Two British newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch may have illegally obtained information about Queen Elizabeth II by bribing royal guards and using other questionable methods. Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was also targeted by NewsCorp journalists, excoriated the company, saying the newspapers employed “known criminals” to improperly gather information.
Top business leaders are pressing the White House and Congress to strike a debt deal quickly. U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who chairs Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, are pushing for an immediate deal to raise the nation’s debt limit, and warning that a failure to do so could have dire economic consequences.
On Monday, presidential candidate and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said she might vote to raise the debt ceiling — but only if the debt deal repeals “Obamacare.” Bachmann had previously said she wouldn’t vote to raise the debt limit under any circumstance, but now she’s leaving the door open “in the extraordinarily unlikely instance” that a deal completely eliminates President Obama’s healthcare law.
The Obama administration unveiled standards for insurance marketplaces that will “allow individuals, families and small businesses in every state to shop for insurance, compare prices and benefits and buy coverage.” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said the new insurance exchanges “will offer Americans competition, choice and clout.”
Government watchdog group The Sunlight Foundation has uncovered $50 million in previously undisclosed donations that lobbyists made to charities connected to lawmakers and other government officials. Boeing, for instance, gave $10,000 to a charity connected to late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), then won a $35 billion contract awarded by Murtha’s subcommittee.
Newly-minted U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta voiced frustration with Iraq’s delayed decision on whether to ask to maintain some U.S. troops beyond the current Dec. 31 withdrawal, saying, “Dammit, make a decision.” He told U.S. troops that he’d “push the Iraqis to take on the responsibility” but would also “do what we have to do unilaterally” to protect American lives.
Iraq “has quietly started negotiations to buy U.S. fighter jets and air-defense systems worth billions of dollars,” a major move in the region. Senior Iraqi and American officials told the New York Times that “Iraq is considering raising its purchase to as many as 36 of the jets.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has “lost legitimacy” and is “not indispensable” after an attack by Assad loyalists on the American and French embassies there yesterday. Clinton condemned the attacks and criticized Assad for failing to “deliver on the promises he’s made” to reform the Syrian government.
Six Atlanta Public Schools officials, two principals and four school superintendents, were stripped of their duties during the school board’s first meeting since the release of the state report revealing teacher involvement in cheating. Atlanta Schools Interim Superintendent Errol Davis said “no one implicated in the scandal will be standing before students when the school year beings.”
And finally: Indiana lawmakers accidentally abolished the state’s largest agency, prompting Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) to hastily issue an executive order maintaining it. Blaming the issue on a “clerical error,” the state explained that an automatic sunset provision ended the agency June 30, but a bill passed by the Legislature to continue it only went into effect July 1, “so technically, FSSA was eliminated minutes before the bill intended to save it went into effect.”