CINCINNATI — It is no small task for Mitt Romney to find new ways to attack President Obama’s record on the economy — day after day, week after week, month after month.

But when he went at Obama again on Thursday, he was at least guaranteed to get more attention than usual, thanks to Obama’s almost simultaneous campaign stop on the opposite side of Ohio, a state better placed than any to decide the November election.

“Now you may have heard that President Obama is on the other side of the state, and he’s going to be delivering a speech on the economy,” Romney told invited supporters on the factory floor of a manufacturing equipment maker.

“He’s doing that because he hasn’t delivered a recovery for the economy. And he’s going to be a person of eloquence as he describes his plans for making the economy better. But don’t forget, he’s been president for three and a half years. And talk is cheap.”

To maximize live TV coverage, Romney started speaking 15 minutes ahead of schedule and finished just in time to avoid overlapping Obama’s remarks. Romney’s setting was a tangle of forklifts, crates, industrial fans and other heavy machinery, along with a “Putting Jobs First” banner.

He renewed his vows to expand oil, coal and gas exploration, repeal Obama’s healthcare law and cut the deficit, and he pounded the president for a surge in national debt.

“You want four more years of that?” Romney asked. “You call that forward? That’s forward over a cliff. That’s forward on the way to Greece.”

Romney’s remarks came as Ohio voters were being bombarded by campaign TV commercials on the theme of public debt. In Cincinnati this week, stations have been running, among others, a Romney “super PAC” ad saying Obama is borrowing from China to cover his reckless spending, and an Obama campaign ad saying Massachusetts was No. 1 in state debt when Romney was governor.

On Thursday, the Romney campaign released a new TV ad mocking Obama for saying last week that the private sector was “doing fine.”

Romney ridiculed the president for that comment again at the Cincinnati factory, saying he did not expect Obama to say that again. More likely, he said, Obama will tell voters, “Give me four more years, even though I didn’t get it done in the first three and a half.”

“In my experience, in thinking about people who I want to have work for me, whether it’s my doctor or the person that’s going to be painting the house, I want to make sure they did a good job the first time,” Romney said. “And if they didn’t, I want someone who can get do a better job.”

In Ohio, the economic recovery has been less tepid than in the nation as a whole, but the state still has fewer jobs than it did when Obama took office. Ohio’s unemployment rate has dropped from its 10.6% peak three years ago to 7.4%. The national unemployment rate is 8.2%.

Romney’s venue was Seilkop Industries. A few hours before Romney’s arrival, the president’s reelection campaign notified the news media that Seilkop, which employs 125 people, has received $59,100 in loan guarantees from the Small Business Administration during Obama’s term.

“Romney’s economic plan won’t create one new job, reduce the deficit by a dime, or help America’s manufacturers like Seilkop expand and grow,” said Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith.

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Source : First up in Ohio: Romney turns to familiar lines of attack – Los Angeles Times

The sixth of the accusers who say they were abused by Jerry Sandusky took the witness stand Thursday and described being embraced in the shower by the former Penn State football coach who called himself the “tickle monster.”

The prosecution in the highly publicized case is coming to a close and could finish as soon as Thursday, Judge John Cleland told jurors. So far, the jury of seven women and five men has heard from seven of the eight alleged victims.

Jurors have also heard from adults describing two other cases in which the identities of the children have not been ascertained by investigators.

PHOTOS: Who’s who in the Sandusky case

Sandusky, 68, is charged with 52 counts in the alleged abuse of 10 boys over 15 years. The charges have taken Penn State and the area surrounding Bellfonte, Pa., by storm. Trustees last year fired university President Graham Spanier and head football coach Joe Paterno. Two other college administrators face criminal charges in connection with the aftermath of the scandal.

In the latest testimony Thursday, one of the accusers, known in court documents as Victim 6, described taking a shower at Penn State in 1998 with Sandusky, saying Sandusky soaped his back and eventually embraced him.

The mother of the man – now 25 – went to authorities when her son came home with wet hair. That report did not lead to any charges, investigator Ronald Schreffler said in testimony Thursday. He called the decision a mistake.

Schreffler, a former Penn State police officer who now works for the Department of Homeland Security, said he went to Ray Gricar, then the district attorney, who disagreed that the incident should be prosecuted.

Gricar disappeared in 2005 under mysterious circumstances and was later declared legally dead.

Victim 6 said during cross-examination that he had maintained contact with Sandusky, exchanging emails and notes for holidays and that they had lunch together last summer. Asked why he had decided to testify, the man said he was approached by investigators who asked him to think again about the events in 1998.

