Blog Posts by Olivier Knox, Yahoo News

  • CIA’s Petraeus, DNI Clapper to testify on Benghazi next week

    A Libyan government militiaman guarding the entrance of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi fixes a note written by Libyans against the attack. (Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)More than two months after the Sept. 11 attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya, key congressional committees will hear next week from CIA Director David Petraeus and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the assault, according to sources.

    The Intelligence Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives will get testimony from those officials and others at a pair of hearings next Thursday. Both sessions will take place behind closed doors.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee will also hear from FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, an expert on the agency's counterterrorism and counterintelligence efforts. The FBI has been investigating the attack. Also testifying will be Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, who oversees all department personnel, facilities and operations, and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen.

    The House Intelligence Committee will also hear from Olsen.

    Lawmakers and staff have been receiving briefings from the administration since the attack occurred.

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  • The Obama message: Define Romney as unacceptable

    So, in the end, did President Barack Obama "kill Mitt Romney"?

    If Obama wins re-election, as he very well might, much of the credit will go to his campaign's relentless, months-long fight to get voters to see his Republican rival as a job-killing plutocrat and the heir to George W. Bush. Strategists in both parties say that the effort at least initially caught Romney flat-footed, and now needs to be successful only in battleground states like Ohio to swing the election to the incumbent.

    If Obama loses the White House, as he very well might, some of the blame will go to his campaign's struggles to paint Romney as one consistent kind of villain, and to his disastrous performance in the first debate, which undermined that effort. Strategists in both parties say the president failed to press the charges leveled in months of campaign attack ads, while Romney's demeanor served as the best possible rebuttal.

    Either way, strategists, political scientists and journalists will pore over the data to determine how "defining Romney" defined the 2012 race.

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  • Sorry, Kentucky, South Carolina: No booze with your ballots

    First lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama drink Guinness beer as they meet with local residents at Ollie Hayes pub in Moneygall, Ireland, in May 2011. (Charles Dharapak/AP)Let's say the 2012 campaign—the flood of attack ads, the torrent of junk mail, the mere trickle of inspiring proposals—has you reaching for an Election Day drink. Tough luck, voters in Kentucky and South Carolina: No booze for you!

    Eighty years after Prohibition's repeal, those states are the only ones holding on to bans on serving alcohol in restaurants and bars or selling it in liquor stores on Election Day, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. DISCUS is, as you can guess, not a huge fan.

    "The Election Day sales ban is a relic of the Prohibition era when saloons sometimes served as polling stations," according to DISCUS Vice President Ben Jenkins. "Repealing the ban on Election Day alcohol sales would provide consumers with much-needed convenience—whether they're celebrating election returns or mourning them."

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  • Obama, Romney, clash on jobs report—but election effect likely muted

    President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney on Friday seized on the last jobs report before Election Day to reinforce their political arguments about the economy. Neither side, however, expected that the better-than-expected news would change many minds.

    In a statement, Romney said that come Tuesday the choice would be "between stagnation and prosperity."

    Obama, meanwhile, in front of a rowdy crowd of cheering supporters at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Hilliard, Ohio, said, "This morning we learned that companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months.

    "We've made real progress--but we are here today because we know we've got more work to do," Obama continued. "As long as there's a single American who wants a job and can't find one, as long as there are families working harder but falling behind, as long as there's a child anywhere in this country who's languishing in poverty and barred from opportunity, our fight goes on, we've got more work to do."

    Neither campaign expected the new figure to do much to change the dynamic of the race. Aides on both sides have said in recent weeks that Americans' views of the economy are essentially fixed by now, barring a dramatic change.

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  • Biden jokes on Letterman: ‘If you vote early, you don’t have to pay taxes’

    Vice President Joe Biden hit "The Late Show with David Letterman" on Thursday, spreading the Obama campaign's gospel of early voting in a special "Top Ten List" five days before Election Day.

    In an early preview provided by CBS, Biden uncorks a fine No. 6: "If you vote early, you don't have to pay taxes." The crowd roars with laughter as the vice president looked off-camera, then adds, "I'm sorry, I'm being told that's not accurate."

    The vice president opens on a somber note, acknowledging the battering that New York and New Jersey took from deadly superstorm Sandy. "I just hope everything's coming along all right in New York," he says. "You've been devastated in New York and New Jersey, and just know that everyone's thinking of you and we're doing everything we can to help."

    And then on with the show.

