POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
January 19th, 2011
04:13 AM ET
4 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click on the headlines for more.

WASHINGTON/POLITICAL
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com

CNN: Chinese president to attend state dinner, hold talks with Obama
President Obama will host a formal state dinner for his Chinese counterpart on Wednesday - part of a day that will include bilateral talks and a joint news conference. Chinese President Hu Jintao is on a three-day trip to the United States for talks on trade, currency and North Korea. It will be the eighth face-to-face meeting between the two leaders. Hu will stress the importance of a comprehensive partnership between the two nations to help ensure stability worldwide, Chinese state media reported, despite their differences on issues such as human rights and currency controls.

CNNMoney: Obama, Hu to meet American CEOs
When Chinese President Hu Jintao comes to the White House Wednesday, he will meet not only President Obama, but also a group of heavy-hitting American business leaders. The meeting will take place Wednesday afternoon at the White House. Fourteen American executives are expected to attend, and they will be joined by four of their Chinese counterparts. During the gathering, President Obama will highlight the importance of increasing exports to China while increasing investment in the United States, according to an administration official.

Fortune: In US-China talks, who has the upper hand?
We've seen this movie before, whenever top U.S. and Chinese officials gather. Americans lecture the Chinese about a currency value that unfairly keeps their exports cheap, followed by complaints that Beijing isn't doing enough to prod its people to buy consumer goods. The Chinese counter-lecture Americans on the need to get our own fiscal house in order and our borrowing under control. Then, before getting too contentious, the officials close the session by announcing a few business deals to show that the U.S.-China relationship really isn't that bad after all. If President Hu Jintao's visit to the White House this week follows those outlines, as is likely, it will mask a brewing crisis in U.S.-China co-dependence: A complex and invidious Chinese industrial policy that threatens to cut U.S. firms out of the trillions Beijing is spending on airports, railways, shopping centers, office complexes, hospitals and sports stadiums.

CNN: House set to vote on health care repeal
Members of the House of Representatives are set to vote Wednesday on repealing President Barack Obama's controversial health care overhaul, a move that could push Republicans one step closer to fulfilling their 2010 campaign promises. GOP leaders started a formal debate on a measure to repeal the overhaul Tuesday. The new Republican congressional majority, in keeping with its "repeal and replace" mantra, is also set to instruct various House committees to craft alternatives to the law. It is time to repeal this "job-stifling, cost-increasing, freedom-limiting law," declared Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. While the measure is expected to pass the new Republican-led House, it has little chance of clearing the Democratic-controlled Senate or surviving a presidential veto.

CNN: Administration: Health repeal could cost millions coverage
Nearly half of all Americans under the age of 65 have health conditions that could prevent them from getting insurance if the Republican effort to repeal health care reform is successful, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday. Sebelius said 129 million people - nearly half of all Americans under the age of 65 - have some form of pre-existing condition that could make them ineligible for coverage should they lose or change jobs, get divorced or face other changes that force them to seek new insurance. That number includes 50 million people with more severe conditions that would almost certainly preclude or significantly increase the cost of individual coverage, Sebelius said. House Republicans began debate Tuesday on repealing the measure, which requires insurers to cover children with pre-existing conditions and gives people with health conditions access to a temporary program providing insurance coverage.

CNN: Lieberman not seeking re-election
Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent from Connecticut, is planning to announce Wednesday that he will not seek re-election, according to two knowledgeable Democratic sources. The move by the former Democratic vice presidential candidate could add even more murkiness to the party's hopes of hanging on to its slim majority in the Senate in the 2012 election, especially coming on the heels of Sen. Kent Conrad's, D-North Dakota, that he will not seek re-election at the end of this term. North Dakota's other Senate seat fell into Republican hands in the midterm election after Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan announced his retirement. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, Democrat-North Dakota, meanwhile, lost the state's only at-large House seat in November, so Conrad's seat will be in major jeopardy.

CNN: Frist: Don't repeal health care bill
A top Republican has come out against efforts by his party to repeal President Obama's health care reform bill currently underway in the House. Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, said at a press conference Tuesday at the Bipartisan Policy Center – an organization he chairs with former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, among others – that the law should stand, according to The Huffington Post. "It is not the bill that [Republicans] would have written," he said. "It is not the bill that I would have drafted. But it is the law of the land and it is the platform, the fundamental platform, upon which all future efforts to make that system better, for that patient, for that family, will be based."

CNN: Pelosi on Dems: 'We'll be back'
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is confident about a Democratic majority in 2012. In an interview with CNN's "The Situation Room" anchor Wolf Blitzer, Pelosi reflected on the 2010 midterm elections, her ambition to move forward, and the possibility of a future Democratic majority. "It's no use rehashing what happened before. We lost tremendous talent in our caucus and I'm concerned about that...We'll be back."

