Navy approves retirement of former astronaut Lisa Nowak
July 28th, 2011
10:52 PM ET

Navy approves retirement of former astronaut Lisa Nowak

The Navy has approved the retirement of former Astronaut Lisa Nowak with a characterization of service as "other than honorable," a spokesman said Thursday.

Nowak pleaded guilty to felony burglary and misdemeanor battery in 2009 stemming from an attack on a romantic rival in a Florida airport parking lot. The plea deal spared her jail time.

The Navy reviewed records of Nowak's plea deal, her personal background and statements from victim Colleen Shipman, Nowak's retirement was approved, the Navy Office of Information said in a statement.

"Captain Nowak's conduct fell well short of that expected of senior officers in our Navy and demonstrated a complete disregard for the well-being of a fellow service member," Assistant Secretary of Navy Manpower and Reserve Affairs Juan Garcia said.

Ex-astronaut in love triangle case avoids prison with plea deal
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The debt ceiling battle: Where things stand
July 28th, 2011
10:32 PM ET

The debt ceiling battle: Where things stand

The federal government has five days left to raise the nation's current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, the Treasury Department said. A failure to do so will risk an unprecedented national default.

If the debt ceiling is not raised by August 2, Americans could face rising interest rates and a declining dollar, among other problems.

As the cost of borrowing rises, individual mortgages, car loans and student loans could become significantly more expensive. Some financial experts have warned of a downgrade of America's triple-A credit rating and a potential stock market crash.

Without an increase in the debt limit, the federal government will not be able to pay all of its bills next month. President Barack Obama recently indicated he can't guarantee Social Security checks will be mailed out on time. Other critical government programs could be endangered as well.

Where do things stand in the fight to raise the debt ceiling?

House

There will be no vote Thursday night by the U.S. House on Speaker John Boehner's latest proposal to increase the debt ceiling and cut government spending, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy said.

Earlier Thursday, House Republicans delayed a vote scheduled for 6 p.m. on Speaker John Boehner's latest debt ceiling proposal, saying it could take place later in the evening, the chamber's second-ranking Democrat said. The move indicated possible difficulty in lining up sufficient Republican support to pass the measure.

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Manifesto evokes blurry line between myth and reality of Knights Templar
Anders Breivik's purported manifesto says he is a member of a new order of the Knights Templar.
July 28th, 2011
09:49 PM ET

Manifesto evokes blurry line between myth and reality of Knights Templar

“Perfect Knight I have always strived to be.”

Anders Breivik supposedly wrote those words in his diary last winter. Breivik admitted killing 76 people in a bombing and shooting rampage in Norway last week, his lawyer said.

CNN could not independently verify that the diary, titled "2083: A European Declaration of Independence," was written by Breivik, 32.

According to the diary, he's a warrior on a quest to save Europe from Muslim colonization. Breivik wants the world to know he is a member of a new order of the Knights Templar, the medieval order that protected Christian pilgrims from Muslims in the Christian holy land between the 12th and 14th centuries.

Breivik wrote that the new order is devoted to fighting against the influx of Muslims and non-Europeans to the West.

The cover of the manifesto and the medals he forged for his fake military uniform have the sign of the Templars, a blood red cross on a white background.

Scotland Yard and experts on right-wing extremism don’t rule out there might be such a modern-day group named for the Knights Templar. But they have no evidence of it, other than what Breivik has said.

Click to hear story from CNN Radio's Libby Lewis:

Historian Paul Crawford has devoted his career to understanding the real Knights Templar. He doesn’t make the real Knights Templar out to be gods or heroes.

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July 28th, 2011
08:12 PM ET

Woods returning to competition next week

Tiger Woods will return to competition next week in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, he announced Thursday on his website.

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Overheard on CNN.com: Should President Obama sidestep Congress?
July 28th, 2011
05:34 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Should President Obama sidestep Congress?

