Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Busting those Obama myths (or not)

October 18, 2010

Our top story today (at least according to readers of Reuters.com):  President Barack Obama is to appear on “Mythbusters”, a television series that uses science to separate fact from fiction. It is part of a White House effort to highlight the importance of science, math and engineering, as experts warn that low interest in these subjects could damage America’s global competitiveness.

Among the myths the program has tackled before:

What’s worse, having an empty beer bottle smashed over your head or a full one?

Can a sniffer dog be thrown off the scent using household items?

USA/A myth Obama will help debunk:

The 2,000-year-old story that Greek mathematician and engineer Archimedes set fire to an invading Roman fleet using a system of mirrors to focus the sun’s rays.

Myths that Obama might wish he was debunking:

The president was not born in the United States

The economic stimulus plan failed to create any jobs

The president is a Muslim

Healthcare reform was an attempt to impose socialism by the back door.

The president is a communist.

And finally, one the president has arguably already debunked:

Obama can change the way Washington works.

Here are our (other) top stories from Washington today…

Midterm election weighs on Obama’s foreign policy

With the public fixated on high unemployment and a sputtering economy, and the 2012 presidential race approaching, President Obama is likely to keep his focus where the votes are — on domestic priorities. While predecessors have used foreign policy to stay relevant when stymied by a hostile Congress, Obama can hardly afford to be distracted from bread-and-butter issues. “The notion that somehow he’s going to earn his Nobel Peace Prize in the last two years of his term is not very realistic,” said James Carafano of conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation.

For more of this analysis by Matt Spetalnick, read here.

Obama seeks to rekindle enthusiasm of 2008 campaign

President Obama sought to recapture the magic of his 2008 campaign, holding a large open-air rally in Ohio to help struggling Democratic candidates in the Midwestern state. “Everybody said ‘No, you can’t,’ and in 2008 you showed them, ‘Yes, we can,’” Obama told a cheering crowd of 35,000 people at Ohio State University. But he acknowledged Democrats faced a tough fight.

For more of this story by Caren Bohan, read here.

U.S. regulators press banks over foreclosures

Regulators said they were advancing probes of major banks in the foreclosure crisis and want to determine whether shoddy practices caused some people to be kicked out of their homes. Stocks rose, led by gains in financial firms, as Citigroup reported stronger-than-expected profits. Bank shares were down last week on worries profits could be hurt by investigations of potentially faulty foreclosure paperwork.

For more of this story by Dave Clarke, read here. 

Industrial output falls, monetary easing seen

U.S. industrial output shrank last month for the first time in more than a year, a sign the economy was in a slow growth rut that appears certain to lead to more monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve. “The industrial production report illustrates, if anything, economic growth is still slowing rather than beginning to pick up again, which is yet another reason for the Fed to unleash QE2,” said one analyst.

For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.

Auto safety proposals dim in political upheaval

Automakers are counting on political upheaval in Washington to bury proposed changes in safety regulation born out of congressional scrutiny of Toyota Motor Corp. Car companies have raised enough questions about what they view as burdensome new regulation to slow safety bills pushed by Democrats. Now they hope expected gains by more business-friendly Republicans in November, and the fading memory of unintended acceleration in some Toyota and Lexus models, will effectively kill sweeping proposals that include exponentially higher fines and new government recall powers.

For more of this story by John Crawley, read here.

US won’t rubber stamp offshore oil permits-official

The U.S. offshore drilling agency will not become a “permitting mill” now that its deepwater drilling moratorium has been lifted, Michael Bromwich, head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, wrote in an op-ed posted on CNN’s website. But he also blasted critics who have complained permitting delays will hamper offshore oil development.

For more of this story by Ayesha Rascoe, read here. 

U.S. Justice Dept sues Michigan Blue Cross

The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, accusing it of violating antitrust law by negotiating contracts with hospitals that bar the hospitals from giving Blue Cross’ rivals a better deal.

For more of this story by Diane Bartz, read here.

What we are blogging…

The chill of the Chandra Levy murder trial

The Washington summer of Chandra Levy seems to belong to another era — one where a missing government intern and a straying congressman dominated headlines and chatter in the U.S. capital. It was the summer of 2001. Monday saw the start of jury selection in the trial of Ingmar Guandique in Levy’s murder, a trial expected to last five weeks.

For Deborah Zabarenko’s full post, click here.

From elsewhere…

Japan recruits foreigners to improve its travel advice

Japan is planning to recruit dozens of foreigners to visit the country and give advice on how to make things more travel-friendly for non-Japanese-speaking visitors as it aims for higher tourist numbers.”What we hear is that there really isn’t enough information on things like how to buy train tickets, or how to use the baths in traditional Japanese inns,” said one official.

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama at White House Science Fair) 

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