Stories by FrumForum News

Geithner Urges EU To Act Forcefully On Debt Crisis

July 18th, 2011 at 11:32 am 3 Comments

Reuters reports:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Monday called on European leaders to do more to contain the escalating debt crisis in Europe.

“What Europe obviously needs to do is to act more forcefully to contain the risk of an escalating crisis in Europe,” Geithner told CNBC television. “They have the capacity to manage this in a way that does not add to the broader burdens of the global economy.”

Last week, Europe’s banking authority said that eight banks would have to raise more capital after failing a test of their ability to withstand a long recession.

But the so-called stress tests were criticized for not reflecting expectations that Greece will likely default on its debt in some form.

Geithner said EU leaders were taking steps to contain the crisis, such as making it clear they will stand behind their banking system and trying to take the risk of a disorderly default off the table completely.

But Geithner said more needed to be done.

“Those things are all constructive, but the world needs to see European leaders … take advantage or put in place those additional changes that will help contain the risk of a broader crisis,” he said.

NATO Hits Radar at Tripoli Airport

July 18th, 2011 at 11:21 am 1 Comment

The Associated Press reports:

NATO says its warplanes destroyed radar antennas at Tripoli International Airport that were being used by Moammar Gadhafi’s regime for military purposes.

A NATO statement Monday claimed the civilian air traffic control radar was tracking NATO jets and the information was used to coordinate an air defense early-warning system.

NATO, which has bombed dozens of military radar sites in the four-month war, said the no-fly zone over Libya made it unnecessary to use the radar for civilian purposes.

Because of technical limitations, it is difficult to convert civilian radar to target aircraft in the same way as military radars. But civilian radar can be used to monitor the airspace and provide general information on the speed and altitude of any intruders.

2nd UK Police Official Resigns In Murdoch Scandal

July 18th, 2011 at 11:15 am Comments Off

The New York Times reports:

Britain’s phone hacking scandal claimed another high-profile casualty on Monday when John Yates, the deputy commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, resigned a day after the country’s top police officer quit and Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, was arrested on suspicion of illegally intercepting phone calls and bribing the police.

Such is the severity of the crisis swirling around the Murdoch empire and Britain’s public life that Prime Minister David Cameron cut short an African trip on Monday and bowed to opposition pressure for a special parliamentary session on Wednesday to debate the widening scandal.

Mr. Yates is a well-known officer who had been involved in an earlier and inconclusive police review of the scandal. The Metropolitan Police announced his resignation and said he would make a statement later on Monday. He and other officers have been under scrutiny by lawmakers trying to determine why the Metropolitan Police decided in 2009 to strictly limit the initial phone-hacking inquiry dating to 2006. Mr. Yates told reporters on Monday that he had “done nothing wrong.”

Brooks To Testify In Parliament Despite Arrest

July 18th, 2011 at 10:25 am Comments Off

The Huffington Post reports:

Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News International who was arrested on Sunday, will be testifying before a Parliamentary committee on Tuesday, her spokesman announced Monday. The announcement brought an end to pervasive doubts that Brooks would appear before Parliament in the wake of her arrest.

The session of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee promises to be an extraordinary one. Besides Brooks, Rupert and James Murdoch will both be appearing to give evidence in the phone hacking scandal. The latter two initially refused to turn up, and had to receive a personal summons from a representative of Parliament before they agreed to come.

Brooks, who resigned as the head of Murdoch’s British newspaper division on Friday, was arrested on Sunday and was grilled for 12 hours before being allowed to post bail. Her arrest prompted fears that she would be unable to attend the Parliament hearing because of legal requirements precluding her from discussing cases under police investigation.

She is sure to face questions about her complicity in phone hacking while editor of the News of the World. Though police have said that at least 4,000 people were hacked by the tabloid, Brooks has denied that she knew any criminal activity was going on. Former employees of the News of the World told Reuters on Saturday that the paper’s extremely thorough vetting process ensured that Brooks had to know the provenance of many criminally-obtained stories.

“They went in and they were cross-examined for two hours every day,” a former writer for the paper said of News of the World journalists. And it was all about the genesis of all the stories.”

Even more ominous for Brooks, the hacking of the phone of the murdered 13-year-old Milly Dowler—an act whose revelation turned the News of the World scandal into a full-blown media and political crisis—occurred during her editorship in 2002.

Taliban Video Shows Execution of 16 Pakistanis

July 18th, 2011 at 10:10 am 2 Comments

The New York Times reports:

Taliban insurgents have released a video showing them killing 16 Pakistani men who were captured in a raid in a restive northwestern province last month, a spokesman for the Pakistani military said on Monday.

The graphic video shows the 16 men, most of whom appear to be Pakistani policemen, standing in a line with their hands tied behind their backs. Four insurgents stand in front, holding assault rifles, with their faces covered by scarves.

One insurgent makes a brief speech in Pashto, the language spoken in the country’s northwest, accusing the men of killing six children in the Swat district.

“These are the enemies of Islam who originated from Pakistan,” he says, according to a translation of the statement posted by The Long War Journal, a Web site that specializes in reports on militancy. The speaker in the video describes the 16 men as “murtards,” or those who have abandoned Islam.

“They are the Pakistani police, soldiers, and their supporters who recently lined up six kids in Swat and shot them execution-style,” the insurgent says. “These Pakistanis are now our captives, and we will avenge the death of the children by doing the same to them.”

Minnesota Shutdown Drags On Despite Deal

July 18th, 2011 at 10:04 am Comments Off

Politico reports:

Now in its 18th day, Minnesota’s state government shutdown continues as Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has yet to formalize his announced deal with GOP legislative and a special session planned for Monday is likely to be delayed.

