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World Watches U.S. Debt Super Committee Fall Flat, Awaits Reverberations

The so-called Super Committee was supposed to rescue the United States from sinking in a sea of debt. The Congressional group is now being written off as a flop – mainly because Republicans want to save the super-rich from having to pay more taxes.

Democratic Senator Max Baucus
Democratic Senator Max Baucus
Christian Wernicke

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Not even an old hand like Max Baucus could pull the situation together. The Democratic senator from Montana has been in Washington for 33 years. Republicans respect the 69-year-old's gifts as a "dealmaker" – which is why his inclusion on the U.S. Congress's Super Committee, charged late this summer with coming up by mid-November with a long term plan to reduce the deficit, gave many a glimmer of hope that something useful could come of the endeavor.

It takes a lot to make an unflappable man like Baucus wax emotional, but at the end of last week he'd reached just that point. "We're at a time in American history where everybody's afraid -- afraid of losing their job," he said. The senator went on to say that there were not enough American legislators prepared to do what was right for the country because they were afraid of the radical elements in their parties. "Compared with the thousands who have given their lives in service to this country, I think it's tragic…" he said, in a reference to his nephew Philip, who died in Iraq in 2006.

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War in Ukraine, Day 92: Is Severodonetsk The Next Mariupol?

Russian troops are attempting to encircle Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region, as Vladimir Putin looks to claim victory in a war that is not going Moscow's way. But will the toll be for civilians?

Inside a shelter in Severodonetsk.

Meike Eijsberg, Shaun Lavelle and Cameron Manley

Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk area, is now the focal point of Russia’s war. In 2014, it had been recaptured from the pro-Russian separatists in a hard-fought battle by Ukrainian forces. Now, eight years later, Moscow is launching an all-out attack to try to take it back again.

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Alex Crawford, a Sky News correspondent in the region, says Russian forces have the means to conquer the city that in normal times has a population of circa 100,000 — and Moscow will be eager to cite it as the “victory”. But, Crawford wrote, “the path to victory comes – like the capture of the port city of Mariupol – strewn with the broken and battered bodies of the city's citizens.”

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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