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Friday, March 1, 2013

U.S.: $85 Billion in Spending Cuts Become Law

After months of impasse in the debate towards a budget deal, the automatic spending cuts created in 2011 to force a compromise between Democrats and Republicans finally became law today. The $85 billion “sequester” began as the Congressional Republican leadership met today with President Barack Obama at the White House in yet another attempt at finding a solution, to no avail. The heart of the disagreement lies on whether to increase revenue for a government that is already deep in debt: While the Obama and his fellow Democrats say more tax increases will be needed, Republicans believe they’ve already given away more than they wanted in January to prevent the so-called fiscal cliff. “It’s just dumb. And it’s going to hurt individual people and it’s going to hurt the economy overall,” Obama told reporters today. He added the effects wouldn’t be felt for weeks, but the impact would be real. Even so, Obama seemed resigned to the idea of maintaining those spending cuts while no budget deal is reached rather than risking a government shut-down at the end of March. “Let’s make it clear, the president got his tax hike on January 1st,” Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said after the meeting. “The discussion about revenue, in my view, is over. It’s about taking on the spending problem here in Washington.”

44 Die as Bangladesh Is Roiled by Riots

At least 44 people died today in Bangladesh during confrontations that pitted demonstrators against security forces. The riots began yesterday after an Islamic leader was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity he committed in 1971, during the country’s bloody struggle for independence from Pakistan. The violence started in the nation’s capital Dhaka, where Delwar Hossain Sayedee, who is also an opposition leader and vice-president of Bangladesh’s largest Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, was found guilty of mass killings. Sayedee is the third Jamaat leader to be convicted by the special war crimes tribunal. “I didn’t commit any crime and the judges are not giving the verdict from the core of their heart,” Sayedee said. He has consistently denied the accusations and asserted his trial was politically motivated.

Chad President Announces Death of Al Qaeda Commander in Mali

Chad President Idriss Deby said today his country’s troops, who have been fighting alongside Malian and French soldiers in Northern Mali, “killed” Al Qaeda Commander Abdelhamid Abou Zeid. The militant’s death, which has not yet been confirmed by neither Mali nor France, would be a tremendous blow to the terrorist group and could contribute to slow the spread of its influence in North Africa. Abou Zeid is the Algerian leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. France began a military intervention in January to help the Malian government fight a Tuareg rebellion for the independence of the “Azawad,” as they call the north of the country, that was hijacked by Islamic militants and threatened to become a hot bed for terrorism.

Detroit Declared Financial Emergency by Michigan Governor Snyder

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has declared Detroit to be in a state of financial emergency, a decision that now allows him to appoint a fiscal manager to take over the city’s finances. “There is probably no city that is more financially challenged in the entire United States,” said Snyder in a town hall meeting. “If you look at the quality of services for citizens it’s ranked among the worst. So we went from the top to the bottom over the last 50 or 60 years.” While Detroit is steeped in $14 billion in long-term debt and $327 million in budget deficit, the announcement caused intense emotion among its leaders. Michigan’s largest city is Democratic and mostly black, and it has taken it as an attempt to derail the political process in a year when it was preparing to elect a new mayor. Snyder, a Republican, has used outside managers in smaller towns, but now faces resistance as his opponents prepare to challenge his decision in court. “This is anti-democratic, not needed, and it’s against everything that this nation was founded upon,” Reverend Wendell Anthony, the president of the local chapter of the NAACP, told the New York Times.

Weekend Read: How to Stop the Bullies

As teenagers find new ways to threaten and terrorize each other online, Facebook, computer scientists at MIT, and even members of  the hacker group Anonymous are trying to devise solutions. In The Atlantic.

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