WASHINGTON — House Republicans voted to keep tax rates at their current level through next year, using one of their last votes before recessing for most of August to approve politically symbolic legislation that President Barack Obama has vowed to veto.
The vote Wednesday was intended to showcase the contrast between the GOP view on taxes and the one pushed by Obama and congressional Democrats. The Senate, with its Democratic majority, already has approved a measure that would allow income tax rates to rise on earnings above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples – a move that would affect the top 2 percent of earners.
With no compromise in sight, the divide between the parties on taxes is expected to fuel the fall campaigns. The current tax rates, first approved under the George W. Bush administration, expire at the end of the year. Taxes will rise automatically if Congress fails to find agreement by Dec. 31.
House ethics panel calls for reprimand of Rep. Richardson
WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee on Wednesday called for the full chamber to reprimand Rep. Laura Richardson, accusing the California Democrat of breaking federal law, violating House rules and obstructing the committee’s investigation.
In an unusually harsh report, the panel found that Richardson flouted the law by “improperly using House resources for campaign, personal, and nonofficial purposes; by requiring or compelling her official staff to perform campaign work,” and that she destroyed evidence, failed to produce subpoenaed documents and tried “to influence the testimony of witnesses.”
The House will vote Thursday on adopting the bipartisan Ethics Committee’s findings, which include a formal reprimand and a $10,000 fine. Richardson agreed to the panel’s conclusions in a negotiated settlement. The committee also said that it had issued letters admonishing two of Richardson’s aides, Chief of Staff Shirley Cooks and Deputy District Director Daysha Austin, after it negotiated settlements with them.
Syrian forces using warplanes in Aleppo, UN confirms
BEIRUT — The Syrian military has deployed fighter jets to attack rebel positions in the northern battleground city of Aleppo, the United Nations confirmed Wednesday.
U.N. monitors observed fighter jets firing over the southeast neighborhoods of Aleppo, a spokeswoman for the U.N. mission in Syria said via email.
The U.N. statement confirms various accounts from media outlets and opposition activists that Syrian warplanes have been targeting rebels who are trying to wrest control of the northern city, Syria’s most populous. The aircraft fired rockets and heavy machine guns, the U.N. said.
The jets, presumably Russian-made MiG fighters, add to an extensive government arsenal arrayed against insurgents fighting to oust President Bashar Assad. Syria is believed to have one of the largest air forces in the region.
The Syrian military has already used helicopter gunships against rebels in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria. Scores of Russian-made tanks are reported to be massed outside of Aleppo, waiting to join the government battle to dislodge rebels ensconced in several city neighborhoods.
Rebel commanders long have bemoaned their lack of anti-tank and anti aircraft guns. The main opposition weapons are Kalashnikov rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs.
Needle found in Air Canada sandwich
AMSTERDAM — A spokesman for Dutch police investigating how needles got into six turkey sandwiches on Delta Air Lines flights from Amsterdam to U.S. cities last month says it’s too early to say whether there is any connection with a new incident on Air Canada.
Air Canada said Tuesday a passenger found what appears to be a sewing needle in a catered sandwich on board a flight from Victoria, B.C., to Toronto.
Dutch police officer Robert van Kapel said Dutch investigators have been interrogating witnesses in the chain of people who had access to the Delta sandwiches, and were examining the actual sandwiches Wednesday.
He said it was too early to rule out a copycat or link with the Air Canada incident, which is also being investigated.