“As I started to go over it in my mind, I quickly realized my perception changed, thinking about it as an adult as opposed to an 11-year-old,” he said, according to media reports from the courtroom. “That was inappropriate, what happened to me.”

“Did the change in your attitude have anything to do with hiring an attorney and thinking that there might be some financial gain for you?” defense attorney Joe Amendola asked.

“Zero,” the witness replied.

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Source : Jerry Sandusky called himself ‘tickle monster,’ accuser testifies – Los Angeles Times

Police scoured the Buffalo area Thursday morning, searching for an award-winning trauma surgeon and former military weapons expert to question him about the fatal shooting of a receptionist at the hospital where they worked.

City police spokesman Michael DeGeorge wouldn’t divulge details of the search, where police were focused or how many officers were involved. He only said the search for 49-year-old Timothy Jorden was extensive and ongoing. Police say Jorden may be armed and should be considered dangerous.

Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda was expected to give an update on the killing by noon.

On Thursday morning, there were no memorials and no sign of Wednesday’s violence at the Erie County Medical Center, where 33-year-old Jacqueline Wisniewski was gunned down in a stairwell.

Jorden, who has been licensed to practice medicine in New York for a decade, has served as a role model for black youth in Buffalo, people who know him told the Buffalo News.

Betty Jean Grant, chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature, told the newspaper she watched Jorden grow up and never knew him to get into any trouble.

“It’s tragic that a doctor who saved countless lives might be accused of taking someone else’s life,” she said. “It puts a dark cloud over the mission of a hospital that’s dedicated to saving lives.”

Police say Wisniewski was shot four times. Derenda said the shooting wasn’t a random act, and media reports say Wisniewski was Jorden’s ex-girlfriend.

After the shooting, police unsuccessfully searched inside for the gunman for more than four hours.

They blocked a road leading to the surgeon’s home in an isolated area of private Lake View residences near the Lake Erie shore. SWAT team members in camouflage arrived in unmarked SUVs. A helicopter flew over the house before leaving. Police later said the house was empty.

Heather Shipley, a friend of Wisniewski, told WIVB-TV that Wisniewski feared Jorden.

Wisniewski used to live with Jorden but left him because she believed he was having affairs with other women, Shipley said. When they broke up, he wouldn’t let go, Shipley said.

She said Wisniewski told her the doctor had put a GPS tracking device in her car and once held her captive in her home for a day and a half, wielding a knife.

“She told me if anything happened to her, that it was him,” Shipley told the station.

Calls to several family members of Wisniewski were either to outdated phone numbers or were not immediately returned.

Jorden’s colleagues told the Buffalo News that he had been acting strangely in recent months, avoiding eye contact and basic communication. They also say he had lost a lot of weight — as much as 75 pounds, estimated Michael Carr, who works in the surgical recovery room.

“All I know is he was a good doctor, really polite,” Carr told the newspaper. “He always had something good to say.”

Jorden has a medical degree from the University at Buffalo and trained at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash. He received his certification from the American Board of Surgery in 2004.

The News reported that Jorden joined the National Guard in high school, went into the Army after graduation and served with the Army’s Special Forces, first as a weapons expert, then as a medic. In those roles, he served in the Caribbean, Japan and Korea.

Jorden is certified in advanced-trauma life support and has received numerous awards recognizing his relationships with patients, his teaching skills and his involvement in the community, the newspaper said.

Calls to two listings in Washington state for Jorden’s ex-wife, Frances, were not returned.

Officials said as many as 400 patients and about half of the hospital’s 2,000 employees were on the grounds at the time of the shooting.

Source : Buffalo police search for surgeon to question him about fatal hospital … – Fox News

By msnbc.com staff

The U.S. military is using small spy aircraft disguised as private planes as it expands secret intelligence operations across Africa, The Washington Post reported late Wednesday.

The surveillance missions are part of a “growing shadow war against al-Qaida affiliates and other militant groups,” the newspaper said.


Citing a former U.S. commander, the Post said about dozen air bases have been set up for the unarmed spy planes in Africa since 2007. The newspaper said they include sites in Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya as well as in the Seychelles.

The report added:

“The surveillance is overseen by U.S. Special Operations forces but relies heavily on private military contractors and support from African troops.

The surveillance underscores how Special Operations forces, which have played an outsize role in the Obama administration’s national security strategy, are working clandestinely all over the globe, not just in war zones. The lightly equipped commando units train foreign security forces and perform aid missions, but they also include teams dedicated to tracking and killing terrorism suspects.”

The Post said that the U.S. Africa Command declined to comment on “specific operational details.”

