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HeadlinesJuly 29, 2011

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GOP Delays Debt Ceiling Vote, Dems Vow Senate Defeat

Jul 29, 2011

House Speaker John Boehner has delayed a vote on his debt-ceiling plan after failing to gather enough Republican support. Boehner pulled his measure late Thursday night after it became clear hard-line Republicans refused to abandon their demands for even deeper budget cuts. The bill would slash government spending by $917 billion over the next decade while raising the federal debt ceiling by $900 billion, enough for the United States to pay its bills through February. A congressional panel would also be mandated to find another $1.8 trillion in budget cuts before the end of the year. Democrats have vowed to defeat the measure in the Senate despite proposing similar levels of cuts. At a news conference, Boehner urged lawmakers to support his bill.

House Speaker John Boehner: “I’ve never said it was perfect. Nobody in my caucus believes it’s perfect. But what this bill reflects is a sincere, honest effort to end this crisis in a bipartisan way, to send it to the Senate, where it can receive action. Throughout this debate, we’ve promised the American people that we’d cut spending more than what we would increase the debt limit. And we also said that we would not entertain any increases in taxes.”

Boehner is expected to attempt a new vote today. At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney said a compromise will have to be struck for a deal before Tuesday’s deadline.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “We remain confident that, as these hours churn on and the days go by, that we will get to that point, and that compromise will be reached. But it is—we are not the only actor in this play, and we need to make sure that others understand the stakes and are willing to reach that compromise. We’re confident they will.”

Fighting Erupts in Somali Capital over Food Aid

Jul 29, 2011

Heavy clashes have erupted in the Somali capital of Mogadishu after African Union troops launched operations against the militant group, al-Shabab. The A.U. says it is trying to protect famine relief efforts from al-Shabab, which has reportedly tried to block the delivery of aid after initially denying that a famine is taking place. At least six people were killed in the violence. At a Doctors Without Borders clinic in neighboring Kenya, a physician said medical workers are struggling to treat those needing care.

Mohamed Gedi: “In the next few months, up to November at least, if not more, we expect more and more patients to come. Hopefully now we’re getting a lot of response in terms of the medical care. The organizations that are here are already putting more energy and more resources into this. But it’s not just the healthcare that they need. These are people who are here because they don’t have food; it’s not that they became sick, then they are malnourished.”

Norway Shooting Suspect Bought Ammo Clips in U.S.

Jul 29, 2011

Norwegian police have released the identities of another 24 people killed by Anders Behring Breivik as they ended their search for bodies around the island where he shot 68 of his 76 victims. Breivik is due to be questioned by the police for the second time today. Details have emerged on Breivik’s claim to have bought high-capacity ammunition clips used in the attack from the United States. In his sprawling manifesto, Breivik says he ordered 10 30-round clips from an undisclosed U.S.-based supplier, because they were considerably cheaper. The sale of high-capacity magazines had previously been illegal in the United States until the 1994 assault weapons ban expired in 2004. Speaking to Politico, Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York, a sponsor of a bill to renew the magazine limits, said, “There should be a lot of shame. We’re sending a death warrant to other parts of the world.”

Libyan Rebels’ Military Chief Slain

Jul 29, 2011

The head of the Libyan rebels’ military operations against Col. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed in a targeted assassination. Abdel Fattah Younes was shot dead on Thursday as he headed to appear before a rebel-organized judicial committee.

U.N.: No Progress in Libya Talks

Jul 29, 2011

The killing of the rebels’ military commander comes as diplomatic efforts have stalled. At the United Nations, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe, told the U.N. Security Council a recent U.N. delegation to meet both sides of the Libya conflict had made no headway.

Lynn Pascoe: “Both sides are willing to talk, but they are still emphasizing maximum demands at this point, and patience is clearly required before detailed discussion can begin. As we have said many times, a ceasefire tied to transitional arrangements which address the aspirations of the Libyan people is the only sustainable political solution to the crisis in Libya.”

40 Killed in Afghan Attacks

Jul 29, 2011

More than 40 Afghan civilians have been killed in a string of deadly attacks. At least 19 people were killed Thursday when suicide bombers hit government buildings in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan. The dead included 12 young children. Another 35 people were wounded. It was the deadliest attack to hit southern Afghanistan in nearly six months. Meanwhile, at least 23 civilians have been killed in a pair of roadside bombings. Nineteen people were killed when their bus struck a mine, while another four people died in a similar incident aboard a tractor. Afghan civilians are enduring record levels of violence, with more than 1,400 killed this year.

Syrian Crackdown Continues; Group Claims 3,000 Missing

Jul 29, 2011

Syrian forces have killed at least four protesters and arrested scores of others on the eve of another mass protest against President Bashar al-Assad. A convoy of tanks and armed forces reportedly attacked a crowd gathered in a central square in the city of Deir ez-Zor. The human rights group, Avaaz, says it’s identified nearly 3,000 people who have gone missing after being seized by Assad’s troops, an average of one person per hour during the four-month uprising. Syrian activists say up to 1,600 people have been killed during the crackdown.

