——————— CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE DAILY BENEFACTOR———————
——————————————————- TOP STORY ——————————————————-
The Obama administration has quietly forged ahead with its proposal to sell $60 billion worth of fighter jets and attack helicopters to Saudi Arabia unhampered by Congress, despite questions raised in legislative inquiries and in an internal congressional report about the wisdom of the deal.
The massive arms deal would be the single largest sale of weapons to a foreign nation in the history of the U.S., outfitting Saudi Arabia with a fully modernized, potent new air force.
“Our six-decade-long security relationship with Saudi Arabia is a primary security pillar in the region,” Defense Sec. Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote in a Nov. 16 letter to congress. “This package continues that tradition.”
But some critics are questioning the deal, and the stealthy effort by the Obama administration to avoid a more probing congressional review by notifying Congress last month, just as members were headed home for the November elections. Congress had 30 days to raise objections – a review period that concludes Saturday. With most members leaving Washington today, any significant effort to block the deal appears dead for now, officials said.
“I do not think there will be any action” to hold up the sale, Rep. Howard Berman, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Bloomberg News Thursday.
Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat, submitted a resolution this week to try and block the deal, and was among those who objected to the way the administration approached the required congressional review.
“Hiding this in a recess announcement is a sign of how unpopular it is,” he said. “It’s bad policy that now is further tainted by shameful process.”
The Obama administration has touted the deal as a boon for American jobs, and as a move to solidify the alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia at a time when American intelligence is dependent on the Islamic nation for help in the war on terror. Earlier this month, it was a tip from Saudi intelligence that helped foil an al Qaeda plot to hide a bomb in a desktop printer aboard a UPS cargo plane.
The arrangement would ship 84 F-15 fighter jets and more than 175 attack helicopters to the Saudis over the next 15 years. The choppers, in particular, would “bolster Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism capabilities,” Gates and Clinton wrote in their letter this week to congressional leaders.
Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, a Republican who will soon retire as his party’s ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, supports the arms sale, and told ABC News that the Saudis offered ample evidence of the value of the alliance when they provided tracking numbers for the parcels that contained the concealed bombs.
“If any of my colleagues have doubt that they can be friendly, I suppose this would send a strong signal that they can be friendly,” Bond said. Gates and Clinton also touted Saudi Arabia’s “significant” counterterrorism cooperation in their letter to congressional leaders, specifically citing help in thwarting the cargo bomb plot.
The day after the House Ethics Committee recommended a censure for Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), the committe announced it will not hold the trial of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on Nov. 29, as scheduled.
Instead, committee chairs Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) said they have decided to send Ms. Waters’ case back to the panel’s subcommittee for further investigation.
Before boarding a flight in Grand Rapids, a woman says the search at the airport security checkpoint was violent, unnecessary and extremely upsetting. “When I got on the plane all I wanted to do was sob,” says traveler Ella Swift.
Swift was one of an increasing number of passengers Transportation Security Administration officers are thoroughly searching by hand.
North Carolina Democrat Bob Etheridge is conceding his House race, National Journal’s Tim Sahd reports. Republican Renee Ellmers, consequently, will enter the House in January.
This leaves only five House races yet to be decided, with one recount underway and absentee ballots being counted in the other four. This gives Republicans a total of 61 seats gained in the 2010 midterms so far.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved a bill that would give the Attorney General the right to shut down websites with a court order if copyright infringement is deemed “central to the activity” of the site, regardless if a crime has actually been committed.
The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) is among the most draconian laws ever considered to combat digital piracy.
“The government’s reaction to General Motors and the bailout from the government I think could have been handled in a more orderly way from a bankruptcy judge,” Boehner said.
“When you look at the people who lost because of the government’s actions, we’re talking about tens of thousands of Americans who were punished as a result of the government’s action,” he added.
A moment of national pride took place recently in the White House when Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta received the Medal of Honor for bravery above and beyond the call of duty in combat in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Giunta became the first living American soldier to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. He is now one of only eighty-eight (88) living holders of the Medal of Honor.
A federal judge ruled Friday in favor of Republican Joe Miller to halt the certification of the election results – at least provisionally – in his race against Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Judge Ralph Beistline granted a temporary injunction to stop election officials from certifying the results of the Senate race. Beistline granted the injunction as long as Miller moves his case to state court by Monday.
Ricky New,45, was jailed Thursday after he allegedly robbed a convenience store and then attempted to flee the scene on a riding lawn mower. According to police, New entered the Kent’s Corner convenience store armed with a stick and demanded cash.
After assaulting the female clerk, he left with an undisclosed amount of cash, hopped on a Craftsman riding lawn mower and fled the scene.
A D.C. woman admitted that she pretended to be her dead mother to collect more than $35,000 in federal retirement benefits.
Yolanda Powers, 31, will likely receive a sentence of six to 12 months of home detention under federal guidelines, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said Carol Powers died on April 1, 2008, shortly after retiring, and retirement payments were deposited into her account.
Two undertakers in Cologne Germany are trying to tap into the gay market by selling coffins adorned with images of male nudes.
“We believe you should be able to have a coffin that lets you embark on your last journey in a way that reflects how you lived your life,” undertaker Thomas Brandl told Reuters. The unconventional coffin, which costs 1,650 euros, has aroused fascination among customers, said Brandl.
An Iowa City man accused of giving vodka to a puppy and nearly killing it has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for animal abuse. The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that Jared Colony agreed to plea guilty in exchange for a 90-day jail sentence.
He also agreed to pay a $625 fine and nearly $2,500 to the dog’s owner. According to police, Colony was watching the puppy for a friend in October 2009.