Comment of the day:

"I don't know if I'm relieved or concerned about some of the revelations in this article. While they all seem a bit shady, I suppose it's good to know that there are still some executive options on the table to keep us from going over the brink that Congress has brought us to."–svscnn

3 ways Obama could bypass Congress

"We are having a debt-ceiling crisis because Congress has given the president contradictory commands," writes Constitutional Law professor Jack Balkin, "Congress has ordered the president to spend money, and it has forbidden him to borrow enough money to obey its orders." But President Obama may be able to save the United States from defaulting, he writes, perhaps by issuing $1 trillion coins or selling the Federal Reserve an option on $2 trillion in property.

katahdin62 said, "President Obama should do whatever he has to do to protect the country. Clearly most of the rational Republicans are gone, and the few who remain are too scared of the nuts to act in the best interests of the country. Since he's stuck dealing with screaming children who can't be reasoned with, the president should simply act on his own."

jschartz said, "Avoid the gimmicks of the first two options. Option three is viable since the Constitution may well grant the president that power based upon interpretation. If it comes down to the wire, I think President Obama should do this. Let Congress impeach him and question the constitutionality of this move. Maybe then America will wake up to the reality of our representation: Many House members place politics above America's well-being by refusing real compromise."

But mslman71 said, "No matter how frustrating dealing with Congress might be that is no reason to bypass it. What country is this? Hail the emperor, is that what you want? What happens when the pendulum swings back the other way and a Republican is in office?" MetsFan17 replied, "Where were you when Emperor W was running the country into the ground? Probably never saw a single thing wrong there."

jandrews10 said, "Defaulting on our debt would cause a collapse of the bond market, as I understand it. Interest rates would rise, causing a slowdown in the housing market because people wouldn't be able to afford to buy homes with higher rates. Credit card rates would rise. It would give the impression that our safest investment (bonds) are no longer a safe investment. It wouldn't be a good thing."

MsMaryE said, "I predict that on 3 August, President Obama will give a press conference on who and what will get paid. He will not use the 14th Amendment. He will let the tea party and Boehner hang themselves."

takingsides said, "Man, if the U.S. defaults I am going into business digging moats and building drawbridges."

Reaction to pastor giving thanks for 'smokin' hot wife'

A Baptist preacher who gave the invocation at a NASCAR race tickled some and offended others last weekend by thanking God for his wife and corporations for their cars, and then signing off, "Boogity, boogity, boogity, amen." Many CNN.com readers applauded the pastor, Joe Nelms, for his good humor and appreciation of his wife.

Karen said, "I think he's a sweetie-pie husband for saying that in the prayer! I think God loves it when we're crazy-in-love with our spouses!" shelly said, "I think it was wonderful! I've been married for 23 years and this was the first time my husband really heard a prayer!:))"

Ashlyn said, "I think it was sweet. This woman is married with kids, and if she had any supermodel days, they are long behind her. If her husband wants to proclaim her 'smokin' hot' for everyone (including God) to hear, good for her. We should all hope our spouses still find us hot after years of marriage and multiple kids. The product placement seemed a bit over the top, though."

Jesus Loves Nascar! said, " 'And yea, verily, thou shalt roar around a circle again and again in thy holy attempt to become rich and famous in a Jesus-loving way as thousands of beer-smeared yokels who haveth not much upstairs hoot and yowl and thinketh this is something amazing as they give lots of their cash to rich people and hope to see a gnarly crash, for Jesus loveth a few good smash-ups.' The Gospel of Rubes, 12:34-45"

But others were not amused. SAM said, "To pray in Jesus' name, the highest name, above all others and to make a mockery of it is a disgrace! God does not want us to act as if we are dipped in pickle juice and while you can ask anything in that name, this pastor went too far and should be ashamed."

peter lawrence replied, "Dear Sam, if Jesus was to hear that prayer he would be laughing as well. You, on the other hand, have no sense of humor and probably no life. Go get a life and have some fun and stop being an ass!" CN0 said, "Jesus loved a party." Don said, "God doesn't mind, he has a good sense of humor. How else would you explain the platypus?"

jacksonsaid, "It was a lighthearted remark made at a race. It ain't the pope speaking to the throngs in the Vatican Square." Jesus Loves Nascar! replied, "Actually, that was the Southern Baptist equivalent of the pope speaking to the throngs at the Vatican!"

