Thursday, July 5, 2012

News PipeLine Update...

Obama on China: ‘We’re going to make sure that competition is fair’

(Susan Walsh/AP)MAUMEE, Ohio—In an unabashedly populist appeal to voters in the electorally pivotal state of Ohio, President Barack Obama declared Thursday that his policies had brought America's auto industry "roaring back" and highlighted a new trade action against China.
"As long as I'm president, that's what I'm going to be doing: waking up every single day thinking about how we can create more jobs for your families and more security for your communities," he told several hundred cheering supporters in the sweltering heat of the midday son in Maumee.
Obama, launching a two-day bus trek through Ohio and Pennsylvania, struck a combative tone, portraying Nov. 6 as a stark choice between his middle class-oriented agenda and that of Mitt Romney, whom he cast as caring chiefly about the wealthy. He defended his landmark health care overhaul and declared that the law was "here to stay" in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling that the measure is constitutional.
And he warned voters that their choice would affect America in the decades ahead.
"The outcome of this election will determine our economic future not just for the next year or the next two years, but maybe for the next decade, or the next two," he said.
Obama said that Romney, helped by congressional Republicans, would enact deficit-fueling, ineffective tax cuts for the wealthy, and roll back regulations on banks and oil companies. And he hammered his Republican rival for his opposition to the government rescue of American automakers.
"When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, and more than 1 million jobs were on the line, Gov. Romney said we should just let Detroit go bankrupt," the president said. "I refused to turn my bank on communities like this one."
"I was betting on the American worker, and I was betting on American industry, and three years later the American auto industry is coming roaring back," he said. Ohio has a vast auto-parts manufacturing sector, and new plants are setting up shop.
"What's happening in Toledo can happen in cities like Cleveland, can happen in Pittsburgh, it can happen in other industries," Obama said. "And that's why I'm running for a second term as president: Because I'm going to make sure that it does. I want it happening all across this country."
The president accused Romney of overseeing—and abetting—the flight of American jobs overseas. Independent fact-checking outlets have taken a dim view of Obama's previous efforts to make those charges stick. But the president also highlighted his efforts to challenge China's allegedly unfair trade practices.
"Just this morning, my administration took a new action to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices that harm American automakers," he said. "As long as we're competing on a fair playing field instead of an unfair playing field, we'll do just fine. "
"But we're going to make sure that competition is fair," he said. A World Trade Organization complaint filed Thursday accuses China of improperly imposing duties on about $3.3 billion of American exports. A ruling for the U.S. could see China rescind the duties.
The Romney campaign hit back, with spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg accusing Obama of overseeing "an unprecedented explosion in our national debt" while the president "has broken his campaign promise to get tough on China's trade practices."
"On issues important to the people of Ohio, President Obama has utterly failed to deliver," she said in a statement.
Obama had pledged in 2008 to take steps against China over allegedly improper currency manipulation. Critics charge that Beijing keeps its currency, the yuan, artificially low against the dollar, giving its exports an unfair advantage over American goods.
Even in the scorching heat, Obama's supporters chanted that they were "fired up, ready to go."
Sharon Belkofer, 69, told Yahoo News that she forged a connection with Obama when she met him at Fort Drum, after her son was killed in Afghanistan.
"The president was so kind and compassionate. He hugged me, let me cry all over his suit," she said. "We need him. We need him for another four years."
Belkofer, who calls nearby Perrysburg home, said she knew Obama was in for a fight. "We're not foolish enough to think that, just because we think he's fabulous, everyone is going to vote for him."
"We need to work for him. We need to fight for him," she said.
Jeff MacKenzie, who teaches high school science and lives in nearby Toledo, told Yahoo News he was "hoping the president gets another four years." Why? "Because this country was a mess when he took it over, and he's really started to turn things around."
"Obamacare, in particular, is one of his greatest achievements. This country's too great to have people who don't have health insurance," said MacKenzie, 53.
MacKenzie has been touched by the law: His 24-year-old daughter recently lost her job as a special education teacher—and with it, her insurance. "So she's on my plan now," he said. "You know things are bad when special ed teachers are losing their jobs."