However, the command confirmed that it worked “closely with our African partners … to conduct missions or operations that support and further our mutual security goals.”

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Source : Report: US expands secret ‘shadow war’ in Africa – msnbc.com (blog)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned Russia that its support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will have negative consequences. “The situation is spiralling towards civil war, and it’s now time for everyone in the international community, including Russia and

all Security Council members, to speak to Assad with a unified voice and insist that the violence stop, and come together with Kofi Annan to plan a political transition going forward,” Clinton said on Wednesday at a joint press conference with Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna.

“It is something that we believe is in everyone’s interests, most particularly the Syrian people. And Russia says it wants peace and stability restored. It says it has no particular love lost for Assad. And it also claims to have vital interests in the region and relationships that it wants to continue to keep. They put all of that at risk if they do not move more constructively right now,” she said.

According to UN estimates, over 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and thousands displaced since the uprising against Assad began about 15 months ago.

Russia – along with China – has twice vetoed UN resolutions against Damascus over what it says is a pro-rebel bias. Moscow has, however, fully backed UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria.

Clinton also urged Russia to stop arms deliveries to Syria.

“We have repeatedly urged the Russian government to cut these military ties completely and to suspend all further support and deliveries,” she said.

Clinton earlier said Russia was supplying attack helicopters to Syria, but Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the claims, saying Russia was “completing the implementation of contracts that were signed and paid for a long time ago”.

He said the contracts “concern exclusively anti-aircraft defence”.

Syria is one of Russia’s major weapons clients, and Moscow has opposed proposals for an arms embargo on Damascus, saying this would give rebel forces an unfair advantage in the conflict.

Lavrov said Russia does not supply to Syria or other countries any special equipment that may be used against peaceful demonstrators, adding that the US, on the contrary, “delivers riot control equipment to the region”.

Clinton has dismissed claims that the US has armed the Syrian opposition.

“I would emphasize that the US has provided no military support to the Syrian opposition, none. All of our support has been medical and humanitarian to help relieve the suffering of the Syrian people, a total of $52 million so far. We have also provided non-lethal support to the opposition, including things like communications gear,” she said.

Source : Clinton warns Russia over Syria policy – Hindustan Times

  • June 13, 2012: Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP

The top U.S. military official suggested Wednesday that scheduled Pentagon budget cuts could lead to war. 

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before a Senate committee Wednesday alongside Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Both offered dire warnings about the potential impact of the automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, which will go into effect starting next January unless Congress intervenes. 

Dempsey said the cutbacks could lead to the cancellation of weapons systems and disrupt “global operations.” In turn, he warned, the U.S. could lose global standing — opening the door for enemies to test American military might. 

“We can’t yet say precisely how bad the damage would be, but it is clear that sequestration would risk hollowing out our force and reducing its military options available to the nation,” Dempsey told the senators. “We would go from being unquestionably powerful everywhere to being less visibly globally and presenting less of an overmatch to our adversaries, and that would translate into a different deterrent calculus and potentially, therefore, increase the likelihood of conflict.” 

Panetta made a similar argument last year when he said the sweeping cuts could weaken the military substantially, and invite “aggression” abroad. 

Yet so far, Congress has not averted the planned cuts, which were set in place after lawmakers failed to reach a broader deficit-reduction deal. 

The Pentagon would face cuts of about $500 billion in projected spending over 10 years on top of the $492 billion that President Obama and congressional Republicans already agreed to in last summer’s deficit-cutting budget. 

Dempsey said the cuts would mean fewer troops, the possible cancellation of major weapons and the disruption of operations around the world. 

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, called the description “candid but frightening.” 

Panetta said layoffs of civilian employees were possible and the cuts were certain to hit military contractors, with a possible 1 percent spike in the nation’s unemployment rate. The rate ticked up to 8.2 percent in May with the the economic recovery still sluggish. 

Dempsey said the billions for warfighters in Afghanistan would be subject to the cuts. To avoid that drastic step, the Pentagon would look to offset the reductions with cuts in other accounts, he said. Defense comptroller Robert Hale said the president could exempt military personnel, but the reductions would affect the department’s ability to pay for health care. 

The Pentagon would be facing a 20 percent cut in weapons systems, training, equipment — all elements of the budget. 

“It was designed as a meat ax. It was designed to be a disaster. Because the hope was, because it’s such a disaster, that Congress would respond and do what was right. And so I’m just here to tell you, yes, it would be a disaster,” Panetta said. 

