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from Reuters Investigates:

Intrigue in China’s U.S. Treasury buying

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A Reuters exclusive today describes a method China used recently to hide some of its U.S. Treasury purchases - "US caught China buying more Treasuries than disclosed."

Treasury officials said they were simply modernizing outdated procedures two years ago when they revamped the rules for participating in government bond auctions.

The real reason for the change, a Reuters investigation has found, was more serious: The Treasury concluded that China was buying much more in U.S. debt than was being disclosed, potentially in violation of auction rules, and it wanted to bring those purchases into the open - all without ruffling feathers in Beijing.

Stephen Culp, Reuters graphics editor, came up with a handy visual explanation for the practice that allowed China to mask billions of dollars worth of U.S. debt purchases at auctions. China placed its bids informally through primary dealers, who then placed their bids at Treasury auctions without naming China as a customer. The Treasury outlawed the practice in June, 2009, but kept the reason for the rule-change under wraps.

from FaithWorld:

U.S. shifts to closer contact with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

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(U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a news conference in Budapest June 30, 2011/Bernadett Szabo)

The United States will resume limited contacts with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed on Thursday, saying it was in Washington's interests to deal with parties committed to non-violent politics. While Clinton portrayed the administration's decision as a continuation of an earlier policy, it reflects a subtle shift in that U.S. officials will be able to deal directly with officials of the Islamist movement who are not members of parliament.

from FaithWorld:

U.S. to resume formal Muslim Brotherhood contacts, official says

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(The skyline of Washington DCl, May 22, 2009/Larry Downing)

The United States has decided to resume formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a senior U.S. official said, in a step that reflects the Islamist group's growing political weight but that is almost certain to upset Israel and its U.S. backers.  "The political landscape in Egypt has changed, and is changing," said the senior official, who spokeon Wednesday on condition of anonymity. "It is in our interests to engage with all of the parties that are competing for parliament or the presidency."

The official sought to portray the shift as a subtle evolution rather than a dramatic change in Washington's stance toward the Brotherhood, a group founded in 1928 that seeks to promote its conservative vision of Islam in society. Under the previous policy, U.S. diplomats were allowed to deal with Brotherhood members of parliament who had won seats as independents -- a diplomatic fiction that allowed them to keep lines of communication open.

from FaithWorld:

National impact expected from New York gay marriage law: experts

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(A rainbow flag symbolizing gay pride hangs from the awning of a store in New York June 22, 2011/Shannon Stapleton)

When New York became the sixth and by far the largest state to legalize same-sex marriage, following a grueling overtime session in the state legislature, it immediately transformed the national debate over the issue, legal experts said.

from FaithWorld:

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania turns to God for fiscal relief

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(The state capitol dome over Harrisburg, 24 December 2004/Pollinator)

 

Pennsylvania's debt-ridden capital of Harrisburg has tried every form of fiscal belt-tightening, from layoffs to furloughs to filing for bankruptcy. Now, it is turning to God.

Mayor Linda Thompson said on Friday she will join religious leaders in three days of fasting and prayer to encourage "a cooperative spirit among government leaders, the business community and citizens."

from FaithWorld:

Ayman al-Zawahri: Suburban doctor who became chief of al Qaeda

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(Ayman al-Zawahri speaks from an unknown location, in this still image taken from video uploaded on a social media website June 8, 2011/Reuters TV)

 

The Egyptian who has taken the helm of al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden did not emerge from the crowded slums of Egypt's sprawling capital a militant or develop his ideas in any religious college or seminary. Instead, Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahri was raised in Cairo's leafy Maadi suburb where comfortable villas are a favourite among expatriates from the Western nations he rails against. He studied at Cairo University and qualified as a doctor.

from FaithWorld:

U.S. working dads’ top priority is giving family love – survey

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(Colt Groff, carrying his daughter Peyton Groff (L), and Jason Hill, carrying Trayson Groff, look at the smoke from the Wallow wildfire in Apache County, Arizona June 9, 2011/Joshua Lott )

Many fathers these days want it all -- time with kids, promotions at work and a spouse who shares the parenting duties. But some say they would trade in their commute and office gig for a stay-at-home role.

from FaithWorld:

Q+A: Women’s rights in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban

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(Afghan men and women teachers attend their graduation ceremony in Kabul March 30, 2011/Omar Sobhani)

Women have won hard-fought rights in Afghanistan since the austere rule of the Taliban was ended by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001. But gains made in areas such as education, work and even dress code look shaky as the government plans peace talks that include negotiating with the Taliban.

from FaithWorld:

Liberal U.S. Catholics say their Church is not listening

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(St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, 4 March 2005/Tom Heneghan)

Members of a liberal group of U.S. Catholics called on Sunday on Church leaders to open talks with their members on controversies ranging from the ordination of women to allowing priests to marry. Members of the American Catholic Council, meeting in Detroit, said they had grown concerned that the Church hierarchy was not listening to its members on issues such as the role of women, married clergy and the treatment of homosexuals.

The meeting comes as the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is struggling with a sexual abuse crisis, loss of membership and a dwindling number of priests.

from FaithWorld:

U.S. atheists sue to run bus ads for a God-free lifestyle

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(Bus ad created with Bus Slogan Generator/Photo: Jon Worth c/o atheistbus.org.uk)

A coalition of atheists is accusing a United States city bus line of violating their rights to free speech in a fight to place ads on public buses praising a God-free lifestyle. The Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason alleged in a lawsuit that the Central Arkansas Transit Authority in Little Rock and its advertising agency are discriminating against the group because they're being required to pay tens of thousands of dollars to put $5,000 worth of ads on 18 buses.

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