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Submitted by Newsroom on February 16, 2011 – 10:56 amNo Comment

     Mullen asks Congress not to cut defense too deeply
– The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is
imploring Congress not to cut too deeply into military spending
even while calling the nation’s debt the greatest threat to
national security.
     In his prepared testimony, Adm. Mike Mullen tells the House
Armed Services Committee that lawmakers should not cut defense to
levels that would make it impossible for the armed forces to
execute strategy at acceptable risk levels.
     Mullen was testifying Wednesday with Defense Secretary Robert
Gates. Gates calls a stopgap budget measure being considered by the
House “a crisis on our doorstep.” He’s telling lawmakers that
short-sighted budget cuts could lead to “costlier and more tragic
consequences later.”
     Obama to meet with Senate leaders
– President Barack Obama is warning Congress not
to send him a spending bill with drastic cuts for the current
fiscal year.

U.S. President Barack Obama

     The House is dealing with hundreds of proposed amendments to the
spending measure — which is needed to keep the government
operating past early March.
     It would cut $61 billion by scaling back or eliminating hundreds
of programs.
     The president says such cuts could tie federal agencies in knots
and force states to lay off more workers, crimping the fragile
     He’s vowing to veto anything he finds “disruptive.”
     But he tells reporters there’s no reason he and Congress can’t
agree on measures to keep the government funded through the fall.
     Obama sits down today at the White House with the Senate
Democratic leadership to talk about his 2012 budget proposal and
the Republican cuts.
     Factory output grows for 5th straight month
– Factories produced more goods for the fifth
straight month in January as strong auto sales spurred demand for
new cars and trucks. But overall industrial production fell for the
first time in 19 months.
     The Federal Reserve says output by the nation’s factories, mines
and utilities dipped 0.1 percent last month. The main reason for
the decline was utility output fell back from a weather-related
peak in December. Manufacturers increased their output 0.3 percent.
     Industrial production has increased by more than 10 percent
since hitting its recession low in June 2009. But it remains about
6 percent below its pre-recession peak in 2007.
     Production increased in December by the largest amount in seven
months. The Fed revised December’s production gains upward to 1.2
percent from 0.8 percent.
     Wholesale prices rise for 7th straight month
– Wholesale prices rose sharply in January due
to higher costs for gas, pharmaceuticals and other goods. Excluding
the volatile food and energy categories, wholesale prices rose by
the most since October 2008.
     The Labor Department says the Producer Price Index rose by 0.8
percent last month, down slightly from December’s revised 0.9
percent increase. Gas prices jumped 6.9 percent, while food prices
moved up only 0.3 percent, less than many economists forecast.
     The “core” index, which doesn’t include food and energy, rose
by 0.5 percent, up from 0.2 percent in December.
     Pharmaceutical prices jumped by 1.4 percent, the largest rise in
nearly three years. Rising costs for plastic products also helped
push up the core index.
     New home construction up 14.6 pct. in January
– Builders started work on more homes in
January, pushing construction up by the largest amount in 20
months. But the home-building industry remains far below the pace
considered healthy.
     Builders broke ground on new homes and apartments at a
seasonally adjusted annual rate of 596,000 units, a 14.6 percent
jump from December.
     Last year, builders worked on 587,600 new homes, just barely
better than the 554,000 started in 2009. In a healthy economy,
builders start about 1 million units a year. The housing industry
is coming off the worst two years for home construction dating back
to 1959.
     Building permits fell more than 10 percent in January after code
changes in California, Pennsylvania and New York caused an
artificial spike the month before.
     GM recalling Cadillac CTS over vehicle handling
– General Motors says it is recalling more than
50,000 Cadillac CTS vehicles worldwide to fix a loose joint that
could cause a rear wheel to become unstable, making it hard for
drivers to steer.
     GM says the recall affects more than 44,000 CTS vehicles in the
United States from the 2009 and 2010 model years. The remaining
vehicles were sold in China and around the globe.
     GM says there have been no injuries or fatalities related to the
     The auto company said nuts in the rear suspension could become
loose, causing a sudden change in the vehicle’s handling or making
the driver lose control of the vehicle.
     Owners can contact Cadillac at 866-982-2339 for more
     Military leaders issue new warning
     CAIRO (AP)
– Egypt’s ruling military council is out with a new
warning today — in a text message to Egyptian cellphones. For the
second time in three days, it’s calling for an immediate halt to
all labor unrest. The warning raises expectations of an outright
ban on protests and strikes.
     Thousands of police confront protesters in Yemen
     SANAA, Yemen (AP)
– Authorities have flooded the streets of
Yemen’s capital with 2,000 police to try to put down days of
Egypt-style demonstrations against the longtime president. One
person has been killed and five wounded when police and protesters
clashed in the southern port of Aden.
     Police fired in the air and blocked thousands of students at
Sanaa University from joining other protesters holding a sixth
straight day of demonstrations in the Arab world’s most
impoverished nation.
     Police in Aden used live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas
against hundreds of demonstrators. A security officer said a
23-year-old protester was killed Wednesday when he was shot in the
head, while a medical official said five others were wounded, at
least one seriously.
     Aide: Giffords doesn’t know details of shootings
– The chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle
Giffords says the Arizona congresswoman has not yet been told the
details of a Jan. 8 shooting spree in Tucson that wounded her and
12 others and killed six, including a staff member.
     Pia Carusone said Wednesday on CBS’s “The Early Show” that
Giffords knows there was a traumatic event, but her doctors have
said it would not be fair to tell her everything that happened
until she can ask more detailed questions.
     Giffords was shot in the head. She is undergoing rehabilitation is charged in federal court with killing a
federal judge and Giffords aide Gabriel Zimmerman and attempting to
kill Giffords and two other staffers.
     Obamas to bring Motown to White House
– President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle
Obama will mark Black History Month at the White House with a
celebration of Motown music.
     The White House says performers will include Smokey Robinson,
Sheryl Crow and John Legend. The Feb. 24 event will be taped and
broadcast on PBS March 1.
     The Motown event is the latest in the music series “In
Performance at the White House.” The Obamas have hosted musical
tributes to several genres, including jazz, country and Broadway.
Mrs. Obama often hosts daytime programs for students to educate
them about the genres and encourage involvement in the arts.
     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)
 AP-NY-02-16-11 1103EST

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