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Obama Cancels Trip To California Next Week To Work On Syria Vote: White House


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has canceled a trip to California next week so that he can stay in Washington "to work on the Syrian resolution before Congress," a White House official said on Thursday.

Obama has asked Congress to authorize a military strike in Syria after a chemical weapons attack on civilians two weeks ago, but many lawmakers from both parties have said they are undecided on whether to support the president's request.

Read more: http://wkzo.com/news/articles/2013/sep/05/obama-cancels-trip-to-california-next-week-to-work-on-syria-vote-white-house/

Amid Tensions, Obama And Putin Put On A Happy Face During Appearance At G-20

Source: Associated Press

By JULIE PACE | ASSOCIATED PRESS | 9 minutes ago in World

President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin shook hands, smiled and made small talk about the scenery on Thursday _ a public exchange of pleasantries belying a tense relationship that only seems to be getting worse.

"We've kind of hit a wall," Obama said of the United States' ties with Russia the day before he arrived in St. Petersburg for a global summit.

With tensions mounting over issues including Syria, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, and human rights, Obama and Putin did not plan to hold a formal bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 gathering. A formal greeting outside St. Petersburg's Constantine Palace was their only planned one-on-one public appearance.

Parsing the body language between Obama and Putin has become something of a geopolitical parlor game every time the two leaders meet. But there wasn't much to work with this time: Their exchange lasted 15 seconds.

Read more: http://www.newser.com/article/da8kb5t81/amid-tensions-obama-and-putin-put-on-a-happy-face-during-appearance-at-g-20.html

US Service Firms Expand At Fastest Pace In 8 Years

Source: Associated Press

Thursday, September 5, 2013 11:01 am | Updated: 11:02 am, Thu Sep 5, 2013.

WASHINGTON — Companies in the U.S. service sector expanded at their fastest pace in nearly 8 years last month as sales and orders grew and employers ramped up hiring.

The Institute for Supply Management said Thursday that its service-sector index rose to 58.6 in August from 56 in July. It's the highest point since December 2005. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

A measure of hiring rose to 57, the most in six months. That's an encouraging sign for the job market because the service sector employs 90 percent of the U.S. workforce, including retail, construction, health care and financial services.

Consumers appear to be spending more at auto dealerships, retailers, hotels and restaurants. The housing recovery is also spurring growth in real estate.

Read more: http://www.postbulletin.com/business/us-service-firms-expand-at-fastest-pace-in-years/article_6f0b37f0-1644-11e3-b219-0019bb30f31a.html

American Auto Earnings Show Signs of Beating Best of 90s

By Keith Naughton and Craig Trudell - Sep 5, 2013

The 17 percent surge in U.S. auto sales last month pushed the annual rate to a pre-recession, boom-time level. Even more significant, Detroit automakers are reaping profits not seen since the turn of the century.

Sales totaled 1.5 million in August, the most in one month since May 2007. What’s more, the automotive comeback crossed an important milestone as the industry’s annual selling rate reached 16.1 million, the fastest since October 2007 and a volume that signifies a robust car market.

As the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers approaches, Detroit has come full circle, from bankruptcy to boom. General Motors Co. (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F) and Chrysler Group LLC combined to earn $13.5 billion last year, even as industry sales were 17 percent below the peak of 17.4 million set in 2000. Those fatter profits come from trimmer companies that radically restructured operations, shed debts and overhauled their lineups to field their most competitive cars in a generation.

“Any question that the industry is back should be put to rest,” said Jeff Schuster, auto analyst for researcher LMC Automotive. “In 2007, there was no margin on cars; the Detroit Three were giving them away. Now we’re seeing a much different environment, where they’re much more competitive.”



Obamacare Insurance Costs Affordable, Kaiser Survey Finds

By Alex Wayne - Sep 5, 2013

A 25-year-old New Yorker earning $25,000 a year will pay as little as $62 a month for health insurance next year, and a peer living in Vermont may pay nothing, according to a 17-state survey of premiums under the U.S. health-care overhaul.

The Kaiser Family Foundation report is the broadest look yet at what consumers will pay for health insurance when the Affordable Care Act takes full effect next year. The cost issue has been a top concern for President Barack Obama’s administration, which is trying to persuade at least 7 million Americans who now lack insurance to sign up for coverage starting Oct. 1.

California and New York are among the states that have announced rates for the plans to be sold through marketplaces called exchanges. Republican officials in states including Ohio, Indiana and Georgia have released partial information on premiums, emphasizing big increases for some customers.

“There’s obviously intense interest in what the choices are going to look like for consumers and what they’re going to have to pay in 2014,” Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at Menlo Park, California-based Kaiser, said in a phone interview. “For the most part insurers seem to find this market attractive and they’re pricing accordingly.”



