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PENTAGON

Officials seek sale of planes to Saudis

The Obama administration is seeking a go-ahead from Congress to sell up to $60 billion worth of sophisticated warplanes to Saudi Arabia and could add another $30 billion worth of naval arms in a deal designed to counter the rise of Iran as a regional power.

The deal would apparently represent the largest single U.S. arms sale ever approved. It would allow Saudi Arabia, the most militarily advanced of the Arab Gulf states and one of the richest countries in the world, to buy top-line U.S.-made helicopters and fighter jets with ranges that would span the Middle East and beyond.

Unlike some previous sales to Saudi Arabia, this one is not expected to be derailed by opposition in Congress or from U.S. backers of Israel, who have worried in the past about blunting Israel’s military edge over its Arab neighbors.

Iran is now seen by Israel, the Gulf Arab states and the West as a significant and unpredictable threat that has changed the old calculus of the region’s balance of power.

The U.S. is realigning its defense policies in the Persian Gulf as Iran improves the range and accuracy of missiles and other weapons that could threaten Israel or U.S. allies in Europe. Besides the Saudi deal, the U.S. has pending or proposed arms sales to Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, and has repositioned some U.S. forces and military assets around the Gulf.

NEW YORK

New ballots bring new complications

NEW YORK | When New York’s primary takes place Tuesday, the state will become the last to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act.

But some voters may still need more help.

New electronic voting machines are being introduced for the primary. But with state and city budget cuts, not enough staff has been trained to help voters use them.

The machines come with paper ballots that are so hard to read, voters will be offered magnifying glasses. They’ll choose candidates by filling in an oval next to the person’s name. The ballot then goes into an optical-scanning machine.

But there are concerns that a lot of ballots won’t be counted. If someone inadvertently votes for too many candidates, the ballot will still be cast, but the vote will then be invalidated.

The disputed Florida presidential vote count in 2000 led to the federal law telling states to adopt simpler voting systems.

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