By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – 8 hrs agoCampaigning Monday in the pivotal battleground of Ohio, President Barack Obama hit China over allegedly underhanded competition that hurts American workers, and knocked Mitt Romney as being for unfair trade practices before he was against them.”We don’t need folks who during election time suddenly are worrying about trade practices, but before the election are taking advantage of unfair trading practices,” Obama told a crowd of some 4,500 cheering supporters in Cincinnati.The Republican presidential nominee has recently redoubled his attacks on the president over China as both men court blue-collar workers who blame Beijing’s rise for the decline of American manufacturing. It’s a sentiment with overwhelming support in Congress, where many accuse the rising economic power of keeping its currency artificially low against the dollar—a move that helps keep its exports cheaper relative to American competition.The former Massachusetts governor has promised that, if elected, he will formally designate China a currency manipulator, a step that could trigger retaliatory sanctions—and, many experts warn, precipitate a trade war.Obama, who has sometimes struggled to reach white working-class voters, accused Romney of benefiting personally from seeing American manufacturing jobs flow to China. The president charged that, as head of the private equity firm Bain Capital, his rival invested in firms that moved jobs to Asia.”He made money investing in companies that uprooted from here and went to China,” Obama said. „Now, Ohio, you can’t stand up to China when all you’ve done is sent them our jobs.”The Romney campaign vigorously disputed that allegation, with spokesman Ryan Williams accusing the president of „recycling false and debunked attacks.””He can’t tell the people of Ohio about his record of fewer jobs, more debt, and lower incomes,” Williams said in a statement. „And even members of his own party have loudly condemned his inaction toward China.”(The Republican National Committee also blasted out a series of quotes from Democrats, including Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, which had criticized the Obama administration for not designating China a currency manipulator. Obama aides say the yuan is artificially cheap, but that the issue is best addressed either at the World Trade Organization or through bilateral negotiations—even though such talks have yielded little progress. Legislation meant to escalate the pressure on Beijing has stalled in the Republican-held House of Representatives in the face of opposition from potent sectors of big business.)Obama’s trip came as the U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced new steps to challenge China’s allegedly improper subsidies to its auto and auto-parts sectors.The Obama administration is also escalating another trade enforcement action, begun in July, against what it says are unfair anti-dumping and countervailing duties on some $3.3 billion in U.S. automobile exports to China.”You can talk a good game, but I like to walk the walk, not just talk the talk,” Obama said.Romney’s tough rhetoric on China reflects how a challenger can use foreign policy issues to his or her advantage: Candidate Obama did the same thing on China in 2008, pushing then-President George W. Bush to boycott the Beijing Olympics. In 2000, candidate Bush hit the Clinton administration’s record on China and described the rising Asian power as a strategic competitor. And in 1992, candidate Bill Clinton accused then-President George H.W. Bush of accommodating the „butchers of Beijing.”Each time, the candidate turned president muted his more strident criticisms and worked to bring Beijing into international institutions and get its cooperation on a range of thorny issues, like nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran. Advisers to Romney insist that he would keep his pledge.
Chicago teachers strike: Why Rahm Emanuel’s court gambit may backfire By Mark Guarino | Christian Science Monitor – 6 hrs ago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools on Monday asked a court for a temporary injunction that would end the teachers strike immediately. They are taking a calculated risk that the move won’t actually slow resolution of the conflictBy turning to the courts to try to end the Chicago teachers strike, now in its second week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking a calculated risk that the public will be on his side and that the move won’t actually slow the resolution of the city’s battle with the union.The soonest the courts will take up the matter, however, is Wednesday, according to Cook County Circuit Court Judge Peter Flynn, who on Monday afternoon denied an immediate hearing of the city’s request for a preliminary injunction that would end the strike immediately. That means students attending Chicago Public Schools are certain to be out of school Tuesday and perhaps longer.The Chicago Public Schools, under the directive of Mayor Emanuel, had filed a complaint earlier Monday asking the court for a temporary restraining order and for the injunction, on the grounds that the strike is illegal under state law and presents “a clear and present danger to public health and safety,” according to court documents.RECOMMENDED: Obama vs. Romney 101: 5 differences on educationThe Chicago Teachers Union released a statement Monday that described Emanuel’s actions as “vindictive” and an “attempt to thwart our democratic process.”The court strategy could backfire by aggravating the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), whose delegates are currently considering the terms of a tentative contract.