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UPI NewsTrack TopNews

Aug. 10, 2009 at 5:00 PM   |   Comments

Obama, Harper, Calderon pledge cooperation

GUADALAJARA, Mexico, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S., Mexican and Canadian heads of state vowed Monday in Guadalajara, Mexico, to cooperate on climate change, trade and the swine flu.

Wrapping up a quick, two-day summit, U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon issued a joint communique addressing climate change, trade issues and the swine flu.

On climate change, the leaders agreed on the goal of not allowing average global temperatures to reach more than 2 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial averages.

The communique also declares "support (for) a global goal of reducing global emissions by at least 50 percent compared to 1990 or more recent years by 2050, with developed countries reducing emissions by at least 80 percent compared to 1990 or more recent years by 2050."

The leaders agreed to work together "to develop our respective low-carbon growth plans."

On addressing the H1N1, or swine flu, virus, the three leaders said, "We will remain vigilant and pledge to continue our close collaboration in addressing the H1N1 pandemic. We agree to work together to ensure that we have effective strategies, grounded in the best available science."

On trade, the U.S., Canadian and Mexican leaders pledged "to abide by our international responsibilities and avoid protectionist measures. We reiterate our commitment to reinvigorate our trading relationship and to ensure that the benefits of our economic relationship are widely shared and sustainable."

The summit began Sunday in Guadalajara, Mexico, between Obama and Calderon, which a White House aide described as "cordial."

While Obama has expressed strong support for Calderon's drug-fighting effort, Calderon said the United States was slow to send Mexico a promised $1.4 billion -- spread over three years -- to combat organized crime, Voice of America said.


Obama: Immigration reform has to wait

GUADALAJARA, Mexico, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- An overhaul of U.S. immigration laws may have to wait until other needs are dealt with, President Barack Obama said at a North American summit in Mexico.

Asked about the timing of his promised reform of the nation's immigration laws, Obama said his attention for the rest of this year likely would be dominated by healthcare reform and other pressing matters.

"I've got a lot on my plate, and it's very important for us to sequence these big initiatives in a way where they don't all just crash at the same time," he said at a news conference in Guadalajara, Mexico, flanked by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "And what we've said is in the fall when we come back, we're going to complete healthcare reform."

Obama did say, however, that he has started meetings with lawmakers on immigration reform, with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano coordinating the discussions.

The U.S. president also stated he believes Honduran President Manuel Zelaya "was removed from office illegally, that it was a coup, and that he should return."

At the news conference, the Obama voiced support for Calderon's "get tough" policies on Mexican drug traffickers despite concerns over human rights the effort has produced.

The heads of state agreed to cooperate on climate change, trade and H1N1 virus at the summit. On climate change, the leaders said they would work together "to develop our respective low-carbon growth plans," while on the H1N1, or swine flu, virus, they said, "We will remain vigilant and pledge to continue our close collaboration in addressing the H1N1 pandemic."

The U.S., Canadian and Mexican leaders also pledged "to abide by our international responsibilities and avoid protectionist measures" on trade.


Clinton ups Angola aid, flies to Congo

LUANDA, Angola, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton signed an agreement to help Angola battle AIDS Monday in Luanda before leaving for Congo.

Clinton and Angolan Minister of External Relations Assuncao Afonso dos Anjos signed a framework to combat HIV/AIDS, part of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, during a meeting at an AIDS clinic in Luanda, the State Department said in a release.

Under the agreement, the United States will boost its funding to fight AIDS in Angola from $7 million to $17 million, officials said.

"This framework represents a new approach to our government's fight against HIV/AIDS," Clinton said. "It emphasizes a bottoms-up approach tailored for and by the country we are assisting. It represents an expansion of local capacity and healthcare systems that can last over time."

Also, she said, the new framework "will place greater attention of the affect of HIV/AIDS on women."

Clinton, in the midst of an 11-day trip, seven-country trip to Africa, left Angola Monday afternoon and landed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, telling reporters she would concentrate on campaigning against sexual violence toward women and seeking an end to civil conflicts in eastern Congo, The New York Times reported.

Clinton used her visit to Angola to try to strengthen ties with the oil-rich African nation and nudge it toward democracy. On Sunday, she emphasized the positive in her two-day visit, praising Angola's efforts to rebuild after a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002, The Washington Post reported.


Typhoon may have buried 600 in Taiwan

BEIJING, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Up to 600 villagers may have been buried in Taiwan after heavy rains caused by Typhoon Morakot led to a massive mudslide, state-run media said.

The state-run China Daily as saying since Morakot struck Taiwan on Friday, the country has amassed a confirmed death toll of 15 with 32 injuries and 55 people missing, CNN reported.

Specific details regarding the mudslide in the Taiwanese village of Hsiao-lin remain unverified.

As Morakot, which The Taipei Times said was downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday, remained in Taiwan during the weekend, its heavy rains stranded residents and limited travel by destroying several roads and bridges.

CNN said flood waters caused by the typhoon also caused the six-story Jinshuai Hotel in eastern Taiwan to collapse into the Jhihben River. No injuries were reported in relation to the incident as the hotel had been evacuated prior to the collapse.

China's east coast also has been ravaged by the powerful storm, leading Chinese government officials to estimate $1.2 billion in related damages.

The meteorological agency for China's Fujian province estimates the typhoon's winds have reached speeds of up to 73 mph.

CNN cited China's state-run Xinhua news agency as saying that Morakot arrived in the province Sunday and has since destroyed area homes and been blamed for the death of a 4-year-old boy.


State buyouts come with hidden costs

ALBANY, N.Y., Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Six states have turned to worker buyout programs this year to cut costs while the U.S. economy remains sluggish, state officials said.

The incentives offered by Vermont, Maine, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Connecticut and New York should trim state payrolls by a combined 9,000 workers, far short of the 54,000 state workers who have been laid off since the recession began, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said.

The National Conference of State Legislatures said the combined state budgets were projected to have a shortfall of $139.4 billion in 2010.

The states expect various savings. Officials in New York expect $173 million in cost savings by 2011, stateline.org reported Monday.

But Connecticut state Rep. Christopher Caruso said adding three years to work histories results in experienced workers leaving early. "Frankly (we) drain those agencies of institutional histories, of experience," he said.

In Connecticut 10 of the state's 23 prison wardens and 200 college professors retired this year.

With cheaper, inexperienced new workers there are training costs and slower productivity to consider, said Nancy Dering Martin, a consultant at the Pew Center on States' Government Performance Project.

Hiring replacements "is not without its costs. It's not without its implications for performance," she said.


TSA to seek additional passenger info

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will ask U.S. airline passengers to provide additional personal data at booking time, an official says.

Acting TSA Administrator Gale Rossides said in a statement that starting next Saturday, individuals booking their flights will be asked to provide their full name, gender and date of birth to airline officials, The Detroit News reported Monday.

The information provided by each passenger must be identical to the information on the government-issued identification used by the passenger at booking time.

The most common types of identification used to check in and board a flight are driver's licenses and passports.

Rossides said the request for additional passenger information is part of the new Secure Flight program aimed at having all airline passengers be vetted through the federal department's watch lists.

"By enhancing and streamlining the watch list matching process, the Secure Flight program makes travel safer and easier for millions of Americans," Rossides said in the statement.

Topics: H1N1
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