Palestinian Authority President Calls for Mass Protests to Back Statehood Bid

Jul 29, 2011

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is calling for massive protests to support the Palestinian campaign for statehood recognition at the United Nations. The PA is seeking a vote in September that would recognize an independent Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories. Israel and the United States have launched a fierce campaign to thwart the effort, and U.S. lawmakers have threatened the cutoff of aid to Palestinians if the bid goes ahead. Addressing a Palestinian Liberation Organization meeting, Abbas said wide-scale popular resistance is needed to support the statehood campaign.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: “Every day, we face what induces us to carry out popular resistance on a wide scale, and not in one place and not by one group. If we really want this, let’s do it. I insist on popular resistance, and I insist that it be unarmed popular resistance.”

Trial over 1982 U.S.-Backed Massacre Begins in Guatemala

Jul 29, 2011

In Guatemala, four soldiers have gone on trial for the 1982 massacre of an estimated 250 villagers by a U.S.-backed death squad. The case marks the first time members of Guatemala’s armed forces have gone on trial for the Dos Erres massacre. The victims included women and children who were strangled, beaten with sledgehammers, and thrown down a well. In testimony this week, massacre survivors have described their ordeal, including watching the brutal killings of their loved ones. Human rights activist Mario Polanco called for the trial of a former death squad member recently extradited from the United States.

Mario Polanco: “Several members of the military have been arrested. Some are soldiers, and others are army officers. One was even arrested in the United States and was extradited to Guatemala. We trust there will be a conviction and a sentencing in this case, because it will be one of the few cases in which justice has been done in this country.”

AWOL Soldier Charged with Ft. Hood Attack Plot

Jul 29, 2011

An AWOL U.S. Army soldier has been arrested and charged with planning an attack on military personnel at Fort Hood, Texas. The military says police found bomb-making materials in Naser Jason Abdo’s motel room after seeking to arrest him on separate charges. Police Chief Dennis Baldwin announced Abdo’s arrest in Killeen, Texas.

Dennis Baldwin: “On July 27th, about 2:03 p.m., Killeen Police Department arrested Naser Jason Abdo, an AWOL soldier from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on a warrant from the Fort Campbell Provost Marshal’s Office charging him with possession of obscene material and being AWOL. During the investigation, suspicious materials were located in his hotel room. It is anticipated that federal charges will be filed.”

U.S., North Korea Diplomats Hold Talks

Jul 29, 2011

U.S. and North Korean diplomats have held preliminary talks on whether to relaunch failed negotiations over the North Korean nuclear program. The U.S. State Department says the talks began in New York on Thursday and will continue today.

Judge Overseeing Phone-Hacking Inquiry Appeals for Aid of News of the World Journalists

Jul 29, 2011

The British judge overseeing the inquiry into phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is appealing for the aid of journalists at the Murdoch-owned News of the World. Lord Justice Brian Leveson said he needs the help of former Murdoch staffers to carry out his probe.

Lord Justice Brian Leveson: “It may be tempting for a number of people to close ranks and suggest the problem is or was local to a small group of journalists then operating the News of the World. But I would encourage all to take a wider picture of the public good and help me grapple with the length, width and depth of the problem as it exists.”

Blackwater Relocates Headquarters to D.C.

Jul 29, 2011

The private military firm Blackwater has announced it is relocating to the Washington, D.C. area. The company, which now goes by the title Xe Services, will maintain operations elsewhere, including at its sprawling training facility in Moyock, North Carolina.

DSK Accuser Speaks Out, Vows Perseverance

Jul 29, 2011

The New York City hotel maid who has accused former International Monetary Fund chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, of attempting to rape her continues to speak out about her case. Addressing a news conference on Thursday, Nafissatou Diallo, an immigrant from the African nation of Guinea, said the case has taken a huge personal toll, but she is determined to bring it to light.

Nafissatou Diallo: “Today I promise I’m going to be strong for you and for every other woman in the world. What happened to me, I don’t want that to happen to any other woman, because this is just too much for me. It’s too much for me and my daughter. And I’m here to thank everybody … people support me. I want to thank everybody. I thank everybody. I’ve been crying, asking God, 'Why me? Why me?' I just want to thank everybody.”

11 Arrested Protesting Budget Cuts

Jul 29, 2011

Eleven people, including members of the clergy, were arrested on Capitol Hill Thursday protesting the Republican budget plan to slash spending in return for raising the federal debt ceiling. The protesters occupied the center of the Capitol Rotunda, praying and singing for 30 minutes until they were arrested one by one. The rally was organized by the president of Common Cause, the Rev. Bob Edgar.

Labor Rights Activist Richard Chávez Dies at 81

Jul 29, 2011

The labor rights activist Richard Chávez has died at the age of 81. Chávez helped his brother, César Chávez, build the United Farm Workers into a major force in the struggle for labor and civil rights. Richard Chávez was the longtime partner of United Farm Workers co-founder, Dolores Huerta, with whom he had four children.

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