Obama Slams GOP Plan to Cut Spending on Failing Government Schools

Offering voters a reason to keep Democrats in power on Capitol Hill, President Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address that Republicans would cut education spending and put the country’s economic future at risk if they had their way.

Republicans devoted their weekly address to what the party says are Obama’s broken promises on jobs, the economy and health care.

Obama has spent much of the past two weeks contrasting a GOP proposal to cut spending, presumably including on education, with the billions of dollars he’s investing to improve learning from kindergarten through college. That includes money for public schools, community colleges and to help make it cheaper and easier for families to afford higher education for their children.

A quality education is paramount, Obama said. He suggested that federal spending on education is one area where he would not compromise.

“What I’m not prepared to do is shortchange our children’s education,” Obama said Saturday.

This week, Obama announced a new public-private sector partnership to help match community college graduates and businesses with jobs to fill. The White House also held its first-ever summit on the state of community colleges.

In his weekly message, Obama acknowledged that the country faces tight fiscal times, but he said a good education is too important to the country’s future prosperity to do it on the cheap.

“At a time when most of the new jobs being created will require some kind of higher education, when countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, giving our kids the best education is an economic imperative,” he said.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., touched on the high unemployment rate, holding at 9.6 percent, and criticized Democratic leaders for sending lawmakers home for the Nov. 2 congressional elections without voting on a series of expiring Bush-era tax cuts.

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Nobel Peace Prize winner’s wife has ‘disappeared,’ lawyer says

The world’s newest Nobel Peace Prize winner remained unreachable in a Chinese prison Saturday, while his wife’s mobile phone was cut off and the authoritarian government continued to censor reports about democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo’s honor.

Police kept reporters away from the prison where Liu is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion, and his lawyer said that Liu’s wife — who had been hoping to visit him Saturday and tell him the news of the award — has “disappeared” and he is worried she may be in police custody.

Chinese authorities, who called Liu a criminal shortly after his award Friday and said his winning “desecrates the prize,” sank Saturday into official silence.

Only an editorial in the state-run Global Times newspaper spoke out Saturday, saying in English, “Obviously, the Nobel Peace Prize this year is meant to irritate China, but it will not succeed. On the contrary, the committee disgraced itself.”

The paper’s Chinese-language edition called the award “an arrogant showcase of Western ideology” and said it disrespected the Chinese people.

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Sarah Palin Takes A Big Step Toward 2012 Run for President

Former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is raising new speculation in conservative circles that she is already preparing for a 2012 presidential bid. In the latest and clearest example of her plans, Palin met with some 50 national conservative leaders Wednesday in Palm Beach, Florida where she discussed economic and diplomatic policy and led some to declare that she’s in the race.

“This was an indication that she’s strongly considering running,” said one insider. “She was very knowledgeable and gave intelligent answers, despite how she’s been characterized,” added the insider. “And she was extremely charming.”

The meet-and-greet was organized by the conservative magazine and website Newsmax and its boss Christopher Ruddy. Palin, currently a Fox News contributor, has said Newsmax is one of her favorite news sources. Her trip sprung from an accidental meeting in June at the Belmont Stakes race in New York when Palin and Ruddy bumped into each other.

Ruddy, whose Web site helped sell 250,000 of Palin’s 2008 campaign book, arranged for Palin to be interviewed by radio host Michael Reagan for an upcoming webcast dubbed “Make America Great Again.” Palin will kick off the webcast campaign October 12. Her next book, America By Heart, is due out next month.

Because of its ties to conservative leaders and donors, Newsmax plays a broad role in conservative politics and is fast becoming the place for potential 2012 GOP candidates to be seen. Already Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush have stopped by for interviews. One conservative leader told Whispers that Palin’s trip to Newsmax was the strongest sign yet that she’s planning to run.

U.S. Won’t Recover Lost Jobs Until March 2020 At Current Pace

The U.S. economy lost 95,000 jobs in September, far worse than expectations for no change in employment. More Census-related temp jobs ended, as expected, but state and local governments slashed staff far more than predicted.

So far in 2010, the U.S. has added just 613,000 jobs — for a monthly average of 68,111.

Employment bottomed in December 2009 at 129.588 million — two years after peaking at 137.951 million. At this year’s pace, the U.S. won’t recoup all those 8.36 million lost jobs* until March 2020 — 147 months after the December 2007 high.

That would obliterate the old post-World War II record of 47 months set in the wake of the 2001 recession.

The current jobs slump also is the deepest of any in the post-war era, with payrolls down as much as 6.1%. They are still 5.6% below their December 2007 level.

With state and local governments likely to shed workers for at least the next year or two as budget woes continue, the hiring burden will fall entirely on the private sector.

Private employers did add 64,000 workers last month, but that was a little less than consensus forecasts and far below what’s needed.

The U.S. needs to create 125,000-150,000 jobs each month just to absorb new workers and prevent unemployment from rising. So returning to the old peak employment a decade later would hardly suggest a healthy labor market.

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California overestimate fueled state’s landmark diesel law

California grossly miscalculated pollution levels in a scientific analysis used to toughen the state’s clean-air standards, and scientists have spent the past several months revising data and planning a significant weakening of the landmark regulation, The Chronicle has found.

The pollution estimate in question was too high – by 340 percent, according to the California Air Resources Board, the state agency charged with researching and adopting air quality standards. The estimate was a key part in the creation of a regulation adopted by the Air Resources Board in 2007, a rule that forces businesses to cut diesel emissions by replacing or making costly upgrades to heavy-duty, diesel-fueled off-road vehicles used in construction and other industries.

The staff of the powerful and widely respected Air Resources Board said the overestimate is largely due to the board calculating emissions before the economy slumped, which halted the use of many of the 150,000 diesel-exhaust-spewing vehicles in California. Independent researchers, however, found huge overestimates in the air board’s work on diesel emissions and attributed the flawed work to a faulty method of calculation – not the economic downturn.

The overestimate, which comes after another bad calculation by the air board on diesel-related deaths that made headlines in 2009, prompted the board to suspend the regulation this year while officials decided whether to weaken the rule.

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Senate Office to Host Health Fair for Well-Covered Staffers

As millions of hardworking Americans struggle to make ends meet, Senate staffers will participate next week in a two-day orgy of back massages, organic food tastings and milk mustache photos.

It’s all part of a health fair for the staffers, who enjoy some of the best health care in the country.

Not only will they get health screenings, they’ll also find out if their iPods are too loud.

Neither the Senate’s Education and Training Office nor the Senate sergeant-at-arms, which oversees the office, would say which vendors are providing the services or how much the health fair will cost taxpayers.

But there will be no shortage of vendors providing screenings for visual acuity, chiropractic health, bone density, glaucoma, PSA levels, cholesterol levels and hearing.

The Senate staffers also will be treated to seated massages, herbal teas, polarity therapy, low-fat cheese samples and organic foods. A pharmacist and health coach will be available to speak to fairgoers about their medications, nutrition and healthy lifestyle questions.

Fairgoers can test themselves with brain games and bring their MP3 players to be tested for decibel levels.

The fair, to be held on Thursday and Friday, is not uncommon among federal agencies, a senior Senate aide told FoxNews.com. Fairs of this sort are held every year.

An aide in the sergeant-at-arms office told FoxNews.com in an e-mail that the fair is open to all Senate staff, and there is no fee to attend. The costs to the office, the aide said, are “minimum.”

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