ECM WORLD WATCH: GLOBAL AND NATIONAL NEWS

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December 28, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – ECM World Watch helps you be an informed citizen about important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflecting all voices and views, we include links to a wide variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:
  
 

 
U.S.
 
  • GOP candidates heading to Iowa for final sprint before caucuses (The Hill)
  • Iowa caucus: Republicans zig-zag state in pre-vote push (BBC)
  • Obama’s approval numbers climb into positive territory (The Hill)
  • Gingrich questions Ron Paul on racist newsletters (Reuters)
  • Former staffer: Ron Paul `wishes the Israeli state did not exist’ (RawStory)
  • Romney falsely claims Obama ‘has not created any new jobs’ (Think Progress)
  • Looking up: The economy makes headway (London Economist)
  • New powerful painkiller has drug abuse experts worried (Fox News)
  • SEC ups its game to identify rogue firms (Wall Street Journal)
 
 
 WORLD
 
  • Arab League mission arrives amid violence in Syria (CNN)
  • Russians make historic demand for an election rerun  (National Public Radio)
  • Afghanistan sets ground rules for Taliban (Reuters)
  • Czechs, world leaders remember irreplaceable Vaclav Havel at funeral (Christian Science Monitor) 
 
Scroll down for excerpts and links to full stories.

 

 

U.S.
 
GOP candidates heading to Iowa for final sprint before caucuses (The Hill)
December 26, 2011 -- With three candidates tangled at the top, and three dark horses looking to make a run, the Republican presidential field will return from the Christmas weekend at full speed for the final push to the Iowa caucuses.
Just over a week before the first votes are cast in the Jan. 3 caucuses, the candidates are getting ready to make their closing arguments to voters in person and on the air.
http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/gop-presidential-primary/201359-gop-candidates-head-to-iowa-for-a-sprint-to-the-caucuses

Iowa caucus: Republicans zigzag state in pre-vote push (BBC)
December 26, 2011 -- Republican presidential candidates are preparing to make their final pitch to voters with just days left until the first nominating contest in Iowa.
The rivals plan a flurry of television ads, phone calls and bus tours before the state holds its 3 January ballot.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, ex-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul are seen as the leading contenders there.
But opinion polls suggest many voters remain undecided in the Hawkeye state.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16335659
Obama’s approval numbers climb into positive territory (The Hill)
December 27, 2011 -- President Obama has seen his Gallup poll numbers jump into favorability for the first time since July. The rise in popularity arrives after a bruising defeat for Republicans over extending the payroll tax cut, a fight Democrats had hoped to use to their advantage.
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/201361-obamas-approval-numbers-climb-in-to-positive-territory
 
Gingrich questions Ron Paul on racist newsletters (Reuters)
 
December 23, 2011 -- Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich on Friday urged rival Ron Paul to explain his links to newsletters two decades ago that carried the Texas congressman's name and contained racist, anti-homosexual and anti-Israel rants.

"I think that Congressman Paul has to explain his own situation and how he could have had a decade of newsletters that had his name on it that he apparently wasn't aware of," Gingrich said.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/23/us-usa-campaign-gingrich-idUSTRE7BJ29720111223
Former staffer: Ron Paul `wishes the Israeli state did not exist’ (RawStory)
 
December 26, 2011 -- Former Ron Paul campaign and Congressional staffer Eric Dondero issued a statement to Right Wing News today denying that his former boss is racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic as part of a larger attack on what Dondero terms Paul’s “isolationism” and his position on the war in Afghanistan and the state of Israel. Though Dondero stresses that Paul isn’t an anti-Semite, referring to everything from his own Jewish ancestry to Paul’s political courtship of “a few Jews” in Paul’s Congressional district as evidence, Dondero does state unequivocally that Paul is opposed to the existence of the state of Israel.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/26/former-staffer-ron-paul-wishes-the-israeli-state-did-not-exist/
 
Romney falsely claims Obama ‘has not created any new jobs’ (Think Progress)
 
December 26, 2011 -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) hasfaced scrutiny from his fellow Republican candidates over his career at Bain Capital, the venture capital firm that, despite his retirement, still pays him millions of dollars a year. Bain, and Romney, often raked in profits while companies were shedding jobs, as was the case in New Hampshire and South Carolina, among others.
 
