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Reid: Senate to Vote on Extending Jobless Benefits.


Image: Reid: Senate to Vote on Extending Jobless Benefits

The Senate will vote next Monday on temporarily extending federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Reid, D-Nev., told The Associated Press he’s hopeful a bill co-sponsored by Nevada‘s Republican Sen. Dean Heller will be approved by the upper chamber, but he offered no prediction on whether it will pass muster in the House of Representatives.

“I don’t predict anything in the House,” Reid said Monday, describing the Republican-controlled House as a “black hole of legislation.”

“We’ll see what happens,” he said.

But he praised Heller for the bipartisan bill he introduced with U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island. The measure would continue the federal jobless program for three months while a compromise is sought.

“I hope we can get that done,” said Reid, who has often been at odds with the conservative Heller.

“I’m happy to see Dean has joined us,” Reid added. “He’s broken away from the tea party folks who don’t want to do anything.”

When he introduced the bill, Heller said, “Providing a safety net for those in need is one of the most important functions of the federal government. As Nevada’s unemployment rate continues to top the charts nationwide, many families and individuals back home do not know how they are going to meet their basic needs.”

A two-year budget deal reached earlier this month failed to include an extension of jobless benefits for people who have been unemployed longer than six months. About 17,000 Nevadans lost benefits when the program expired Saturday. Nationally, 1.3 million were cut off from receiving unemployment.

Nevada officials estimate 800 Nevadans will lose benefits each week as they exhaust their 26 weeks of state-paid unemployment insurance unless Congress extends the federal program that was enacted in 2008 at the height of the recession when unemployment soared. It allowed the long-term unemployed in hard hit states like Nevada to receive benefits for up to 99 weeks. The duration was cut to 73 weeks last year.

Looking ahead to 2014, Reid said one of his priorities will be addressing the wealth gap between the rich, poor and middle class.

“The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, the middle class is getting squeezed and it’s just not fair,” said Reid, adding that raising the minimum wage would be another top priority, along with extending jobless benefits.

He said he’s scheduled to appear on a Sunday news show to outline his legislative goals in the midterm election year.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

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LIGNET: US Shift on Iran Forcing Saudis to Shore up Gulf Alliance.


Image: LIGNET: US Shift on Iran Forcing Saudis to Shore up Gulf Alliance

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Abdul Latif Al Zayani, left, and Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah, Kuwait’s minister for foreign affairs, attend the last session of the 34th GCC summit in Kuwait on Dec. 11, 2013. (AP)

Iran’s recent diplomatic breakthrough with the United States has invaded the comfort zone of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and forced it to embrace unification of militaries as well as true political and economic union. Rising suspicion of the Saudi push for closer solidarity could be linked to aggressive Iranian lobbying of several Gulf countries in recent months.

Click here to read the full analysis from top intelligence experts at LIGNET.com.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Pope Denounces Discrimination, Violence Against Christians.


Image: Pope Denounces Discrimination, Violence Against Christians

VATICAN CITYPope Francis on Thursday denounced discrimination against Christians, including in countries where religious freedom is in theory guaranteed by law.

He delivered his traditional noon prayer and address to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square on the day the Roman Catholic Church commemorates St. Stephen, its first martyr.

The 77-year-old Argentine pope asked the crowd for a moment of silent prayer for “Christians who are unjustly accused and are subjected to every type of violence.”

Francis, celebrating his first Christmas season as pope, said “limitations and discrimination” against Christians was taking place not only in countries that do not grant full religious freedom but also where “on paper, freedom and human rights are protected.”

“This injustice should be denounced and eliminated,” he said.

Francis: A Pope for Our Time, The Definitive Biography 

Francis did not name any countries but the Vatican has long urged Saudi Arabia, the site of Islam’s holiest places, to lift a ban on Christians worshiping in public.This year there have been a number of incidents of intolerance and attacks against minority Christians in Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Sudan, Nigeria, and other countries where their rights are guaranteed by law.

