Day, U.S. lawmakers released part two of their report on the "gun-walking" scheme that contributed to the deaths of more than 200 Mexicans and at least two American law enforcement agents. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released the second installment of their final report on Operation Fast & Furious. Read more ..
Media on Edge
|Martin Barillas||November 11th 2012|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
Chris Patten, a British diplomat who negotiated Hong Kong’s transition to Chinese control who is now the chairman of the BBC governing trust, said on November 11 that unless the state-controlled media dinosaur makes significant changes it could be doomed to extinction. "The basis for the BBC's position in this country is the trust that people have in it," Patten said. "If the BBC loses that, it's over."Patten said that public confidence in the BBC must be restored in order to compete with private media conglomerates such as Rupert Murdoch’s media behemoth. "If you're saying, 'Does the BBC need a thorough structural radical overhaul?', then absolutely it does, and that is what we will have to do," said Patten, who was once a senior member of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party.
Patten’s warning came after the resignation of BBC Director General George Entwhistle on November 10, who had but two months in the job. Entwhistle threw in the towel and took the blame for the airing false child sex abuse allegations against Alistair McAlpine, a former politician. Entwistle said the report, broadcast on November 2, reflected “unacceptable journalistic standards” and should not have been broadcast. Read more ..
The Battle for Syria
|Saul Roth||November 11th 2012|
World Jewish Daily
Israel fired a warning shot into Syrian territory on November 11 after a mortar shell hit an Israeli army outpost in the Golan Heights. It was the first time Israel fired on Syria since the end of the 1973 war, in which Syria and Egypt attacked Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
As the Associated Press reports, "A short while ago, a mortar shell targeted an IDF (Israel Defense Forces) post in the Golan Heights," said army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich. "We answered with a warning shot toward Syrian areas. We understand this was a mistake and was not meant to target Israel and then that is why we fired a warning shot in retaliation." The Times of Israel also reports that Syrian troops may have fired on Israeli soldiers across the border. Read more ..
The GOP on Edge
|Cameron Joseph||November 10th 2012|
A war has opened within the GOP over whether to embrace immigration reform in the wake of President Obama’s thumping of Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters.
Conservative hero Sean Hannity said Thursday he had evolved on immigration reform after Romney lost Hispanics by 40 percentage points to Obama, while Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said a “comprehensive approach” on the issue was “long overdue.”
Pundit Charles Krauthammer wrote Friday that Hispanics should be a natural GOP constituency, which means increasing border security while giving amnesty to those already in the United States illegally. “Yes amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement,” he wrote. Read more ..
The Vote Aftermath
|Martin Barillas||November 9th 2012|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
President Barack Obama accepted the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus on November 9, following a meeting they had on the previous day. In a statement, the former top Army general explained the rationale for his departure. “After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” Petraeus said in a statement. “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation.”
Obama’s national security was already expected to have some departures, but Petraeus’s announcement has caused turmoil in the administration. Having taken the position just fourteen months ago, Petraeus had been expected to remain in situ. Obama stated that Petraeus has “provided extraordinary service to the United States for decades,” adding that “through his lifetime of service David Petraeus has made our country safer and stronger.” Read more ..
The Iranian Threat
|Sam Orez||November 9th 2012|
VOA and Agencies
Iran has confirmed a Pentagon report that two Iranian warplanes fired on an unarmed U.S. drone in the Persian Gulf last week.
Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted on the Iranian Students' News Organization website as saying that Iran's armed forces took action against an anonymous plane that entered the country's airspace - countering the Pentagon's contention that the U.S. aircraft was over international waters. Iran also vowed to confront any other aircraft that enters its airspace. According to FARS news agency, Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Massoud Jazayeri said Iran would "give a decisive response to any aerial, ground or sea aggression."
US pondering response
Pentagon spokesman George Little said Thursday that the unmanned Predator was outside Iranian waters on a routine classified surveillance mission on November 1 when an Iranian military plane fired at, and missed, the drone. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Julian Happich||November 8th 2012|
The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has published a report on the Wi-Fi hotspot market compiled by global research company Informa Telecoms & Media, revealing that smartphone-based hotspot connections now outnumber those from laptops for the first time.
