Week In The News: Biden In Beijing, Pension Reforms And Nelson Mandela

Biden in Beijing. Public pensions under the gun. Mandela gone – our Weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, chats with his Chinese counterpart Li Yuanchao before heading to their luncheon at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, chats with his Chinese counterpart Li Yuanchao before heading to their luncheon at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP)

Nelson Mandela over all the news this week.  South Africa’s great leader, emancipator, inspiration to the world, dead at 95 and celebrated as that rarest of figures – the moral hero.  In China, Vice President Joe Biden dances with Beijing over China’s expanded territorial claims.  Seeks to calm Japan, Korea.  In Detroit, a judge clears the way for bankruptcy and cuts to public pension plans.  Many cities take note.  We’ve got a train off the rails in New York.  Driver in a “daze.” doing better.  The economy and job growth, too.  This hour On Point: our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

– Tom Ashbrook


Gideon Roseeditor of Foreign Affairs.

David Shepardson, Washington, D.C. bureau chief for The Detroit News. (@davidshepardson)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Detroit News: Detroit pension funds seek direct appeal of bankruptcy ruling — “The city’s pension funds and its largest union asked for permission Wednesday to appeal the city’s bankruptcy eligibility to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing the historic case needs to be heard by a higher court before retiree pensions are cut. The pension funds and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are trying to protect retiree pensions from cuts in a fight that could lead to the U.S. Supreme Court and avoid a ruling that could impact pensions in struggling cities nationwide.”

BBC News: US and China in ‘very direct’ air zone talks — “Talks in Mr Biden’s Asia trip have been dominated by a new air zone declared by China, which covers islands controlled by Japan in the East China Sea. China says its move is consistent with ‘international law and practice.’ China announced a new Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) last month, and said aircraft flying through the zone must follow its rules, including filing flight plans. The ADIZ covers islands claimed and controlled by Japan, and a submerged rock claimed by South Korea.”

New York Daily News: MTA: Alert system for engineer was on wrong end of derailed Metro-North train — “The ‘alerter’ system sounds a warning after 25 seconds of inactivity from the engineer. It can activate the brakes automatically if the engineer doesn’t respond to the prompt in 15 seconds. That may have prevented disaster when engineer William Rockefeller apparently nodded off before the train approached a sharp curve near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx on Sunday morning — a bend that requires trains to slow down from a 70 mph limit to just 30 mph.”

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