Cuba's first cholera outbreak in 130 years kills three

An outbreak of cholera in eastern Cuba has killed at least three people, 130 years after the last known case of the disease was reported on the island.
Health workers have identified 53 people infected with the illness in the coastal town of Manzanillo.
In a statement published in the official newspaper Granma, Cuba's ministry of public health said in a statement that the three fatalities were elderly people aged 66, 70 and 95.
Authorities said about a thousand people were receiving preventative medical treatment in Manzanillo, a town of some 130,000 inhabitants.
Health officials said they believe heavy rains and hot temperatures contributed to the outbreak of cholera, an intestinal ailment which is spread through contaminated food and water.
The ailment causes serious diarrhea and vomiting, leading to dehydration. It is easily treatable by rehydration and antibiotics, but can be fatal if not treated in time.
The outbreak is a matter of particular concern in Cuba, which prides itself on having one of the region's most admired public health systems, which is seen as one of the successes of its half-century old communist regime.
The last patient known to fall ill of cholera in Cuba was Manuel Jimenez Fuentes, who died of the disease in 1882, when the island was still a Spanish colony.
Nearby Haiti has been battling a devastating cholera epidemic since October 2010. It was Haiti's first outbreak in decades and has been widely blamed on a camp of UN peacekeepers from Nepal. More than 7,500 people in the impoverished nation have died since the outbreak erupted there.
The disease has also spread to the wealthier Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, where more than 20,000 cases and 360 deaths have also been reported.

China pledges financial aid to Cuba's Castro

China on Thursday pledged financial aid to Cuba as it undertakes historic economic reforms, promising visiting President Raul Castro a new credit line as well as help in health care and technology.
The offers were announced after a meeting between Castro and Chinese President Hu Jintao during which the two leaders spoke warmly about the strong ties between the longtime communist allies.
"We are very pleased that in recent years, the relationship between China and Cuba has continued to deepen and develop," Castro told Hu in brief comments before the media.
Hu highlighted the fact he had visited Cuba three times, and said he appreciated Castro's efforts in building relations with China.
After their meeting, the two sides said they had signed eight agreements aimed at deepening economic and political ties.
These included promises by China of financial aid, an interest-free loan and a credit-line to Cuba to help the country in a range of sectors, including technology and health care.
Few other details, including the sizes of the loans and aid, were given.
Castro's four-day visit to China, which began on Wednesday, comes at a crucial time for Cuba as it is in the throes of overhauling its economy towards a system that incorporates elements of capitalism.
China has embarked on an economic reform programme over recent decades that has achieved stunning results, and analysts said Castro's visit would also be a good opportunity for him to survey the Chinese success story.
"Cuba can learn many things from other socialist countries that have been economically successful, like China," said Yang Jianmin, a deputy director of the Center for Cuban Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Yang said some of the most notable reforms Cuba could look at were in areas such as market stability, exports, investment and requirements needed to open companies.
"These experiences can help Cuba in their process of opening-up and generate many opportunities," he said.
Castro is slated to meet China's two leaders-in-waiting, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, on Friday, helping to deepen personal ties with the men widely expected to assume the Chinese presidency and premiership.
His visit to China follows Xi's trip to Havana last year when the two sides signed 10 deals aimed at supporting Cuba's economic reforms.
China is Cuba's top trading partner after Venezuela, with bilateral trade worth $1.8 billion a year. And even before Thursday's announcement, China had been a vital source of credit for the cash-strapped communist island.
The countries' close relationship dates back to 1960 when Cuba formally recognised communist rule in Beijing.
Ties grew even closer after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, which precipitated Cuba's downward economic spiral from which the country is still trying to recover.
Castro is being accompanied on his Asia trip by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and Ricardo Cabrisas, vice chairman of Cuba's council of ministers, the official Granma newspaper in Havana reported this week.
The Cuban delegation is then expected to travel to Vietnam, another communist ally that has like China embarked on a successful economic transformation by incorporating capitalist elements.
Vietnam is also an important economic partner for Cuba, particularly in the agricultural sector.
The Southeast Asian nation is Cuba's main supplier of rice, a staple food item on the island. Bilateral trade totaled $269 million in 2010, according to official statistics.

Romney reportedly raised more than $100 million in June

Romney in New Hampshire (Charles Dharapak/AP)
Mitt Romney reportedly raised more than $100 million in June, the best fundraising month of his campaign so far.
Politico's Mike Allen first reported the total, which includes contributions to both Romney's campaign and the Romney Victory Fund—a joint account between the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee. A Romney spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
That's two record-breaking months in a row for the Romney team. In May, the presumptive Republican nominee raised nearly $77 million—almost $17 million more than President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. The Obama campaign has not yet announced its June totals.
Over the last month, Romney has intensified his fundraising schedule, headlining more than 20 private events to raise cash for his campaign. On June 20, Romney pulled in upwards of $8 million in a single day during events in Michigan, which aides at the time described as his single best day of fundraising so far in this campaign.
But the most telling number will be how much cash Romney has in the bank. While Romney outraised Obama in May, Obama still had more than $100 million cash on hand—compared with just $17 million for Romney.