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E-mail and phone lines are jammed on Capitol Hill, and there's a nasty Twitter campaign against all of Washington. But despite the impending deadline, Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on the debt ceiling. We talk about what one of our guests calls, "The Politics of Calamity." Also, intelligence officials say al Qaeda is near collapse, and famine and food aid in the Horn of Africa.

Banner image: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during morning trading on July 27, 2011 in New York City. The Dow was down more than 100 points in morning trading placing the Dow on pace for a fourth straight day of decline as the debt crisis debate continues. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Making News Intelligence Officials Say al Qaeda near Collapse 7 MIN, 24 SEC

Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta — former Chief of the CIA -- said on a recent trip to Afghanistan that, "we're within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda." Today's Washington Post reports that counterterrorism officials are "increasingly convinced" that al Qaeda has been pushed to the brink of collapse. Greg Miller wrote the story.

Greg Miller, Washington Post (@gregpmiller)

Main Topic Deadlock on Capitol Hill 36 MIN, 7 SEC

The US is advancing toward the once-unthinkable prospect of default by next Tuesday, August 2, unless it turns out to be August 10 instead. While President Obama talks about "compromising" on a Big Deal, including new revenue, he's threatened to veto the Republicans' plan and Republicans won't vote for a Democratic alternative. Sarah Palin is the latest Republican to accuse the President of "fear mongering," but the head of the IMF says US default would be "very, very, very serious." In the midst of all the uncertainty, are both parties playing with economic disaster?  Is it really all about next year's elections?

Jonathan Allen, Sidewire / Roll Call (@jonallendc)
Elizabeth Drew, journalist and author
Clive Crook, Bloomberg View (@clive_crook)
Joe Hallett, Columbus Dispatch (@hallettjoe)

Reporter's Notebook Thirteen Million Affected by Famine in East Africa 7 MIN, 1 SEC

Parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya are suffering from the worse drought in more than 50 years, and the area's now being called the "triangle of death." The US State Department reports that acute malnutrition has reached 40 and 50 percent with 15 percent the threshold for a humanitarian emergency. The United Nations' World Food Program has shipped 10 tons of nutritional supplements to Mogadishu, enough to treat 3500 malnourished children for one month. Challiss McDonough, spokesperson for the WFP, has more on efforts to get food into Somalia.

Challis McDonough, United Nations World Food Program

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