In Brief | Nation & World 10-14-12


Romney, Ryan woo Ohio voters; Obama focuses on debate prep

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan went back to school on Saturday to rally college students in all corners of all-important Ohio and hammer at President Barack Obama for going easy on China over unfair trade practices. Obama took precious time off the campaign trail to practice for the next debate against his GOP rival.

It was an unspoken acknowledgment of the importance that Obama attaches to upping his game in Debate No. 2 that the president is largely dropping out of sight for five straight days in the final weeks of the race to prepare for Tuesday’s encounter in Hempstead, N .Y.

Even while cloistered for debate prep at a sprawling resort in Williamsburg, Va., though, the president didn’t completely cede the spotlight to Romney. His weekly radio and Internet address highlighted the Obama administration’s work to revive the U.S. auto industry — a message aimed squarely at working-class voters in manufacturing-heavy states like Ohio.

Romney, for his part, told a crowd of more than 3,000 people at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth that Obama was ducking an important decision on whether China is manipulating its currency to gain a trade advantage. A decision was due Monday, but the Treasury Department said Friday the decision won’t come until after global finance officials meet in early November. That means a decision is unlikely before the Nov. 6 election.

“It’s time for us to stand up to China for their cheating,” Romney declared. “It’s got to stop.”

Weather favorable for supersonic skydive

ROSWELL, N.M. — The weekend weather in New Mexico appears to be cooperating this time for a daredevil trying to become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier.

Meteorologist Don Day said the weather forecast remained favorable for former Austrian paratrooper Felix Baumgartner’s jump, scheduled for early today near Roswell, N.M.

Baumgartner will be prepared at sunrise to launch his 30 million cubic foot helium balloon to hoist a 3,000-pound capsule that will carry the jumper 23 miles up in the sky. The jump has already been canceled twice because of high winds, once damaging the balloon and forcing use of a backup for today’s planned launch.

Baumgartner will try to break a 1960 high-altitude parachuting record. He will also test a pressurized suit that is designed for stratospheric jumps.

He called Tuesday’s postponement nerve-wracking but said today’s date is one already steeped in aviation history. On Oct. 14, 1947, an experimental rocket plane piloted by Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier for the first time over Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Muslim Brotherhood plays to popular anti-Israel sentiment

CAIRO — A fiery tirade against Jews by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s leader highlights one of the foremost diplomatic challenges facing the country’s new Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as he balances popular sentiment with the need for security relations with Israel.

The Brotherhood’s supreme leader Mohammed Badie called on Muslims worldwide this week to defend Jerusalem, saying “Zionists only know the way of force.” He said Jews were spreading “corruption,” had slaughtered Muslims and desecrated holy sites.

Badie’s condemnation went well beyond the harsh criticism of Israel and its policies that is common in Egypt, opening even greater friction between the country’s most powerful political group and its Jewish neighbor. And it will likely put more pressure on Morsi, who ran for president as a Brotherhood candidate, to take a more assertive role than his predecessor had in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Morsi made no public comments about Badie’s remarks, the strongest criticism against Israel since Morsi took office in June. His spokesman, Yasser Ali, did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, said the Brotherhood’s statement was aimed at deflecting attention from Morsi’s troubles in his first 100 days in office, from fuel shortages to mounting piles of garbage on the streets.

50 years after Cuban missile crisis, scholars say compromise not brinkmanship ruled day

HAVANA — The world stood at the brink of Armageddon for 13 days in October 1962 when President John F. Kennedy drew a symbolic line in the Atlantic and warned of dire consequences if Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev dared to cross it.

An American U-2 spy plane flying high over Cuba had snapped aerial photographs of Soviet ballistic missile sites that could launch nuclear warheads with little warning at the United States, just 90 miles away. It was the height of the Cold War, and many people feared nuclear war would annihilate human civilization.

Soviet ships carrying nuclear equipment steamed toward Kennedy’s “quarantine” zone around the island, but turned around before reaching the line. “We’re eyeball-to-eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked,” U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk famously said, a quote that largely came to be seen as defining the crisis.

In the five decades since the nuclear standoff between Washington and Moscow, much of the long-held conventional wisdom about the missile crisis has been knocked down, including the common belief that Kennedy’s bold brinkmanship ruled the day.

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, historians now say it was behind-the-scenes compromise rather than a high-stakes game of chicken that resolved the faceoff, that both Washington and Moscow wound up winners and that the crisis lasted far longer than 13 days.

By wire sources