Francis, departing from his prepared text, said he was sure that Christians suffering from either discrimination or violence were “more numerous today than in he early times of the Church.”

In the past, the Vatican has also expressed concern over what former Pope Benedict called “sophisticated forms of hostility” against Christians in rich countries, such as restricting use of religious symbols in public places.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Senators Urge China to Lift Defense Zone Over Islands.


Image: Senators Urge China to Lift Defense Zone Over Islands

By Drew MacKenzie

A bipartisan group of senators is asking China to lift the air defense zone it created in November over three deserted islands that both Beijing and Japan claim as their own, going further than what the Obama Administration has requested.

Vice President Joe Biden expressed “deep concerns” to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing in early December about the Air Defense Identification Zone. But he apparently did not ask China to lift it, even though the deserted islands in the East China Sea were actually purchased by Japan. China has requested that it be informed of all flights through the new zone, and the administration has recommended that U.S. commercial carriers comply with that request, The Hill is reporting.

“I don’t think anyone should be reporting to them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

“If the Chinese are willing to shoot down a civilian aircraft on an illegitimate claim, then they’re a criminal government,” the Florida senator told The Hill. “Airlines are free to do whatever they choose, but I don’t think our government should be telling them to do that because it sends confusing messages.”

When China laid claim to the Senkaku islands and declared the air defense zone, the U.S. immediately flew two B-52 bombers right through it. The U.S. has also sent more ships and has opened more outposts in the region. China is feeling threatened by the move.

While efforts have been made by both Chinese and U.S. officials to calm tensions, neither country has backed down.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said he thought it was a mistake that Biden didn’t make the issue central to his meeting with the Chinese leader.

Rubio, along with three Democratic and Republican committee leaders, sent a letter earlier in December to China’s ambassador to the U.S asking Beijing to back off.

“We urge your government not to implement this ADIZ as announced, and to refrain from taking similar provocative actions elsewhere in the region,” the group wrote. “There is nothing for China to gain by undermining regional stability and threatening the peace and prosperity that is the shared object of all Asia-Pacific nations.”

The White House has not taken an official position on the territorial dispute, but Chinese officials say the U.S. has long sided with Japan, citing the fact that the islands are mentioned in the 1960 Defense treaty with Japan.

“It seems absurd that [the U.S.] would commit itself to defend a few small islands it has no position about,” said one Chinese military official.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Paul Ryan: Pope ‘Triggering Exact Dialogue We Should Be Having’.


Image: Paul Ryan: Pope 'Triggering Exact Dialogue We Should Be Having'

By Drew MacKenzie

Pope Francis’ controversial economic views have startled Republicans who are now having to rethink their relationship with the Catholic churchaccording to Politico.

The pontiff has recently attacked “trickle-down economics, saying that the theory has never been confirmed by fact,” and “that it expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.”

The pope also criticized “the idolatry of money” and slammed capitalism as a “new tyranny.”

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has already called Time’s “Person of the Year” a closet Marxist and now Republicans in Washington are taking aim at the pope, who took over the office in March.

New York Rep. Peter King, who went to a Catholic school and graduated from the University of Notre Dame’s law school, told Politico that the pope’s economic statements are demeaning.

King said that Francis uses the phrase “trickle-down” as a “pejorative” term, “like some liberal speechwriter stuck it in.” He said, “I genuinely believe (that) supply-side economics does more to help people come out of poverty, move up in the world.”

But King added, “On the other hand, we shouldn’t be dwelling on wealth. The guidance I’d take from this is, when I support conservative economics, I should do it in a way that helps the most people.”

Arizona Sen. John McCain said that, although he was “impressed” with the pope’s modern day outlook on social issues and helping the poor, “his economic perspective I’m not particularly enamored with.”

The pope maintains that he wants to de-emphasize the church’s position on issues like abortion and gay marriage and instead concentrate on more important problems such as helping the poor and the underprivileged.

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a Catholic who is considered a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, said that he did not believe that Francis was a Marxist. But he pointed out in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the pontiff’s background is rooted in the Peronist movement in Argentina, where the state took a leading role in the economy.