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  • Citing climate change, Bloomberg endorses Obama

    Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama in 2008 (Richard Drew/AP)New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday bemoaned President Barack Obama's "disappointing" first term in office. He complained the Democrat "devoted little time and effort" to pragmatic, centrist problem-solving while wielding "partisan attacks." He charged he has "embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it."

    And then the billionaire entrepreneur endorsed Obama over Mitt Romney.

    Why? Bloomberg, in an op-ed on Bloomberg View, cited several factors—including the Democratic Party's support of abortion rights and gay marriage—but spent much of his piece fretting about climate change in the wake of deadly superstorm Sandy. Climate experts have warned that the world can expect more hurricanes like Sandy in part because of global warming.

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  • In final push, Obama casts election as Bush vs. Clinton

    Do voters in 2012 face a choice between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush? That's how President Barack Obama, returning to the campaign trail with gusto after a break to respond to Sandy, cast the election during a final push in the battleground state of Wisconsin. He also looked to harness the bipartisan truce fostered by the devastating superstorm.

    "We know the ideas that work. We also know the ideas that don't work, because in the eight years after Bill Clinton left office, his policies were reversed," Obama told about 2,600 people in Green Bay, Wis. Obama pointed to Bush's tax cuts that chiefly benefited the wealthiest Americans and charged that his Republican predecessor had given "free license" to the rich and corporations to "play by a different set of rules" than middle-class Americans.

    The result was sluggish job growth, he said, and "an economic crisis that we've been cleaning up for the last four years." (The White House has struggled to draw a strong connection between Bush's tax cuts and the global financial meltdown of 2007-2008. Bush inherited an economy that was spinning down after the high-tech bubble burst and suffering from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes.)

    "In the closing weeks of this campaign, Gov. Romney has been using all his talents as a salesman to dress up these very same policies that failed our country so badly—the very same policies we've been clearing up after for the past four years," Obama continued. "And he's offering them up as change. He's saying he's the candidate of change.

    "What the governor is offering sure ain't change," the president quipped.

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  • Obama reveals ‘secrets’ to US Weekly

    President Barack Obama boards Air Force One as he launches his final push for re-election. (Larry Downing/Reuters)President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama shared their first kiss outside a Baskin-Robbins in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. Does this make you more likely to re-elect the president? His campaign apparently hopes so.

    The first couple's first smooch leads off a list of Obama's "25 Things You Don't Know About Me" in US Weekly. The magazine put five of the supposed revelations online, and the remaining 20 will be in the issue that hits newsstands on Friday, just four days before Election Day.

    Campaign aides contend that many undecided voters—last-minute, low-information, make-up-my-mind-in-the-voting-booth voters—get their news about politics from entertainment media. That's also why Obama spent so much time after his first debate with Mitt Romney talking about Big Bird: That exchange played well on such media.

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  • With Christie, Obama vows, ‘We will not quit until this is done’

    President Barack Obama hugs North Point Marina owner Donna Vanzant as he tours the damage in Brigantine, N.J. At left: N.J. Gov. Chris Christie. (Larry Downing/Reuters)Just six days before the election, President Barack Obama toured storm-ravaged areas with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He told Garden State residents struggling in the superstorm's aftermath that all of America shares their pain—and their government is there to help.

    "The main message I wanted to send is the entire country has been watching what's been happening," Obama said Wednesday during a visit to the Brigantine Beach Community Center. "Everybody knows how hard Jersey's been hit."

    ("Except my boss," shouted Michael Henshaw, 32, a Brigantine resident who works at an insurance company. "Well, except your boss. If you need me to call, you let me know," Obama replied, drawing laughter from the room. That exchange, and many of the details in this post, are from pool reporter Reid Epstein of Politico.)

    The White House told reporters that during the worst of the storm's devastation 200 people were sleeping in the center's gym, though that number has dropped to 50. The center still

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  • Obama releases radio ad with Colin Powell endorsement

    With the fight for the White House in its final round, President Barack Obama's campaign released a new radio ad Wednesday highlighting former Secretary of State Colin Powell's full-throated endorsement of the incumbent's re-election.

    The 60-second commercial will run in Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada and Colorado, according to the campaign. It samples heavily from Powell's arguments in a CBS interview last week for giving Obama another four years in the White House.

    "He served America as a four-star general, as secretary of state. Here's Republican Colin Powell," the narrator intones at the beginning of the ad.

    In the sampled bits of the interview, Powell highlights the economic crisis Obama inherited, his "stabilization" of the financial sector, and recent upbeat news from the housing sector and rising consumer confidence.

    Powell also cites the president's withdrawal from Iraq (a policy he also essentially inherited), his planned

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