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Purveyor's Journal
Purveyor's Journal
January 1, 2013

Senate Filibuster Limits Proposed By Bipartisan Group Of Senators

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators proposed Friday to clamp modest limits on filibusters, hoping to head off a bitter partisan fight over the issue when the new Congress convenes next week and approves its rules.

Led by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., the group proposed limiting the use of filibusters, the procedural delays minority parties often use to grind the Senate's work to a halt. The proposal would also thwart majority parties from using a counter-tactic – blocking the minority from offering amendments.

Senate Democrats and Republicans, meeting separately Friday, were each given details of the proposal. Senators and aides said no final decisions were made about what rules the Senate would consider next week, a choice that largely rests in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Complaining that Republicans filibuster too frequently, Reid has threatened to impose even stricter filibuster limits with a simple majority vote – in effect ramming them through over GOP objections. That could well precipitate retaliatory procedural delays and other steps from Republicans, and poison already frayed partisan relations, even as the two parties face months of complex disputes over taxes, spending, the economy and other issues.



January 1, 2013

Court Challenge To U.S. Senate's Filibuster Rule Fails

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Senate’s filibuster rule argued by a prominent Atlanta attorney.

In a decision dated Dec. 21, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that the government-accountability group Common Cause and seven individual plaintiffs lacked legal standing to bring the case.

The plaintiffs – including U.S. Reps. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, and Hank Johnson, D-Stone Mountain ­– had claimed that the failure of immigration-reform legislation in the Senate because of the filibuster rule’s requirement of a super-majority of 60 votes to end debate on pending bills amounted to an “injury” legally sufficient for them to challenge the filibuster’s constitutionality in court.

The challenge was the subject of a front-page story in Atlanta Business Chronicle on Dec. 14.

Beyond the legal standing issue, Sullivan’s ruling went on to question the right of the courts to interfere with Senate rules.



January 1, 2013

Firebrand Shiite Cleric al-Sadr Voices Support For Sunni Protesters Angry At Iraq’s Government

Source: Associated Press

By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, January 1, 8:41 AM

BAGHDAD — A top anti-American Shiite cleric lent support Tuesday to Sunni protesters who have been rallying against Iraq’s Shiite-dominated central government, increasing pressure on the leadership in Baghdad.

Hard-line religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr told reporters in the Shiite holy city of Najaf that the demonstrators have the right to protest as long as they are peaceful. He stopped short of calling for a wider uprising like those that have rippled across the region over the past two years, but warned of further unrest if demands on the street are not met.

“Beware of the Arab Spring in Iraq,” the firebrand cleric said in a warning to the power-sharing government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite.

Thousands of protesters have been holding rallies in the western desert province of Anbar and other Sunni strongholds for more than a week.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/firebrand-shiite-cleric-al-sadr-voices-support-for-sunni-protesters-angry-at-iraqs-government/2013/01/01/a0eb081a-5405-11e2-89de-76c1c54b1418_story.html

January 1, 2013

Iran Test-Fires Noor Long-Range Missile In Naval Drill; Testing Components Of S-300 Type Missile

Xinhua | 2013-1-1 5:00:54

Iranian navy test-fired Tuesday the Noor long-range missile in the ongoing naval drill, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The home-made surface-to-surface missile hit the target " successfully" on the fifth day of the six-day naval drill dubbed Velayat 91, or Guardianship 91, which started Friday in Iran's southern waters, spokesman for the military exercises Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari was quoted as saying.

The upgraded version of the Noor missile, designed and manufactured by Iranian army experts, can be used to target vessels, said Rastegari.

During Velayat 90 wargame in 2011, a Noor missile was tested with improvements in its electronic systems, with a more jam- resistant radar and better target acquisition algorithms.



Iran Testing Components Of Missile System More Advanced Than S-300

TEHRAN – The components of the Iranian Bavar 373 (Belief 373) missile system, which will be a replacement for the Russian S-300 missile system, are being tested, the commander of the Khatam-ol-Anbiya Air Defense Base announced on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, Brigadier General Farzad Esmaeili said that the Defense Ministry personnel’s work to complete the manufacture of the long-range missile system is well underway.

Esmaeili had previously said that the Bavar 373 (Belief 373) missile system is more advanced that the S-300 missile system.

Russia signed a deal to deliver five batteries of S-300PMU-1 air defense systems to Iran in 2007 but cancelled the sale in September 2010, claiming the systems, along with a number of other weapons, were covered by the fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program.


January 1, 2013

Iran Warns Off Foreign Planes During Naval Drill: Report

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has warned off foreign surveillance planes that have tried to approach its forces during naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz, an Iranian military spokesman said on Tuesday.

The drills, which began on Friday, are aimed at showcasing Iran's military capability in the shipping route through which 40 percent of the world's sea-borne oil exports pass.

Iran has threatened to block the strait if it comes under military attack over its disputed nuclear program. The United States has said it would not tolerate any obstruction of commercial traffic through the strait.

"So far about 30 warnings have been given to reconnaissance and surveillance planes of extra-regional forces that wanted to approach the area where the drills are taking place," Commander Amir Rastegari told the semi-official Mehr news agency.



January 1, 2013

Raid By Undercover Israeli Soldiers In West Bank Palestinian Town Sets Off Clashes

TAMOUN, West Bank - An arrest raid by undercover Israeli soldiers disguised as vegetable vendors ignited rare clashes in the northern West Bank on Tuesday, residents said, leaving at least eight Palestinians wounded.

Israeli army raids into Palestinian areas to seize activists and militants are fairly common. The raids are normally coordinated with Palestinian security forces, and suspects are usually apprehended without violence.

The clashes began early Tuesday after Israeli forces disguised as merchants in a vegetable truck arrested one man. Regular army forces then entered the town, prompting youths to hurl rocks to try to prevent more arrests.

