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World newsbits for April 18, 2014

Defend ‘Obamacare’

Washington (AP) – Some Democrats said it’s time to stop hiding from President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul – even in this year’s toughest Senate elections – given that enrollments are higher than expected and costs are lower. Republicans practically dared Democrats to embrace “Obamacare,” which is the GOP’s favorite target in most congressional campaigns. Yet pro-Democratic activists in Alaska are doing just that, and a number of strategists elsewhere hope it will spread. President Barack Obama recently announced that first-year sign-ups for subsidized private health insurance topped seven million, exceeding expectations. And the Congressional Budget Office said it expects only a minimal increase in customers’ costs for 2015.

 

Growth Slows

HONG KONG (AP) – As China’s growth inexorably slows, manufacturers such as Linan Meite Cable are discovering that being an efficient low cost producer is no longer enough to prosper. Factories that had thrived by using cheap migrant labor to churn out inexpensive clothing, electronics and toys for export now face changing government priorities as a growth engine based on investment and trade loses its momentum after more than a decade of double-digit expansion. At the same time, China’s labor costs are rising and global demand is still weak, putting pressure on manufacturers to move into more advanced production, consolidate into bigger entities or shift to cheaper inland regions to survive.

 

Fight Vs Aliens

STRASBOURG, France (PNA/Xinhua) – The European Parliament (EP) approved legislation Wednesday to stop invasive alien species of plants, animals or insects getting into the European Union (EU). The legislation bans species declared to be of “Union concern” and requires more and better coordinated action by member states to tackle the threat. Even if some species cannot be fully stopped, Europe’s politicians want stronger measures to limit the ecological and economic damage they can cause. “Invasive alien species cause damage worth at least 12 billion euros (about $16.56-billion) every year in the EU and many member states already have to spend considerable resources in dealing with them,” said Czech MEP Pavel Poc, who steered the legislation through Parliament.

 

Kim Jong-Un’s Hair

LONDON (AFP) – North Korea has written an official letter of complaint to Britain over a London hair salon’s advert implying leader Kim Jong-Un has a bad hairstyle, the Foreign Office confirmed Thursday. The Stalinist state has failed to see the funny side of a discount haircuts advert featuring Kim at the M&M Hair Academy in Ealing, west London. The poster featured a large picture of Kim with his distinctive short-back-and-sides hairdo and the slogan: ‘’Bad hair day? 15 percent off all gent cuts through the month of April.’’ British police intervened after North Korean embassy officials paid a visit to the salon and told hairdresser Mo Nabbach to take down the ‘’disrespectful’’ poster from the window.

 

Journalists Charged

PHUKET, Thailand (AP) – Thai authorities on Thursday charged two journalists with defaming Thailand’s navy in an online news report about the trafficking of refugees from Myanmar, amid concerns about press freedom in the country. The English-language news Web site Phuketwan posted a story last July carrying excerpts from a report by the Reuters news agency alleging that members of the Thai military were involved in trafficking captured immigrants from Myanmar’s beleaguered Rohingya ethnic minority.