This trend is set to accelerate as the industry moves toward the deployment of Next Generation Hotspots (NGH), based on open industry standards, which will make it even easier for the rapidly increasing number of smartphone owners to use the technology.
The survey revealed that hotspot connections are now led by smartphones (40 percent), followed closely by laptops (39 percent) and then tablets (17 percent) which have seen rapid growth since their recent emergence. The survey also highlighted rapid deployment of NGH, which is based on Passpoint certified equipment, with 19 percent of operator respondents planning to deploy by the end of 2013. NGH dramatically simplifies public Wi-Fi access, especially from smartphones, by allowing secure connections without the need for usernames and passwords, and is seen as a vital tool for offloading busy mobile broadband networks. Read more ..
The Vote Aftermath
|Russell Berman and Erik Wasson ||November 8th 2012|
|Speaker John Boehner |
In the wake of the GOP’s disappointing election, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday signaled a willingness to accept higher tax revenues as part of a deficit cutting deal.
The fast-approaching deadline to stop a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts left Boehner and other leaders with little time to digest Republican Mitt Romney’s defeat on Tuesday.
Leaders on both sides of the Capitol moved swiftly to stake out their positions on the fiscal cliff, with Boehner calling for a “down payment” that would lead to a farther-reaching pact in 2013 and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) saying he did not want to see a short-term fix. “I’m not for kicking the can down the road; I think we’ve done that far too much,” Reid told reporters in the Capitol. “I think we should just roll up our sleeves and get it done.” Read more ..
The 2012 Vote
|Emily Goodin||November 7th 2012|
|U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman|
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) was locked in tight reelection battle Wednesday morning, with his race too close to call.
He isn't the only incumbent lawmaker facing possible defeat. In one of the most shocking races of the night, longtime Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) was in a tough race with challenger Bill Bloomfield, leading him by less than 100 votes with 39 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday.
Another race too close to call is Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), who was trailing Republican challenger Martha McSally by less than 400 votes with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The losses would result in some of most well-known members of Congress leaving the lower chamber. West is down against Democratic rival Patrick Murphy by less than 3,000 votes, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Florida law requires an automatic recount if the margin stands at 0.5 percent or less of votes cast. Read more ..
Palestine on Edge
|Jim Kouri||November 7th 2012|
At a press conference, the chief of the group investigating Arafat's death announced that the Swiss forensic professionals first examined Arafat's grave site in Ramallah before actually opening it, exhuming the body and then taking specimen's of the PLO chief's remains. Swiss experts will open the grave and take the samples for examination on Nov. 27, 2012, according to the Israeli source.
The Palestinian committee charged with probing Arafat's death will work with the Swiss forensic team. The Palestinian committee will at the end receive a full report from Swiss regarding their opinion as to what killed the controversial PLO leader, considered one of the fathers of Islamic terrorist tactics such as suicide bombers. The samples of Arafat's bones will be taken to Switzerland for scientific examination since the Palestinian National Authority does not possess the necessary resources for conducting the tests of Arafat's remains. Read more ..
The 2012 Vote
|Martin Barillas||November 6th 2012|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
A nationally prominent Democrat who endorsed President Barack Obama’s first election bid in 2008 has decided not to endorse the first black American president’s reelection. Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia, the first black American state governor in the history of the American union, wrote in a November 5 column that he could not endorse Obama’s reelection bid, citing differences over the Chief Executive’s conduct during the campaign.
While Wilder did not expressly support the candidacy of Republican Mitt Romney, he did say that the former Massachusetts governor "has met the test to be president." Speaking to the conduct of the campaign, Wilder wrote "Democrats counted on using ad hominem attacks to make Romney seem too unworthy and too unsteady to be the country's chief executive because of the rough nominating process. But that has not been 100 percent effective. Will it be effective enough? We'll find out on Tuesday."
