In a photo provided to AFP by a third party, Syrians demonstrate against the government after Friday prayers in Hama on July 29. The Syrian government has banned most foreign media from entering the country, making it difficult to independently confirm events.
The holy month of Ramadan begins Monday in many parts of the Muslim world — 30 days of fasting from dawn to dusk, when large crowds gather for an additional nighttime prayer.
Ramadan could also be a decisive time for the protest movement in Syria. The government has stepped up mass arrests as activists vow to shift from weekly rallies to nightly ones outside mosques that have become centers of protest.
"I am not going to stop," said Mohammed Ali, a 24-year-old architect, and one of many activists who say they will be on the streets every night during Ramadan.
Vistors look at artwork in the Denmark pavilion of the 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale contemporary arts festival, in Venice, Italy, Wednesday, June 1, 2011. The festival officially opened on Saturday June 4th and runs until Nov. 27, 2011.
Damian Diaz, from left, James Sparks and Justin Lyons pose with an 8-foot bull shark caught Sunday, July 3, 2011 on Bolivar Peninsula beach. The 300-pound shark caught by Diaz and his family was released back into the Gulf after the group snapped a few photos to commemorate the catch.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gives a thumbs up as he walks to the Senate floor to announce that a deal has been reached on the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sunday, July 31, 2011.
Walter Shapiro is a special correspondent for The New Republic.
Twenty-six years ago — as part of the price for raising the federal debt ceiling to a shocking $2 trillion — Congress, in a wave of fiscal self-flagellation, approved the Gramm-Rudman bill. If a spendthrift Congress failed to meet prescribed deficit targets, then Gramm-Rudman would slice the budget with the across-the-board subtlety of Sweeney Todd.