Numbers in Congress Show Obama Far From Approval on Syria

By Michael C. Bender, Roxana Tiron and Greg Giroux - Sep 5, 2013

Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi voted the same way just five times in the past three years. Every time, the House has followed their lead.

That may change when it comes to Syria. Boehner and Pelosi are among about 20 members -- or about 5 percent of the House -- publicly supporting a military strike so far.

On the other side is an unusual alliance of Tea Party Republicans and antiwar Democrats who make up the bulk of at least 68 lawmakers opposed to military action -- 54 Republicans and 14 Democrats, according to a Bloomberg News tally. It would take 217 votes to kill the measure in the House, or to pass it.

In the balance are about 350 House lawmakers who are undecided, leaning one way or the other or haven’t yet made their views known -- illustrating the difficult task ahead for President Barack Obama in securing congressional support for a strike.

“Many members on both sides of the aisle are struggling with this issue,” Representative Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat who supports military action, said yesterday in Washington during a House committee hearing on the resolution.



Kerry Turns From Anti-War Protester to Syria Salesman

By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan - Sep 5, 2013

When an anti-war protester interrupted a congressional hearing on Syria this week to yell, “We don’t want another war,” Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged the irony that he first appeared before the same Senate panel 42 years ago as an anti-war activist.

“When I was 27 years old, I had feelings very similar to that protester. And I would just say that is exactly why it is so important that we are all here having this debate, talking about these things before the country, and that the Congress itself will act representing the American people,” Kerry told the Foreign Relations Committee on Sept. 3.

Kerry, who spent hours testifying on Capitol Hill the past two days to persuade reluctant lawmakers to approve a strike to punish the Syrian regime for what the U.S. says was the gassing of 1,400 people, has emerged as the Obama administration’s most passionate advocate of a military response to an atrocity.

More than President Barack Obama himself, Kerry is the public face of the administration’s campaign to convince the world and the American people that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad committed a war crime and that the U.S. must act in collective self-defense.

The role of chief spokesman for military action -- a tough sales job to a war-weary public and Congress -- may seem an odd role for a decorated Vietnam War naval officer who rose to prominence as an anti-war campaigner before entering politics. Those who’ve known him for decades say Kerry is doing now what he did in 1971: speaking his conscience about acts of war.



Will Putin Sell Missile Defences To Iran? Russian President Issues Threat To Route Technology....

Will Putin sell missile defences to Iran? Russian President issues threat to route technology elsewhere if the West attacks Syria

PUBLISHED: 00:58 EST, 4 September 2013 |

Vladimir Putin yesterday issued a thinly-veiled threat to arm Iran with missile defences if the West attacks Syria.

The Russian leader said Moscow had provided elements of the S-300 military technology to Syria but had frozen further shipments, suggesting they could be routed elsewhere.

That was widely seen as a threat to revive a contract for delivery of the S-300s to Iran, which Russia cancelled several years ago under strong US and Israeli pressure.

The Russian leader called the S-300 air defence missile system ‘a very efficient weapon’ and said Russia had a contract for its delivery to Syria.

‘We have supplied some of the components, but the delivery hasn’t been completed,’ he said. ‘We have suspended it for now.

‘But if we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2410925/Putin-warns-West-Syria-requests-talk-US-Congress-Obama-heads-G20-summit-Russia.html#ixzz2dzMrhqGy

Israel's Ambassador To US: Assad Must Pay Consequences

Israel's ambassador to Washington Michael Oren said that Israel agrees with President Obama that the use of chemical weapons is abhorrent and that the Assad regime must pay the consequences.

Oren added that Israel also agrees with the president that the use of chemical weapons promotes the use of weapons of mass destruction and encourages governments to attain nuclear weapons. (Yitzhak Benhorin)


US Downplays Concerns About Al-Qaida in Syria

WASHINGTON, September 4 (By Maria Young for RIA Novosti) – As the White House pushes Congress to back a military strike in Syria, it is drawing a distinction between Islamist extremists and “moderate,” secular forces among the opposition, insisting it can aid the latter without benefiting the former.

In testimony before a Senate panel on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry denied that al-Qaida and affiliated Islamist forces had taken full control of the Syrian opposition, saying the number of fighters under the extremist al-Nusra Front linked to al-Qaida were “actually lower” today than in the past.

Instead, Kerry said, the Syrian opposition as a whole “has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership and more defined by its adherence to some … democratic process.”

“They reached out and expanded significantly their base within Syria,” Kerry went on, referring to what US officials have frequently termed the “vetted, moderate” component of the Syrian opposition. “They’ve built up a much more competent leadership.”

Critics in the United States and abroad, notably in Russia, have underscored the presence of al-Qaida and other Islamist forces among the Syrian opposition and have cited this as one of several basic arguments against US military action directed at the regime of President Bashar Assad.


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