News Wrap: U.S. Budget Deficit Hits $1 Trillion for Third Consecutive Year
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. budget deficit is now officially over $1 trillion for the third year in a row. The Treasury Department announced the latest totals today. With two months left in the federal fiscal year, the red ink is on pace to exceed last year’s deficit of nearly $1.3 trillion. The record was more than $1.4 trillion. That was in 2009.
International forces have killed the Taliban militants who shot down a U.S. helicopter on Saturday — 38 U.S. and Afghan troops died in that attack. Today, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, said the insurgents died in an airstrike on Monday.
LT. GEN. JOHN ALLEN, International Security Assistance Forces: We tracked them, as we would in the aftermath of any operation, and we dealt with them with a kinetic strike. And in the aftermath of that, we have achieved certainty that they in fact were killed in that strike.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Separately, NATO troops got into firefights with Afghan police in two parts of the country overnight. Four Afghan officers were killed. The circumstances were under investigation.
Missiles fired by U.S. drone aircraft have killed at least 20 militants in Pakistan’s northwest. Pakistani intelligence officials reported the new round of strikes today. They said 14 of the dead were Afghans who belonged to the Haqqani Network, a faction linked to the Taliban.
In Syria, activists reported government forces have taken full control of two major centers of resistance. The eastern city of Deir el-Zour fell after a four-day assault. That followed a weeklong siege of Hama in the north. Amateur video showed intense shelling and gunfire on Tuesday as tanks rolled into Deir el-Zour. Another showed the minaret of a mosque that collapsed after being shelled. And in Washington, the U.S. Treasury Department announced new economic sanctions against Syria.
China’s first aircraft carrier began conducting sea trials today, in a sign of the country’s growing military might. The 1,000-foot vessel sailed from the northern port of Dalian. Chinese officials said the former Soviet carrier, now refurbished, will be used for research and training. Analysts in Hong Kong said it was an outgrowth of China’s ongoing military buildup.
MA DING SHENG, Hong Kong military analyst (through translator): Historically, China has not been a big naval power. Commanding an aircraft carrier is something new. How to utilize it and incorporate it into its national defense strategy is the start of a new chapter. They need the experience of trial and error. And for their navy personnel, this is still an area of weakness for China.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Also today, Taiwan unveiled its most advanced missile, what it calls an aircraft carrier killer, at a defense exhibition in Taipei. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.