Moody's Places U.S. Credit Rating Under Review

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Police officials inspect a bomb blast site at the Opera house area in Mumbai on July 13, 2011. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty)

Bomb Blasts Shake Mumbai; Online Retailers Battle to Avoid Sales Tax; Should Parents Lose Custody of Morbidly Obese Children?; Reading the Republican Candidate's Memoirs; Biometric Databases: A Growing Military Technology in the Middle East; US Women Qualify for World Cup Finals; Murdoch's Growing Empire Wavers as News Corp Abandons Bid; The Scholarly Side of Harry Potter.

Top of the Hour: Tensions Grow in Debt Talks, Morning Headlines

As President Obama and Republicans continue to struggle to reach a budget deal, Moody's has moved closer to downgrading the U.S.'s credit rating because of the risk that lawmakers might not reach a compromise.

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As Debt Talks Falter, Moody's Places U.S. Credit Rating Under Review

Responding to concerns that lawmakers in Washington will fail to reach an agreement on raising the country's debt threshold, credit ratings agency Moody's placed the U.S.'s credit rating under review for the first time since the federal government shutdown in 1995. The U.S. still risks losing the Aaa rating it has had since 1917, even if lawmakers come to a last minute agreement before the August 2 deadline.

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Bomb Blasts Shake Mumbai

Three bombs blasted through Mumbai during rush hour on Wednesday, leaving at least 21 dead and 113 injured. The homemade bombs exploded within 15 minutes of each other, in a coordinated attack that targeted the busiest districts of the country's economic capital. The worst casualties were at Zaveri Bazaar, a gem and jewelry district.  There were also explosions in the Dadar neighborhood and at the Opera House business district. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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Should Parents Lose Custody of Morbidly Obese Children?

An article published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association says the state should intervene in cases of morbidly obese children. The authors say that parents should lose custody in the most extreme cases of childhood obesity. This opinion has drawn criticism from several lawyers and members of the bioethics community.

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Online Retailers Battle to Avoid Sales Tax

The online retailer Amazon is getting into the ballot initiative business. The company is pushing for a referendum in California that would eliminate sales tax for online retailers that have a limited physical presence in the state.

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Reading the Republican Candidates' Memoirs

In the world of politics, we’ve come to expect many things from our presidential candidates: bus tours, baby kissing, political posturing, the occasional scandal, and of course, the candidate’s memoir.

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Top of the Hour: News Corp. Hacking Scandal Comes Across the Pond, Morning Headlines

Citing two American laws — the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Wire Tap Act — four U.S. senators are calling for an investigation into whether or not Americans were victims of the hacking scandal that has plagued Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in the U.K.

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New Military Biometric Technology Used to Track Combatants

Nearly 500 inmates escaped an Afghan prison last April, highlighting some major deficiencies in the country's security infrastructure. Despite that, U.S. efforts in Afghanistan may be much more high-tech than many realize. Recently, U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan and Iraq have been taking eye scans and fingerprints to compile a large database of biometric information on prisoners and civilians alike. About 35 escapees have been recaptured after their identities were confirmed using this data.

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Suicide Attack at Ahmed Wali Karzai's Funeral

A suicide bomb attack killed at least four people this morning at one of Kandahar's largest mosques during the funeral of Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The deceased Karzai was the powerful provincial council chairman of Kandahar, before he was assassinated by a police commander and family friend earlier this week.

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US Women Qualify for World Cup Finals

Yesterday was a monumental day for the U.S. Women’s Soccer team. For the first time since 1999, the team earned a place in the World Cup Finals. The team earned their spot after winning a 3-1 match against France. On Sunday, the U.S. will go head-to-head with Japan, who also qualified for the finals yesterday, in a triumphant match against Sweden.

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US Lawmakers Call for News Corp. Investigation

The fallout from the News of the World hacking scandal seems far from contained this morning, as U.S. lawmakers call for an investigation into whether any American laws were broken during the alleged hacking practices at News Corporation's British newspaper subsidiary News International. Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer, Jay Rockefeller, and Frank Lautenberg, called for the FBI to investigate the day after News Corporation announced it was pulling out its $12 billion bid to take full control of British Sky Broadcasting, a British pay-for-TV outlet.

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AIDS Fighting Drugs Could Prevent HIV

Two new studies released on Wednesday show that taking a daily pill designed to fight AIDS can actually prevent an uninfected person from contracting HIV. Donald G. McNeil, Jr., science and health reporter for The New York Times, wrote about this potentially monumental find in today's paper, and has the latest on the story. 

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The Scholarly Side of Harry Potter

Tonight at midnight, Harry Potter fans across America will be saying goodbye to their favorite bespeckled wizard, as "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," the final Harry Potter film, opens in theatres. What will the end of Harry Potter mean to the franchise’s loyal fans? Why has Harry Potter been so monumentally popular? And — from an academic point of view — why has Harry Potter been culturally important?

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Moody's Mark Zandi: 'We Need to Raise the Debt Ceiling'

Earlier this morning, credit ratings agency Moody's moved one step closer to downgrading the United States' Aaa rating when it announced the country's credit rating is under review. The move ramps up pressure on the White House and Congress to reach a deal on raising the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit before August 2.

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India Begins Investigation Into Mumbai Bombing

In a coordinated attack that targeted the city's busiest district, three bombs blasted through rush hour crowds in Mumbai yesterday, killing 17 people and injuring 131. The improvised explosive devices went off within 15 minutes of each other. A fourth bomb that never detonated was also found. It was the deadliest attack on Mumbai since 2008, when Islamic militants held the city in a three-day siege that left more than 150 dead.

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Update from Kandahar: Karzai Funeral Bombing

The Taliban is denying responsibility for a suicide bomb that took the lives of at least four people this morning at the funeral of Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a powerful leader in Kandahar. The BBC's Bilal Sawary is on the ground in Kandahar and has the latest updates on this developing story.

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Murdochs Refuse to Testify Before Parliament

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his son James — also a News Corporation executive — are refusing to appear before the British Parliament's Commons Culture Select Committee to respond to allegations of illegal practices at their News International newspaper publishing group. Both Murdochs are American citizens, and therefore cannot be compelled to testify before Parliament. Rebekah Brooks, the embattled News International executive, who is a British subject, has agreed to appear, though she is not expected to be cooperative. Meanwhile, Neil Wallis, another former News of the World editor, has been arrested by Scotland Yard.

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