DeMint rejects McConnell's debt proposal
WASHINGTON, July 13 (UPI) -- Tea Party leader Sen. Jim DeMint Wednesday rejected Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's idea to give President Obama authority to raise the debt ceiling.
"Republicans weren't elected last November to make it easier to spend and borrow and add to our debt," DeMint, R-S.C., told CBS News.
But, he added, "This idea that Republicans will not vote to increase the debt limit is wrong," and the GOP will support a deal with serious spending cuts.
McConnell, R-Ky., went on conservative talk radio Wednesday to defend his proposal.
"Just like we knew shutting down the government in 1995 was not going to work for us -- it helped Bill Clinton get re-elected -- I refuse to help Barack Obama get re-elected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy," Politico reported he said on the Laura Ingraham show.
McConnell said he refused to accept either of two choices from Obama.
"One is that the Republican Party becomes tax collector for the welfare state, and no Republican Party I've had the privileged to serve is ever going to take that deal. I'm certainly not," he said. "Or we sort have a bipartisan agreement to accept a smoke-and-mirrors deal and call it good. Not on my watch."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has proposed a congressional panel to impose spending cuts to back up the plan offered by McConnell, officials of both parties told The Washington Post.
Congress and the president are heading toward an Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling, now at $14.3 trillion, or the country starts defaulting on its obligations.
At least 20 dead in 3 Mumbai explosions
MUMBAI, July 13 (UPI) -- At least 20 people were killed in three explosions that shook Mumbai during Wednesday's evening rush hour, Indian authorities said.
More than 100 were wounded, Maharashtra state's deputy chief minister, Ajit Pawar, told the Press Trust of India.
The close timing of the blasts across the vast city -- all between 6:50 p.m. and 7 p.m. in areas full of commuters -- points to "a coordinated attack by terrorists,'' state Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told the Times of India.
The locations hit were the Dadar area of central Mumbai, the Zaveri Bazaar jewelry market and Opera House business district, both in southern Mumbai and several miles apart, police said.
An unexploded bomb was reportedly found at Dadar.
The National Investigation Agency was sending a team from New Delhi to investigate and gather evidence, and police have appealed for calm. Public places in other cities such as New Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai have been put on high alert.
Karzai buries half-brother, tabs successor
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, July 13 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai Wednesday buried his half-brother, assassinated the previous day in Kandahar, and named another brother to lead his tribe.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar provincial council chief and a powerful figure in the southern province, was shot and killed by a guard at his home where he had been meeting with other leaders. The Taliban took responsibility, a claim doubted by some.
Mohammad Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand province, escaped unhurt earlier Wednesday as two explosions went off as the governor proceeded to attend Karzai's funeral, his office said, CNN reported. The blasts injured two soldiers.
A Kandahar lawmaker told CNN President Karzai attended the funeral of his half-brother.
Saidkhan Khakrezwal, a member of the Kandahar provincial council, told CNN he and others were with the slain Karzai when a guard identified as Sardar Mohammed came into the room to talk to Karzai.
Khakrezwal said the guard, who was later gunned down by other guards, took Karzai into another room where he was killed. The guard had been with Karzai for eight years and had been commander of a police post.
After the funeral, the president met with more than 1,000 tribal elders from southern Afghanistan and asked them to recognize Shah Wali Karzai, a full brother of Ahmed Wali, as head of the family and the larger Populzai tribe, The New York Times reported.
'Deep concern' about airport security
WASHINGTON, July 13 (UPI) -- The chairman of a U.S. House panel Wednesday chided the Transportation Security Administration, saying he had "deep concern" about security lapses at airports.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, said, "First and foremost, we have learned that there have been 25,000 security breaches at U.S. airports since November 2001. And I do appreciate the TSA in tracking and providing that data, but, obviously, those are the ones we know about. And the deep concern is what about the ones we don't know about and the creativity in things that can happen in the future."
He said lawmakers are "deeply concerned about the TSA failing to conduct threat and vulnerability assessments in order to identify gaps in perimeter screening. ... TSA also lacks a national strategy to secure commercial airports and access controls, this again coming from a (Government Accounting Office) report that says that the nation's 457 commercial airports have not, quote, 'been guided by a unifying national strategy,' end quote."
Assistant TSA Administrator John Sammon told the panel, "TSA does complete security assessments, including the perimeter of all airports, every year ... we've done 27,000 inspections."
But Sammon conceded the agency "will not do 100 percent of 450 airports with the FBI every year, no."
Gun reporting rule targeted in House
WASHINGTON, July 13 (UPI) -- A House committee voted Wednesday to defund enforcement of semi-automatic rifle sales reporting.
Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., sponsored the amendment to the Justice Department funding bill to block a rule that makes gun dealers report within five days multiple sales to the same person of semi-automatic rifles with removable magazines. The administration says the program aims to stem violence along the Mexican border.
"For more than a decade, efforts to track rifle purchases and create a national gun registry have failed to gain support in Congress, so the ATF is working to implement these regulations using rules written by unelected bureaucrats," Rehberg told The Hill.
The House has been investigating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives over Operation Fast and Furious, which sold thousands of weapons in the Southwest to known and suspected straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels in an attempt to track them.
Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., denounced Rehberg's measure as a gift to the National Rifle Association.
"The NRA is so afraid that the people who are really funding the NRA, the gun manufacturers, might lose some sales that they were willing to sacrifice the lives of these people that are casualties of this gun war," he said. "We're enabling that slaughter to continue."