Tuesday, August 2, 2011

  • After Months of Partisan Wrangling, Wall Street & Pentagon Emerge Victorious on Debt Deal

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    After months of a bitterly partisan stalemate, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted 269 to 161 in favor of raising the federal borrowing limit and avoiding a default on the national debt. The final count showed 174 Republican ayes, with Democrats split evenly—95 on each side. The vote came just hours before a Department of Treasury deadline that potentially would have seen the United States run out of cash and default for the first time in its history. The bill is expected to be approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama today. The deal includes no new tax revenue from wealthy Americans, provides no additional stimulus for the lagging economy, and will cut more than $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years, while extending the borrowing authority of the Treasury Department. The debt deal was a victory of sorts for the Pentagon. Rather than cutting $400 billion in defense spending through 2023, as President Barack Obama had proposed in April, it trims just $350 billion through 2024, effectively giving the Pentagon $50 billion more than it had been expecting over the next decade. We speak with William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, and Michael Hudson, professor of economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. [includes rush transcript]

  • As Ramadan Begins, Assad Regime Intensifies Deadly Crackdown on Syrian Protesters

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    The government crackdown on protesters in Syria has reached a new level of violence just as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan has begun. At least six people were killed earlier today, pushing the toll to at least 150 over the last two days. An attack on the central city of Hama began Sunday, when more than 100 people were killed by government forces, and continued into Monday with another 24 dead across the country. Syria has banned most foreign journalists, making it hard to verify exactly what is happening there. We speak with Ziad Majed, assistant professor of Middle Eastern studies at the American University of Paris and coordinator of the Arab Network for the Study of Democracy. [includes rush transcript]

  • Syrian Activist Razan Zaitouneh: Assad Regime the Lone "Terrorist Group" Inside Syria

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    We go to Syria to speak with human rights activist and attorney Razan Zaitouneh, who provides us with an update of the violent government crackdown on pro-democracy protest movement across the country. "We want the whole world to know what’s going on," Zaitouneh says. "We all know the truth. We all know that the only terrorist group in the country is this regime, who has been killing its own people for more than four months, who has been arresting dozens of thousands of people only because they want their freedom." [includes rush transcript]

  • Ahead of Mubarak Trial, Egyptian Forces Forcibly Remove Protesters from Tahrir Square

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    As the holy month of Ramadan begins, the Egyptian army has deployed tanks and troops in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, firing shots in the air to disperse the remaining pro-democracy protesters who have been occupying the square for three weeks in protest against the slow pace of reform after the popular uprising ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. According to witnesses, security personnel stormed the area from several directions, smashing tents and stalls before taking some protesters into military detention. Meanwhile, the trial of Mubarak on charges including corruption and murder is set to open tomorrow at Cairo’s Police Academy. We go to Cairo for an update from Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous. [includes rush transcript]