“Both sides are in the middle of negotiations, where you are building a relationship of trust. What the mayor is trying to do is put his thumb on the scale … he’s moving a little too quickly,” says Randolph McLaughlin, a labor lawyer and a professor at Pace University Law School in White Plains, N.Y. „If there is a division within the union that sees this as a heavy-handed tactic, it may push the union to a more aggressive position by continuing to strike, and that’s not very helpful.”Emanuel has long had the option to ask the the court to intervene and end the strike, but he paused in the hope of settling the contract dispute at the negotiating table, say labor analysts. One likely reason for the pause was political: Media coverage of teachers being forced back to the classroom, or facing fines or jail time, would not help President Obama, Emanuel’s former boss, for the November election.But that changed late Sunday, when the teachers’ union announced it had decided to extend the strike at least two more days to give delegates more time to review a contract agreement reached late Friday.The announcement came as a surprise. Union leaders and Chicago Public Schools officials released statements over the weekend that children would most likely be back in school Monday. According to both sides, language in the contract just needed to be finalized over the weekend, resulting in a House of Delegates vote late Sunday afternoon.That didn’t happen. Media accounts suggest internal strife within certain union factions. At a rally Monday, union president Karen Lewis said she was “tired of the lies and name-calling and vilification of the people who do the work every single day to make the difference in our children in Chicago’s lives.”Emanuel released a statement Sunday that explained he would now turn to the courts, saying he “will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union.” He added that the union should allow school to proceed while it works out the details in formalizing the contract. He said he was taking the legal step so that children would not be in danger of falling further behind in their studies, a theme Emanuel has emphasized since the strike began Sept. 9.Which direction the court will take regarding the school district’s complaint will depend on its interpretation of what the strike is about. Emanuel says the strike is illegal because the Illinois Labor Relations Act says unions can strike over policy matters affecting wages and benefits, but that this strike is essentially about teacher evaluations, layoff and recall policies, and the length of the school day and year. Union representatives acknowledge that wages are not the primary issue in the strike but say economic issues are connected to their frustrations over hiring policies and evaluations.The contract agreement reached Friday provides teachers with a base salary raise of 3 percent in the first year and 2 percent in each of the next two years. If the contract is extended a fourth year, teachers would receive a 3 percent raise. Teachers are eligible for raises for their years of experience and master’s degrees. The Chicago Public Schools says raises would be 17.6 percent on average over four years.The maximum salary for a Chicago Public Schools teacher under the current contract is $92,227. That is 19 percent higher than the average maximum salary – $77,531 – for a teacher in the 50 largest school districts in the US, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington.For the court to grant an injunction barring the strike, the school district must prove that “the issues of economics are resolvable … so even though there are economic issues out there, they are not significant and the union is using the strike to get noneconomic gains,” says John Hancock, a Detroit-based lawyer who specializes in employment law.Mr. Hancock, who has represented several Michigan school districts over 30 years, says he expects Judge Flynn to force both sides back to the table to negotiate around the clock for a resolution. As it stands, the Chicago school district may have a difficult time proving that every economic issue is resolved, he says.“That’s going to be a tough burden if they have not resolved all the wages. The fact is, [both sides are] close, but the union has the right to strike over a nickel,” says Hancock.The union decision to prolong the strike keeps families in limbo concerning when their children will return to school. Many parents support the teachers but are frustrated that they know little about the remaining sticking points.Some parents are also not happy about being caught off guard by the strike’s timing. The original strike announcement came at 10 p.m. on a Sunday, which meant parents were scrambling early Monday morning to make alternative care arrangements for their children. This weekend’s announcement came earlier Sunday, but after two days in which both sides had signaled that an end of the strike was imminent.“I’m finding myself divided. We have really great teachers at my sons’ school, and I want them to have a fair contact,” says Garvey Madden, a father of two boys in the third and first grades at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy.Mr. Madden was “very disappointed the kids weren’t back in school” Monday but says it’s worth it if it means there won’t be a rebound strike later in the school year. “I want them to get it right the first time because I don’t want them to go back to school and then have a strike later in the month if the union does not accept the contract,” he says.He says his sons are getting bored not being in school, which had started the week before the union declared a strike.“If they clear it up in the next two days, that’s fine. If [the strike] goes longer than that, it’s pushing it,” he says.