Israeli forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition as youths set tires and bins on fire to block the passage of military vehicles. In several hours of clashes, dozens of masked youths hid behind makeshift barriers, hurling rocks and firebombs at soldiers.



January 1, 2013

CBS: It's Official: Deal Reached On "Fiscal Cliff"

Source: CBS

As revelers in Times Square and cities and towns across the country wait for the ball to drop to ring in the new year, politicians in Washington have announced that a ball is not likely to drop on the average taxpayer. Negotiators have come to an agreement on the so-called "fiscal cliff" - and with less than three hours to spare, CBS News has confirmed.

Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Capitol Hill to brief Senate Democrats on the details of the deal; both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have signed off on the agreement, White House and congressional sources told CBS News' Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett.

Now that lawmakers have settled on a deal, it's unclear when the Senate will vote but it's expected that if it passes, the House will vote tomorrow at the earliest.

What this means is that although the country will technically go over the "cliff" at midnight, the agreement - if passed by both houses of Congress - guarantees any detrimental impact from the "cliff" will be avoided, even if a vote happens after midnight, as language will likely be added to the final legislation that would make the changes retroactive.

Here are the known details of the deal:

Tax rates: current tax rates will be extended for all wage earners making below $400,000 and couples making below $450,000.

This was a key concession for both Republicans and Democrats. Democrats wanted the threshold for tax increases to rest at $250,000 and Republicans didn't want marginal tax rates to increase for anyone.

The automatic spending cuts under the sequester will be delayed for two months. The cost of continuing current federal spending levels will be offset by revenue increases and some spending cuts. The spending cuts will come half from defense and half non-defense accounts.

The two-month window is to allow Congress and the White House to come up with a larger deal on spending cuts, leading to another (though smaller) "fiscal cliff." Democrats see this deal as a victory because Republicans had objected to using any new tax revenue to offset the loss of sequester spending cuts, reports Garrett.

The estate tax: it was set to increase from rom 35 percent to 55 percent in 2013. Instead, the compromise sets the new rate at 40 percent with the first $5 million worth of property exempt from being taxed.

Capital gains tax: Capital gains and dividend tax rates will increase from 15 to 20 percent.
Alternative Minimum Tax: a permanent fix to the tax that would hit middle class families
"Doc Fix": doctors will be shielded from a massive reimbursement gap for treating Medicare patients.

Unemployment benefits: unemployed workers will receive their benefits which expired over the weekend.

Renewable energy tax credit: the tax credit for renewable energy companies will be extended for another year.

While the extension of unemployment benefits and the Medicare "doc fix" cost money, and revenue will be lost due to a fix in the Alternative Minimum Tax, the package will still increase the federal government's receipts. The total package will add $600 billion to federal coffers.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57561465/its-official-deal-reached-on-fiscal-cliff/

January 1, 2013

Doctors Expect Clinton to Recover Fully From Blood Clot Near Brain

Source: New York Times

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s blood clot formed in her head, her doctors said on Monday, a potentially serious condition from which they nonetheless stressed they expect her to fully recover.

Mrs. Clinton was hospitalized Sunday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for the blood clot — in a vein between the brain and the skull and behind her right ear — and doctors said on Monday that it had not resulted in a stroke or neurological damage. They said they were treating her with blood thinners to try to dissolve the clot.

“She will be released once the medication dose has been established,” according to the statement from Dr. Lisa Bardack and Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi. Clots like the one Mrs. Clinton has can be serious, said doctors not involved in her care. Dr. David Langer, a brain surgeon and an associate professor at the North Shore-Hofstra-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine, said that if this type of clot was untreated, it could cause blood to back up, and could lead to a hemorrhage inside the brain.

Mrs. Clinton’s doctors struck an upbeat tone in their statement. “In all other aspects of her recovery, the secretary is making excellent progress, and we are confident she will make a full recovery,” the statement said. “She is in good spirits, engaging with her doctors, her family and her staff."

The sudden turn in Mrs. Clinton’s condition appeared to take members of her staff by surprise. As recently as Sunday afternoon, they thought she was on the mend and ready to return to work this week.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/01/us/doctors-expect-clinton-to-recover-fully-from-blood-clot-near-brain.html?_r=0

January 1, 2013

Barney Frank 'Strongly Opposes' Chuck Hagel As Defense Secretary

WASHINGTON -- Outgoing Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) announced on Monday that he "strongly opposes" the potential nomination of Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary, due to anti-gay comments the former Republican senator from Nebraska once made.

In 1998, Hagel called James Hormel, then President Bill Clinton's choice for U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, “openly, aggressively gay." He called Hormel's sexual orientation an "inhibiting factor" that would prevent him from doing "an effective job."

Hagel recently apologized, saying his 1998 remarks were "insensitive."

That apology has not been enough for some members of the LGBT community. Hormel himself questioned the sincerity of Hagel's comments, saying they appeared to be made "only in service of his attempt to get the nomination."



January 1, 2013

Iran Test-Fires Missiles Near Strait of Hormuz

By Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran -

Iran's navy says it has test-fired a range of weapons during ongoing maneuvers near the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for one-fifth of the world's oil supply.

The Monday report by the official IRNA news agency quotes exercise spokesman Adm. Amir Rastgari as saying the Iranian-made air defense system Raad, or Thunder, was among the weapons tested.

Iran says the system fires missiles with a range of 50 kilometers (30 miles), capable of hitting targets at 22,000 meters (75,000 feet).

He said torpedoes and underwater and surface-to-surface rockets were also successfully tested.

Read more: http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/20472047/iran-test-fires-missiles-near-strait-of-hormuz#ixzz2GgNxD4gI

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