Obama addresses US amid flu crisis

US President Barack Obama has used a press conference to mark his 100th day in office to address the swine flu crisis.

He said health officials were not recommending closing the US border with Mexico because of outbreak.

The president likened that move to – in his words – closing the barn door after the horses were out.

Mr Obama was holding a news conference this morning to mark his 100th day in office just as swine flu concerns intensified.

He said Americans must maintain great vigilance and respond appropriately to swine flu cases cropping up in the United States. He also says the outbreak is cause for deep concern but not panic. And he assured the public that the US government was doing everything it can to be on top of the matter.

President Obama also spoke about the row over treatment of terror suspects, calling waterboarding an act that violates America’s ideals and values, which needs to be banned.

Answering questions at a prime-time news conference, Mr Obama said this morning the American people will eventually recognise that banning torture enhances the US position worldwide. He said the prohibition takes away a recruitment tool for al-Qaida and puts the US in a stronger position with allies.

Mr Obama also said torture does not yield information. He said the information could be obtained in other ways.

The president said that during the Second World War, as London was under siege, Prime Minister Winston Churchill did not allow torture of detainees.

Mr Obama also said the US government should help Chrysler and General Motors stabilise but then should get out of the car industry as quickly as possible.

The US government is working on ways to help the two struggling auto giants survive with public money and increased federal involvement.

Mr Obama said: “I don’t want to run auto companies ... I’ve got more than enough to do.”

The president said the government should not micromanage but that it does have the right to scrutinise what the car companies are proposing.

He said his goal is to prevent a breakdown of the auto industry that would “affect everybody”.

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