Politics In 60 Seconds: What You Need To Know Right Now

Libya bombing

Good morning!  Business Insider will be providing live coverage of tonight’s special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District, beginning shortly after 9pm.  We hope to be able to declare a winner by 11pm.

Here’s the news you need to know:

1. NATO warplanes struck Tripoli this morning in a massive assault.  There were at least 15 major explosions, some near Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s compound. 

2. The Financial Times reports: “The brazen attack on a Pakistani naval air base has sent shockwaves through the nuclear-armed country, raising concerns about the military’s ability to protect sophisticated weaponry. The ease with which six Taliban militants stormed the PNS Mehran base in Karachi, close to the city’s busy commercial airport, and destroyed two newly US-supplied P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft has unnerved Pakistan’s military establishment.”

3. The disintegration of Egypt continues apace.  Leaders of the pro-democracy movement are calling for a day of “rage” on Friday to protest the slow pace of political reforms.  Meanwhile, Egypt’s economy is reeling.

4. Moody’s, the ratings agency, warned on Tuesday that a Greek sovereign default would spark contagion. The credit agency said this would have major implications for the eurozone, possibly leading to downgrades across the continent that would further deepen the debt crisis.

5. The US Supreme Court ruled that conditions in California’s overcrowded prison system violated the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  The Court ordered that California reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates.

6. This decision by the US Supreme Court has, as you might imagine, kicked up a storm in California. The prospect of a large number of criminals being returned to their communities is being viewed with fear and loathing.

7. The New York Times reports: “The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly last year, to what appeared to be the lowest rate in nearly 40 years, a development that was considered puzzling partly because it ran counter to the prevailing expectation that crime would increase during a recession.”

8. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced his candidacy for president yesterday, positioning himself as “courageous” and willing to tell “the truth.” The announcement got a mixed reception.

9. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said yesterday that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is leaning toward making a run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.  Mr. Giuliani’s 2008 campaign for president was a disaster.

10. Mitt Romney enjoys a comfortable lead over his GOP rivals in the most recent survey of New Hampshire presidential primary voters. 

11. National and Bay State Democrats are trying to convince Elizabeth Warren that she should run for the US Senate in Massachusetts. Ms. Warren is a professor at the Harvard Law School and President Obama’s designated choice to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

12. Political professionals now expect Democrat Kathy Huchol to win tonight’s special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District. How come?  In part because she has proven to be a better candidate.