July 25th, 2011
11:49 PM ET

Gergen: Obama, Boehner too partisan this late in debt talks

Televised speeches by President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner on the U.S. debt crisis Monday were too partisan with just eight days before a deadline to raise the nation's debt ceiling, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen said Monday night.

"Had these speeches been given three or four weeks ago, I think they would have been welcomed as part of the political discourse - you know, let's have some fisticuffs, each side presses its point of view, appeals to the American people," Gergen said. "But to be given on the eve of a possible default, both individuals gave partisan speeches ... and I think each was intending to rally his own base."

"I think probably each fellow came out better with his base, but I think the country is so tired of the political posturing, and people really want leadership that finds answers and gets us off the edge of a cliff," he added.

The Treasury Department says the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling must be raised by August 2. If it is not, the department says, the federal government won't be able to pay all its bills next month, and Americans could face rising interest rates and a declining dollar, among other problems.

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Filed under: Budget • Politics
Overheard on CNN.com: Should Breivik be called a Christian fundamentalist?
Oslo shooting suspect Anders Breivik seen leaving court
July 25th, 2011
04:58 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Should Breivik be called a Christian fundamentalist?

Comments of the Day:

"The guy said in his own manifesto that he wasn't a religious Christian, that his affiliation to Christianity was political. So why should we claim the guy?" -bamagrad03

"I find it interesting that when the terrorists are Muslims, people jump all over their faith, yet when they're Christian, they say that their religion had nothing to do with their act of terrorism. Double standard much?"–WillH85

Who is the suspect in the Norway attacks?

Norway terror suspect claims to have worked with 2 other cells

Purported manifesto, video from Norway terror suspect detail war plan

Anders Behring Breivik, a white Norwegian member of the conservative Progress Party, has been charged with the worst violence in Norway in decades. The suspect told investigators he belonged to The Knights Templar, which he described as an armed Christian order, fighting to rid the West of Islamic suppression. A manifesto bearing his name rants against Muslims and their growing presence in Europe.

Descriptions of him as a Christian fundamentalist had CNN.com readers arguing over whether those terms are accurate and relevant.

Yoduh99 said, "His manifesto is not specifically against Muslims but against multiculturalism and the 'Islamization' of Europe, which he believes the ruling Labor Party has allowed; therefore he went after them and their children. He's also agnostic, not a Christian extremist, though he believes in preserving the European Christian-based culture."

Treadmill replied, "I am afraid you are mistaken; read what he said on June 11: 'I prayed for the first time in a very long time today. I explained to God that unless he wanted the Marxist-Islamic alliance and the certain Islamic takeover of Europe to completely annihilate European Christendom within the next hundred years he must ensure that the warriors fighting for the preservation of European Christendom prevail.' ”

SSearthquake said, "Stop calling him 'right-wing Christian fundamentalist.' He crossed the line and he is nothing but a terrorist and whatever his views are, he cannot be defended." indigoth replied, "I disagree. He claims he was a Christian and there's no reason to think otherwise. Sure, he committed a very un-Christian act, but that doesn't change his religion. He is a 'right-wing Christian fundamentalist,' but he is also a terrorist."

faisalsh said, "Christian leaders often blame Muslim clerics of sympathising with the cause of the terrorists. I think that these events are very sad, however, it drives home the point that no terrorist belongs to any religion." IxNay said, "He is a Christian, but not one you would call a good Christian; remember that when you hear that someone is not following the tenets of Islam and you feel the need to berate the whole religion."

Suburbanite1 said, "Real Christians don't kill kids in the name of Christianity." BMILL said, "An awful lot of people who considered themselves to be Christians have killed a remarkably large number of people over the centuries. In America, you have to look no further than what happened to the Native Americans for evidence." FULL POST

July 25th, 2011
04:40 PM ET

Obama to speak about debt negotiations tonight

U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver remarks on the debt ceiling negotiations at 9 p.m. ET Monday night, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

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Filed under: Budget • Politics
July 25th, 2011
02:21 PM ET

Spokesman: Militants attack airport in Jalalabad, Afghanistan

A group of militants on Monday attacked Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan, lobbing grenades at the airport's main gate, according to Ahmad Zai Abdulzai, Nangarhar provincial spokesman.

The attack prompted airport security guards to open fire, and a search is currently underway for the attackers, he said.

There are no reports of casualties.