A lifelong Democrat, Wilder has been known at times to differ with party colleagues over partisan orthodoxies. Wilder continued to say in his column, "I have campaigned for and supported the president in the past, and many people now want to discuss his job performance with me." Wilder, in an anecdote, mentioned an encounter with he had with a female voter who had supported Obama’s 2008 election bid. The woman told Wilder that this time around she did not want any party to take her vote for granted. Read more ..
The 2012 Vote
|Daniel Robison||November 6th 2012|
President Barack Obama is in his home town of Chicago, Illinois to await the results of the presidential election. In closing rallies in battleground states, Obama cast the election as a choice between starkly different visions of the future.
Obama spoke at rallies in Wisconsin, Ohio and finally Iowa, where a political primary victory in 2008 helped propel him to the Democratic presidential nomination. At each stop, he urged voters to show up at the polls to ensure victory over Republican candidate Mitt Romney on on November 6. In Des Moines, Iowa, he urged voters to help him finish what he started when he won the presidency four years before. Read more ..
The 2012 Vote
|Jim Kouri||November 5th 2012|
The Obama administration poses a clear and present danger to America, according to a former member of elite Naval commandos in a statement released Sunday. U.S. Navy SEALs have been telling anyone who'll listen that President Barack Obama has been a weak leader throughout his term and cannot be trusted.
Senior administration officials recklessly briefed members of the press with operational details that put SEALs, their families and America at risk rather than protecting the secrecy of missions. Now we know more about SEAL Team 6 than we do about our own President's college transcripts, said a group of SEALs opposed to President Barack Obama's handling of counterterrorism.
"These SEALs know the facts. They were silenced by their service. But they refuse to remain quiet any longer. The stakes are simply too high," said a former intelligence officer and police detective M. Shane Duffy. "The SEALs removed one threat to America, now it's time for the voters to remove the other," added retired Navy SEAL Brad Nagel. Read more ..
The Battle for Syria
|Diego DiGhero||November 5th 2012|
RFE/RL and agency reports
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has held talks in Cairo in a fresh diplomatic effort to end the Syrian crisis. Lavrov met on November 4 with Arab League head Nabil Elaraby and the joint UN-Arab League mediator on the Syrian conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi.
Lavrov stressed all parties needed to agree to negotiate based on the Geneva Declaration, which was agreed in June and calls for a transition administration, but leaves unclear what role, if any, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad would have.
"[Russia] is trying to execute what was agreed upon in Geneva. But, with great regret, the other Western and regional countries who took part are speaking only with the Syrian opposition and are not speaking with the government," Lavrov said at a press conference following the Cairo talks. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Dylan McGrath||November 5th 2012|
Google's Android operating systems was found on three of every four smartphones shipped in the third quarter, according to International Data Corp. Four years since the first Android-powered smartphones hit store shelves, Android has risen rapidly to become far-and-away the dominant OS in smartphones. Apple Inc.'s iOS, which runs the company's line of iPhones, was a distant second in the third quarter with 15 percent market share, according to IDC. According to IDC, the number of Android-powered smartphones in the third quarter reached 136 million units, up 92 percent from the third quarter of 2011. Android's market share increased from 58 percent in the third quarter of 2011, IDC said.
"Android has been one of the primary growth engines of the smartphone market since it was launched in 2008," said Ramon Llamas, research manager for mobile phones at IDC, in a statement. "In every year since then, Android has effectively outpaced the market and taken market share from the competition." Read more ..
The Race for Nuclear
|David Hsu||November 5th 2012|
from VOA News and agencies
Suspect replacement parts at South Korea's nuclear plants have prompted the government to order the immediate shutdown of two power-generating reactors. Reactors five and six at the Yeonggwang nuclear complex were ordered to go offline on November 5.
Government officials say, before they can re-start the reactors, technicians will need to replace thousands of fuses, cooling fans and other parts. Minister of Knowledge Economy Hong Suk-woo says the components that were installed came with forged quality certificates. The minister says these are non-core components and such parts do not pose a safety threat. He adds there is no connection between the possibly counterfeit parts and a series of malfunctions at South Korea's nuclear reactors this year. Read more ..
