Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to strike hard against graft in the military, urging soldiers to banish corrupt practices and ensure their loyalty to the ruling Communist Party, state media reported on Friday. The vow to punish graft in the military came only days after the Communist Party began an investigation into former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, by far the highest-profile figure caught up in Xi's corruption crackdown. Xi said troops should remember where their priorities lie, the official PLA Daily reported. His remarks were made during a visit to a military base in the southeastern province of Fujian on Thursday to mark the 87th birthday of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
By Koh Gui Qing BEIJING (Reuters) – China's factories posted their strongest growth in at least 1-1/2 years in July as new orders surged to multi-month highs, two surveys showed on Friday, cementing bets that the economy is re-gaining momentum after a spate of stimulus measures. Now that looser monetary policy is having its intended effect, some analysts questioned the need for more economic stimulus in China, at least in the near term. "There is no reason in China to be concerned about growth right now," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics. Worried by a slowdown in the economy in the first quarter, China began easing policy in April by cutting taxes, hastening investment, and lowering the reserve requirement for some banks.
By Sarah Marsh and Richard Lough BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina's bond and stock markets and peso currency dropped on Thursday after Latin America's No. 3 economy defaulted for the second time in 12 years following the collapse of last-ditch talks with holdout creditors. The default came after Argentina failed to strike a deal with lead holdout investors NML Capital Ltd, an affiliate of Elliott Management Corp and Aurelius Capital Management, in time for a midnight Wednesday EDT (0400 GMT) payment deadline. "Those who expect us to sign any old thing, threatening us that the world will come to an end otherwise, should not count on me," Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said in her first comments since the default. The government maintains it has not defaulted because it made a required interest payment on one of its bonds due 2033, but U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan blocked that deposit in June, saying it violated his ruling.
(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to review a case about whether the federal government can subsidize health insurance for millions of Americans, a party involved in the lawsuit said on Thursday. The petition requests the U.S. high court decide the issue after two lower U.S. court rulings created uncertainties last week regarding the legitimacy of subsidies for individuals enrolled on federally run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is coordinating and funding the cases, filed the petition, according to the not-for-profit's website. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision that the language in the Affordable Care Act dealing with subsidies shows they should only be provided to consumers who purchase benefits on exchanges run by individual states.
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate late on Thursday overwhelmingly gave final congressional approval to a $16.3 billion plan to ease long healthcare delays at the scandal-plagued Veterans Affairs Department, adding the bulk of the cost to the federal deficit. The 91-3 vote sends the measure to President Barack Obama to be signed into law just before Congress starts a five-week summer recess. The plan, which contains $10 billion in new emergency spending that is not offset by any budget savings, aims to clear months-long waiting lists for healthcare appointments at VA hospitals and clinics across the country. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated a $35 billion cost through 2017, and the ultimate price tag depends on how many veterans opt for private care and how quickly the VA can build up its internal treatment capacity.
By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bill to fund border security blew up in House Speaker John Boehner's face on Thursday, leaving Republicans in disarray and struggling to reconcile Tea Party demands with the need to deal with a humanitarian crisis on the southwestern border with Mexico. A carefully crafted, $659 million bill to pay for more border security and help feed and house tens of thousands of Central American children arriving illegally in the United States unexpectedly collapsed on Thursday. Tea Party-backed Senator Ted Cruz of Texas had his fingerprints all over Thursday's debacle for Boehner. The measure, complained Cruz, would not reverse President Barack Obama's 2012 policy of suspending deportations of undocumented residents who were brought to the United States as children by their parents.
By Mark Hosenball WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The CIA conceded on Thursday that it had improperly monitored computers used by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee in an investigation of interrogation tactics and secret prisons for terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Central Intelligence Agency spokesman Dean Boyd said in a statement that the agency's inspector general had determined that "some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent" with an understanding between the agency and the Senate panel. Boyd said CIA Director John Brennan had informed Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee's chairwoman, and its senior Republican, Saxby Chambliss, of the finding and apologized.
(Reuters) – GoPro Inc, which makes wearable cameras used by surfers, skydivers and other action junkies to post their exploits online, reported a bigger quarterly loss as costs nearly doubled. GoPro shares fell 11 pct to $42.70 in extended trading after its first financial results since its initial public offering in June. The net loss attributable to GoPro stockholders grew to $19.8 million, or 24 cents per share, in the second quarter from $5 million, or 6 cents. Excluding items, GoPro earned 8 cents per share and the company said it expected a seasonally stronger second half.
Canada’s top research body has taken steps to tighten security on its computer network, it said on Thursday, days after the government accused state-backed Chinese hackers of breaking into the system. Canada has declined to give details of the attack on the National Research Council, which works with firms such as aircraft and train maker Bombardier Inc, but it took the unprecedented step of pinning the blame on China. It also plans to build a new technology infrastructure to help guard against “the risk of future cyber threats of this nature.” “Creating a new, secure IT infrastructure within the broader government of Canada network could take approximately one year,” it said in the statement on its website.
BlackBerry Ltd said on Thursday its popular messaging system BBM, or BlackBerry Messenger, would now be open to those using the Windows phone platform, a move that potentially makes the messaging service more appealing to its enterprise clients. BlackBerry, which is seeking to reinvent itself as a more software and services driven company as its smartphone market share has dwindled, has been lately touting new BBM features in a bid to make it a more viable messaging tool for clients such as corporations and government agencies that are on the lookout for a secure messaging service. The company, last year, opened the service to phones powered by Google Inc's wildly popular Android operating system and Apple's iOS platform.