“The guy is from Argentina, they haven’t had real capitalism in Argentina,” Ryan said. “They have crony capitalism in Argentina. They don’t have a true free enterprise system.”

He added, “What I love about the pope is he is triggering the exact kind of dialogue we ought to be having.”

The pope’s economic opinions have also annoyed former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a tea party favorite, who said Francis had made “some statements that to me sound kind of liberal.” But she later went back on that statement, according to Politico.

The pope, however, is taking all the criticism in his stride, especially from Rush Limbaugh. “The Marxist ideology is wrong,” he said. “But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Netanyahu: Any US Spying on Israel Is Not ‘Acceptable to Us’.


Image: Netanyahu: Any US Spying on Israel Is Not 'Acceptable to Us'

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, commenting on allegations the United States had spied on Israel’s leaders, said on Monday such activity was unacceptable and had no place in the allies’ close relationship.Documents leaked on Friday by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden showed the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ had in 2009 targeted an email address listed as belonging to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and monitored emails of senior defense officials.

“With regard to things published in the past few days, I have asked for an examination of the matter,” Netanyahu said in broadcast remarks, in a clear reference to the alleged espionage.

He did not elaborate on whether Israel intended to ask Washington for clarifications.

“In the close ties between Israel and the United States, there are things that must not be done and that are not acceptable to us,” Netanyahu said, speaking to legislators from his right-wing Likud party.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 
On Sunday, several Israeli Cabinet members and lawmakers said disclosure of U.S. spying on Israel was an opportunity to press Washington to free jailed Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.

Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, was sentenced to a life term in 1987 in the United States for spying for Israel. A succession of U.S. presidents have spurned Israeli calls for his pardon.

In what appeared to be an attempt to calm the clamor, Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel had constantly sought Pollard’s release and did not need any “special occasion” to discuss his case with Washington.

Israeli officials have played down the importance of any information the United States may have gleaned from its alleged espionage activities.

Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel had always assumed that even its allies spied on it.

A statement issued by Olmert’s office, said the reports, if accurate, referred to a public email address and that chances that any security or intelligence damage had been caused were minuscule.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Israel Police Blame Palestinian Militants for Bus Blast Near Tel Aviv.


Image: Israel Police Blame Palestinian Militants for Bus Blast Near Tel Aviv

JERUSALEM — A pipe bomb believed to have been planted by Palestinian militants exploded on board a bus in central Israel just moments after it had been evacuated, police said, in the most serious attack inside Israel in more than a year.

The explosion came at a sensitive time in Mideast peace efforts. Israel and the Palestinians resumed talks last summer for the first time in nearly five years, and the U.S.-brokered negotiations have made little visible progress. The explosion threatened to further poison what has become a tense and negative atmosphere.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there were no injuries in the blast, which took place in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam. The explosion blew windows out of the bus and charred the sides of the vehicle.

“Based on the findings at the scene by bomb disposal experts, it was a terrorist attack,” Rosenfeld said. “We’re continuing to search the area for suspects.”

Editor’s Note: ObamaCare Is Here. Are You Prepared?
Rosenfeld said the nature of the target and the nature of the device led authorities to determine that militants, not criminals, were behind the bombing. He declined to elaborate, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

He said the bomb was discovered in a bag on the bus. The driver quickly ordered passengers to get off, and the bomb exploded shortly after as a bomb squad expert was inspecting it. The police sapper was not injured but was taken to a hospital to be evaluated.

It was the most serious attack inside Israel since a bomb explosion wounded more than 20 people in Tel Aviv in November 2012. At the time, Israel was involved in heavy fighting with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

A decade ago, Israel experienced a rash of Palestinian suicide bombings on buses, in restaurants and in other public spaces. More than 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis died in several years of fighting.

But tensions have subsided in recent years. The neighboring West Bank, however, has seen a recent uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence, thought senior Israeli officials believe the various incidents there have not been connected to each other.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

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