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News Wrap: Rick Perry Takes Heat for Criticism of Fed’s Stimulus Effort

August 16, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry took some heat today after he appeared to threaten Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. It happened Monday evening in Iowa, as Perry criticized the Fed’s economic stimulus efforts.

The Texas governor warned Bernanke would be in trouble if he injects more money into the system before the election.

GOV. RICK PERRY, R-Texas: We — we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.

(LAUGHTER)

GOV. RICK PERRY: I mean, printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous — or treasonous, in my opinion.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Perry’s remark drew criticism from White House spokesman Jay Carney. He warned against saying anything to jeopardize the Fed’s independence. Carney said, “When you are president or running for president, you have to think about your words.”

The U.S. military now estimates that millions of dollars in security and rebuilding funds for Afghanistan have wound up in the hands of the Taliban. Criminal and local power brokers siphoned off millions more. The Associated Press reported today that a U.S. task force estimates, all told, some $360 million went astray. The report cites profiteering, bribery and extortion.

Rebels in Libya worked to secure gains today in key towns near Tripoli. There was more fighting in Zawiyah, where forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were holding out, using snipers and rocket salvo — salvos. U.S. and NATO officials said Gadhafi’s military even fired a Scud missile on Sunday, but it exploded harmlessly in the desert.

We have a report on the situation narrated by Damon Green of Independent Television News.

DAMON GREEN: These pictures taken by Libyan rebels supposedly show them inside the town of Zawiyah today, bringing to hospital a fighter injured in the struggle. They say the captured soldier is loyal to Colonel Gadhafi.

Gadhafi’s opponents say his days are numbered, that his force is almost exhausted. But many remain wary of the fact that has been said before, and the closer the fighting gets to Tripoli, the more desperate his loyalists might become.

Even so, NATO spokesmen say the use of unguided Scud missiles by the regime is no more than a gesture of defiance.

COL. ROLAND LAVOIE, NATO spokesman: The Gadhafi regime doesn’t have anymore an effective operational capability. It could certainly, as I mentioned in French, throw the dishes against the wall to make a bit of noise, but we do not believe that it could generate a significant operational effect.

DAMON GREEN: The rebels themselves scent victory, continuing to take small towns like this along the road between their stronghold of Benghazi and the capital. But if they are forced to fight their way into Tripoli, no one knows for certain what the cost of that battle will be.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In Washington, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said today that Gadhafi’s days are numbered and his forces are growing weak.

In Syria, the death toll rose to 35 in the coastal city of Latakia, under assault by the military for four days now. Tanks and ground troops pushed deeper into the besieged city, as shooting continued. Much of the day’s violence was in a neighborhood that is home to a Palestinian refugee camp.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.