Source: Associated Press
BEIJING (AP) -- Casting a spotlight on China's controls on the media, Vice President Joe Biden met with U.S. journalists working in Beijing Thursday after publicly criticizing how they're treated by China's government.
Closing a two-day trip to Beijing, Biden listened to concerns from journalists who may be forced to leave China in what some have perceived as retaliation for stories that have reflected poorly on the government. U.S. news organizations have said China's actions could have a chilling effect on hard-hitting journalism and the ability of American reporters to operate in the country.
"Innovation thrives where people breathe freely, speak freely, are able to challenge orthodoxy, where newspapers can report the truth without fear of consequences," Biden said earlier Thursday as he addressed U.S. business executives in Beijing. "We have many disagreements, and some profound disagreements, on some of those issues right now, in the treatment of U.S. journalists."
The public rebuke came a day after Biden raised the issue directly in wide-ranging, marathon meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
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The University of Indiana ordered the removal this week of a racially charged bulletin board display from a residence hall lobby.
Messages intended to spark discussion are sometimes posted on the bulletin board for the Community Education Program at Foster Residence Center, but students complained about some of the messages posted in response to the question: Can Santa Claus be a black man?
The display featured an illustration of a black Santa Claus, and students complained that some of the other questions posed as part of the display served to reinforce negative stereotypes.
If Santa is a black man, would you let him come down your chimney? one discussion topic read, while others asked if a black Santa would only visit the ghetto or whether all the presents would be stolen.
I was completely appalled with it, said first-year student Alexus Johnson.
TOMAS JIVANDA Thursday 05 December 2013
Two people have been killed as the country is battered by winds of up to 140mph, prompting the evacuation of over 10,000 homes.
A man was killed in Retford, Nottinghamshire, after he was struck by a falling tree in a park, and a lorry driver died when his HGV was blown on top of a number of cars in West Lothian, Scotland.
Four more people were also injured when the lorry overturned on the A801 one mile north of Boghead Roundabout, Bathgate, West Lothian, at around 8.10am.
The biggest tidal surge for over 60 years now threatens to flood the east coast of England, as the terrible weather continues throughout today and tomorrow.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) is tracking the location of mobile phones globally in a project that creates nearly 5 billion records every day.
The agencys vast database covers at least hundreds of millions of devices reports The Washington Post, allowing the authorities to find cellphones anywhere in the world, retrace their movements and expose hidden relationships among the people using them.
The NSA says it collects the data incidentally a legal term that refers to a foreseeable but not deliberate result but the agencys activities have been decried by privacy groups.
It is staggering that a location-tracking program on this scale could be implemented without any public debate, said the American Civil Liberties Union in a statement.
The dragnet surveillance of hundreds of millions of cell phones flouts our international obligation to respect the privacy of foreigners and Americans alike.
Trayvon Martin continues to be a subject of intense interest for the academic elite. The Princeton University Orchestra and the University Concert Jazz Ensemble is set to debut The Ballad for Trayvon Martin today, NJ.com reports.
The goal of the music, according to its composer, noted jazz artist Anthony D.J. Branker, is to pay homage to victims of racial violence.
I simply want to make a connection, Branker said, whether its on a level of social consciousness, or music and expression.
Branker said his composition speaks to all of us to continue to work together so that children of any race, ethnicity or religious affiliation never have to meet such a tragic end.
A grand jury indicted an unarmed, emotionally disturbed man on assault charges after police opened fire on him near New York Citys Times Square and wounded two bystanders.
Investigators said 35-year-old Glenn Broadnax, of Brooklyn, created a disturbance Sept. 14 by lurching into traffic and lunging toward oncoming cars.
Police arrived as a crowd gathered at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue and tried to corral the 250-pound Broadnax.
When the man reached into his pants pocket, two officers opened fire, missing Broadnax but wounding two women standing nearby.
An officer finally subdued Broadnax with a Taser stun gun, and he was initially arrested on misdemeanor charges of drug possession, menacing and resisting arrest.
