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Nov. 12, 2012 at 8:22 AM   |   Comments

U.S. lawmakers vow to dig into FBI probe

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers vow to dig into an FBI probe that led David Petraeus to quit the CIA, as a report said Paula Broadwell may not have sent probe-sparking emails.

At the same time, high-level FBI and U.S. Justice Department officials knew as far back as late summer about Petraeus' extramarital affair with Broadwell, his biographer, government officials told The New York Times and other news organizations.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder knew about threatening email links to Petraeus at that time, The Wall Street Journal reported. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., learned about them in October, the Times, the Journal and other news organizations reported.

Cantor passed on the information he had to FBI Director Robert Mueller, evidently not knowing the FBI already knew about it, the news organizations said. But he didn't tell the House Intelligence Committee or other key lawmakers then because he and other staffers didn't know how credible the information was, Fox News reported.

Holder, Mueller and Cantor had no immediate comment.

Other top lawmakers said they were kept in the dark until just after the presidential election.

"We received no advance notice" of the FBI probe that revealed the affair between Petraeus, 60, who quit as CIA director Friday, and Broadwell, 40, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told "Fox News Sunday."

"It was like a lightning bolt," she said.

"This is something that could have had an effect on national security," Feinstein said, and she was "absolutely" going to investigate why she, committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and perhaps other key lawmakers were not informed.


Communist Congress picking China's leaders

BEIJING, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- China's Communist Party Congress is picking new leadership that will determine whether liberals or conservatives will be at the country's helm in coming years.

The party, which has ruled China since 1949 under a one-party system, opened its once-in-five-years convention last Thursday amid tight security in Beijing with more than 2,200 delegates attending. This year's congress will also see a once-in-a-decade change in the leadership of the world's second-largest economy.

The delegates began the leadership change process Sunday by considering a list of nominees from which they will pick through secret balloting the party's Central Committee.

The new Central Committee members will then choose the powerful 25-member Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee, which will be announced at the end of the congress this week.

Observers say Xi Jinping, likely to take over from party General Secretary and Chinese President Hu Jintao at the top of the new leadership, Vice Premier Li Keqiang, an economist expected to succeed Premier Wen Jiabao, will be in the Politburo Standing Committee.


Obama to leverage public support

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama plans a public push to solidify support for tax hikes on the wealthy along with spending cuts to cut the deficit, officials said.

Obama is to meet with labor leaders Tuesday and business leaders Wednesday in the hope of winning their backing for his proposal to let tax rates rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent on taxable incomes of more than $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples, the officials told The Wall Street Journal.

Ending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for those wealthy people would raise about $440 billion in new revenue over 10 years, the White House estimates.

He also plans to travel outside of Washington in the hope of broadening national support for the idea, which White House officials believe won voter backing in last week's election, the Journal said.

Obama's meetings with labor and business leaders -- who can influence different lawmaker segments on Capitol Hill -- are to come before he meets with congressional leaders Friday.

The White House wants roughly $1.5 trillion in new taxes over 10 years, largely targeting the wealthy, coupled with spending cuts Obama said in September would reduce the long-term deficit $3 trillion beyond the $1 trillion agreed to as part of a deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.

Congress returns to Washington Tuesday with a looming year-end "fiscal cliff" -- a combination of big tax increases and spending cuts totaling hundreds of billions of dollars scheduled to begin Jan. 1 the Congressional Budget Office predicts would drive the U.S. economy back into recession next year and push the jobless rate to 9.1 percent.

Republicans have said since the election that they're now willing to soften their anti-tax stance to avoid the cliff.


Army: Rockets hit Israel despite 'truce'

BEERSHEBA, Israel, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Rockets were fired by Gaza militants at Netivot, Ashkelon, Sderot and the Eshkol region in Israel but no serious injuries were reported, the Israeli army said.

The rocket attacks came after reports that Egypt had mediated a cease-fire with Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza, Israeli television channels reported.

More than 110 rockets were fired at southern Israel Saturday night and Sunday, the army said.

Twenty-six people in Netivot were treated for shock, Army Radio reported.

The Islamic Jihad and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine refused to accept the cease-fire and called for continued response to Israel's "aggression," the Palestinian news agency Ma'an said.

Israel, which had not officially commented on the reported truce, conducted three strikes on terrorist targets in northern Gaza early Monday, officials said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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