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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

Phelps is leaving his  sport with two Olympic  records: 18 golds and 22 medals overall.

Jamaica's50th birthday celebration will have to be put off. Long lines formed at grocery stores in Kingston, Jamaica, ahead of Tropical Storm Ernesto's expected arrival today. People stocked up on drinking water, bread and canned goods.The storm is expected to pass south of the island but the forecast calls for three to six inches of rain. Another tropical storm is swirling far out to sea. At 4 AM Pacific Time Ernesto was about 215 miles southeast of Kingston, with maximum sustained winds of about 50 mph. The National Hurricane Center says little change in strength is expected throughout today, though slow strengthening is expected tomorrow as Ernesto treks across the Caribbean.  Forecasters say Ernesto could still grow into a hurricane in coming days as it continues along a course forecast to take it over the coastal resorts of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula by Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will visit Istanbul later this week for talks with Turkish officials over the worsening crisis in Syria. The State Department said Sunday that Clinton would travel to Istanbul for discussions with the Turkish government on Syria as well as other timely issues. The talks are scheduled for Saturday. Clinton is adding the stop in Turkey to her lengthy tour of Africa. She's also added stops in Nigeria and Benin to her Africa trip.

A pan-Arab television station has aired a video purportedly showing Syrian rebels with a group of Iranians abducted a day earlier just outside Damascus.The footage shown Sunday on the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya shows men identified as the Iranians sitting on the ground surrounded by fighters who said they were from the "Baraa Brigades." A rebel claims in the video that the captives include an officer of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and that the group was on a "reconnaissance mission."  Iran's state-run news agency SANA said the 48 abducted Saturday were pilgrims. It said Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi spoke on the phone with Turkish and Qatari foreign ministers and demanded their intervention to help release them.

An Israeli Defense Ministry official confirms the country has upgraded its top-tier Arrow II missile defense system, as it girds for possible attacks from Iran and Syria. The official confirmed Sunday that sensors, command and control equipment and radar have been enhanced to improve reach and accuracy. He did not elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss military preparations. Israel has developed a network of air defense systems to parry an array of threats, including the Arrow, a joint project with the U.S. designed to shoot down incoming missiles launched as far away as Iran. Israel regards Iran as its main enemy, and suspects Tehran is building nuclear weapons despite its denials. Israel is also worried about a chemical weapons attack from Syria.

Italy's prime minister says the eurozone's sprawling debt crisis is creating tensions that could ultimately trigger a breakup of the wider European Union.German news magazine Der Spiegel on Sunday quoted Mario Monti as saying in an interview that "the tensions accompanying the eurozone over the past years already bear the signs of a psychological dissolution of Europe." Monti further told the magazine that the euro's disintegration would "destroy the founding of the European project." Seventeen of the EU's 27 nations use the euro currency. Italy, the eurozone's third-largest economy, has been hit hard by rising borrowing cost on its government debt. Monti is lobbying for bolder political steps and help from the European Central Bank to counter the crisis, but some rescue measures are opposed by Germany and others.

Vice President Joe Biden is praising America's veterans for the sacrifices they've made on behalf of their country. While speaking yesterday at the Disabled American Veterans national convention in Las Vegas, Biden said President Barack Obama is committed to making sure that Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans get proper medical treatment and that the administration is working to reduce a backlog of disability claims.

 Mitt Romney raked in more than $1 million at a series of fundraisers in a Reno gated community, drawing a group of protesters who decried the influence of money in politics. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports Romney earned $500,000 alone at a $25,000-a-head luncheon Friday at a home in the upscale Eaglesnest community.

Mitt Romney is calling for "something dramatic" to help the nation's economy. But the Republican presidential contender says in an interview airing on CNN's "State of the Union" that dramatic action doesn't include another federal stimulus package. Romney instead favors the creation of "incentives and opportunities" for businesses - "big and small" - to boost hiring. He says he'll create 12 million jobs in his first term in the White House, as part of the "normal process" of economic recovery. Romney has been slow to release specifics for his economic plans so far. A new campaign television ads is highlighting Romney's recent trip to Israel. In the ad, Romney criticizes President Barack Obama for not visiting the Jewish state. Democrats counter that Romney has yet to release his plan, and his rhetoric supports failed plans that put the country into the great recession. As for the visit to Israel, Obama met with Israeli officials and singed a major cooperation agreement form his desk in Washington while Romney was in Israel


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