Thursday November 8, 2012

Britain says Obama win is an opportunity to do more to end Syrian civil war

BEIRUT (AP) -- Britain called on the U.S. and other allies Wednesday to do more to shape the Syrian opposition into a coherent force, saying the re-election of President Barack Obama is an opportunity for the world to take stronger action to end the deadlocked civil war.

Also Wednesday, Turkey said NATO members -- including the United States -- have discussed using Patriot missiles along the Syrian border. It was unclear whether the purpose was to protect a safe zone inside Syria or to protect Turkey from Syrian regime attacks.

The announcements come as U.S. allies appear to be anticipating a new, bolder approach from Obama now that he has won a second term.

"With the re-election of Obama, what you have is a strong confidence on the British side that the U.S. administration will be engaged more on Syria from the get-go," said Shashank Joshi, an analyst at London’s Royal United Services Institute, a security think tank.

It remains to be seen, however, if the U.S. plans to change course in any significant way.

Trade panel finds Chinese solar panels harming U.S. industry, tariffs will stand

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal trade panel found China responsible Wednesday for harming the U.S. solar panel industry, clearing the final hurdle for U.S. attempts to impose steep tariffs on Chinese solar companies.

The U.S. International Trade Commission voted unanimously that Chinese companies have materially injured U.S. manufacturers, affirming its 2011 vote that launched a yearlong inquiry into low-cost Chinese products that U.S manufacturers blame for putting them on the brink of collapse.

Chinese companies that export billions of dollars of solar products to the U.S. each year will face tariffs of up to nearly 250 percent. The Obama administration imposed those tariffs in October after finding that China’s government is subsidizing companies that are flooding the U.S. market with low-cost products -- a tactic known as "dumping." Wednesday’s vote means that those tariffs, along with anti-subsidy fees of up to 16 percent, will stand.

The stiff penalties affirmed Wednesday will be good for five years. The U.S.government will then re-evaluate whether the tariffs are still necessary and at what levels.

"With this relief, combined with an aggressive domestic enforcement regime, there is hope that the United States can maintain a viable solar manufacturing base," said Gordon Brinser, president of Oregon-based SolarWorld Industries America Inc. and head of an alliance of American companies that implored the U.S.government to take action.

7.4 quake hits Guatemala; 3 confirmed dead and as many as 100 missing

SAN MARCOS, Guatemala (AP) -- A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala on Wednesday, ravaging a small state near the Mexican border, where three people were confirmed dead and as many as 100 missing, according to preliminary reports from the country’s president.

The mountain village of San Marcos, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. Hundreds of frightened villagers were on the streets, one of which was cracked open by the temblor, the strongest to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000.

More than 300 people, including firemen, policemen and villagers, worked at a sand extraction site to rescue seven people reported buried alive, including a 6-year-old boy that had accompanied his grandfather to work.

"I want to see Giovanni, I want to see Giovanni," the boy’s mother, Francisca Ramirez frantically cried. "He’s not dead. Get him out."

President Otto Perez Molina updated the casualties throughout the day, earlier reporting as many as 15 dead and saying that three were confirmed by mid-afternoon. He said 100 more people were missing. LA County voters approve mandating condom use by porn performers; industry plans lawsuit

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Los Angeles County voters have approved a measure requiring porn performers to wear condoms while filming sex scenes, prompting a pledge by the adult entertainment industry to sue to overturn the measure.

With 100 percent of the county’s precincts reporting, Measure B passed 56 percent to 44 percent in Tuesday’s election.

The measure requires adult film producers to apply for a permit from the county Department of Public Health to shoot sex scenes. Permit fees will finance periodic inspections of film sets to enforce compliance.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sponsored the initiative, says the measure will help safeguard the public, as well as porn workers, from sexually transmitted infections.

But the adult film industry, which is largely centered in the San Fernando Valley in suburban Los Angeles, says the requirement is unnecessary since the industry already polices itself by requiring performers to undergo monthly tests for HIV and other infections.