With the sovereign debt crisis deepening, the leaders of France and Germany announced that they would seek a "true European economic government" made up of all the heads of state of eurozone countries but led by European Union President Herman Van Rompuy.

The AP reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met in France after a turbulent week in the world markets, also want the 17 nations to make a balanced budget part of their constitutions.

Reuters adds:

Seven months after it fired 800 employees, Evergreen Solar is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief. The company, which has received tens of millions of dollars in grants and incentives from the state of Massachusetts, will also face calls to return at least some of that money.

In the language of failed businesses, those calls are termed a "clawback" effort.

Despite media reports that food aid for Somalians is being stolen, a bipartisan congressional committee is calling for more U.S. dollars to be sent to the African country. Guest host Tony Cox speaks with members of the House Subcommittee on African and Global Health: Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.).

In a trickle-down effect, about $360 million spent by the United States on combat support and reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan ended up in enemy hands. As the AP reports, the U.S. military said the money was handed down by contractors to "the Taliban, criminals and local power brokers with ties to both."

The AP adds:

After the Sept. 11 attacks, America responded immediately with a militarized strategy to defeat al-Qaida. But it quickly became clear to analysts in the Pentagon that using warfare alone couldn't counter the terrorist group. In 2005, a group of eclectic analysts at Central Command began looking for a broader, more holistic strategy they could use to target al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

Our colleague over at NPR's foreign desk, Corey Flintoff, filed this radio piece for today's Morning Edition on a rich tradition in India of making and chewing spice and nut packets wrapped in betel leaves called paan. It turns out that paan is being threatened by an influx of cheaper commercially prepared packets containing tobacco.

Germany: From Hero To (Almost) Zero

Aug 16, 2011

Strong economic growth takes the sting out of debt. When a nation's income increases, tax revenues go up. Existing debts become more manageable.

By the same token, when economic growth stalls, debt problems become tougher to solve.

So this morning's news out of Europe is cause for concern: Overall, the EU economy grew by just 0.2 percent between the first and second quarter of this year, officials reported.

The Libyan opposition is the closest it's ever been to Tripoli since the civil war began six months ago. According to multiple news outlets, the rebels have slowly worked their way around the city and are now in a position to cut off supplies to Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

That news was paired with the apparent defection of Nassr al-Mabroul Abdullah, Libya's head of public security as well as news that Gaddafi's army fired its first scud missile.

The AP reports:

Fitch Ratings Affirms United States' AAA Rating

Aug 16, 2011

Fitch Ratings, one of the big three ratings agencies, announced today that it was keeping a AAA rating for the United States.

The agency said in a press release that the affirmation "reflects the fact that the key pillars of US's exceptional creditworthiness remains intact." The agency added:

'Ankle Phone Call' Could Save Time And Money In The ER

Aug 16, 2011

Got a bum leg or ankle?