ECM WORLD WATCH: GLOBAL AND NATIONAL NEWS

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January 18, 2012 --  (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.
 
          National News 
  • Obama seeks to revamp government, focus on exports (Reuters)
  • Limits on military funeral protests advance (San Diego Union Tribune)
  • USDA says it will close 259 offices to save $150 million (San Diego UT)
  • Tea Party may get rebuffed in tax cut showdown (Reuters)
  • Cantor: US allies have doubts about policies to control Iran (The Hill) 
 
          Presidential Campaign  
  • Huntsman drops out, endorses Romney (CNN)
  • Romney takes some heat over Bain Capital’s actions (Winona Daily News, South Carolina)
  • Judge rejects Republican candidates requests to be on Virginia ballot (Fox News)
  • Mitt Romney’s lies (US News & World Reports)
  • Which presidential candidates have earned the defense industry’s support? (RawStory)
  • CNN Poll: Ron Paul tied with President Obama (CNN) 
 
WORLD 
  • Government says Hezbollah profits from U.S. cocaine market via link to Mexico drug cartel (Propublica) 
  • U.S. warns Iran over military posturing (CBS News)
  • It’s official: S&P announces mass downgrade of Eurozone countries (Business Insider)
  • Iran says nuclear expert killed by bomb attach (NPR)
  • Russian ship stopped with arms bound for Syria (NPR)
  • Shiite and Sunni: what are the differences? (Christian Science Monitor)
     
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
  • Research provides diabetes hope (BBC)
  • New tuberculosis strain thwarts all antibiotics (NPR)
  • Lights at night not a bright idea (Jerusalem Post)
 
Scroll down for excerpts and links to full stories.
  
U.S.
 
          National News
 
Obama seeks to revamp government, focus on exports (Reuters)
January 13, 2012 -- President Barack Obama asked Congress on Friday for broad powers to overhaul the U.S. government and untangle what he called an "outdated bureaucratic maze" that makes it hard for U.S. businesses to sell their goods abroad.  

Obama said he wanted to consolidate six trade and business agencies into a single export body to help the United States better compete in a 21st century economy and modernize a government he said had grown too complex.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/14/us-obama-government-idUSL1E8CD6SZ20120114

Limits on military funeral protests advance (San Diego Union Tribune)
January 10, 2012 --  A state Senate panel approved legislation Tuesday to sharply limit protests at military funerals in response to a small but vocal Kansas church that pickets somber farewells to service members as way to promote their anti-gay message, reopening a clash over the reach of the First Amendment.
The measure easily cleared the Senate Public Safety Committee, but the 4-1 vote and expected lopsided legislative victories ahead do not guarantee that the restrictions will become law.
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jan/10/senate-panel-oks-limits-on-funeral-pickets/
 
USDA says it will close 259 offices to save $150 million (San Diego UT)
January 9, 2012 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture will close 259 domestic offices, labs and other facilities as part of an effort to save $150 million per year, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday.
While the closures and other cost-cutting steps will affect the USDA headquarters in Washington and operations in 46 states, the savings will be relatively small in the context of the agency's $145 billion budget.
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jan/09/usda-says-it-will-close-259-offices-to-save-150m/
 
Tea Party may get rebuffed in tax cut showdown (Reuters)
January 13, 2012 -- House Speaker John Boehner, hoping to spare fellow Republicans a second embarrassing defeat over payroll tax cuts, is prepared to navigate around rebellious Tea Party-aligned lawmakers to get a deal, according to congressional aides.  

Republicans in the House of Representatives got a public drubbing from critics within and outside the party in December for initially refusing to approve a Senate plan to extend the tax break for 160 million Americans through February.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/13/us-usa-taxes-payroll-republicans-idUSTRE80C0BY20120113
 
Cantor: US allies have doubts about policies to control Iran (The Hill) 
January 13, 2012 -- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday that key U.S. allies in the Middle East are voicing doubts that efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions through economic sanctions and oil embargoes will be successful.
In an interview with The Hill, Cantor said that during a week-long trip abroad, he heard warnings from neighbors of Iran who believe that the clerical regime in Tehran can’t be stopped — simply because “it has nothing to lose.”
http://thehill.com/homenews/house/204151-cantor-us-allies-have-doubts-about-obama-policies-stop-iran
 
          Presidential Campaign 
 
Huntsman drops out, endorses Romney (CNN)
 
January 17, 2012 --  Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman withdrew from the Republican presidential race Monday and endorsed front-runner Mitt Romney, while a supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry called for him to also drop out for the sake of conservative unity.
 
