Morning Briefing: June 30, 2011

Three American servicemembers were killed in action in Iraq Wednesday, making June the deadliest month for the American military there in years. Despite repeated claims that combat is over, 15 soldiers have been killed in Iraq since June 1, the most since 15 were killed in June 2009. The death toll in Iraq now stands at 4,469 since the 2003 invasion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a warning that raising the U.S. debt ceiling is crucial for the global economy. “The federal debt ceiling should be raised expeditiously to avoid a severe shock to the economy and world financial markets,” said the IMF statement.

The minority staff of the House Oversight committee released a 26-page report today that urges lawmakers “to strengthen the country’s gun laws and regulations to better equip law enforcement agents in their fight against illegal weapons trafficking.” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) accused Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) of making “efforts to wall off any discussion of the nation’s gun laws.”

The Senate passed a measure yesterday that would “exempt about 170 executive branch appointees from” the need for confirmation by the body. The move was intended to speed up the process of federal appointments for noncontroversial positions.

In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the U.S. is “for the first time,” beginning “to envision the demise of al Qaeda,” John Brennan, the top White House counter-terrorism official, said yesterday. “If we hit al Qaeda hard enough and often enough, there will come a time when they simply can no longer replenish their ranks.”

Latinos are fleeing Alabama ahead of the state’s new immigration law, leaving the state with an insufficient workforce as it attempts to rebuild infrastructure damaged by the deadly April 27 tornado. Much like in Georgia, where the law caused workers to abandon farms, construction contractors are now having trouble finding workers in a market once dominated by Latinos.

And finally: John Lennon would have voted for Ronald Reagan. The late Beatle was a radical leftist for most of his public life, but his final personal assistant says Lennon had a political sea change just before he died. “John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on Jimmy Carter,” the assistant says in a new documentary.

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