The Obama administration meanwhile has given new indications it will accept Republicans’ push for an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. President Obama had previously called for maintaining the cuts for everyone except those making $250,000 or higher. But in an interview with the Huffington Post, White House adviser David Axelrod suggested the administration has no choice but to extend the tax cuts across the board, so long as Republicans insist on keeping them for the wealthy.
The U.S. reportedly intends to extend a deadline for withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by an additional three years. According to McClatchy Newspapers, the Obama administration will formally call for the withdrawal of the U.S.-led occupation force in 2014 instead of the current date of July 2011. The plan will be unveiled at a NATO gathering in Portugal next week. As with the 2011 date, the 2014 deadline won’t be binding and could be extended far longer. On a visit to Afghanistan, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said the 2011 deadline had been a mistake.
Sen. John McCain: “It was wrong to set the date of July of mid-2011. It sent the wrong message, and it created a problem, and we need to have the President of the United States state unequivocally that it will be solely condition-based. And so, I worry a great deal about the effect not only here, but it encourages our enemies and it discourages our friends.”
In other news from Afghanistan, the U.S.-led NATO force says its troops may have killed three Afghan civilians and wounded another in Helmand province. NATO says the civilians were inadvertently attacked during a gunfight with Afghan militants.
The cholera outbreak in Haiti has reached at least one of the camps for earthquake survivors in the capital Port-au-Prince. According to Al Jazeera, at least one person was successfully treated for the disease earlier this week, and five other cases are suspected. The cholera outbreak has killed over 600 people and infected over 7,000 others.
Iraq’s main political factions appear to have broken an eight-month deadlock with an agreement on the makeup of a new government. Under the deal, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will get a second term in office as head of the Shiite alliance while Iraqi Kurds would maintain control of the presidency. A member of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s Sunni-backed Iraqiya faction would be named parliamentary speaker while Allawi will lead a council of strategic policies.
Thousands of people rallied in the South Korean capital of Seoul today against the ongoing gathering of world leaders at the G20 summit. More than 80 groups have formed a coalition to hold a parallel “People’s Summit” as the G20 takes place. The rally followed a candlelight vigil against the G20 Wednesday night.
Protester: “When we consider these G20 summits, there has been no substantial outcome. Therefore, we think the G20 summit should have a different direction to reflect the poor people, which are the victims of the global financial crisis.”
An internal Pentagon review has concluded that repealing the ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers would have a minimal effect on U.S. war efforts. According to the Washington Post, more than 70 percent of respondents in a survey of active-duty and reserve troops reported having no opposition to a repeal. President Obama has said he won’t push for a repeal vote in Congress until the review is submitted on December 1st.
British police say one of the two mail bombs intercepted last month would have exploded in U.S. airspace had it been detonated. Forensic testing shows the bomb was timed to explode over the U.S. eastern seaboard seven hours after leaving Britain. The package was removed in Britain following a tip from Saudi intelligence.
A new study says Arizona’s notorious anti-immigrant law has led to a mass exodus of Hispanics from the state. According to the BBVA Bancomer Foundation, some 100,000 Hispanics have left Arizona since the start of the year.
In California, Oakland city councilmember Jean Quan has become the first Asian American woman elected mayor of a major U.S. city. Quan narrowly beat out heavily favored opponent Don Perata with 51 percent of the vote. Quan is also Oakland’s first female mayor.
Jean Quan: “This is really a victory for a grassroots effort in this city. And what I mean by that is literally nearly a thousand volunteers walked door to door, talked neighbor to neighbor, phoned their neighbors, joined us at over 200 house parties. We, our family, personally walked in about two-thirds of all the precincts in Oakland.”
And the human rights group Amnesty International is calling on the Obama administration to prosecute former president George W. Bush following his admission to authorizing the waterboarding torture technique. Writing in his new memoir Decision Points, Bush says he first granted the CIA permission to waterboard self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In a statement, Amnesty International said, “Under international law, anyone involved in torture must be brought to justice, and that does not exclude [Bush]. If his admission is substantiated, the U.S. has the obligation to prosecute him.”