Guard to Afghanistan The first group of Vermont National Guard soldiers is leaving the state for training before heading to Afghanistan for a yearlong deployment. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch were among dignitaries who spoke at a departure ceremony Friday morning at the National Guard base at the Burlington International Airport. The ceremony was broadcast live on WCAX. The group of 35 soldiers leaving Friday is the vanguard of a larger force that will eventually number about 1,500 Vermonters, the largest deployment since World War II.
Unemployment Legislation that would extend unemployment benefits and extend and expand a tax credit for first-time homebuyers remained stalled in the Senate Thursday in a partisan stalemate. Sen. Sanders denounced Republicans for blocking the measure. Democracy Now and News 7 in Lyndon reported that Sanders cosponsored the proposal to provide 14 extra weeks of unemployment benefits saying, "If we do not pass this legislation by the end of this year, nearly two million Americans will see their unemployment benefits expire." LINK and LINK
Social Security According to the Obama administration, its proposal to provide another $250 to certain seniors and disabled individuals will benefit 57 million individuals. In a conference call with reporters, Treasury Department officials noted they are already working on proposals with members of Congress, including Sen. Sanders, according to the Bureau of National Affairs.
Economic Populism "It's unlikely that the independent-minded will move to the GOP until the party comes up with a credible economic plan that addresses popular concerns...[M]ost [Republicans] are loath to fight excessive pay and bonuses at places like Goldman Sachs. Instead, it's populists like...Sens. Dorgan and Sanders who seem most outraged by the massive rip-off of taxpayers," Joel Kotkin wrote in a Politico op-ed. LINK
U.N. Reviews Security After Deadly Kabul Assault Most United Nations workers here were confined to their living quarters on Thursday in the aftermath of a deadly assault on a United Nations guesthouse, and some were moved to more secure housing as foreigners working in Kabul reassessed their security, The New York Times reported. LINK
Clinton: U.S. Can Find Way Out of Afghanistan Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. presence in war-torn Afghanistan "is not an open-ended, never-ending commitment." In an interview from Pakistan broadcast Friday on NBC's "Today" show, Clinton replied "absolutely" when asked whether there is a way out for America in the protracted conflict in South Asia, The Associated Press reported. LINK
Honduras Crisis A lingering political crisis in Honduras seemed to be nearing an end on Friday after the de facto government agreed to a deal that would allow Manuel Zelaya, the deposed president, to return to office. The government of Roberto Micheletti, which had refused to let Zelaya return, signed an agreement late Thursday that would pave the way for the Honduran Congress to restore the ousted president and allow him to serve out the remaining three months of his term, The New York Times reported. LINK
Economy Began to Grow Again in 3rd Quarter The United States has emerged from the longest economic contraction since World War II. The nation's gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the quarter that ended in September, matching its average growth rate of the last 80 years, according to the Commerce Department, The New York Times reported. LINK
Democrats Unveil Health Care Legislation House Democrats on Thursday unveiled their bill to remake the health care system and said they had the votes to pass it. But Republicans said gimmicks had been used to hide the measure's long-term costs. The bill is similar in size and scope to one taking shape in the Senate, where Democrats' control is more tenuous and the outcome less certain, according to The New York Times. LINK
House Ethics Probes Revealed Internal investigations into the conduct of several House members have been exposed in an extraordinary, Internet-era breach of security involving the secretive process by which Congress polices lawmaker ethics. Revelations of the mostly preliminary inquiries by the ethics committee shook the chamber as lawmakers were immersed in a series of scheduled votes Thursday. The activities of more than 30 lawmakers and several aides in inquiries about issues including defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling, according to The Washington Post. LINK
Obama: Stimulus Saved 1 million Jobs White House officials, under pressure from the economy's continuing job losses, plan to announce Friday that President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan "has created and saved at least 1 million jobs" since he signed it in February, Politico reported. LINK
Stimulus Jobs About 400 fewer jobs were created in Vermont with federal economic stimulus dollars than the state's chief recovery officer announced two weeks ago, because federal officials changed the calculations for some of the counts, according to The Burlington Free Press. Federal officials posted the first official tallies from all states at a special Web site created so the public could track money appropriated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. LINK
Border Jobs A commission created to provide jobs and boost the economy in the northern reaches of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York is receiving $1.5 million under a measure signed into law by President Obama Rep. Peter Welch called the funding "a major step toward revitalizing local economies in northern New England," according to The Associated Press. LINK
Fighter Jets The Vermont Air National Guard is among the finalists to become a base for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, which are the next generation of U.S. Department of Defense aircraft. A news release from Vermont's congressional delegation said Burlington is one of five locations that are candidates for operations bases for the F-35s, The Burlington Free Press reported. LINK
Housing Grant More than $1.3 million about to flow into Burlington will fund the purchase and rehabilitation of foreclosed homes, and give a mixed use housing project in Burlington's New North End a boost, The Burlington Free Press reported. LINK