Aggressive Obama performs better in second debate


U.S. President Barack Obama came out swinging against Republican challenger Mitt Romney in a tense second debate in which the candidates sparred on the economy, health care, immigration and the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya.

The first polls after Tuesday night's debate at Hofstra University - moderated by CNN journalist Candy Crowley - gave Obama a slim victory over the former Massachusetts governor, who kept up the harsh attacks on the incumbent's record that he also delivered on Oct. 3 in Denver.

Eighty undecided voters were in the audience for the town-hall debate and 11 of them asked questions of the candidates, each of whom walked around the stage and regularly sought to talk over and interrupt his rival.

Romney "doesn't have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules," Obama said at the outset of the debate, immediately showing a sharp contrast with the subdued demeanor he exhibited in Denver.




Obama, Romney camps snipe at each other on immigration


The campaigns of President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney continued to snipe back and forth at each other about immigration reform a day after the issue came up in their second televised debate.

The question posed by Lorraine Osorio to Romney about how to resolve the presence of undocumented foreigners in the United States unleashed one of the tensest and longest exchanges of Tuesday night's encounter at Hofstra University.

That question once again heated things up on Wednesday and, in a conference call with reporters, Democratic Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Xavier Becerra chided Romney for being an extremist and reiterated their complaint about Republican obstructionism in Congress.

"Mitt Romney is the most extreme presidential candidate on immigration in modern history," said Velazquez, citing the Republican's idea of "self-deportation."

When asked why immigration reform was unable to be achieved when the Congress was under Democratic control for the first two years of Obama's presidency, Becerra replied: "Let's dispel this notion that the Democrats and the President did nothing. We (the House of Representatives) passed the DREAM Act in 2010, and the Senate passed the DREAM Act. But only because the Republicans insisted on using the filibuster did the DREAM Act not become law."




Moody's keeps Spain's credit rating at investment-grade level


Moody's Investors Service left Spain's credit rating at investment-grade level, although it assigned a negative outlook due to persistent risks.

Moody's said Tuesday it decided to keep the Iberian nation's rating at Baa3 - one notch above "junk" - because the risk of it losing access to capital markets "has been materially reduced by the willingness of the European Central Bank to undertake outright purchases of Spanish government bonds to contain their price volatility."

The ratings agency, which had slashed Spain's rating by three notches in June, said the country "will likely apply for a precautionary credit line from the (recently established) European Stability Mechanism," which will cover all new bailout applications from euro-zone member state.




Ecuadorian judge orders seizure of Chevron assets


In a collection victory for plaintiffs who won a $19 billion judgment against U.S. oil supermajor Chevron, an Ecuadorian judge has ordered the company to turn over its assets in the Andean nation.

Judge Wilfrido Erazo of the provincial court in the northeastern Amazon province of Sucumbios on Monday ordered the seizure of the accounts receivable of Chevron and its subsidiaries in Ecuador, Pablo Fajardo, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit for environmental damage, told Efe.

James Craig, a spokesman for the company in Latin America and Africa, slammed the Sucumbios court and the plaintiffs' attorneys and termed Erazo's ruling "illegal."

In a February 2011 ruling, that same court found Texaco - which Chevron acquired in 2001 - guilty of irreversible environmental damage between 1964 and the early 1990s.

Chevron was eventually ordered to pay more than $19 billion in damages.




Missing Mexican cops found drinking at pool hall


The chief and four other members of a municipal police force in the central Mexican state of Durango were found drinking at a pool hall hours after the town's alarmed mayor reported them missing.

Lerdo's police chief, Andres Balderas, senior deputy Luis Manuel Torres and three bodyguards traveled to the state capital, Durango city, on Monday for an official function.

The officers subsequently fell out of contact and could not be reached on their cell phones.