News Wrap: Romney Demands Tougher Line on Protecting American Foreign Interests
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KWAME HOLMAN: The president’s Republican opponents demanded a tougher line today on protecting American interests. In New York, Mitt Romney said Egypt must protect foreign diplomats, or risk forfeiting $1.3 billion a year in U.S. aid.
And in Washington, Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, charged, President Obama has emboldened extremists by showing weakness.
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis.: Only by the competent exercise of American influence are evil and violence overcome. That is how we keep problems abroad from becoming crises. That is what keeps the peace. And that is what we will have in a Romney-Ryan administration.
KWAME HOLMAN: Romney and Ryan also accused the president of dismissing Israel’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Ryan said it amounts to indifference, bordering on contempt.
Negotiators in the week-old teachers strike in Chicago now say they have achieved a framework for a deal. The school district and the teachers union will spend the weekend working out details, and the union will vote on Sunday.
That means some 350,000 students could return to school Monday. Neither side would specify what they have worked out on the contentious issues of pay and teacher evaluations.
In Afghanistan, a bus and truck collided today, killing at least 51 people. It happened in the east, in Ghazni Province, on a highway linking the capital, Kabul, with Kandahar. A local official said the cause of the collision was under investigation, but he didn’t rule out that it was triggered by an attack.
The Russian Parliament today expelled a lawmaker who had turned Against President Vladimir Putin. It was a new signal that a crackdown on dissent is intensifying.
Gennady Gudkov waved farewell to members of the State Duma after he was voted out. Last winter, he helped organize a series of street protests against Putin’s return to power. Gudkov said today the vote was a sham, along with the entire Russian government.
GENNADY GUDKOV, expelled Russian lawmaker (through translator): There is no longer a political system. There is repression, which fight against the opposition, which shuts up the critics. It means that Russia is not going in the right direction.
KWAME HOLMAN: Gudkov is a former KGB officer, like Putin. He once had supported the main Kremlin party in Parliament. His ouster came a day before a major opposition rally in Moscow.
In U.S. economic news, auto sales and higher gas prices drove retail sales numbers up last month. But industrial production fell more than 1 percent, the most in more than three years.
Despite that news, Wall Street scored new gains to finish out the week. The Dow Jones industrial average added 53 points to close at 13,593. The Nasdaq rose 28 points to close just under 3,184. For the week, the Dow gained more than 2 percent; the Nasdaq was up 1.5 percent.
A White House report formally warned today that the government faces $110 billion in across-the-board spending cuts come 2013. The cuts were designed to happen automatically unless Congress adopts a sweeping deficit reduction package.
Social Security, Medicare, federal pensions, and veterans benefits would be exempt. The report said everything else, from the military to border enforcement to student loans, would suffer.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.