The Iranian Threat
|Susan St. Claire||November 4th 2012|
Iran's state TV is reporting that the country's powerful Revolutionary Guards have established a new naval base to reinforce its authority over three Persian Gulf islands also claimed by neighboring United Arab Emirates. The report says the base near Bandar-e Lengeh some 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) south of Tehran is the Guards' fifth in the Gulf. The Iranian-controlled islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb dominate the approach to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway through which about one-fifth of the world's oil supply passes. During a ceremony held on Sunday, a new naval base of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps was inaugurated in the port city of Bandar Lengeh, which is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf in the southern province of Hormozgan.
The naval base, named the Imam Muhammad Baqer (AS) Fifth Naval Region, has been established to increase the operational capabilities of the IRGC Naval Force and expand its area of responsibility in the Persian Gulf in line with Iran’s defense doctrine. Read more ..
The 2012 Vote
|Virginia Bell||November 4th 2012|
Former president Bill Clinton was on the campaign trail Saturday night with President Barack Obama as the race for the White House enters its final days before Tuesday's election. Clinton, his voice hoarse from his exhaustive campaigning for Obama, said he has literally given "my voice in the service of my president." More than 24,000 people came to the outdoor arena in Bristow, Virginia, to hear the current and former presidents.
Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney are crisscrossing the country as the campaign winds down. Polls indicate the two candidates are virtually tied in the key states of Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia. The president holds a slight edge in Ohio and Virginia, while Romney is ahead in Colorado, and the two candidates are tied in Florida. The four states are the key so-called "swing states" critical to gaining the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||November 4th 2012|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
A deputy from the Smolensk city council, Andrei Yershov, has resigned from his post amid controversy over his comments on benefits for Holocaust survivors.
During a mid-October city council debate on granting privileges such as free passage on buses and trains to people who as children were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps, Yershov said, "Why? For the simple reason that they were not finished off."
The comments were caught on audio recording and posted on the Internet, sparking an outcry for Yershov to resign. The controversy was reported by Russia's Pravda newspaper. Yershov is a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party. Read more ..
The 2012 Vote
|Cameron Joseph and Jeremy Herb||November 4th 2012|
GOP nominee Mitt Romney began his final weekend campaign blitz in New Hampshire Saturday morning, ripping President Obama for telling supporters that "voting is the best revenge."
"Vote for revenge? Let me tell you: Vote for love of country," Romney said to cheers. Obama made the remark at a Friday rally after supporters booed Romney. “No, no, no. Don't boo. Vote,” Obama told a crowd in Springfield, Ohio. “Voting is the best revenge.”
The GOP nominee jumped on the comment later that day, and his campaign released an ad attacking the president for it Saturday morning. The Obama campaign said Saturday that the president's comment was made in the context of Romney's “scare tactics.” Spokeswoman Psaki said a Romney TV ad running in the state that suggests Chrysler was moving production of Jeep models to China was an attempt at “frightening workers in Ohio into thinking, falsely, that they’re not going to have a job.” Read more ..
Israel and Palestine
|John Zimmer||November 4th 2012|
from Hayom and agencies
Read more ..
It is only through direct peace negotiations that Israel would ever learn the true position of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, responding to recent conflicting remarks made by the Palestinian leader in Ramallah.
Two days after Abbas implied in a Channel 2 interview that he would be willing to abandon the demand for a Palestinian "right of return" in exchange for peace with Israel, Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting: "I saw the interview with Abbas over the weekend. I heard that he has since rescinded his remarks, but this proves how important it is to hold direct negotiations without preconditions."
"Only through direct negotiations can we find out what his real position is,” Netanyahu said. “In general I can say that if Abbas is really serious and if he intends to advance the peace process, as far as I am concerned we can sit together immediately.
The 2012 Vote
|Ian Swanson||November 3rd 2012|
Mitt Romney and President Obama entered the final weekend before Election Day battling over the issue at the center of their race for the White House — jobs and the economy.
