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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know:1. The Wall Street Journal reports: “The euro was hammered again Tuesday, while peripheral bond spreads widened and stocks tumbled, as investors’ fears about the euro-zone debt crisis spreading to Italy deepened and a meeting of European Union finance ministers failed to come up with a definite rescue plan.”
2. The New York Times reports: “Investors are taking aim at any country suffering from a combination of high debt, slow growth and political dysfunction — and Italy has it all, in spades.” Italy is the eurozone’s third largest economy.
3. President Obama is using the debt ceiling increase/deficit reduction negotiations to position himself as a “centrist” for his re-election campaign next year. The repositioning appears to be effective.
5. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has emerged as the true voice of the House Republican caucus in the ongoing negotiations over raising the debt ceiling and reducing the federal budget deficit.
6. The White House is looking for ways to revive the housing market. Tepid demand, oversupply and a flood of foreclosures have led to relentless downward price pressure. The president’s political advisors are concerned that if the market doesn’t begin to bounce back, President Obama’s re-election campaign will be even more difficult. It is already very difficult.
7. President Obama’s approval rating in the state of Florida, which he carried by a narrow margin in the 2008 presidential election, is in free fall. The latest poll data show that 38 per cent of Floridians approve of his job performance, while 54 per cent disapprove.
8. The looming bankruptcy of a small city called Central Falls is rattling the state of Rhode Island. The New York Times reports: “Some analysts fear that a Central Falls bankruptcy, and a whiff of other problems out there, could scare nervous investors away from bonds issued by Rhode Island’s other municipalities, perhaps setting off a chain reaction that could push the state itself to the brink.”
9. Voters in California’s 36th US Congressional District will go to the polls today to choose a successor to the incumbent, Rep. Jane Harman (D), who is retiring. On paper, the seat should remain in Democratic hands. In reality, the race is surprisingly close.
10. The Washington Post reports: “The half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai was assassinated by one of his security guards inside his house in Kandahar on Tuesday morning, witnesses and Afghan officials said, a political killing that will reverberate widely through the country and could destabilize a key region in the U.S. military’s campaign against the Taliban.”
11. Syrian “demonstrators” loyal to President Assad stormed the US Embassy in Damascus yesterday. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a stern rebuke.
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