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Sept. 19, 2011 at 4:59 PM   |   Comments

Obama's reduction plan has cuts, hikes

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- President Obama's debt-reduction plan pays for the American Jobs Act and produces a net savings of $3 trillion-plus over the next decade, the White House said.

Coupled with the $1 trillion in spending cuts already signed into law for a total savings of more than $4 trillion over the next 10 years, by 2017 the country would be in a spot "where current spending is no longer adding to our debt, debt is falling as a share of the economy and deficits are at a sustainable level," the White House said Monday in a release.

Besides noting the $1.2 trillion in cuts included in the Budget Control Act, Obama's recommendations to the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction would realize savings through:

-- $580 billion in cuts and reforms to a wide range of mandatory programs.

-- $1.1 trillion from the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan and the transition from a military- to a civilian-led mission in Iraq.

-- $1.5 trillion from tax reform by closing loopholes and eliminating tax breaks that benefit the wealthiest Americans and big corporations, among other things.

-- $430 billion in additional interest savings.

Obama said during remarks Monday in the Rose Garden that the spending cuts-to-revenue increases ratio for his plan is $2 to $1.

However, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said last week any plan that includes a tax increase doesn't stand a chance.


Padilla to get new sentence

ATLANTA, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court in Atlanta Monday ordered a new sentencing for convicted U.S. terrorist Jose Padilla, suggesting 17 years was too light.

Padilla was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in 2002, with Bush administration officials saying he was scouting U.S. locations for an attack with a "dirty bomb" -- a conventional explosive wrapped in radioactive material.

He was held in a military brig for more than three years as an "enemy combatant" until moved to a civil prison and charged in civilian court, but not with the "dirty bomb" allegation.

A federal jury in Miami indicted Padilla, Adham Hassoun and Kifah Jayyousi, along with Mohammed Youssef and Kassem Daher, on charges of providing material support to terrorists.

Youssef and Daher remain fugitives.

The three in custody were convicted in April 2007 of conspiracy to murder persons outside the United States and maiming persons outside the country.

Padilla was sentenced to 208 months, Hassoun to 188 months and Jayyousi to 152 months on one count and lesser imprisonment on other counts, to be served concurrently.

All three appealed, and the U.S. government appealed Padilla's sentence.

The appeals court panel ruled 2-1 Monday, "The record shows that the government presented evidence that the defendants formed a support cell linked to radical Islamists worldwide and conspired to send money, recruits and equipment overseas to groups that the defendants knew used violence in their efforts to establish Islamic states," ruling against all three.


U.S. violent crime declines 6 percent

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Violent crime in the United States declined 6 percent in 2010 from the previous year, the fourth straight year of decreases, the FBI said Monday.

The number of violent crimes fell to about 1.24 million in 2010, the bureau said in a news release.

All categories of violent crime had lower numbers. Murders fell by 4.2 percent, forcible rapes by 5 percent, robberies 10 percent and aggravated assaults 4.1 percent.

Property crimes fell to about 9 million in 2010, down 2.7 percent from the previous year, marking the eighth straight year of decreases in that category, the FBI said.

The number of motor vehicle thefts fell 7.4 percent, burglaries 2 percent, larceny-thefts 2.4 percent and arson 7.6 percent.

Taking a longer view, the FBI said its annual uniform crime reporting program showed violent crime in 2010 was 13.2 percent below the 2006 level while property crimes dropped 9.3 percent during the same period.

The FBI's crime report is based on data from more than 18,000 city, county, university and college, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies.


20 Libyan rebel fighters killed in Sirte

WINZRIK, Libya, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- More than 20 rebel fighters were killed in Sirte, one of the remaining strongholds of ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a rebel spokesman said Monday.

National Transitional Council spokesman Adel Ghulaek said another 31 fighters suffered injuries when Gadhafi loyalists hiding in parts of the northern town where many civilians are located fired rocket-propelled grenades Sunday, CNN reported.

"Our men are not even firing back because they do not want to kill any innocent people," Ghulaek said.

He said two helicopters evacuated injured rebel fighters Sunday night.

Residents of the southern Libyan town of Winzrik celebrated as anti-Gadhafi forces drove through the town.

"Raise your head high, you're a free Libyan!" the residents chanted.

"I can't explain -- the feeling is wonderful," Muhannad Zarouq said. "Many emotions -- I'm so happy. I'm so glad."

Civilians fighting Gadhafi loyalists encountered little resistance Sunday in Sabha, which had been a stronghold for Gadhafi supporters, CNN said.


U.S. firmly against Palestinian state bid

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- The United States remains firmly against the Palestinian Authority's unilateral statehood bid, the White House said ahead of the U.N. General Assembly session.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to take the statehood question to the General Assembly for a vote.

"We remain where we were on the inadvisability of unilateral actions that will bring the Palestinians ... no closer to ... the statehood they seek," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday.

The U.N. General Assembly opens Tuesday and President Obama is among the scheduled speakers for that day.

"As a rule, this administration [supports] the actions that move the parties closer together and [does] not support the things that move them further apart," Carney said. "That is our guiding principle, if you will."

The administration also believes the only way Israel and the Palestinians will achieve a two-state solution is through direct negotiations, Carney said.

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