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Nation & World Briefly

With supercommittee silent, millionaires and others eagerly jump in with their own advice

WASHINGTON (AP) – Lobbyists for a day, a band of millionaires stormed Capitol Hill on Wednesday to urge Congress to tax them more.

They had a little trouble getting in. It turns out there are procedures, even for the really rich.

But once inside, their message was embraced by liberals and tolerated by some conservatives – including the ideological leader of anti-tax lawmakers, who had some advice for them, too.

“If you think the federal government can spend your money better than you can, then by all means” pay more in taxes than you owe, said Grover Norquist, of Americans for Tax Reform, a group that has gotten almost all congressional Republicans to pledge to vote against tax hikes. The IRS should have a little line on the form where people can donate money to the government, he suggested, “just like the tip line on a restaurant receipt.”

One of the millionaires suggested that if Norquist wanted low taxes and less government, “Renounce your American citizenship and move to Somalia where they don’t collect any tax.”

Countering rising Chinese strength, Obama sending Marines, planes for training in Australia

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Signaling a determination to counter a rising China, President Barack Obama vowed Thursday to expand U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region and “project power and deter threats to peace” in that part of the world even as he reduces defense spending and winds down two wars.

“The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay,” he declared in a speech to the Australian Parliament, sending an unmistakable message to Beijing.

Obama’s bullish speech came several hours after announcing he would send military aircraft and up to 2,500 Marines to northern Australia for a training hub to help allies and protect American interests across Asia. He declared the U.S. is not afraid of China, by far the biggest and most powerful country in the region.

China immediately questioned the U.S. move and said it deserved further scrutiny.

Emphasizing that a U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region is a top priority of his administration, Obama stressed that any reductions in U.S. defense spending will not come at the expense of that goal.

Secret Service says suspect in shooting near White House arrested at Pennsylvania hotel

WASHINGTON (AP) – A man with an apparent obsession with President Barack Obama has been arrested in Pennsylvania after the Secret Service discovered two bullets struck the White House while the president was away, authorities said Wednesday.

One bullet smashed into a window of the living quarters of the executive mansion but was stopped by ballistic glass.

The arrest of Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, came days after reports of shots fired on Friday night near the White House while Obama and his wife Michelle were on a trip to California and Hawaii. The president has since traveled on to Australia, second stop on a nine-day Asia-Pacific tour, and the White House had no comment on the unfolding events.

The U.S. Secret Service said it discovered Tuesday that the two bullets hit the White House. U.S. Park Police had earlier linked Ortega, a 21-year-old man from Idaho Falls, Idaho, to the reports of gunfire.

A U.S. Park Police crime bulletin issued before Ortega’s arrest said he is known to have mental health issues, adding “Ortega should be considered unstable with violent tendencies.”