With just three days before voters to go the polls, Obama and the Republican running to replace him offered dramatically different takes on the economy and what the latest unemployment report says about it. Romney focused on the 7.9 percent unemployment rate, and the fact that it as higher than the 7.8 percent rate in January 2009, when Obama entered office. “Think of that — unemployment today is higher than the day when Barack Obama took office,” Romney said at a campaign rally in Wisconsin, a swing state getting attention from both campaigns this weekend. Read more ..
Obama and Israel
|Zach Pontz||November 2nd 2012|
Last week U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Israeli Finance Ministry Director General Doron Cohen met to sign an extension of the U.S.-Israel Loan Guarantee program in an event in the Diplomatic Room of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
According to a source on the Israeli side with knowledge of the meeting, however, the timing of Geithner’s appearance was unusual and somewhat peculiar.
“Usually this is something that goes on between lower level officers. The Israeli Finance Ministry Director meets with U.S. officers and the agreement is signed. However, a few days before the scheduled meeting we got a call from U.S. officials telling us that Geithner will sign,” the source said. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Jim Kouri||November 2nd 2012|
A homegrown Islamic terrorist who confessed to planning to crash model airplanes carrying explosives into federal buildings including the Pentagon was sentenced on Thursday to 17 years in prison in Boston, Massachusetts, according to the FBI.
Rezwan Ferdaus planned to use rigged cellphones to detonate the improvised devices to bomb the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. His plea bargain with prosecutors helped him to avoid a much lengthier sentence. The 27-year-old Ferdaus was arrested back in February near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., as part of an undercover investigation by the FBI.
Ferdaus, a man of Moroccan descent who grew up in Massachusetts, was planning a suicide attack on the Capitol with explosives he received from undercover officers, whom he thought were associates of al-Qaeda. He also planned to deliver bomb-making materials for use in attacks against U.S. troops during the Iraq conflict.
Beginning in January 2011, Ferdaus began designing and constructing detonation components for improvised explosive devices (IED) using mobile phones. Ferdaus supplied 12 mobile phones, which he modified to act as an electrical switch for an IED, to FBI undercover employees (UCEs), whom he believed were members of al-Qaeda, with the intention that they be used to kill American and coalition soldiers in Afghanistan or other locations overseas.
In June 2011, Ferdaus delivered his first mobile phone detonation device to the UCEs. At a subsequent meeting, the UCEs falsely told Ferdaus that his first phone detonation device had succeeded in killing three U.S. soldiers and injuring others in Iraq. Ferdaus responded, “That was exactly what I wanted” and that he felt “incredible....We’re changing the world.” He also suggested that he could make “20 to 30 [detonation components] per week” to send to his “brothers overseas.” Read more ..
America After Sandy
|Sam Orez||November 2nd 2012|
from VOA and agencies
The U.S. death toll from the powerful storm that ravaged the East Coast is above 90 and rising, as emergency workers canvass flood and fire-ravaged neighborhoods. Police say at least 59 people were killed as Sandy pummeled New York City and New Jersey. Lines of cars stretched nearly two kilometers at the handful of gasoline stations able to pump fuel.
But New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city will carry on Sunday with its annual, world-famous marathon. He said the event should not overtax the police department because it is on a Sunday, when there is less street traffic. Canceling could also put more strain on already-strapped business owners, as the prestigious event draws thousands of runners and spectators, and millions of dollars to the city. Read more ..
The Battle for Syria
|Virginia Bell||November 2nd 2012|
from VOA and agencies
Human rights advocates say the Syrian opposition has taken control of a strategic northern town that is crucial to the government's fierce campaign against rebels in the embattled city of Aleppo.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have completely withdrawn from Saraqeb, where the main highways from Aleppo to Damascus and the Mediterranean coast meet. Ramy Abdel Rahman, the director of the UK-based monitoring group, says that rebel forces now control an area extending 25 kilometers in all directions from the town. Read more ..
