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Nov. 13, 2012 at 7:56 AM   |   Comments

Petraeus probe spreads to Gen. John Allen

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- The FBI sex scandal probe that led CIA Director David Petraeus to resign now includes U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

At the same time, an FBI agent investigating Petraeus' extramarital affair was banned from the probe after he allegedly sent shirtless photos of himself to Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old Tampa, Fla., woman whose close friendship with Petraeus is tied to his downfall, The Wall Street Journal reported.

FBI officials were to brief the Senate and House intelligence committees about the case Tuesday.

Concerning Allen, the FBI uncovered 20,000 to 30,000 pages of "potentially inappropriate" emails between the four-star general and Kelley, a senior defense official told The Washington Post.

Kelley reportedly received threatening emails from Paula Broadwell, the woman with whom Petraeus had an extramarital affair.

FBI agents searched Broadwell's home in Charlotte, N.C., Monday and were seen by reporters carrying away boxes. A law enforcement official told The New York Times Broadwell had consented to the search.

Allen succeeded Petraeus as commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan in July. He since was appointed NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe and is scheduled to take office in early 2013, pending Senate confirmation.


Obama, labor parley on tax hikes for rich

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Labor leaders planned to press U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday to stay strong in his push for higher taxes on upper-income earners, labor officials said.

"We're not asking anyone to do anything that is politically courageous. It's not politically courageous to implement the broad mandate that the president and Democrats received to raise taxes on the top 2 percent," AFL-CIO spokesman Jeff Hauser told The Wall Street Journal ahead of the 11:30 a.m. White House meeting.

"Clearly there was a mandate from this election. The American people are with the president on taxing the wealthiest Americans," Service Employees International Union government affairs Director Peter Colavito told CNN.

"Our people expect leaders in both parties to honor that mandate and ask everyone to pay their fair share of taxes," he said.

The meeting is part of a White House plan to publicly push to solidify support for tax hikes on the wealthy along with spending cuts to cut the deficit, administration officials said.

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


Congress' plate full beyond 'fiscal cliff'

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Farm subsidies, doctor payments and jobless benefits, as well as the "fiscal cliff," are on lawmakers' "to do" list when Congress returns to Washington Tuesday.

A multiyear omnibus farm bill to replace a 2008 bill that expired Sept. 30 passed the Senate over the summer, but a different version is stuck in the House after being passed by the House Agriculture Committee.

The Senate bill would save $23 billion over 10 years while the House panel bill would save $35 billion over that period.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said last month he would bring the issue to the floor before the end of the year.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., told the Oklahoma Farm Report last week he hoped Cantor is true to his word.


Syrian troops bomb rebel-held town

DAMASCUS, Syria, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Government troops bombed a rebel-held Syrian village near Turkey Tuesday following a confrontation with Israeli tanks in the Golan Heights a day earlier.

The attacks came after the Syrian opposition announced a unity pact that drew praise from foreign powers backing the rebel effort to oust President Bashar Assad, The New York Times reported.

Witnesses said the aerial assault on Ras al-Ain, yards from the Turkish border, killed at least 20 people and destroyed several structures Monday and Tuesday. Ras al-Ain is an unofficial crossing point for thousands of Syrians fleeing for Turkey.

Witnesses said the force of the bombings shattered windows in businesses and houses in Ceylanpinar, Turkey, just across the border, the Times said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu protested the Ras al-Ain bombing to Syria Monday, the Anatolian News Agency reported.

In Israel, military leaders said Israeli tanks deployed in the Golan Heights, seized by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, hit a Syrian mobile artillery launcher Monday after several days of mortar fire from the Syrian side of the cease-fire line.

Military officials and analysts in Israel told the Times they think the shelling was unintentional and Israel doesn't want to be drawn into the Syria conflict, which began in March 2011.


Heavy snow closes roads, schools in China

HARBIN, China, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Highways and schools in two northeast Chinese provinces were closed Tuesday, by two days of snow and sleet, local authorities said.

In Heilongjiang province, major highways linking the capital Harbin with other cities in the province have been closed since 7:30 p.m. Monday local time, Xinhua reported.

Some 400 coaches were stranded in the heavy snow on Monday, said Cui Yang, an official with the Harbin Highway Transport Terminal. He predicted more would be stranded on Tuesday.

Flights in and out of Harbin Taiping International Airport have not been affected.

Schools in mountainous and semi-mountainous regions of Jilin province were urged to remain closed until Wednesday. Principals in other parts of the province were asked to stop or reschedule classes if the weather worsened.

In the Jilin capital of Changchun, traffic authorities have increased the number of buses to help residents move around the city.

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