Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 |
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As debt limit threat looms, Wall Street and Washington have only rough plans
With just days to go before the United States bumps up against a technical limit on how much debt it can issue — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress the United States would hit its borrowing cap Thursday — Wall Street analysts and political prognosticators are warning that a perennial source of partisan brinkmanship could finally tip into outright catastrophe in 2023. Big investors and bank economists are using financial models to predict when the United States will run out of cash and assessing what it could mean if the government is unable to pay some of its bondholders and the country defaults on its debt.
Republicans keep Santos in fold, giving him committee assignments
Even as calls grew for investigations into Rep. George Santos and for his resignation, House Republican leadership on Tuesday gave the first-term congressman from New York seats on the Small Business and the Science, Space and Technology committees, according to a person briefed on the assignments. The committee placements are the clearest indication yet of the restrained approach with which Republican leaders are treating Santos amid a growing controversy over falsehoods on the campaign trail and questions about his fundraising and spending reported by The New York Times. Neither of Santos’ two committees are seen as a plum seat for lawmakers hoping to boost their profile.
US, Ukraine top military chiefs meet in person for 1st time
The top U.S. military officer has traveled to a site near the Ukraine-Poland border and talked with his Ukrainian counterpart face to face for the first time. The meeting underscores the growing ties between the two militaries and comes at a critical time as Russia’s war with Ukraine nears the one-year mark. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley, met for a couple of hours Tuesday with Ukraine’s chief military officer, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, at an undisclosed location in southeastern Poland. The leaders have talked frequently about the war and Ukraine’s military needs over the past year but had never met.
US won’t seek death penalty for alleged Texas Walmart gunman
Federal prosecutors will not seek the death penalty for a man accused of fatally shooting nearly two dozen people in a racist attack at a West Texas Walmart in 2019. The U.S. Department of Justice disclosed the decision not to pursue capital punishment against Patrick Crusius in a one-sentence notice filed with the federal court in El Paso on Tuesday. Crusius is accused of targeting Mexicans during the mass shooting that left dozens wounded and killed 23 people. The 24-year-old is charged with federal hate crimes and firearms violations and has pleaded not guilty. Crusius could still face the death penalty if convicted on a state capital murder charge.
Greta Thunberg carried away by police at German mine protest
German news agency dpa is reporting that Swedish climate activist Great Thunberg and several other protesters have been carried away by German police from the edge of an open coal pit mine. They were demonstrating against the ongoing destruction of a village to make way for the mine’s expansion. Hundreds of others resumed the anti-mine protests elsewhere a day after the last two activists holed up in a tunnel beneath the village of Luetzerath left the site. Dozens glued themselves to a main street in the city of Cologne and to a state government building in Duesseldorf on Tuesday. A group of about 120 activists occupied the coal car tracks to a power plant.
Iranian American prisoner in Tehran starts hunger strike
The longest-held American prisoner in Iran began what he said would be a weeklong hunger strike on Monday to demand his immediate release, appealing directly to President Joe Biden to negotiate freedom for him and other prisoners with dual citizenship. Siamak Namazi, an Iranian American businessperson, made his appeal in a letter written from Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, where he has been held for more than seven years. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday that the White House had received Namazi’s letter and that the government was “continuing to work to bring him home.”
Philippine journalist and Nobel Laureate is acquitted of tax evasion
Nobel laureate Maria Ressa was acquitted of tax evasion Wednesday, a rare legal victory after numerous setbacks in her fight to keep publishing her news site Rappler, whose run-ins with Philippine authorities have become emblematic of the country’s declining press freedoms. The case was the first high-profile test of whether the legal troubles facing Ressa and Rappler would continue under the Philippines’ new president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who has benefited from disinformation and tried to downplay his father’s brutal dictatorship. Advocates had urged Marcos to demonstrate his stated commitment to a free press by intervening in Ressa’s favor.
North Dakota weighs ban of ‘sexually explicit’ library books
Amid a national wave of attempted book banning on LGBTQ subject matter, a North Dakota House panel heard arguments on a bill that would prohibit “sexually explicit” content – including depictions of sexual or gender identity – from public libraries, and would criminalize librarians who continue to display it. Supporters of the bill said the measure would preserve children’s innocence and reduce their exposure to pornography. Opponents said the bill would allow government censorship of material that is not actually obscene. The committee did not immediately vote on the bill, which will enter the House floor for another vote later.
By wire sources
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