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Obama agenda: In the Land Down Under

“On Wednesday, Mr. Obama announced that the United States planned to deploy 2,500 Marines in Australia to shore up alliances in Asia, but the move prompted a sharp response from Beijing, which accused Mr. Obama of escalating military tensions in the region,” the New York Times says. “The agreement with Australia amounts to the first long-term expansion of the American military’s presence in the Pacific since the end of the Vietnam War. It comes despite budget cuts facing the Pentagon and an increasingly worried reaction from Chinese leaders, who have argued that the United States is seeking to encircle China militarily and economically.”

The Washington Post adds, "The expanded partnership is the first step in the Obama administration’s foreign policy shift away from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which the U.S. is winding down, to economic growth and security in the Asia Pacific region."

The New York Times suggests that politics and President Obama’s re-election effort played a major role in the administration rejecting a proposal to tighten smog standards. “The full retreat on the smog standard was the first and most important environmental decision of the presidential campaign season that is now fully under way. An examination of that decision, based on interviews with lobbyists on both sides, former officials and policy makers at the upper reaches of the White House and the E.P.A., illustrates the new calculus on political and policy shifts as the White House sharpens its focus on the president’s re-election.”

U.S. debt has now surpassed $15 trillion, NBC’s Frank Thorp reports.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s motorcade was hit with paint in Manila. “The protesters oppose a 12-year-old voluntary forces agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines,” the New York Daily News says. “The agreement exempts U.S. military personnel charged with committing crimes in the Philippines from prosecution under Filipino law.”