Last year’s failure of a congressional bipartisan supercommittee to come up with $1.2 trillion in spending cuts set in motion the automatic cuts that would slash domestic and defense programs by $1.2 trillion over a decade. Republicans and Democrats have struggled to come up with a budget to avert the cuts, and an answer may not emerge until after the November election, in a lame-duck session. 

That could prove too late, as the fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and companies that might lay off hundreds or thousands need to notify employees 60 days in advance. 

In a message to Republicans and Democrats, Panetta, the former House Budget Committee chairman and director of the Office of Management and Budget, said all elements of the budget must be part of any solution, from entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security that Democrats look to protect to revenue from tax increases that Republicans tend to oppose. 

While Panetta appealed to lawmakers for help, he also took a swipe at members of Congress who have changed Obama’s defense budget request for the next fiscal year. In the initial rounds, the House added billions to the budget, preserved weapons, ships and aircraft that the Pentagon wanted to cut and balked at the reductions in the Army and Marine Corps. The Senate Armed Services Committee, in its version of the budget, rejected the Pentagon’s proposed cuts in personnel and equipment for the Air National Guard. 

“In reversing difficult decisions and restoring funds to those areas that achieve necessary savings, Congress risks upending the careful balance we sought to achieve in our strategy,” Panetta said in his prepared testimony. He added in the open session: “There’s no free lunch here. Every low-priority program or overhead cost that is retained will have to be offset in cuts in higher-priority investments in order to comply” with last year’s budget agreement. 

He implored members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to follow the Defense Department’s budget recommendations as it crafts a spending plan for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source : defense cuts could lead to war, top US military official says – Fox News

The federal campaign-corruption case against former Senator John Edwards is over.

The Justice Department said Wednesday it would not retry Mr. Edwards on the five charges of campaign finance fraud on which a North Carolina jury could not reach a verdict after a six-week trial that ended this month. The jury acquitted him on a sixth.

Although ostensibly a legal case concerned with how a candidate can use money from political supporters, the trial became a spectacle of personal details that cost both sides millions in legal fees.

The trial mined deeply personal details of Mr. Edwards’s affair with Rielle Hunter, a videographer whom he hired to help with his presidential campaign after meeting her in a New York bar. Ms. Hunter became pregnant with their child, and the couple’s efforts to hide the relationship from the public and from Mr. Edwards’s wife, Elizabeth, were at the heart of the government’s case.

Two wealthy friends offered more than $1 million to pay for those efforts, and the government accused Mr. Edwards of fraud, arguing that the money was used to influence voters in his bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

“We knew that this case — like all campaign finance cases — would be challenging,” Lanny A. Breuer, an assistant attorney general, said in a statement. “But it is our duty to bring hard cases when we believe that the facts and the law support charging a candidate for high office with a crime.”

The government “put forward its best case against Mr. Edwards,” Mr. Breuer said, but the jurors made their decision. “We respect their judgment,” he said.

Witnesses had been keeping quiet until they found out whether they would have to testify again. Wendy Button, a former speechwriter for Mr. Edwards whose reams of notes were central to the prosecution’s case, said it was discouraging that the trial had changed nothing.

“I hope that future political staffers will learn from this case and John’s failings so that they can make other choices and something like this never happens again,” she said.

Mr. Edwards, who has maintained his innocence since he was indicted in October, has since elaborated, saying he was a sinner but not a criminal.

His lawyers said Wednesday afternoon in a statement, “We are very glad that, after living under this cloud for over three years, John and his family can have their lives back and enjoy the peace they deserve.”

Mr. Edwards’s daughter Cate was more succinct in a message posted on Twitter: “Big sigh of relief. Ready to move forward with life.”

Still, loose ends remain, not the least of which is whether the case will prompt a harder look at the complex world of campaign finance. Over the weeks of testimony in Judge Catherine C. Eagles’s courtroom, there were only a handful of days when the rules governing how candidates spend money were examined. In interviews afterward, jurors said the government had not proved that any laws were broken.

A North Carolina district attorney is still investigating whether Andrew Young, the government’s lead witness, and his lawyers were in contempt for giving federal investigators sealed documents from an earlier civil trial brought by Ms. Hunter. She was seeking the return of personal possessions, including a sex tape she made with Mr. Edwards, a copy of which Mr. Young and his wife took after Ms. Hunter left it behind in a rental house. Mr. Young, a former Edwards aide, had claimed paternity of the baby and went underground to help hide Ms. Hunter.

As for Ms. Hunter, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., with the couple’s 4-year-old daughter, she will make the rounds of national media next week to promote her new book, “What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me.”

John Schwartz contributed reporting.

Source : No New Trial for John Edwards – New York Times