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News Wrap: Congress Leaves Unfinished Business at Start of Summer Recess

August 3, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN:┬áCongress began its five-week summer recess today with a long list of legislation yet to be completed. So far, Republicans running the House and Democrats controlling the Senate have deadlocked over extending the Bush-era tax cuts at year’s end. There’s also been no agreement on a new farm bill, or interim drought relief, or on cybersecurity legislation, and a major postal service overhaul.

The U.N. General Assembly today condemned Syria’s government and demanded a political transition. The nonbinding vote also criticized the Security Council for not — failing to act against the Syrian regime.

Meanwhile, in Syria, government tanks assaulted the last rebel stronghold in Damascus, and mortar rounds killed at least 20 people at a Palestinian refugee camp in the city. Palestinian officials in the West Bank voiced outrage.

WASEL ABU YOUSEF, PLO Executive Committee (through translator): We ask all the different parties not to drag the Palestinians into the ongoing fighting. I repeat the Palestinian leadership position: to avoid anything that might be fueling the conflict and to maintain the unity of Syria, to keep it from any division or external interference, and also to keep the demands of the Syrian people.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The fighting also escalated in and around Aleppo. Rebels battled to hold on to sections of the city and buildings like this hospital in a nearby suburb were left in ruins. Damaged vehicles and debris littered the streets after days of heavy combat between the rebels and government forces.

At the Summer Olympics in London, track and field got under way, as swimming neared its climax. Spoiler alert: We have some of the results now, so if you don’t want to know just yet, tune out for a moment.

The U.S. had another big day in the pool. American Michael Phelps won the 100-meter butterfly for his record 21st Olympic medal, including 17 golds. Missy Franklin captured her third gold medal of the Games, winning the 200-meter backstroke in world-record time. And 15-year-old Katie Ledecky, the youngest member of the U.S. team, won the women’s 800-meter freestyle.

For the first time, a Saudi Arabian woman competed at the Olympics today, but it didn’t last long. Judo fighter Wojdan Shaherkani was defeated by a Puerto Rican opponent after just 82 seconds. The 17-year-old Saudi wore a tight-fitting black cap after Olympic officials barred her from competing in a traditional head scarf. Conservative Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia argued the teenager would dishonor herself by fighting in front of men.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.