POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Tuesday, January 18, 2011
January 18th, 2011
04:20 AM ET
12 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Tuesday, January 18, 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.

For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com

CNN: Chinese president in high-profile U.S. visit
Chinese President Hu Jintao arrives in Washington on Tuesday, a day before a high-profile meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss trade, currency and a host of other issues, including North Korea. Chinese state media has reported that Hu will stress how a constructive, comprehensive partnership between the powers could be mutually beneficial and help ensure stability in Asia and worldwide despite differences between Beijing and Washington. In addition to Obama, Hu is also scheduled to meet with top legislators and business executives. After Washington, Hu will make a stop in Chicago.

Wall Street Journal: Obama Launches Rule Review, Pledging to Spur Jobs, Growth
President Barack Obama plans a government-wide review of federal regulations, aiming to eliminate rules that stymie economic growth. In an article published in the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Obama said he intends to issue an executive order initiating a review to "make sure we avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation," focusing on rules that "stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive." He also suggested future regulations must do their job "while promoting economic growth." The move is the latest effort by the White House to repair relations with corporate America, hoping to spur investment by the nation's largest multinationals and reduce unemployment.

CNN: Giffords undergoes successful operation to repair eye socket
The congresswoman wounded in the January 8 mass shooting in Arizona underwent a successful procedure Saturday to repair a fracture in the roof of her right eye socket, doctors said Monday. U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords tolerated the two-hour, minor operation well, and is "back at that same baseline where she was before surgery," said Dr. Michael Lemole, chief of neurosurgery at University Medical Center. The operation was necessary, he said, because bone fragments were pushing down on Giffords' eye. When she arrived at the hospital shortly after the shooting, doctors did a quick operation but "did not want to do the full repair" because she was in critical condition.

CNN: Palin: 'I am not going to shut up'
In her first interview since the Arizona shootings, Sarah Palin Monday sharply beat back critics who have suggested her at-times charged political rhetoric and use of a graphic featuring crosshairs may have contributed to the shooter’s motivations. "The graphic that was used was crosshairs. That's not original. Democrats have been using them for years," Palin said in the interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, where Palin is a paid contributor. "For many years maps in political races have been used to target certain districts that people would feel that they can get into those districts to whom they believe would represent the constituents' will better than the incumbent," she added.

CNN: House set for health care repeal vote
The House of Representatives is set to vote on a repeal of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul this week, fulfilling a campaign promise of congressional Republicans and setting up a clash with the White House and Senate Democrats. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has scheduled a floor debate on the measure for Tuesday and a vote on Wednesday. The new GOP majority, in keeping with its "repeal and replace" mantra, will instruct various House committees to craft alternatives to the law. "Repealing the job crushing health care law is critical to boosting small business job creation and growing the economy," Boehner wrote online Monday.

Washington Post: Government finds up to half of Americans under 65 have preexisting conditions
As many as 129 million Americans under age 65 have medical problems that are red flags for health insurers, according to an analysis that marks the government's first attempt to quantify the number of people at risk of being rejected by insurance companies or paying more for coverage. The secretary of health and human services is scheduled to release the study on Tuesday, hours before the House plans to begin considering a Republican bill that would repeal the new law to overhaul the health-care system. The report is part of the Obama administration's salesmanship to convince the public of the advantages of the law, which contains insurance protections for people with preexisting medical conditions.

CNN: Obama a one-termer, says Cheney
It's been months since he has given a media interview, but former Vice President Dick Cheney is making clear his sharp opinions on President Obama haven't changed. In his first interview since undergoing heart surgery last July, Cheney told NBC News he still expects Obama will be voted out of office in 2012. "I think he embarked upon a course of action when he became president that did not have as much support as he thought it did," said Cheney in the interview airing Monday and Tuesday.

Roll Call: Political Cartographers Train to Redraw Districts
Some of the most powerful people you’ve never heard of are coming to the Washington, D.C., area this week, and their legacy will last at least a decade. Now that the census count and reapportionment are over, we know which states will gain or lose seats as part of the redistricting process. But one key step still remains: drawing the new Congressional maps. Many of those mapmakers are coming to town for training sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures. “There is a misconception at the Congressional level and the state level that redistricting is done in Washington, D.C.,” said Bill Burke of Foundation for the Future, a key redistricting group that helps coordinate the map-drawing on the Democratic side. “It’s done in the states, in most cases by the legislatures.”

The Hill: Sen. McConnell lures stars from Tea Party during Afghanistan trip
Conservatives believe Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) used a weekend trip to woo star GOP freshmen away from the Tea Party. McConnell took Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) on a high-powered weekend trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan that is being seen as a ploy by the leader to secure allies for forthcoming legislative battles. The visit gave the freshmen firsthand access to world leaders and Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, as well as plenty of quality time with their party leader in the Senate.

For the latest national news: www.CNN.com

USA Today: Report: First two years of college show small gains
Nearly half of the nation's undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don't make academics a priority, a new report shows. Instructors tend to be more focused on their own faculty research than teaching younger students, who in turn are more tuned in to their social lives, according to the report, based on a book titled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Findings are based on transcripts and surveys of more than 3,000 full-time traditional-age students on 29 campuses nationwide, along with their results on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that gauges students' critical thinking, analytic reasoning and writing skills. After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change. Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago, the research shows.

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

CNN: 13 die in attack at police recruitment center in central Iraq
At least 13 people were killed and 24 others wounded Tuesday after a suicide bomber wearing an explosive-packed vest detonated among a group of police recruits, officials said. The attacker blew himself up at a checkpoint where recruits usually wait for their turn to enter a recruiting center. The center is located at one of the former palaces of the ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the central Iraqi city of Tikrit - about 160 kilometers (99 miles) north of Baghdad.

New York Times: Pakistan’s Failure to Hit Militant Sanctuary Has Positive Side for U.S.
Pakistan’s refusal to attack militants in a notorious sanctuary on its northwest border may have created a magnet there for hundreds of Islamic fighters seeking a safe haven where they can train and organize attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan. But theirs is a congregation in the cross hairs. A growing number of senior United States intelligence and counterinsurgency officials say that by bunching up there, insurgents are ultimately making it easier for American drone strikes to hit them from afar. American officials are loath to talk about this silver lining to the storm cloud that they have long described building up in the tribal area of North Waziristan, where the insurgents run a virtual mini-state the size of Rhode Island. This is because they do not want to undermine the Obama administration’s urgent public pleas for Pakistan to order troops into the area, or to give Pakistan an excuse for inaction.

Financial Times: China’s lending hits new heights
China has lent more money to other developing countries over the past two years than the World Bank, a stark indication of the scale of Beijing’s economic reach and its drive to secure natural resources. China Development Bank and China Export-Import Bank signed loans of at least $110bn (£70bn) to other developing country governments and companies in 2009 and 2010, according to Financial Times research. The equivalent arms of the World Bank made loan commitments of $100.3bn from mid-2008 to mid-2010, itself a record amount of lending in response to the financial crisis. The volume of overseas loans by the two banks indicates how Beijing is forging new patterns of China-led globalisation, as part of a broader push to scale back its economic dependency on western export markets.

For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com

CNN: Apple's Steve Jobs takes medical leave
For the second time in two years, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking leave of absence from the company because of a medical condition, according to a letter Jobs sent to Apple employees. "At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company," Jobs says in the letter. Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, will take control of the company in Jobs' absence. Jobs says he has "great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011."

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