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Filed under: Afghanistan
July 25th, 2011
02:01 PM ET

NFL players' reps unanimously ratify labor agreement

[Updated at 2:01 p.m.] Members of the NFL Players Association have unanimously ratified their collective bargaining agreement, an association executive confirmed Monday.

[Posted at 8:59 a.m.] The NFL Players Association and the league have reached an agreement on a new labor deal, NFL.com reported Monday.

The deal is not set in stone: the 32 player representatives and all NFL players must approve the new deal. But NFL.com reports "at this point it appears a formality."

Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) reported the representatives will have a conference call at 11 a.m. ET.

Negotiators reached the agreement in the very early hours of Monday morning, the report said. If accepted, the deal would end the lockout that started in March.

Since the lockout, the two sides have faced off in courts and around conference tables. The major issues have revolved around how to divide the billions of dollars of revenue reaped via the league each year, rules of free agency, a possible rookie wage scale, retirement benefits and a host of other matters.

At the heart of the issue between the players and the owners was how to divide the league's $9 billion in revenue.

Under the old agreement, NFL owners took $1 billion off the top of that revenue stream. After that, the players got about 60%. The owners said the old labor deal didn't take into account the rising costs related to building stadiums and promoting the game. The players argued that the league has not sufficiently opened up its books to prove this.

SI.com: With end of NFL lockout at hand, it's time to focus on football again

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Filed under: Sports
Before the Aston Martin, there was Kate Middleton's VW Golf
Before her wedding day ride in this vintage Aston Martin, Kate Middleton's ride was a VW Golf.
July 25th, 2011
01:44 PM ET

Before the Aston Martin, there was Kate Middleton's VW Golf

If a commemorative tea set just won't cut it, collectors of royal memorabilia may still have a shot at snagging Kate Middleton's beat-up old Volkswagen Golf.

According to the eBay listing for the car, the bidding for Princess Catherine's pre-royal chariot, which she bought in 2001, got up to £48,100, which comes out to a little more than $78,000.

The bidding ended before getting up to the seller's minimum asking price, which is not disclosed on the page.

According to the seller's description, the car comes with documentation showing that it was passed from Middleton to her brother before the family sold it as part of an exchange with car dealer Al Brazil, the seller's father.

On Yahoo Autos, 2001 Golfs are going for between $5,000 and $8,000.

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Filed under: Auctions • Kate Middleton
Toddler rescued from China train crash may lose leg
Two-year-old Xiang Weiyi lies in a hospital bed after the deadly weekend train collision near Wenzhou, China.
July 25th, 2011
11:47 AM ET

Toddler rescued from China train crash may lose leg

A toddler rescued nearly a day after a deadly high-speed train crash in eastern China's Zhejiang province may lose her leg, according to the English version of  Xinhuanet, the online news service of state-run news agency Xinhua.

Xiang Weiyi, 2, is being monitored closely in intensive care at a medical facility connected with Wenzhou Medical College, ICU director Pan Guoquan told the news agency.

The child lost a lot of blood in two toes of her left foot, and doctors are waiting to see if her blood circulation in her leg returns, according to Xinhuanet. Otherwise, the leg could be amputated, he told the agency.

The news comes as nationwide outrage continued Monday in China over the government's response to the deadly bullet train collision.

The Saturday train collision, which killed at least 38 people, happened near Wenzhou. The girl was reportedly the last to be rescued from the mangled train cars.

Chinese netizens outraged over response to fatal bullet train crash

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Filed under: China
Fun in the sun (and slime)
July 25th, 2011
10:44 AM ET

Thick, green algae covers 200 square miles of Yellow Sea

Almost 200 square miles (500 square kilometers) of the Yellow Sea off China are covered by a massive bloom of green algae, according to a report from China's Xinhua news service.

The bloom has spread to almost 7,400 square miles (19,050 square kilometers) in total and is expected to grow, Xinhua reported, citing the North China Sea Marine Forecasting Center of State Oceanic Administration.

The algae bloom threatens marine life as it sucks oxygen from the water although the algae itself is not poisonous, according to the Xinhua report.

Researchers don't know what causes the massive algae blooms, first seen in the Yellow Sea in 2007.

Tons of the green algae had to be removed in 2008 to make way for sailing events at the Summer Olympics.

