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Obama agenda: The China town hall

"Politely but firmly pressing for greater freedoms on China's own turf, President Barack Obama spoke against censorship Monday, saying tough criticisms of political leaders should be allowed and the free flow of information on the Internet 'should be encouraged,'" the AP says.

The New York Times: "For Mr. Obama, who has been taking pains to strike a conciliatory note during his first visit to China, it was a rare challenge to Chinese authorities, but expressed in Mr. Obama's now familiar nuance. Responding to a question that came via the Internet during a town hall meeting with Shanghai students -- 'Should we be able to use Twitter freely?' -- Mr. Obama first l started to answer in the slightly off-the-point manner which he often uses when he is gathering his thoughts. 'Well, first of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter,' he said. 'My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone.'"

"But then he appeared to gather confidence. 'I should be honest, as president of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn't flow so freely because then I wouldn't have to listen to people criticizing me all the time,' he said. But, he added, 'because in the United States, information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear.'" 

White House adviser David Axelrod slapped back against Rudy Giuliani, who criticized the decision to try KSM in New York City. "When the 20th 9/11 bomber [Zacarias Moussaoui] was tried in Virginia, in a civilian court, and convicted, Mayor Giuliani testified in that case and he heralded the outcome," Axelrod said.

The AP writes, "The United States is limiting its goals in Afghanistan and demanding better accountability from that country's underperforming leader, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday, and she tied additional U.S. civilian help to results from Kabul."