European official meets with Lew, reaffirms austerity stance
BRUSSELS — Jacob J. Lew, the U.S. Treasury secretary, urged European officials to adopt more growth-friendly policies on Monday. But there was little indication that the recession-plagued European Union was moving away from the austerity path it has pursued to deal with the debts and imbalances that emerged in the financial crisis of 2008-09.
At the outset of a joint news conference with Lew, Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, emphasized the difficult climate that both economies faced.
“We continue to rebalance and rebuild our economic potential to ensure strong, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs going forward,” Van Rompuy said. “It is a long and difficult process, but one we stick to with determination on both sides of the Atlantic.”
But despite Van Rompuy’s reassuring words, it was clear that deep divisions remain between the American and European approaches to the crisis, which have contributed to the divergent paths the economies of Europe and the United States have followed in its wake.
“Our economic recovery is gathering strength,” Lew said. “The U.S. economy has expanded for 14 consecutive quarters, and although the pace of job creation is not as fast as we would like, the private sector has added jobs for 37 straight months.”
—Annie Lowrey, The New York Times
Pentagon seeks change in court-martial system
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon announced Monday that it would ask Congress to overhaul the court-martial system used to prosecute the nearly 5,000 service members annually accused of crimes, scaling back the power of senior commanders to overturn convictions and dismiss charges.
The proposal comes amid sharp criticism from advocacy groups and Congress over how the military has handled a series of sexual assault cases, including a decision by an Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin, to dismiss the conviction of Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, who was found guilty in November of aggravated sexual assault.
“These changes, if enacted by Congress, would help ensure that our military justice system works fairly, ensures due process and is accountable,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement. “These changes would increase the confidence of service members and the public that the military justice system will do justice in every case.”
—Charlie Savage, The New York Times
Bird flu spreads in China, but no human transmission found
HONG KONG — Chinese and World Health Organization officials said Monday that they had still not yet found any human-to-human transmission of a spreading form of avian influenza, after confirming five more infections among humans over the weekend and three more Monday.
Public health officials around the world have been closely watching the emergence of the illness, H7N9 influenza, in Shanghai and three nearby provinces in central-eastern China over the past week, and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have begun work on a vaccine. Chinese health officials have acknowledged 24 cases and seven fatalities in the past week, counting the eight infections confirmed by laboratories over the last three days.
Liang Wannian, the director of the H7N9 influenza control apoultry being shipped to Hong Kong to determine whether any of the birds carry the disease. They will be released for sale only after they have been certified to be free from the disease, he said.
—Keith Bradsher, The New York Times