And Romney was again the biggest target on stage at a debate in South Carolina five days before that state's primary on Saturday. But his rivals traded a few shots at each other as they tried to position themselves as the best conservative hopeful to derail the front-runner.
http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/16/politics/campaign-wrap/index.html?hpt=hp_t1 

Romney takes some heat over Bain Capital’s actions (Winona Daily News, South Carolina)
 
January 17, 2012 -- In one of the most sustained batterings he has endured in the 2012 presidential primary debates, Mitt Romney was repeatedly put on the defensive over his business and government record and the attack ads by his supporters that are swamping South Carolina's airwaves.
 
The former Massachusetts governor's rivals have been increasingly desperate to derail his front-running candidacy as Romney looks to put a virtual lock on the Republican nomination in Saturday's primary.
http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/national/govt-and-politics/article_008085a2-c887-5e80-9b32-26b45efbbb0b.html

Judge rejects Republican candidates requests to be on Virginia ballot (Fox News)
 
January 13, 2012 -- A federal judge has ruled that Rick Perry and three other Republican presidential candidates will not be added to Virginia's primary ballot. 
District Court Judge John Gibney Jr. rejected their requests, arguing that they filed their challenges to Virginia's stringent ballot requirements too late. 
 
"They played the game, they lost, and then they complained about the rules," he said. 
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/13/judge-rejects-gop-candidate-request-to-be-added-to-virginia-ballot/

Mitt Romney’s lies (US News & World Reports)
 
As his briefly front-running campaign sunk in the polls under relentless punishment from Mitt Romney's "super PAC" allies in the days before the Iowa caucuses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich caused a brief stir by matter-of-factly telling a TV interviewer that Romney is a "liar."
"Why are you saying he's a liar?" his apparently shocked interlocutor pressed. The notion that Mitt Romney routinely makes statements lacking a factual basis should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the campaign. On the left, Paul Krugman has marveled that no other candidate has ever "lied so freely, with so little compunction." On the right, The American Conservative's Daniel Larison wondered about why he lies, concluding that the former Massachusetts governor is "so contemptuous of the people he tells lies to that he never thinks he will be found out."
 
Which presidential candidates have earned the defense industry’s support? (RawStory)
 
January 13, 2012 -- Though Americans far and away identify economic problems as the biggest issue facing the nation, according, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has been gaining support by talking about the need to restrict the military industrial complex and end what he terms “war profiteering” — most recently in his victory speech after the New Hampshire primary.
 
By contrast, former governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), currently leading the pack of GOP candidates, called for a strong America and a strong relationship with Israel — rhetoric that has most often accompanied robust military spending. Meanwhile, back in Washington, President Obama thought last year that the prospect of automatic defense spending cuts would be enough to pressure the super committee into a deal on the debt: it wasn’t, and now he may be stuck with them.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/01/13/which-presidential-candidates-have-earned-the-defense-industrys-support/
 
 
CNN Poll: Ron Paul tied with President Obama (CNN)
 
January 16, 2012 -- Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul continues to enjoy a new found surge in popularity, and according to a CNN/ORC poll released Monday, he is statistically tied with President Barack Obama in a hypothetical November match up between the two.
 
The CNN poll asked voters to vote in hypothetical match ups between all of the remaining Republican presidential candidates, including the Texas congressman. In the head to head vote, Mr. Paul garners 46 percent compared to Mr. Obama’s 48 percent. The difference of  two percentage points though is below the poll’s three percentage point margin of error.
http://www.thestatecolumn.com/articles/cnn-poll-ron-paul-tied-with-president-obama/
 
 
WORLD
 
Government says Hezbollah profits from U.S. cocaine market via link to Mexico drug cartel
December 13, 2011 -- U.S. authorities are building a politically explosive case that Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, finances itself through a vast drug-smuggling network that links a Lebanese bank, a violent Mexican cartel and U.S. cocaine users.
Federal prosecutors Tuesday charged Ayman Joumaa, an accused Lebanese drug kingpin and Hezbollah financier, of smuggling tons of U.S.-bound cocaine and laundering hundreds of millions of dollars with the Zetas cartel of Mexico.
http://www.propublica.org/article/government-says-hezbollah-profits-from-us-cocaine-market-via-link-to-mexica/single
U.S. warns Iran over military posturing (CBS News)
 