Britain bans airbrushed Julia Roberts makeup ad

Airbrushed makeup ads of actor Julia Roberts and supermodel Christy Turlington are misleading, Britain's Advertising Standards Agency ruled. The watchdog agency banned L'Oreal's photos of the two, saying they exaggerated the ability of the products they were promoting to cover lines, wrinkles and blemishes. L'Oreal called the Roberts image "aspirational."

Kudos to the British, said many CNN.com readers. seter16 said, "Europe is so much further ahead of us in so many ways. In America we value that we can lie to our citizens to get them to buy a product." Neutral79 said, "Must be nice living in a country where the regulators actually do their jobs on behalf of the public." guru2u2 said, "They insist on truth in advertising? How odd and clearly un-American."

SomeDudeinNCsaid, "If you see how much work goes into Photoshopping an advertisement of even a beautiful woman, you would be shocked. They are so aggressive in removing every little blemish that people have a totally unrealistic view of who those people even are." pmichner said, "Just say at the very end of the commercial 'This has been an advertisement for Mega Airbrushing Company.' "

Claghorn said, "The thing I like best about makeup is the persistent use of the phrase 'natural.' Constantly telling you that coating yourself in several layers of chemical compounds is the way to achieve the 'natural' look." CG77 said, "If the makeup could achieve those effects, why didn't they?"

1MyOpinion said, "Look how good my product is (after I fix it)."

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

July 28th, 2011
05:10 PM ET

Libyan rebel commander assassinated, rebels say

Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis, the commander of Libyan rebel forces fighting to oust longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi, was assassinated in Benghazi on Thursday, rebel leaders said.

Younis, a former commander of Libyan forces, defected to the Benghazi-based rebel movement after it arose in February. Two other senior officers were killed with him, the National Transitional Council announced.

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Report: Ex-Major League pitcher Irabu found dead
July 28th, 2011
04:27 PM ET

Report: Ex-Major League pitcher Irabu found dead

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead yesterday at his Los Angeles home, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported.

The newspaper's website quotes police investigators as saying the 42-year-old's death appears to be a suicide.

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U.S. men's soccer coach Bradley fired
Bradley, who was hired in January 2007, had a 43-25-12 at the helm.
July 28th, 2011
03:06 PM ET

U.S. men's soccer coach Bradley fired

[Updated at 5:21 p.m. ET] U.S. Soccer said Thursday it has fired men's national team coach Bob Bradley, who was less than a year into a four-year contract extension he signed last August after leading the Americans to the World Cup's second round.

A U.S. Soccer spokesman, Neil Buethe, said the organization is "not getting into specifics at this point" as to why Bradley was let go. The move comes a month after the team lost the final of CONCACAF's regional championship the Gold Cup to Mexico in Pasadena, California.

"We want to thank Bob Bradley for his service and dedication to U.S. Soccer during the past five years," U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a statement released Thursday. "During his time as the head coach of our men's national team he led the team to a number of accomplishments, but we felt now was the right time for us to make a change.

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In Katrina shooting death of unarmed man, cop testifies he felt life in danger
The Danziger Bridge in New Orleans was the scene of a shooting just after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
July 28th, 2011
01:04 PM ET

In Katrina shooting death of unarmed man, cop testifies he felt life in danger

A New Orleans police officer involved in the shooting death of an unarmed, mentally disabled man after Hurricane Katrina said in court Wednesday that he saw civilians with guns on the Danziger Bridge and believed his life was in jeopardy. He is among five current or former officers facing trial in the incident.

In addition to the death of 40-year-old Ronald Madison, teenager James Brisette was also killed during the shooting. Four other civilians were wounded in the incident on September 4, 2005, nearly a week after the hurricane, when much of the city was underwater and in chaos.