Looking up: The economy makes headway (London Economist)
 
December 10, 2011 -- Three months ago Barack Obama was firmly in the dock over news that no net jobs were created in August. Some gloomy people even saw a double-dip recession on the way.
America, it turns out, was not on the verge of recession, and it still isn’t. Subsequent revisions show that 104,000 jobs were in fact created in August. Later months have also been revised upwards, and in November payrolls grew by 120,000, or 0.1%. On December 2nd the government also reported that the unemployment rate had declined sharply to 8.6%, the lowest figure for two-and-a-half years, down from 9%.
http://www.economist.com/node/21541439
New powerful painkiller has drug abuse experts worried (Fox News)
December 26, 2011 -- Drug companies are working to develop a pure, more powerful version of a highly abused medicine, which has addiction experts worried that it could spur a new wave of abuse.
The new pills contain the highly addictive painkiller hydrocodone, packing up to 10 times the amount of the drug as existing medications such as Vicodin. Four companies have begun patient testing, and one of them -- Zogenix of San Diego -- plans to apply early next year to begin marketing its product, Zohydro.
 
SEC ups its game to identify rogue firms (Wall Street Journal)
 
December 27, 2011 -- It is the Securities and Exchange Commission's new "most-wanted" list: a chart covered with handwritten notes, yellow highlighter and the names of about 100 hedge funds.
The hedge funds have one thing in common: Their performance seems too good to be true, with some trouncing the overall market and others churning out modest results without ever suffering a down month. Some funds on the list stumble but still always outperform rival hedge funds.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203686204577116752943871934.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection
WORLD
Arab League mission arrives amid violence in Syria (CNN)
 
December 26, 2011 --  Members of an Arab League delegation arrived Monday in Syria to look into events on the ground and whether Syria is upholding a commitment to end a brutal crackdown.
The trip comes amid reports of raging violence, opposition groups say, particularly in the flashpoint city of Homs.

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCCS) said 42 people were killed Monday -- 34 in Homs, four in Hama, two in Idlib, one in Daraa and one in the suburbs of Damascus.
 
Russians make historic demand for an election rerun  (National Public Radio)
 
December 25, 2011 -- As Russians mark the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union, their political system has reached another watershed moment. Tens of thousands turned out Saturday for another huge protest against apparent fraud in this month's parliamentary election. The urban middle class in Moscow has risen up to demand greater political rights.http://www.npr.org/2011/12/25/144248301/russians-make-historic-demand-for-election-re-run?ft=1&f=1004
 
Afghanistan sets ground rules for Taliban (Reuters)
 
December 26, 2011 -- Afghanistan will accept a Taliban liaison office in Qatar to start peace talks but no foreign power can get involved in the process without its consent, the government's peace council said, as efforts gather pace to find a solution to the decade-long war.

Afghanistan's High Peace Council, in a note to foreign missions, has set out ground rules for engaging the Taliban after Kabul grew concerned that the United States and Qatar, helped by Germany, had secretly agreed with the Taliban to open an office in the Qatari capital, Doha.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/26/us-afghanistan-talks-idUSTRE7BP06U20111226
Czechs, world leaders remember irreplaceable Vaclav Havel at funeral (Christian Science Monitor)
 
December 23, 2011 -- Vaclav Havel, the humble Czech playwright who became his country's first democratically elected president after helping to topple communist rule, was remembered today for his enduring legacy of hope, freedom, and human rights.

The lavish state funeral at Prague Castle’s St. Vitus Cathedral started at noon with a moment of silence that seemed to bring the country to a standstill as church bells rang in honor of the dissident-turned-politician, who died on Dec. 18. Mr. Havel was a figurehead and leader of the peaceful Velvet Revolution of 1989, which brought an end to forty years of communist rule in then-Czechoslovakia.
“You feel like a big part of you is gone,” says a teary Kamila Brambukova, who was 19 when the Velvet Revolution broke out in 1989. “I don’t think he’s replaceable. He’s such an icon. There’s no one like him.” 
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2011/1223/Czechs-world-leaders-remember-irreplaceable-Vaclav-Havel-at-funeral?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+feeds%2Fworld+%28Christian+Science+Monitor+|+World%29