Pakistani authorities on October 10 reopened the Torkham border crossing into Afghanistan for NATO forces, ending an 11-day blockade. The Pakistani government imposed the blockade in response to a September 30 NATO airstrike at the border post, which resulted in the killing of three Pakistani troops. On October 5, the United States took responsibility for the helicopter attack and issued an apology, explaining that the pilots mistook the soldiers for insurgents. “We deeply regret this tragic loss of life and will continue to work with the Pakistan military and government to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” said General David H. Petraeus.
Perhaps predictably, President Obama has enjoyed an increase in approval ratings since the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death on Sunday.
A group of Facebook activists were caught attempting to smear GOP presidential contender Ron Paul by dressing up as members of the Ku Klux Klan and appearing at his events in South Carolina, where the next caucus is set to take place January 21. The entire effort was intended to depict Paul supporters as racists.
President Obama signed into law yesterday a two-month extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut and emergency federal unemployment benefits. The new law also includes the "doc-fix," which delays scheduled reductions in the payments doctors receive for the services they provide Medicare patients. Earlier in the day, both Houses of Congress agreed to the legislation by unanimous consent, a procedure that enabled them to complete congressional action even though most lawmakers had already left Washington for the holidays.
The long string of Republican primaries and caucuses will begin in Iowa on January 3. Of course, candidates will gain delegates based on their performances in these contests — but the relationship between their voting performances and the number of delegates they earn will be different from in the past.
Forty members of Congress have sent a letter urging the House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders to protest provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that would legalize the indefinite detention of American citizens. The NDAA first passed in the House of Representatives weeks ago but endured strong opposition from a handful of lawmakers in the U.S. Senate last Thursday, where the bill was passed but with the addition of an amendment that forced the measure to be reconciled and revised for a final vote. The revised version of the NDAA was finalized on Tuesday, and a vote on it is set to take place this week.
Amidst all of the controversy surrounding the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Obama administration attempted to paint itself as an oppositional force against the bill, threatening to veto it if it passed. Now, however, Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich., left), co-author of the bill, says that the administration in fact heavily lobbied to have removed from the bill's language that would have protected American citizens from some of the bill’s provisions, such as indefinite detention without trial.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul continues to enjoy significant success in Iowa polls. In fact, according to the latest NBC/Marist Iowa poll, Dr. Paul is currently the only candidate who can beat Obama. Meanwhile, another Iowa poll shows he has significant favorability among the other candidates.
As the year 2011 has witnessed an inordinate number of protests, particularly in the state of Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has proposed a number of steps to restrict certain displays of opposition in his state. Walker has indicated that he wants to introduce a fee to protestors who wish to demonstrate.
Thursday was a big day for the U.S. Senate, which stayed in session later than usual to attend to a few significant items, such as the controversial National Defense Authorization Act, which passed, and two competing payroll tax cut bills, both of which failed. The payroll tax cut bills marked a role reversal for the two parties, as it was the Democrats pushing for the cuts and the Republicans who stood in opposition to them, demanding that the cuts be paid for without raising taxes.