Debt ceiling — President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill raising the government’s borrowing limit, averting a default and delaying the next clash over the nation’s debt until later this year. The legislation temporarily suspends the $16.4 trillion limit on federal borrowing. Experts say that will allow the government to borrow about $450 billion to meet interest payments and other obligations. The Senate gave the bill final approval last week and sent it to Obama, who signed it Monday.
Kerry warns Korea — New U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his South Korean counterpart have agreed to make sure North Korea is punished if it carries out its threat to conduct a nuclear test. Amid signs that such a test is coming, South Korea’s president also speculated that Pyongyang may detonate multiple atomic devices simultaneously. Under a U.N. Security Council resolution last month condemning a North Korean long-range rocket launch that the U.N. and others call a disguised test of banned missile technology, Pyongyang is subject to new sanctions if it detonates its third nuclear device since 2006.
Church abuse files — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles released 12,000 pages of internal files Thursday on priests accused of sexually abusing children, saying that it was finally abiding by a settlement it signed with victims six years ago. But it now appears that the files the church released are incomplete and many are unaccounted for. In addition, on many documents the names of supervisors informed of abuse allegations were redacted by the archdiocese. At issue is whether the survivors of abuse and the public will ever learn which church officials were responsible for mishandling or covering up allegations of sexual abuse.
Mali conflict — French warplanes bombed Islamist militant bases and depots deep into northern Mali to disrupt their supply routes, French officials said Monday, as secular Tuareg rebels in northern Mali said they had captured two Islamist commanders near the Algerian border. The two men were captured Saturday by a patrol and brought to the northern city of Kidal on Sunday for questioning. The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said Monday that at least 30 French jets had bombed “bases and fuel depots" in northern Mali on Sunday to prevent the Islamists from regrouping in the mountainous region.
Wounded Pakistani activist — Speaking on camera for the first time since she survived an assassination attempt by the Pakistani Taliban last year, the young activist Malala Yousufzai began with the words, “Today you can see that I’m alive." The 15-year-old, who was shot in the head as she left school in the Swat Valley in Pakistan four months ago, promised in the video that she would continue to be an outspoken advocate of the right of “every girl, every child, to be educated."
Syria conflict — Syria’s opposition coalition gave qualified backing Monday to its leader’s surprise offer last week for a dialogue with President Bashar Assad to end the civil war, pressing him to respond definitively and even offering the added inducement that he could avoid trial if he resigned and left the country. Although the offer made by the opposition leader, Mouaz al-Khatib, was by his own admission a personal gambit and was initially greeted with a torrent of criticism inside the Syrian opposition movement, his colleagues in the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces basically endorsed it over the weekend.
Mexico explosion — A gas buildup ignited by an electrical spark or other heat source caused the blast that killed 37 people and wounded dozens of others last week at the state oil company’s headquarters, Mexico’s attorney general said. But Attorney-General Jesus Murillo Karam said investigators were still looking for the source of the gas, and revising records of building inspections to determine why Petroleos Mexicanos had not discovered the gas accumulation. As a state company, Pemex is responsible for inspecting its own buildings.
Iranian official arrested — Iran has arrested a senior government official, two years after a parliamentary probe found him responsible for deaths by torture of at least three jailed anti-government protesters. State media say Saeed Mortazavi — an ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — was taken to Tehran’s Evin prison late Monday night but gave no details.
Boy Scout meeting — A proposed shift by the Boy Scouts of America to drop its national ban on gay leaders and Scouts, and allow local Scout units to decide for themselves, was the center of attention as the organization’s national board gathered in Irving, Texas, on Monday for a three-day meeting. But the undercurrents of the debate — a drop in participation in the Scouts over the last decade and a deep division between conservative and liberal church groups over the proposal — are raising the stakes even higher for the vote as a kind of proxy on the question of how Scouting stays relevant in a changing social climate, Scout volunteers involved in the discussions said.
— From wire reports