"We don't know where it originated and why it's suddenly growing so rapidly," Bao Xianwen from the Qingdao-based Ocean University of China, told the China Daily earlier this month. "It must have something to do with the change in the environment, but we are not scientifically sure of the reasons."

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Filed under: China
Norway terror suspect claims to have worked with 2 other cells
Officials are trying to calculate an accurate death toll from attacks in Norway.
July 25th, 2011
10:42 AM ET

Norway terror suspect claims to have worked with 2 other cells

The suspect in the worst attack in Norway since World War II has acknowledged carrying out the attacks and claims to have worked with two other cells, a judge said Monday.

He defended the attacks as necessary to combat the "colonization" of Norway by Muslims, Judge Kim Heger said.

The suspect said he worked with two cells to carry out the attacks, Heger said. Other court officials said they could not confirm the existence of the cells and referred questions to the police.

Heger ordered the suspect to remain in custody for at least eight weeks, until his next scheduled court appearance, as authorities continue to investigate a bombing in Oslo and an attack at a nearby island that together killed dozens of people.

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Filed under: Crime • Norway
July 25th, 2011
10:34 AM ET

Boehner, Reid to unveil new debt plans

Democratic and Republican congressional leaders are set to unveil new deficit reduction plans Monday as top officials scramble to bridge a cavernous partisan divide and raise the federal government's debt ceiling before an unprecedented - and potentially devastating - national default.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is expected to outline a blueprint calling for roughly $2.7 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade while raising the debt limit by $2.4 trillion - an amount sufficient to fund the government through the 2012 election. Reid's plan would not require any new tax hikes or reforms to politically popular entitlement programs.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is expected to outline a two-stage plan. The first stage calls for approximately $1 trillion in spending cuts while raising the debt ceiling through the end of 2011, according to sources. The second stage would raise the debt limit through 2012, but tie the increase to major tax reforms and entitlement changes outlined by a special commission.

Democrats are vehemently opposed to the idea of holding more than one vote to the raise the debt limit through the 2012 election, arguing that such a requirement is politically unrealistic and could prove to be economically destabilizing. Republicans want to lock in long-term tax and spending changes, and argue that President Barack Obama is trying to avoid politically tough decisions in a presidential election year.

If Congress fails to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit 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.

July 25th, 2011
10:21 AM ET

Strauss-Kahn accuser: 'I want justice'

The woman accusing former International Monetary Fund Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her insisted she's "telling the truth from my heart," in an interview broadcast Monday.

"I want justice. I want him to go to jail," Nafissatou Diallo told ABC. "I want him to know you cannot use your power when you do something like this."

The 32-year-old hotel maid, whose credibility has been called into question by prosecutors and Strauss-Kahn's lawyers, said she was terrified when she found out how powerful Strauss-Kahn was.

When she saw news reports explaining that the man she was accusing was a leading candidate for the French presidency, "I said, 'Oh, my God.' I was crying. I said, 'They're going to kill me, I'm going to die.'" That's because in her native Guinea, West Africa, accusing "a powerful man like that" would put her life in danger, she said.

Diallo's choice to go public with her accusations in the middle of a pending criminal investigation is extremely unusual. She spoke with both ABC and Newsweek magazine.

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Filed under: Crime • Dominique Strauss-Kahn
More heat to sizzle central United States
Baltimore residents play in a fountain on Friday.
July 25th, 2011
08:46 AM ET

More heat to sizzle central United States

The triple-digit heat wave that unrelentingly baked much of the eastern United States last week began to cool off over the weekend, but temperatures will remain sweltering Monday from Texas to Missouri.

Excessive heat warnings and heat advisories are in effect for much of the central U.S. and Ohio Valley as well as the eastern Carolinas, the National Weather Service is reporting. Heat indexes for those areas will be between 110 and 115 degrees, the service says.

Records were set or tied in 41 cities and towns from North Carolina to Maine over the weekend, AccuWeather.com said. All-time highs on Saturday were posted in Newark, New Jersey, where temperatures reached 108; Reading, Pennsylvania, where it was 106; and Philadelphia, where temperatures got up to 103.

Life went on - it was just  much sweatier than usual in most heat-struck cities. Many people chose to hit the beach or turn on street hydrants for relief. Many stayed inside and cranked air conditioners to the max. New York had record high temperatures, which were forecast to be lower on Monday. In Saratoga, New York, the weather didn't dampen the celebrated annual horse race Friday, the New York Daily News reported, but water was constantly turned on the horses and they were given buckets of ice.

