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Senate Plan to End US Budget Crisis Gains Attention

Interest is growing among lawmakers in a U.S. Senate Republican plan to end a political stalemate on government funding now that President Barack Obama's efforts to reach an agreement with House Republicans appear to have stalled.

The emerging proposal by Republican Senator Susan Collins would fund U.S. government operations at current levels for another six months.

It would also extend the government's authority to borrow money through January. U.S. officials say under current conditions, the government will have only limited funds left to pay its bills when it reaches a borrowing cap on Thursday.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner told fellow Republicans on Saturday that House talks with Mr. Obama on ending the 12-day-old partial government shutdown have stalled.

Lawmakers have been holding a series of closed-door sessions in a bid to reach a compromise.

Mr. Obama says in his meetings with lawmakers this week, there was agreement on "the need to avoid the economic consequences of not meeting (the) country's commitments."

In his weekly address Saturday, the president said damage to the country's "sterling credit rating" would make it more expensive for everyone in America to borrow money, creating what would amount to what he called a "Republican default tax on every family and business in America."

He said a default would also have a detrimental effect on global markets.

House Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon delivered the Republican address.

He said the two sides had found "common ground" this week with legislation supporting the military and their families during the shutdown, and now should continue to work out more agreements.



On Friday, finance chiefs of the world's leading economies urged the United States to quickly resolve the stalemate. The G20 finance ministers meeting in Washington said the U.S., with the world's largest economy, "needs to take urgent action to address short-term fiscal uncertainties."

Meanwhile, officials at three of the most famous U.S. national parks - the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore - have announced they will reopen in the coming days.

The move comes after state governors reached deals with the federal government, despite the ongoing government shutdown.

The states have agreed to provide the money needed to operate the parks.

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Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
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The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
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