Dayton and the Republican leaders released a joint statement Sunday declaring “considerable progress has been made” but Minnesota news outlets reported passing a compromise budget will not be easy.

But the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported state GOP legislative leaders are “struggling to string together the necessary votes” and that state house Democrats are pledging to vote against the budget en masse because they have been left out of negotiations.

Dayton last week said he planned to call a special session on the budget for Monday. That schedule now appears to be pushed back by at least a day.

“A special session will be called as soon as our work is completed, and all bills have been reviewed and agreed upon,” read the Sunday evening statement from Dayton and Republican leaders.

Minnesota Public Radio reported the governor and GOP leaders have agreed on one of nine bills that make up the state budget. State officials are not revealing details of any of the legislation until it is all agreed to.

Credit Rating Firm Wants U.S. To Abolish Debt Limit

July 18th, 2011 at 9:56 am 3 Comments

Politico reports:

The United States should do away with the debt ceiling altogether to bring greater certainty to investors in U.S. Treasury bonds, Moody’s suggested Monday.

With the August 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling barely more than two weeks away, the bond-rating agency issued a report Monday noting that the U.S. is one of just a few countries that has a statutory borrowing limit and saying that the limit creates “periodic uncertainty” for investors, Reuters reported.

Moody’s threatened last week to downgrade the AAA rating of the U.S. government if it is unable to meet its debt obligations next month and perhaps even if Congress and the White House are able to reach a deal.

In the past, Moody’s has considered the risk of U.S. default on its debts very low because Congress has routinely approved hikes to the debt limit, but with negotiations between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans at an impasse, the agency is less confident.

“The current wide divisions between the House of Representatives and the Obama administration over the debt limit creates a high level of uncertainty and causes us to raise our assessment of event risk,” analyst Steven Hess wrote in the report.

But, he said, “We would reduce our assessment of event risk if the government changed its framework for managing government debt to lessen or eliminate that uncertainty.”

Rather than continuing to use the debt ceiling in an effort to keep U.S. borrowing down, the government should look toward Chile, Moody’s suggested. There, “the level of deficits is constrained by a ‘fiscal rule,’ which means the rise in debt is constrained though not technically limited.” Chile is considered to be Latin America’s most fiscally sound country.

And, the report noted, it’s not like the debt ceiling has been effective in keeping U.S. debt down: Congress has in the past raised it often and has not linked it to spending levels.

Rove’s Group Launches Ads Against House Dems

July 18th, 2011 at 9:46 am 4 Comments

The Associated Press reports:

A conservative group linked with Republican strategist Karl Rove has launched an ad campaign targeting 10 vulnerable House Democrats up for reelection in 2012.

Crossroads GPS will run ads for the next two weeks targeting Reps. Mike Ross of Arkansas, Jim Matheson of Utah, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Heath Shuler of North Carolina, Bill Owens and Tim Bishop of New York, Ben Chandler of Kentucky, Leonard Boswell of Iowa, Jerry Costello of Illinois and Lois Capps of California.

The ads target lawmakers on tax and spending issues and for their support of President Barack Obama’s policies, including the stimulus package passed in 2009. Crossroads is spending $1.4 million on the campaign, or a little more than $100,000 per district — a significant ad buy in a House race for a third-party group this early in the election cycle.

With the exception of Capps, who won her district with 57 percent of the vote in 2010, each of the Democrats being targeted is considered a top target by national Republicans.

Crossroads and an affiliated organization, American Crossroads, spent $38.6 million in 2010 and were credited with damaging Democrats running for the House and Senate in tight races across the country. In Illinois, for example, American Crossroads spent more than $1 million on ads targeting the Democratic nominee, Alexi Giannoulias, in a race he narrowly lost to Sen. Mark Kirk. In Missouri, the group spent more than $2 million on ads opposing a Democratic nominee, Robin Carnahan, who was defeated by Republican Sen. Roy Blount.

The group has been heavily invested already this cycle, promising to spend $20 million this summer on an advocacy campaign targeting “runaway government spending” — a series of ads that have rapped Obama, Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2012 and now a group of House members. Previous ads have run on national cable as well as broadcast TV in key swing states such as Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada and Virginia.

Steve Law, president of Crossroads GPS, said the ads were designed to highlight Democrats’ support for government spending.

“President Obama and his congressional allies have already wasted hundreds of billions of our tax dollars, and we need to send them the message that they don’t deserve another penny in taxes,” Law said.

Geithner: GOP Leaders Have Taken Default Off Table

July 18th, 2011 at 9:41 am Comments Off

Reuters reports:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner expressed confidence that Congress would raise the debt ceiling and said on Monday that top Republicans had taken “default off the table.”

“Despite what you hear, people are moving closer together,” Geithner told CNBC television. “You have seen the leadership of the Republican party … take default off the table. That’s encouraging,” he said.

Congress must raise the country’s $14.3 trillion borrowing limit before August 2 in order to give the U.S. Treasury the authority to borrow more and keep the government solvent.

Up to 30 Killed In Syria Over Weekend

July 18th, 2011 at 9:33 am Comments Off

The Associated Press reports:

The discovery of three mutilated corpses set off a wave of sectarian bloodshed that killed up to 30 people over the weekend in central Syria, a dangerous escalation in violence stemming from the country’s four-month-old uprising, activists said Monday.

The killings were a troubling sign that the revolt against President Bashar Assad’s regime is enflaming tensions among Syria’s volatile mix of religions. Most Syrians are Sunni Muslim, but Assad and the ruling elite belong to the minority Alawite sect.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the violence began Saturday after the dismembered bodies of three Alawite government supporters were dumped in Homs, a city that has become a focal point of the uprising.