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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Petraeus Scandal Extends to Afghanistan Military Chief Allen

U.S. Marine General John Allen, chief U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has been implicated in the scandal that caused General David Petraeus, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to step down last week. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it seized “inappropriate” emails Allen sent to Jill Kelley, the woman whose complaint led to the revelation Petraeus was having an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. Allen was waiting to be nominated by President Barack Obama to become the commander of U.S. forces in Europe and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, a nomination Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asked Obama to delay. Through White House Spokesman Jay Carney, Obama affirmed his support for Allen. “He has faith in General Allen,” Carney said.

U.S. Treasury’s Geithner Says Higher Taxes for Rich Are Unavoidable

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council today, said higher taxes for top earner are a necessary part of the White House’s fiscal plan because revenue will not increase just by closing loopholes and tax breaks. Calling this approach “magical thinking,” Geithner reiterated that President Barack Obama is “not prepared to extend the upper-income tax cuts.” “When you take a cold hard look at the amount of resources you can raise from that top 2% of Americans from limiting deductions you will find yourself disappointed to the relative magnitude of the revenues we need,” Geithner said. His words came as Republicans in Congress and Obama braced for a new round of negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff, which will trigger $607 billion in spending cuts and tax increases if they don’t settle on a plan to tackle the deficit. Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner already said they would agree to new revenue, but no tax increases.

France Backs Syrian Rebel Coalition, Hints at Arming It

In his first press conference since his election in May, French President François Hollande said he backs the newly formed Syrian rebel group, the National Coalition of the Syrian Powers of Revolution and Opposition. France becomes the first western nation to recognize it as “the sole representative for the Syrian people,” a day after the six countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) announced their recognition of the new bloc. Hollande also said his government will consider arming the coalition. “As soon as it is a legitimate government of Syria, this question will be looked at by France, but also by all countries that recognize this government,” Hollande said. The U.K. and the U.S., while welcoming the formation of the new bloc, haven’t yet said whether they will follow France’s lead on treating it as a legitimate government.

Israel and Gaza Reach Egypt-Brokered Truce

A truce brokered by Egypt put a tentative end to five days of confrontations between Israel and Gaza today. Both sides said they will respect the truce until the other attacks them. Growing tension and instability at the Gaza border resulted in the death of seven Palestinians, including four civilians, and 40 wounded since Saturday. On Israel’s side, eight civilians were injured by some of the 115 rockets shot from Gaza and four soldiers were hurt by anti-tank missiles. Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, speaking of the armed groups in the territory, said “they showed a high sense of responsibility by saying they would respect calm should the Israeli occupation also abide by it.” “Whoever thinks they can harm the routine lives of southern residents without paying a very heavy price is mistaken,” said Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I am responsible for us exacting this price at the most proper time.”

Man in Vegetative State Told Scientists He Was Not in Pain

Scott Routley, a man from Canada who has been in a vegetative state for over 10 years, was able to tell scientists via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that he was not in pain. “Scott has been able to show he has a conscious, thinking mind,” British Neuroscientist Adrian Owen told the BBC. “We have scanned him several times and his pattern of brain activity shows he is clearly choosing to answer our questions. We believe he knows who and where he is.” Owen previously showed as many as one in five patients in vegetative states are conscious. This finding could help improve the treatment and quality of life of such patients.

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