The shooting happened after a dozen officers took a rental car to the bridge after receiving a radio call that police had been fired on and shooters were heading toward the Danziger Bridge, reports say.

"I knew we were going into a bad situation. I just expected to be shot at," Robert Faulcon said, according to Reuters.

He described how he felt once on the scene.

"I became paralyzed with fear, really, that we were going to be shot at," he said, according to Reuters.

Faulcon admitted, under cross examination, that he fired at civilians between him and two men he testified were armed, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

Faulcon and the other officers are charged with civil rights violations related to the shooting and an alleged coverup, according to Reuters.

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Officials: Jihadi literature found in arrested soldier's backpack
Pfc. Naser Abdo is seen here in a screengrab from a 2010 interview CNN conducted with him.
July 28th, 2011
12:58 PM ET

Officials: Jihadi literature found in arrested soldier's backpack

[Updated at 1:34 p.m.] Jihadi literature was found in a backpack belonging to Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, who said he wanted to attack soldiers at Fort Hood, two law enforcement officials said.

[Updated at 12:58 p.m.] A soldier arrested near Fort Hood, Texas told investigators that he wanted to attack Army soldiers outside Fort Hood, a law-enforcement official said.

[Updated at 12:06 p.m.] Read a full story on the incident at Fort Hood here.

[Updated at 11:16 a.m.] The soldier suspected of having bomb-making materials near Fort Hood, Texas, is expected to face federal charges, possibly as early as Thursday afternoon, a federal law-enforcement official said.

[Updated at 11:13 a.m.] A statement on the Fort Hood website acknowledged Pfc. Naser Abdo's arrest but said it had no connection to the base.

"We are aware at this time that Killeen Police Department arrested a soldier yesterday. The incident leading to the arrest did not occur on Fort Hood and the soldier was not a Fort Hood based soldier," the statement said.

Abdo was assigned to Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

Abdo refused to deploy to Afghanistan on grounds of his religion and had put in the paperwork to be discharged as a conscientious objector. The Army approved his request, but he was then charged with child pornography and went AWOL, the official said.

"We have two things that I believe make us American, and that's freedom of religion and freedom of choice," he said in an interview last year.

He said he had to remain true to Islam.

"I've come to the conclusion that the consequences I would face by refusing deployment are a lot less than the consequences I would face should I go. I don't think I would be able to live with myself if I deployed," he said.

Abdo had put in the paperwork to be discharged as a conscientious objector at Fort Campbell. The Army approved his request, but he was then charged with child pornography and went AWOL, the official said.

CNN spoke with Abdo in 2010 when he was trying to be discharged as a conscientious objector.

Watch what he had to say about the issue:

[Updated at 11:00 a.m.] Texas police arrested a U.S. soldier who went AWOL this month after being charged with possessing child pornography, a Defense Department official told CNN Thursday.

Pfc. Naser Abdo was assigned to Fort Campbell in Kentucky but was arrested in Killeen, Texas, near Fort Hood, the military base where a 2009 shooting spree left 13 people dead and 32 others wounded.

Killeen police received a call from a gun shop owner about a suspicious man in the store who was asking questions about 40-caliber ammunition and then bought three boxes of 12-gauge ammunition and a magazine for a pistol, the defense official said. He paid cash and left in a cab. He then went to a surplus store and allegedly bought a military uniform.

FBI agents searching the soldier's hotel room found gunpowder, shotgun shells, a pressure cooker, 18 pounds of sugar, four magazines and ammunition, the defense official said. The FBI is investigating the case.

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July 28th, 2011
12:42 PM ET

SI.com: UNC trustees send football coach Butch Davis out the door

In a surprising move, North Carolina's Board of Trustees sent head coach Butch Davis packing Wednesday. The decision comes in the wake of a laundry list of allegations against the school's football program and the looming threat of NCAA sanctions.