America after Sandy
|Adam Phillips||November 2nd 2012|
With limited subway and bus service restored, the hardship caused by flooding and power outages in New York City has begun to ease since Monday night, when Hurricane Sandy struck the U.S. East Coast. But for thousands of residents from low-lying areas in New York who were evacuated to temporary shelters, the dislocation and struggle continue.
Outside a Manhattan public high school, whose gymnasium has been turned into a shelter for up to 100 displaced storm victims, Jesus Flores says he is grateful to shelter workers, volunteers and the city.
“They give me very good help. They give me [a] bed. They give me a blanket. They give me food, everything. And I feel comfortable because I have a place to stay, and I can make it. It’s a good thing,” Flores said. Read more ..
The 2012 Vote
|Susan St. Claire||November 1st 2012|
With the American Election Day fast approaching, U.S. President Barack Obama resumes campaigning for re-election Thursday after spending several days heading the federal government's response to the Atlantic storm Sandy. Obama will travel to the so-called "battleground states" of Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado, three states that could determine if he or Republican challenger Mitt Romney will gain the 270 electoral votes needed to win next Tuesday's election. The president suspended his campaigning Monday as Sandy devastated the coastal area of New Jersey and caused massive damage to New York City. Romney also spent several days rallying for donations for Sandy's victims.
Obama traveled to New Jersey Wednesday to get a first-hand look at the damage with Republican Governor Chris Christie, who praised the president's handling of the disaster, despite being a supporter of Romney. Romney held a rally in Florida,Wednesday, his first official campaign event since Sandy made landfall, but avoided directly criticizing Obama. ''It is my view that we should not continue along the same path, but it is time to take a new path - a bold, aggressive change, because the road we're on, the road we are on is not doing so well," said Romney. Read more ..
The 2012 Vote
|Brendan Sasso||November 1st 2012|
Virginia-based GOP advertising firm ccAdvertising was behind a flood of anti-Obama text messages sent Tuesday night, according to Web domain records. By Wednesday morning, GoDaddy, a domain registrar, had suspended the firm's websites for spam and abuse. ccAdvertising did not respond to a request for comment.
It is unclear how many people received the unsolicited messages, but many people in the Washington, D.C., metro area took to Twitter and other social media sites on Tuesday night to complain about the unusual campaign tactic.
The texts covered a variety of topics, including abortion rights, Medicare and taxes. "The average American pays at least $2,000 more in taxes than 4 years ago. STOP OBAMA!" one message read. "Obama endorses the legality of same-sex marriage. Say No to Obama at the polls on Nov 6!" read another.
Jonathan Weisman, a reporter for The New York Times, tweeted that his 13-year-old daughter received a text reading: "Obama denies protection to babies who survive abortions. Obama is just wrong." Mike Madden, editor of The Washington City Paper, received another: "Re-electing Obama puts Medicare at risk." The messages came from a variety of websites rather than phone numbers. The sites included informedett.com, aicett.com and gopmessage.com. Read more ..
The 2012 Vote
|Keith Laing||November 1st 2012|
Mitt Romney's campaign pushed back Wednesday at complaints from Chrysler and General Motors that his ads are inaccurate.
Romney campaign spokesman Jonathan Burks in an interview with the Wall Street Journal said nothing leaders from the two companies have said contradicts the pair of ads running in the critical swing state of Ohio. In the ads, Romney accuses the two U.S. automakers of building cars in China after receiving an $80 billion taxpayer bailout from the Obama administration. "Their comments don't refute anything in our ads," Burks told the Journal.
GM and Chrysler have responded to the ads with unusually fierce criticism. A GM spokesman said the ads came from a "parallel universe" while Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who leads the company that bought Chrysler after its bailout, said production of Jeep vehicles would not be moved to China in a letter to employees that was published in the Detroit News. Read more ..
The Drug Wars
|Jim Kouri||October 31st 2012|
Six police officers were killed and one was wounded during a terrorist ambush in a rural area of southwest Colombia, a U.S. drug enforcement source stated.
The police officers were riding four motorcycles when they were attacked with gunfire on Monday afternoon in the southwestern province of Cauca, according to source.
