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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

While the deal doesn't please right wing Republicans.. Congress was poised to send President Obama a compromise deficit-reduction package topping $2 trillion.. just hours before the nation would run out of borrowed money to pay its bills..
After months of bitter partisan wrangling, the House easily approved the landmark measure raising the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit by a 269-161 vote.. The Senate is expected to approve it at noon today, and Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default..
The carefully crafted compromise was swept through the House by lawmakers who wanted to sidestep a fiscal calamity that has spooked stock markets.. put foreign investors right off.. and threatened the nation's triple-A bond rating.. The Dow Jones industrial average rallied early yesterday, but closed down 11 points..
The deal achieves two major goals sought by Obama and congressional leaders.. staged increases in the debt ceiling that will extend past the 2012 elections.. and a first step toward cutting annual deficits that have topped $1 trillion three years in a row..
It also leaves out what each political party most wanted to avoid.. tax hikes sought by Obama but opposed by Republicans.. and major cuts in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security that were opposed by Democrats..
As a result, White House press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged that "the can is kicked a little bit down the road" on those major issues.. which are likely to play an outsized role in next year's Presidential and Congressional elections..
Obama, Congressional leaders and outside commissions had sought to cut deficits by $4 trillion or more over 10 years.. the deal includes only a tenuous promise to seek half that much..
So the issue of a recovery.. or lack of it.. is still going to loom large in next years election. And Barack's going to need a miracle to pull this one out of the muck.. Already his popularity ratings are at an all time low.. and we're not through the worst of this.. not by quite a shot..

Us/Pakistani relations are themselves at unprecedented lows..
The U.S. has forced Pakistan to ease travel restrictions on its diplomats after it threatened to reciprocate by invoking international law, officials from both sides tell TIME. Washington hit back against unusual limits on the movements of U.S. diplomats that had been set by Pakistani authorities on the instructions of their country's top spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)..
American officials say that US diplomats in Pakistan have suffered harassment at the hands of the country's authorities, citing instances of midnight searches.. tip-offs to local media about the movements of U.S. officials.. and lurid tales planted in the local press of diplomats conspiring with Pakistani politicians.. Pakistani officials' most recent move was to restrict the ability of U.S. diplomats to travel freely within the country, citing "security reasons.."..
The squeeze on the activities of U.S. diplomats in Pakistan is the latest chapter in the ISI-CIA spy war that has been slowly escalating since the arrest of CIA contractor Raymond Davis after an incident in which two Pakistanis were killed.. reaching a fever pitch following the American military raid that killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil..
The dispute over travel restrictions comes on the heels of the departure of the CIA's second Islamabad station chief in just seven months.. an unnamed official was evacuated for "medical reasons" a fortnight ago as well.. but will not be returning to the Pakistan post..
The CIA declined to comment..
In its easing of the travel restrictions, Pakistan furnished the U.S. embassy in Islamabad with blanket "no objection certificates," allowing the diplomats to move unimpeded within the country for a month. Despite the waiver, the restrictions remain formally in place.. U.S. diplomats may still be asked to demonstrate that they have permission to travel and will have to seek extensions of their no-objection certificates on a monthly basis.. Under the Vienna Convention governing rules for diplomats, one official said, any restrictions imposed by Pakistan on U.S. diplomats could be followed by reciprocity by Washington.. and should that come to pass.. it could lead to a domino effect.. straining already tenuous relations..
Mind you, having said that, Pakistan still wants the money the US pumps into it's government coffers.. This game of one-upmanship could fizzle out when public sentiment cools..

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