Chancellor Holden Thorp made the announcement, citing a desire to "restore confidence in the University of North Carolina and our football program" as a factor in the decision to fire Davis. And while removing Davis was expected and may have been necessary, SI.com's Andy Staples explains that UNC's timing probably couldn't have been worse.

"If North Carolina's Board of Trustees fired Davis on Wednesday for the sole purpose of protecting the reputations of the program and of the university, the trustees fired Davis about seven months too late," Staples writes. "If they wanted to protect only the health of the program, the trustees fired Davis about four months too early."

With Davis being fired just days before preseason practice begins, UNC's options are extremely limited in terms of finding a replacement. Thorp as well as athletic director Dick Baddour plan to meet with reporters Thursday to shed some light on their decision - and its timing.

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Gotta Watch: Fake advertising, or smart marketing?
On the left, Julia Roberts in a Lancome advertisement. On the right, a Getty image of Julia Roberts on the red carpet.
July 28th, 2011
12:08 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Fake advertising, or smart marketing?

Let’s be honest, you don’t look at a beauty advertisement in a magazine and really believe that the perfectly creamy skin or those cellulite-free thighs on the model is natural, do you? We all know there is a level of retouching that’s going on there. But does the promise of a perfect complexion like that model in the ad make you want to buy that product anyway? Maybe. While it’s become understood that photos are retouched before they hit the inside of a magazine, newspaper or airwaves, the United Kingdom is saying no more! A U.K. politician challenged two L'Oreal ads featuring Julia Roberts for Lancôme and Christy Turlington for Maybelline because of the use of digital manipulation.

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July 28th, 2011
11:29 AM ET

Libyan rebels claim successes in offensive near Tunisia

Rebels in western Libya are claiming big successes after a major offensive was launched early Thursday.

Rebel commanders say their forces have captured five towns and surrounded a sixth in the plains below the Nafusa mountain range.

Hundreds of rebels moved from their mountain positions at dawn, heavier weapons leading the way with lighter armed fighters following, initially encountering fierce resistance from the loyalists of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Col. Jumma Ibrahim, spokesman for the Military Council for the western mountain region, said several major battles had taken place before the towns were secured.

July 28th, 2011
10:39 AM ET

Latex Casey Anthony mask fetches almost $1 million on eBay

A big spender on eBay shelled out almost $1 million to get inside Casey Anthony's head.

A Los Angeles eBay user called "prophunter" wound up with six rubber renderings of Anthony's face that had been used in a parody video and put one of them up for auction on eBay. That first mask  garnered a winning bid of $999,900 Wednesday. It beat out 104 other bids that started at $25 on  Monday.

In the description field for the item, the seller billed it as "possibly the most frightening mask on the planet."

The mask's expression is, well, expressionless, capturing the image that became a national obsession over the course of Anthony's almost six-week trial for the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. Anthony was acquitted on July 5, drawing the vocal ire of crowds outside the courthouse, social media users and television personalities nationwide.

On HLN's Showbiz News Tonight on Wednesday, Popeater.com columnist Rob Shuter pronounced then-active bidding "tasteless, but it is capitalism."

For comparison's sake, the most expensive set of Charlton Heston's stone tablets from "The Ten Commandments" fetched $87,000 at Christie's in 1995, which would be a little more than $120,000 today.

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Filed under: Casey Anthony • Courts • Crime • Justice
July 28th, 2011
09:54 AM ET

Farm worker advocate Richard Chavez dies in California at 81

Richard Chavez, who dedicated more than three decades to the the farm worker movement, died Wednesday of complications from surgery in Bakersfield, California, the United Farm Workers union announced. He was 81.

The younger brother of UFW founder Cesar Chavez, Richard Chavez was the one who designed the black Aztec eagle that became the famous symbol for the organization.

The Chavez brothers grew up during the Depression outside of Yuma, Arizona, and when the family lost their farm, they became migrant farm workers in California fields, according to the UFW.

By the early 1960s, Richard Chavez began helping his brother create the foundation for the union, and by 1966 was working full-time for the movement, the UFW said on its website Wednesday.

