Good evening; this is the early edition of the news.
In what Republican lawmakers described as ‘an easy vote’, the House today moved a step closer to avoiding a year-end government shutdown when it passed a one trillion dollar omnibus spending bill. The Senate expects a floor vote on the compromise bill soon, and rhetoric from both parties suggested that Senate Democrats are increasingly flexible, probably due to the new leverage Republicans have gained by passing their own version of the payroll-tax-holiday extension.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said the millionaires surtax long demanded by Democrats and President Obama as an offset for the payroll-tax-cut extension is no longer a part of the negotiations.
It’s unclear at this time whether or not the provision requiring the President to rule on the permitting of the Keystone pipeline within sixty days will be removed due to the threat of a veto. He did not make good on the veto threat of the National Defense Authorization Act, as Senator Lamar Alexander noted.
Senator Orin Hatch said in an interview today that Obama was ‘dilly-dallying on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project’.
“I mean, my gosh, it makes sense. It is a shovel-ready project, ready to go right now. The pipes are already bought. It just has to be done,” Hatch said. “All we need [is] a president who will step up and start to lead and quit acting like some scaredy cat hiding in some closet in the White House.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that he has negotiated with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and senior White House officials on the payroll-tax cut, extended unemployment benefits and a freeze of scheduled cuts to doctors’ Medicare payments, and is hopeful of an imminent resolution.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) noted that the leaders’ comments were “more temperate” than on Wednesday and “reflect a holiday spirit that will lead us to an ordered and dignified conclusion.”
The Obama administration’s Interior Department today approved a plan by Royal Dutch Shell to drill in waters off Alaska’s coast. The approval is a victory for Shell, which has been pushing for years for federal approval to drill in Arctic waters off the state’s coast.
In other news relating to Royal Dutch Shell, The Supreme Court said in October that it will hear an appeal in a suit against Royal Dutch Shell PLC that poses the question of whether corporations can be sued in U.S. courts for allegedly aiding human-rights abuses overseas.
The plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case accuse Shell of aiding government forces that killed and abused thousands of people over two decades ago in the oil-rich Ogoni region of Nigeria, where Shell was exploring for oil. A U.S. appeals court in New York had dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that corporations cannot be held liable in this country for violations of international human rights law.
Shell has denied the allegations.
Bradley Manning, the Army private who allegedly leaked classified information to WikiLeaks, started his pre- trial process today with an Article 32 hearing at Fort Meade in Maryland today.
According to Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Network, Manning will receive a fair and impartial trial, and blasted critics for claiming Manning was being held in inhumane solitary confinement for months before his trial. He added that “the Obama Administration investigated those claims and found there was no basis for them”.
The White House today sent out emails to all contacts praising the fact that the President has successfully ended the war in Iraq, and that it is now a stable nation, but advising that other nations should not interfere in the affairs of the fledgling democracy.
The President said that the remainder of the troops serving in Iraq will be home soon, and that he and his wife Michelle are committed to making sure they receive all the care that they require, and thanked them for their service in defeating our enemies in the ongoing War on Terror.
In health news, reports of a nationwide shortage of life-saving cancer drugs and anesthesia medications has drawn attention, but an ongoing dearth of ADHD drugs has taken a toll on millions of adults and children who need them daily to focus.
It has been reported that British-born journalist and atheist intellectual Christopher Hitchins died of pneumonia last night in Houston. The pneumonia was said to be a complication of his esophageal cancer.
In business news today, a newly released federal report shows that the number of small bank loans to business has fallen to the lowest point in more than a decade, cutting the flow of money to a sector that’s usually a job-creation powerhouse.
The SEC today filed charges against six former executives – including former CEOs – at mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with securities fraud, alleging they misled investors about their exposure to risky subprime mortgage debt.
“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives told the world that their subprime exposure was substantially smaller than it really was,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division. Khuzami added that these misstatements “misled the market about the amount of risk on the company’s books.”
In online news, the infamous Unknown Blogger, with her trademark grocery bag with cut-out eye and mouth holes over her head, released a video on youtube in which she declared that:
“There is no longer any electoral remedy for reclaiming our Constitutional democracy. It is clear that our nation’s tax code, life-killing extractive energy and foreign policies, and domestic police-state ‘security’ in aid of total corporate profit and domination over ordinary citizens will continue to be sold to the highest bidders representing multinational profiteers. The sole remedy left to The People is massive uprising and revolution. Occupy everything!” she advised; “There is no turning back now. If we allow ourselves to be thwarted, the chance to take back our nation won’t come again in our lifetimes.”
The Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, could not be reached for comment by the time of this broadcast.
There are seven more shopping days until Christmas.
Good night from all of us at FUBS news; and good luck.
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace…