Do We Need a Debt Limit?; After the Hackings, Should News Corp.'s Minor Shareholders Have More Power?

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama host Congressional leaders for a meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House July 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/Getty)

Do We Need a Debt Limit?; How Easy Is It to Hack Into a Cell Phone?; Murdoch to Field Questions from British Parliament; Somali Americans Face Setbacks in Sending Aide to Drought Victims; The Economic Trickle-Up of Gay Marriage; After the Hackings, Should News Corp.'s Minor Shareholders Have More Power?; Congress Set to Vote on 'Cut, Cap and Balance'; Chemical Culprit, Chemical Cure? Challenging Conventional Wisdom on Mental Illness; How the 'Red Summer' of 1919 Sparked the Civil Rights Movement

Top of the Hour: House to Vote on 'Cut, Cap, and Balance,' Morning Headlines

The House of Representatives is set to vote today on a Republican proposal called "cut, cap, and balance," something that the White House is calling "classic Washington posturing."


Do We Need a Debt Limit?

We’re exactly two weeks away from the August 2 deadline for lawmakers to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.  If Congress can’t come to an agreement by then, the U.S. may default on its loans, and that could likely mean losing our Aaa bond rating. But with debt ceiling negotiations seemingly at a standstill, Moody’s Investor Service has suggested eliminating the debt ceiling altogether.

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How Easy Is It to Hack Into a Cell Phone?

So far, the News Corp. phone hacking scandal has led to the shutdown of the British tabloid News of the World, the arrests of 10 people, and the resignations of several News Corp. executives and high ranking police officials. Today, Rupert Murdoch and his son, James, will face a round of questioning before the British Parliament. And it all started with phone hacking. There’s no question that hacking is illegal and unethical. But is it difficult to do?

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Murdoch to Face Questions from British Parliament

All eyes will be on the British Parliament as News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch appears before the Select Committee this morning, at about 9:15 a.m. EST. The media tycoon is at a crossroads, with many of his top deputies implicated in the scandal that has engulfed his media empire and left his company's reputation in tatters. Murdoch has long been a controversial figure, but the questions surrounding his leadership of News Corp. and the corporate culture it has engendered have come under new fire in light of the phone hacking affair.

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Somali Americans Face Setbacks in Sending Aide to Drought Victims

The drought in the Horn of Africa has sent tens of thousands of Somalians to refugee camps in search of necessary resources. In Minneapolis, a large community of Somali-Americans are doing their best to send aid overseas. But their efforts are fraught with difficulty because of the dangerous climate in Somalia, where Islamist militants aligned with al-Qaida have control.

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The Economic Trickle-Up of Gay Marriage

Beginning on July 24, New York will be the sixth and largest state in which same-sex couples can marry. This historic event will have impacts beyond the issue of civil rights — gay couples will see changes in benefits, insurance coverage, and taxes. If trickle-down economics is about the impact of economic policy on the individual, then this segment is about the trickle-up economics of gay marriage — how the decisions that people make, couple by couple, will affect insurance, taxes, businesses, state revenues, and economic policy.

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Top of the Hour: News Corp. Shareholders Challenge Murdoch, Morning Headlines

News Corp. has lost more than $8 billion in market value in the past 10 days, leading Standard and Poor's to consider downgrading the media conglomerate's credit. Meanwhile, CEO Rupert Murdoch has received the support of his board, as a small group of shareholders are taking him to court saying he "treats the company like a family candy jar."


Should News Corp.'s Minor Shareholders Have More Power?

Rupert Murdoch and his family control most of News Corp. through their majority of voting shares. But there are other, smaller shareholders that speak up when they see something amiss in the practices of the company. Recently one shareholder, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, vied for Murdoch to change the company's disclosure policies for political contributions, and Murdoch complied. Is that indicative of how the company works, or a rare exception to the corporation's usual practices?


Congress Set to Vote on 'Cut, Cap and Balance'

Later today, the House of Representatives will vote on the "cut, cap and balance" plan being pushed by House Republicans as a prerequisite for raising the country's debt ceiling. The plan is expected to pass in the House, where Republicans hold a majority, but will likely die in the Democrat-controlled Senate. President Obama has already said he will veto the bill.

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Chemical Culprit, Chemical Cure? Challenging Conventional Wisdom on Mental Illness

For almost 40 years, conventional wisdom has been that mental illness is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. "Serotonin" is a household word, along with Prozac, Zyprexa, and Zoloft.  But recently, there's been a vigorous debate within the medical community over whether that line of thinking is accurate. This summer Marcia Angell, a physician, senior lecturer at Harvard, and former editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, wrote in the New York Review of Books that the chemical-imbalance model of mental illness may be ineffective at best — and harmful, at worst.

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Philadelphia Archbishop Resigns

The Vatican is expected to announce the retirement of the Roman Catholic leader of Philadelphia this morning. Cardinal Justin Rigali is 76, and his retirement has been expected following accusations that his archdiocese covered up a long-running sex abuse scandal. David O'Reilly, regional reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, reports on how Philadelphia Catholics are reacting to Rigali's resignation.


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How the 'Red Summer' of 1919 Sparked the Civil Rights Movement

Many of us trace the Civil Rights movement back to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Rosa Parks' arrest in 1955. But the true beginning may have been during the summer of 1919, remembered as "Red Summer," when race riots erupted across the country. At that time, NAACP membership grew exponentially, as black World War I veterans returned from fighting for democracy abroad and demanded freedom at home. Despite President Woodrow Wilson's promise to further human rights in the U.S., the federal government turned a blind eye and did little to even to protect African-Americans from racial violence.


Parliament Hacking Inquiry Begins

Three of Britain's most powerful media executives are facing questions this morning over the phone hacking scandal that has already resulted in the shuttering of a newspaper and a spate of high profile arrests and resignations. News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and his son James are testifying before Parliament, along with Rebekah Brooks, who headed their British newspaper operations before resigning last week. Brooks was arrested, questioned by police, and released without charges on Sunday.


Rupert and James Murdoch Appear Before Parliament

News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch and his son James are now appearing before the British Parliament, to answer questions over the phone hacking scandal that has enveloped the media conglomerate for nearly two weeks. Later, Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News Corp.'s British newspaper operations who was editor of News of the World at the time the alleged hacking and police bribing occurred, will testify. John Burns, London bureau chief of The New York Times, has the latest from the hearings.