China sees more anti-Japan protests over islands By DIDI TANG | Associated Press – 34 mins ago BEIJING (AP) — The 81st anniversary of a Japanese invasion brought a fresh wave of anti-Japan demonstrations in China on Tuesday, with thousands of protesters venting anger over the colonial past and a current dispute involving contested islands in the East China Sea.Outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, thousands shouted patriotic slogans and demanded boycotts of Japanese goods. Similar protests took place in Guangzhou, Wenzhou, Shanghai and other Chinese cities as the country marked the anniversary of a 1931 incident that Japan used as a pretext to invade Manchuria before World War II.In many provinces, including Liaoning, Gansu, Yunnan, Sichuan and Anhui, local governments sounded sirens at 9:18 am to mark the Sept. 18 anniversary, the official China News Service reported.For days, protests have been flaring across China, with occasional outbreaks of violence, including the torching and looting of Japanese-invested factories and shops. They have been the largest anti-Japanese demonstrations since 2005, reflecting ever-present anger toward Tokyo that periodically bursts to the surface.China’s authoritarian government rarely allows protests, and the wave of anti-Japanese demonstrations clearly received a degree of official approval.In Beijing, streams of people marched past the embassy in orderly groups of about 150 people, herded by police who urged them to remain calm and peaceful. Some toted posters of Chairman Mao Zedong, and many shouted slogans such as: „United, Love China, Never forget our national shame.”Wang Guoming, a 38-year-old retired soldier and seller of construction materials, said he came to Beijing from his hometown of Linfen in Shanxi province to vent his frustration at Japan.”I came here so our islands will not be invaded by Japan,” said Wang. „We believe we need to declare war on them because the Japanese devils are too evil. Down with little Japan!”Metal barricades defended the embassy and rows of paramilitary police and SWAT teams lined the protest route.Tensions have been growing for months in the dispute over ownership of East China Sea islands called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The disagreement came to a head last week when the Japanese government said it was purchasing some of the islands from their private owner to thwart a Japanese politician’s plans to buy and develop them.China reacted angrily, sending patrol ships inside Japanese-claimed waters around the islands, which Tokyo has administered since 1972. Some state media urged Chinese to show their patriotism by boycotting Japanese goods and canceling travel to Japan.Japan also has seen a surge of nationalism over the dispute. Its coast guard said Tuesday that it was questioning two Japanese who landed on one of the islands. Coast Guard official Yuji Sakanaka said it was unclear why the two landed.A Coast Guard vessel issued a warning to a Chinese vessel near the islands early Tuesday. But officials said they could not confirm reports in Chinese state media that more than 1,000 Chinese fishing boats were headed toward the East China Sea island group.Though there have been protests in many Chinese cities, turnout has been mixed. In Shanghai, just a few dozen protesters gathered at the downtown People’s Square, where security was heavy.Liu Qiming, 21, a recent college graduate looking for work, said he came after reading about the protests online and was committed to boycotting Japanese goods as a way of showing his solidarity.”So far our government has been saying a lot but there’s been no decisive action,” Liu said. „That’s really a shame.”__Researcher Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed to this report.
Panetta to meet with China leaders, tour navy base By LOLITA C. BALDOR | Associated Press – 16 hrs ago BEIJING (AP) — A day after the U.S. forged an agreement to put a second missile defense radar system in Japan, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived Monday in China, where he may get a frosty reception from officials who have been unhappy with America’s expanded military presence in the region.His three-day visit comes amid escalating tensions over territorial disputes involving China and Japan, and questions about whether the U.S. is backing its Japanese allies in those disagreements.This is Panetta’s first trip to China as defense chief, and it is expected to include several historic visits, including a meeting Wednesday with the country’s leader-in-waiting, Xi Jinping, just days after the ruler reappeared in public after a two-week absence.Panetta’s stay in China was extended in recent days so he could visit Qingdao, a key naval base where he will see a Chinese submarine and frigate.According to U.S. defense officials, Panetta plans to press China to seek ways to peacefully resolve the territorial disputes. Chinese leaders, however, are wary of America’s move to increase its military presence in the Asia-Pacific and they will question whether the new radar system is aimed at them.The defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose sensitive travel details about the China visit, said they expect Panetta to take this opportunity to explain the Pentagon’s plans to increase its focus and presence in the Pacific region. And he will explain that the new radar in Japan is aimed at better protecting the region and the U.S. from the North Korean missile threat, and is not aimed at China.Speaking at a press conference in Japan on Monday, Panetta said he is concerned about the angry protests across China over uninhabited East China Sea islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Although Japan has controlled the islands for decades, the Chinese were angry that the Japanese government purchased them from their private owners.”Although we understand the differences here with regards to jurisdiction, it is extremely important that diplomatic means on both side be used to try to constructively resolve these issue,” Panetta said. „It’s in everybody’s interest for Japan and China to maintain good relations and to find a way to avoid further escalation.”U.S. relations with China have been rocky, especially over America’s support and arms sales to Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its own.The U.S. also has been critical of China for its lack of transparency regarding its massive military buildup.Trade issues threated to further complicate Panetta’s visit.White House officials said the Obama administration would announce on Monday a new trade enforcement case against Beijing targeting Chinese subsidies for exports of automobiles and automobile parts. For its part, China said it had filed a case with the World Trade Organization challenging U.S. anti-dumping measures against a wide range of Chinese goods including kitchen appliances, magnets and paper.Panetta’s meeting with Xi is particularly notable because he had not been seen since Sept. 1, and had canceled sessions with a number of other foreign dignitaries since then, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Chinese government has yet to explain Xi’s public absence, but there had been rumors that he had been ill.