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July 28th, 2011
09:05 AM ET

Militants attack governor's office in southern Afghanistan

The governor of Afghanistan's Uruzgan province is holed up inside his compound and is being protected by bodyguards Thursday as a gun battle rages in and around the building, according to Abdul Rahman, the governor's spokesman.

Gunfire and explosions could be heard over the phone as Rahman spoke with CNN. Militants wielding guns and strapped with explosive devices attacked the governor's office, a television station and a police base in the provincial capital of Tarin Kowt, officials said.

The strike has left at least 19 people dead and 37 others wounded, including three police officers, according to Khan Aga Miakhail, head of Uruzgan's regional department of health. Ten children were among the dead, Miakhail said.

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July 28th, 2011
08:56 AM ET

More questions for Norway terror suspect

Police are preparing to interview Anders Behring Breivik, the suspect in last week's terror attacks, for a second time Friday, Oslo police chief Johan Fredriksen said Thursday.

Breivik, who is being kept in solitary confinement at Ila Prison, near Oslo, was last interviewed Saturday, a day after a bomb blast outside government buildings in the Norwegian capital and a mass shooting on the island of Utoya claimed at least 77 lives.

Police attorney Pal-Frederick Hjort Kraby said police had since gained a considerable amount of new information and were ready to question Breivik again at police headquarters. He is likely to face more interrogations in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the search for more victims of Friday's shooting rampage on Utoya island has ended, Police Chief Johan Fredriksen said Thursday.

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July 28th, 2011
08:35 AM ET

Unemployment claims fall bellow 400,000 for first time in 3 months

Finally, some better news about the job market: the number of first-time filers for unemployment benefits fell below 400,000 for the first time since early April.

There were 398,000 initial unemployment claims filed in the week ended July 23, the Labor Department said Thursday. That marks the first time since April 2, that the weekly initial claims number has fallen below 400,000, a level typically associated with payroll growth and a lower unemployment rate.

It also beats the 415,000 claims economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected, and was 24,000 lower than the previous week.

 

FULL CNNMONEY.COM STORY
July 28th, 2011
08:18 AM ET

Libyan rebels kick off offensive near Tunisia

Rebel fighters in Libya on Thursday launched an offensive in the western mountains near the Tunisian border, a rebel spokesman said.

Hundreds of fighters kicked off the push on the town of Ghazzaia, west of the Libyan city of Nalut, according to Col. Jumma Ibrahim. He said they are also targeting the town of Al-Josh.

The fighters shot rockets and mortars as they moved toward Ghazzaia from east of the town, Ibrahim said.

Rebel fighters last month suffered heavy casualties in a failed attempt to wrest control of Ghazzaia from forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Last week, rebel fighters manning hilltops in the western mountains overlooking Ghazzaia told CNN that they had been watching the government forces reinforcing their weapon stocks with heavy military machinery and rocket launchers.

Rebels have been battling government troops in a fight to oust Gadhafi, who has ruled the North African nation for nearly 42 years.

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On the Radar: Trebek on the chase, deluge in South Korea, Don in the Gulf, debt vote
Game show host and burglary suspect chaser Alex Trebek appears at the Daytime Emmys last month.
July 28th, 2011
08:03 AM ET

On the Radar: Trebek on the chase, deluge in South Korea, Don in the Gulf, debt vote

Key debt vote The House of Representatives is set to hold a critical vote Thursday on Speaker John Boehner's debt plan. The vote comes a day after Boehner told fellow Republicans to "get your ass in line," according to two GOP sources. The vote will be a major test for the GOP leadership.

However, a letter from Senate Democrats said the Republican plan has no chance of passing the Senate. For their part, top Republicans called the Democratic plan a nonstarter.  If Congress fails to raise the current $14.3 trillion debt limit by August 2, Americans could face rising interest rates and a declining dollar, among other problems.

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Filed under: John Boehner • On the Radar • South Korea • Texas
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