January 13, 2012 -- The United States has sent a warning to Iran over its threat to block the Strait of Hormuz. One-sixth of the world's oil passes through the 35-mile waterway. A warning was sent through a private diplomatic channel to Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khameini. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin looks into the matter.
A video taken one week ago shows speedboats from the Iranian revolutionary guard harassing a U.S. warship in the Strait of Hormuz. They closed within 500 yards ignoring whistle and voice signals asking their intentions. A second video shot the same day shows more speedboats harassing a U.S. Coast Guard cutter inside the Persian Gulf.
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57359015/u.s-warns-iran-over-military-posturing/
It’s official: S&P announces mass downgrade of Eurozone countries (Business Insider)
January 13, 2012 -- Standard & Poor's officially cut the long-term credit rating of France and eight other Eurozone nations, stripping the Parisian country of its coveted AAA status.
Europe's debt crisis continued to claim victims, as S&P lowered Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, and Spain by two-notches. Smaller one-level downgrades hit Austria, France, Malta, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
http://www.businessinsider.com/sp-downgrades-europe-2012-1

Iran says nuclear expert killed by bomb attach (NPR)
 
January 11, 2012 -- Two assailants on a motorcycle attached magnetic bombs to the car of an Iranian university professor working at a key nuclear facility, killing him and another person Wednesday, state TV reported. The slayings suggest a widening covert effort to set back Iran's atomic program.
The attack in Tehran bore a strong resemblance to earlier killings of scientists working on the Iranian nuclear program. It is certain to amplify authorities' claims of clandestine operations by Western powers and their allies to halt Iran's nuclear advances.
http://www.npr.org/2012/01/11/145022994/iran-says-nuclear-expert-killed-by-bomb-attack?ft=1&f=1004
 
Russian ship stopped with arms bound for Syria (NPR)
 
January 11, 2012 -- A Russian ship that made an unscheduled stop in Cyprus while carrying tons of arms to Syria was technically violating an EU embargo on such shipments, say Cypriot officials.
The vessel, however, was allowed to continue its journey Wednesday after changing its destination.
The cargo ship, owned by St. Petersburg-based Westberg Ltd., left the Russian port on Dec. 9 for Turkey and Syria, which is 65 miles east of Cyprus, the officials said.
Russia and Turkey are not members of the European Union, so such a route would not have violated the embargo the bloc imposed to protest Syria's crackdown on the uprising against President Bashar Assad's rule.
http://www.npr.org/2012/01/11/145043115/russian-ship-stopped-with-arms-bound-for-syria?ft=1&f=1004
 
Shiite and Sunni: what are the differences? (Christian Science Monitor)
 
January 15, 2012 -- Both sects are Muslim. They believe the Koran is the direct word of God, passed down to the prophet Muhammad in a series of revelations before his death. They pray in the direction of Mecca, and share the same dietary and general social restrictions.
 
Their schism lies in disputes over who would succeed Muhammad as leader of the faithful after his death in 632. The Shiites thought the prophet’s son-in-law and cousin should lead as caliph, particularly given his blood relationship to Muhammad. Their opponents, the Sunnis, thought Abu Bakr, one of Mohammad’s first converts, should be their leader.
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/0115/Shiite-and-Sunni-What-are-the-differences/What-are-the-origins-of-the-Sunni-and-Shiite-sects
 
 
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Research provides diabetes hope (BBC)
 
January 16, 2012 -- Scientists say they have uncovered new evidence which it is hoped could eventually help diagnose and prevent type 1 diabetes.
Professor Andy Sewell of Cardiff University, working with King's College London, witnessed human T-cells - which protect against disease - inadvertently destroying insulin-producing cells.
Insulin controls blood sugar levels and a lack of it can be fatal.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-16560844
New tuberculosis strain thwarts all antibiotics (NPR)
 
January 13, 2012 -- Physicians in India have discovered a strain of tuberculosis they call 'TDR' for 'Totally Drug-Resistant'—meaning there is no antibiotic available to fight it. Maryn McKenna, author of Superbug, discusses the possible origins of the strain, and what options—if any—doctors have to treat it.
http://www.npr.org/2012/01/13/145175265/new-tuberculosis-strain-thwarts-all-antibiotics?ft=1&f=1128
 
Lights at night not a bright idea (Jerusalem Post)
 
January 14, 2012 -- Moonlight and starlight aren’t just romantic, according to a new international study with Israeli input. This natural nighttime light is also healthier than harsh artificial light – especially LED (light-emitting diodes) white light, which suppresses the brain’s night time production of Melatonin needed to regulate our biological clocks, behavior and health.

“Light is beneficial, but dark is also beneficial,” says Prof. Abraham Haim, head of the Center for Interdisciplinary Chronobiological Research at the University of Haifa.

 

http://www.jpost.com/Health/Article.aspx?id=253588&R=R77