The Colombian government immediately blamed the ambush on members of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC which is designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department.
The attack came as negotiators from the Colombian government and FARC announced they had initiated peace talks in Oslo, Norway on Oct. 18, 2012, aimed at ending their nearly five-decades-long armed conflict. The second phase of the talks is set to begin in Cuba's capital of Havana on Nov. 15, which is ideal for FARC since it is a Marxist organization. Read more ..
Europe on Edge
|Pauline Solano||October 31st 2012|
Unemployment in the eurozone hit a record high in September, with nearly 150,000 more jobs lost as the debt crisis
continues to undermine an economy slumping into recession, official data show.
The 17-state eurozone had a jobless rate of 11.6 per cent in September, up from 11.5 per cent in August, with the numbers out of work rising to 18.49 million from 18.34 million, the Eurostat data agency said on Wednesday.
The increase over the past year is well over two million.
The highest unemployment rate was recorded again in Spain, where 25.8 per cent of adults are out of work. Further layoffs are likely to follow next year as more of the country's 60 billion euro ($78m) programme of budget austerity kicks in. Austria posted the lowest rate of 4.4 per cent and benchmark Germany and the Netherlands each on 5.4 per cent. Read more ..
The Business Edge
|Peter Schroeder||October 31st 2012|
Hurricane Sandy is expected to take a $20 billion bite out of the U.S. economy.
The massive storm has put much of New York City in darkness, closed Wall Street and prevented use of the New York subway system for as much as a week, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for thousands to get to work in the nation’s largest city.
The storm also brought economic activity to a screeching halt for two days in other major cities along the East Coast, including Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Still, experts say that nationally, any negative economic effects from the storm are unlikely to be felt until after Election Day, meaning the economics of Sandy might not be a game-changer for President Obama or Mitt Romney. Read more ..
The 2012 Vote
|Justin Sink and Amie Parnes||October 30th 2012|
Mitt Romney will resume campaigning Wednesday with a trio of events in Florida, while President Obama has canceled his election events to stay in Washington to monitor fallout from the storm the ravaged the East Coast.
Romney's move effectively ends the temporary suspension in the presidential campaign triggered by the landfall of Hurricane Sandy.
Even though Obama will be focusing on coordinating response to the storm, his campaign has shown an awareness of the fact the election is only a week away. The White House updated reporters early Tuesday morning with the president's work on response efforts to Sandy and released photos of Obama meeting with federal officials. Both campaign have been wrestling with how to best balance the demands of a presidential race and the need to project the appropriate sensitivity as the Eastern seaboard grapples with the aftermath of the storm. Read more ..
Faster and More Furious
|Jim Kouri||October 30th 2012|
Although lawmakers and government watchdog groups are focusing on the Benghazi consulate attack, especially the discovery of more and more information that contradicts what the American people were told by the Obama White House, the administration and the Obama re-election campaign, many have not forgotten the so-called Operation Fast & Furious debacle and cover-up. On Monday, U.S. lawmakers released the second part of their report on the "gun-walking" scheme that contributed to the deaths of more than 200 Mexicans and at least two American law enforcement agents.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) yesterday released the second installment of their final report on Operation Fast & Furious. Their latest release chronicles the U.S. Department of Justice’s management failures, specifically finding fault with five senior Justice Department officials for failing to identify red flags indicating reckless tactics. Read more ..
The Battle for Syria
|Sally St. Marie||October 30th 2012|
from VOA and agencies
Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says the situation in Syria is getting worse, and that the international community must unite to help the Syrian people find a solution to the 19-month crisis.
After talks Monday in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Brahimi said he was sorry a holiday cease-fire did not take hold, but that the failure would not discourage efforts to find a solution.
"We shall continue to work as hard as we possibly can, and in cooperation with everybody inside Syria and outside of Syria, to bring the level of violence down, put an end to it and launch Syria on the road to building the new Syria," Brahimi said.
The envoy also said the United Nations is not sending a peacekeeping operation to Syria. He had called for the Syrian government and rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad to observe a truce during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, but both sides continued fighting. Read more ..
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