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Friday, November 16, 2012

Palestinian Rocket Lands Near Jerusalem as Israel Prepares Invasion

Palestinian militants fired rockets aimed at Jerusalem as the conflict in Gaza escalated, the first time since 1970 rockets are fired at the city, according to newspaper Haaretz. Jerusalem, which is holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, was thought to be off-limits for militant attacks as Palestinians also consider it to be their capital. While no one was harmed, one rocket fell near a West Bank Jewish settlement south of Jerusalem. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) called on 75,000 reservists as they prepared for a possible ground invasion of Gaza. The death toll rose to 29 on the Palestinian side, from 16 yesterday, while no Israeli civilian was hurt today. Rockets kept being launched and explosions continued, breaking hopes for a ceasefire during Egypt’s Prime Minister Hesham Kandil visit to Gaza.

Obama Meets House and Senate Leaders on Deficit

U.S. President Barack Obama met today with the Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress to discuss a plan to tackle the deficit and avoid hitting the fiscal cliff. While the meeting was mostly symbolic, the lawmakers seemed optimistic a compromise could be reached and called the discussion “constructive.” Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said he “outlined a framework that deals with reforming our tax code and reforming our spending.” Though Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell showed no indication that they would cave on Obama’s wish to increase taxes on households that earn over $250,000 a year, Boehner said he believed his proposal is “consistent with the President’s call for a fair and balanced approach.” As Obama is leaving for Asia until Wednesday and lawmakers will be off for Thanksgiving, there are no expectations that anything will be resolved before December.

Jordanians Call for King to Step Down as Fuel Prices Rise

Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to demand the “downfall of the regime” after Jordan’s government ended fuel subsidies on Wednesday in order to avoid bankruptcy. The Muslim Brotherhood joined the protesters to topple the moderate regime of King Abdullah II, who signed the first free trade agreement with the U.S. in the Middle East. Demonstrations, which became violent in poorer areas of the country since Wednesday, could turn into a Jordanian Arab Spring, which was sparked at the beginning of last year by sharp increases in the prices of food and fuel. Foreign aid and a disruption in the gas supply from Egypt pushed energy prices up as the budget deficit swelled to 11 percent of gross domestic product. Abdullah, a reformist king who has accepted to see his powers limited by the parliament this year, has promoted foreign investment and economic growth while balancing ethnic interests since the beginning of his reign in 1999. The increase in prices “deprives Jordanians of the minimum requirements of a decent living,” said Muslim Brotherhood Leader Sheikh Hamam Said.

JPMorgan, Credit Suisse Fined for Misleading Investors on Risky Bonds

Banks JPMorgan and Crédit Suisse will pay fines of $296.9 million and $120 million, respectively, to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a settlement for civil charges that they misled investors on the quality of mortgage bonds they sold them before the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis. The money will go to the injured parties. While the banks were accused of negligence and wrongdoing in the sale of risky residencial mortgage-backed securities (RMBS), neither JPMorgan nor Crédit Suisse will admit wrongdoing, and no individual will be charged. “Misrepresentations in connection with the creation and sale of mortgage securities contributed greatly to the tremendous losses suffered by investors once the U.S. housing market collapsed,” said SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami.

Petraeus Tells Congress Benghazi Attack Was Linked to Al Qaeda

Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director David Petraeus, who resigned last week citing an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, told the U.S. Congress today it was known early on that the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had been planned by groups linked to Al Qaeda. The details of the assault, which claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American staffers, were kept from officials like U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice to avoid tipping off insurgents about the fact the CIA was listening into their communications, Petraeus said. Rice has been criticized by Republicans for failing to immediately acknowledge the raid was a terrorist attack, but Rice’s comments were based on unclassified talking points. At the time, an anti-Muslim video sparked protests across the Arab world, and Rice believed Stevens’ death was caused by a spontaneous demonstrations.

Weekend Read: A Mormon Reporter on the Romney Bus

A Mormon reporter who rode on Republican Candidate Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign bus says he believes the U.S. is getting used to the faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In BuzzFeed.

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