Austin-American Statesman: Perry: 'Texas century' will blaze trail for U.S. to follow
A buoyant Rick Perry kicked off his third full term as governor Tuesday by proclaiming this the "Texas century" and rehashing several of his beefs with the Obama administration. Perry insists he isn't running for president in 2012, but he sounded much like a man with national ambitions as he claimed that Texas' restrained approach to government spending and regulations should be an example for the rest of the country to follow. “You might say historians will look back at this century and call it the Texas century," Perry told the thousands who gathered to hear him speak from the Capitol's south steps. "Americans once looked to the East Coast for opportunity and inspiration, and then they went to the West Coast. Today they are looking at the Gulf Coast, and they're looking to Texas."

CNN: Sargent Shriver is dead at age 95
R. Sargent Shriver, who was responsible for launching the U.S. Peace Corps after marrying into the Kennedy family and joining John F. Kennedy's White House, has died, according to his family. Shriver, whose full name was Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., was 95. He had suffered for years from Alzheimer's disease. The family released a statement, saying Shriver died Tuesday "surrounded by his five children, five children in-law, and his 19 grandchildren. H lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful, and compassionate place," the family's statement said. "He worked on stages both large and small but in the end, he will be best known for his love of others. No one ever came into his presence without feeling his passion and his enthusiasm for them."

Jerusalem Post: Palestinian flag in Washington ruffles feathers
For the first time, the PLO hoisted its flag above its Washington mission on Tuesday, saying the symbolic step shows progress in the US-Palestinian relationship. “It’s about time that this flag that symbolizes the struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and statehood be raised in the United States,” PLO Chief of Mission Maen Areikat said. “I think it indicates the willingness of the American administration to deal with the realities on the ground.” Areikat unfurled the red, black, green and white flag above the brick Washington building housing the mission to applause from a small group of officials. …Some in Washington opposed the move, however – including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida). “Raising this flag in DC is part of the Palestinian leadership’s scheme to manipulate international acceptance and diplomatic recognition of a yet-to-be-created Palestinian state, while refusing to directly negotiate with Israel, or accept the existence of Israel as a democratic, Jewish state,” she said in a statement.

NATIONAL
For the latest national news: www.CNN.com

CNN: Paper: Surveillance video shows Tucson attack
Surveillance video shows Tucson shooting suspect Jared Loughner walking up to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a constituent event and firing point blank at her face, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing two sources who have seen the videos. The bullet from his 9mm Glock entered Giffords' head just above her left eye and exited from the back of her skull, the sources said. Giffords is in serious condition at University Medical Center in Tucson. A second, unnamed victim is listed in good condition, the hospital said. The videos showed that U.S. District Judge John Roll was killed while covering Giffords' district director Ron Barber, who was one of 13 people wounded in the January 8 shooting outside a Tucson supermarket, the Post's sources said. Six people, including Roll, were killed.

CNN: Destructive device found along Spokane MLK parade route
A backpack containing a potentially deadly device capable of inflicting "multiple casualties" was found in Spokane, Washington, along the route of a Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. parade, the FBI said Tuesday. The device was discovered Monday morning by three parade workers before the event, FBI supervisory agent Frank Harrill told CNN. The city's explosives disposal unit neutralized the device. The gray backpack was placed on a bench at the northeast corner of North Washington Street and West Main Avenue in downtown Spokane, the FBI said in a statement.

INTERNATIONAL
For the latest international news: http://edition.cnn.com

Los Angeles Times: Afghan fuel shortage spreads to Kabul
Winter in Afghanistan is always a hardscrabble time, but this year the season's bite has been sharpened by a growing shortage of fuel. And because the dwindling supply is due to an Iranian blockade, the dispute is further tangling complicated dealings with a powerful neighbor. For the last five weeks, a traffic jam of fuel tankers, now swelled to about 2,500 vehicles, has been backed up at the Iranian-Afghan frontier, with only a fraction of the usual number allowed to pass. The resulting shortages were initially felt most keenly in the agricultural south and west. But in recent weeks, the effects have spread to the crowded, car-choked capital, Kabul, with higher pump prices, longer lines and ever-shortening tempers.

BUSINESS
For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Factories Buck Decline
U.S. manufacturing, viewed as a lost cause by many Americans, has begun creating more jobs than it eliminates for the first time in more than a decade. As the economy recovered and big companies began upgrading old factories or building new ones, the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. last year grew 1.2%, or 136,000, the first increase since 1997, government data show. That total will grow again this year, according to economists at IHS Global Insight and Moody's Analytics. Among others, major auto makers—both domestic and transplants—are hiring. Ford Motor Co. announced last week it planned to add 7,000 workers over the next two years. The economists' projections for this year—calling for a gain of about 2.5%, or 330,000 manufacturing jobs—won't come close to making up for the nearly six million lost since 1997. But manufacturing should be at least a modest contributor to total U.S. employment in the next couple of years, these economists say.

In Case You Missed It

China's military increases its reach and arsenal with an aggressive expansion. CNN's Barbara Starr reports.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2011/01/18/starr.china.military.growth.cnn

R. Sargent Shriver, brother-in-law to JFK and the first head of the Peace Corps, has died.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2011/01/18/exp.ps.sargent.shriver.dead.cnn

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