On Monday, there was much concern about how the heat would affect horses and other livestock across the nation.  CNN affiliate KOCO reported that drought had caused a shortage of hay to feed horses in Oklahoma.

Cities that issued warnings to the elderly, infirm and others likely to be harmed by extreme heat are likely to do the same on Monday.

The heat-related death toll in the Chicago area has risen to 12, WLS Radio reported. Nationally, the death toll hovered at the start of this week at more than 20, the National Weather Service reported.

For tips on how to deal with the heat, the Centers for Disease Control has a web page devoted to hot temps.

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Filed under: Weather
Autopsy not conclusive on Amy Winehouse death
Singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her apartment on Saturday.
July 25th, 2011
07:22 AM ET

Autopsy not conclusive on Amy Winehouse death

Investigators may not know what killed singer Amy Winehouse until they get results from lab tests on her blood and tissue, due in about two to four weeks, Scotland Yard said Monday.

An autopsy was completed at St. Pancras Mortuary Monday afternoon.

"It did not establish a formal cause of death and we await the results of further toxicology tests," a police statement said. An inquest into her death was opened Monday, the statement said.

The singer, beloved for her talent but infamous for erratic public behavior, arrests and drug problems, was found dead at her apartment in London on Saturday.

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Filed under: Showbiz
The 27 Club: The age that marked death for so many great musicians
From Amy Winehouse to Jimi Hendrix, there are many great musicians who had one tragic thing in common: Dying at age 27.
July 25th, 2011
06:53 AM ET

The 27 Club: The age that marked death for so many great musicians

As most people know by now, incredibly talented singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment over the weekend. She joins an unfortunate club of singers who led troubled lives, some who struggled with drugs, and died at age 27.

The so-called "27s" is part of the title of a book published a few years ago that examines the deaths of many of these young musicians and the tragic number they have in common.

Considered the greatest electric guitarist of all time and an icon of his generation, Jimi Hendrix died in London in 1970 at age 27. He was well known for boozing and drugs, though according to the London Telegraph, the autopsy on him found that he died due to choking on his own vomit but there was little alcohol in his system.

Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose at the same age in the same year.  Jim Morrison, at age 27, died in 1971. He would be considered a pioneer not just for his music but poetry.


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Filed under: Music
On the Radar: Winehouse autopsy, famine meeting, cemetery spruce-up
Flowers, pictures and messages are left in tribute to Amy Winehouse near the house in north London where her body was found.
July 25th, 2011
06:03 AM ET

On the Radar: Winehouse autopsy, famine meeting, cemetery spruce-up

Three things you need to know today.

Amy Winehouse: An autopsy to determine what killed singer Amy Winehouse has been scheduled for Monday afternoon, Scotland Yard says.

"Inquiries continue into the circumstances of the death," police said Sunday. At this stage, the 27-year-old's death "is being treated as unexplained and there have been no arrests in connection with the incident," police said.

The singer, beloved for her talent but infamous for erratic public behavior, arrests and drug problems, was found dead at her apartment in London on Saturday, police and her publicist confirmed.

Winehouse's family said in a statement Sunday it "has been left bereft by the loss of Amy, a wonderful daughter, sister, niece. She leaves a gaping hole in our lives. We are coming together to remember her and we would appreciate some privacy and space at this terrible time."

Somalia famine: The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations convenes an emergency meeting in Rome on Monday to address the famine on the Horn of Africa.

Last week, a unit of the U.N. agency declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia and warned that famine conditions are expected to spread in the coming months.

Monday's meeting was organized by the French government. Representatives from governments and non-governmental organizations are expected to attend.

The goal of the meeting is to look at ways to combat famine and drought in several countries and not to solicit pledges of aid, according to the FAO's website.

Arlington cemetery spruce-up: Five hundred landscapers and lawn care professionals from around the country head to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Monday for a day of service at the cemetery.

The landscapers from the PLANET Professional Lawncare Network will prune, mulch, aerate and plant over the cemetery's 200 acres, according to an announcement on the group's website.

This is the 15th year for the Renewal and Remembrance event at the cemetery. The work to be performed is estimated at $250,000 in value, which will bring the total 15-year contribution to more than $2 million, according to the organizers.

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Filed under: Africa • Music • On the Radar • Showbiz • Somalia • Virginia