But the Manhattan district attorneys office brought the case before a grand jury and secured a nine-count indictment on felony charges that carry a possible 25-year prison sentence.
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - The Palestinians rejected ideas raised by visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday for security arrangements under a possible future peace accord with Israel, a Palestinian official said.
There was no immediate response from the United States or Israel, which has long insisted on keeping swathes of its West Bank settlements, as well as a military presence on the territory's eastern boundary with Jordan, under any peace deal.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and declined to elaborate on the proposals, said Kerry presented them to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after discussing them separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"The Palestinian side rejected them because they would only lead to prolonging and maintaining the occupation," the official told Reuters, referring to Israel's hold on the West Bank, where, along with Gaza and East Jerusalem, Palestinians seek an independent state.
In remarks to reporters after his three-hour meeting with Abbas in the West Bank hub city of Ramallah, Kerry commended "his steadfast commitment to stay at the peace negotiations, despite the difficulties that he and the Palestinians have perceived in the process".
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought to ease differences with Israels Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem today after ties were strained by disagreements on Iran and the Palestinians.
Kerry said the Obama administration would tighten enforcement of Iran sanctions and has a deep, deep commitment to Israels security as it seeks a final nuclear accord with the Iranians and explores security arrangements that might facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Netanyahu toned down his criticism of the preliminary agreement the U.S. and world powers reached with Iran last month, saying any final pact must dismantle Irans ability to produce nuclear weapons. The two men spoke after meeting at Netanyahus office. Kerry later said after a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah that he may return for further talks in a week or two.
The bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable, Kerry said. And while occasionally we might have a difference of a tactical measure, we do not have a difference about the fundamental strategy that we both seek with respect to the security of Israel and the long-term peace of this region.
Netanyahu has called the Iran deal a historic mistake, voicing concern that international pressure on Iran would ease after negotiators traded sanctions relief for some limitations on Irans suspected nuclear program. He has also said Israels security would be the paramount concern in any peace deal with the Palestinians.
By Brian K. Sullivan - Dec 5, 2013
A blast of arctic air has rolled into the central U.S., mixing with a low-pressure system to fuel a storm that is tying up air traffic and threatening to bring ice and sleet as far south as Texas.
Freezing rain is expected to start falling in North Texas tonight, coating roads, trees and power lines with a layer of ice at least 0.25 inch (0.6 centimeter) thick, according to the National Weather Service. The cold may also boost energy use.
Ice accumulations will create hazardous travel conditions on area roads, especially on bridges and overpasses, the weather service said in a winter storm warning for Dallas and Fort Worth. Ice accumulations may make road surfaces impassable at times through Friday afternoon.
The frigid air has descended from Canada and is spreading across the western and southern U.S., sending temperatures tumbling. Readings are forecast to average more than 15 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 Celsius) below normal from today to Dec. 9 and that will lead to increased energy demand, according to Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.
The big picture still favors an impressive December demand level nationally through next week before the pattern starts to gradually moderate, Rogers wrote in his forecast today.
By Mark Drajem - Dec 5, 2013
While renewable fuels have so far failed to reach production levels envisioned by supporters, theyre an undisputed hit with one group: Washington lobbyists.
Dozens of companies and trade groups have ramped up their lobbying ahead of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision on scaling back requirements for the use of gasoline alternatives. Many were represented at an EPA hearing today on the matter.
In the quarter ended Sept. 30, about 200 companies and other entities reported hiring lobbying firms for the issue, including those led by former lawmakers Richard Gephardt and Trent Lott, almost double from two years ago, Senate records show. The companies include chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. (SAFM), refiner Valero Corp. and hamburger-seller Wendys Co. (WEN)
It would be positively irrational for these companies not to lobby as hard as they can on this issue, Jeffrey Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University who studies lobbying, said in an interview. The amount of money they will spend on lobbying is a small percentage of whats at stake.
Because groups aggregate their lobbying expenditures in the Senate records, its impossible to say exactly how much was spent on this issue alone. All told, records show the groups or companies spent $79 million lobbying in the previous quarter, compared to $46 million in the same period in 2011.
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