Good morning! Here’s what you need to know right now:1. U.S. and allied forces have escalated their assault on Qaddafi’s forces, launching strikes against ground troops as the mission moved beyond the establishment of a no-fly zone. The Europeans are vehemently denying Qaddafi’s claims of civilian casualties.
2. U.S. intelligence is keeping its eye on Libya’s huge supply of mustard gas and explosives, waiting for signs Qaddafi could launch terrorist attacks on Western targets and civilians. So far, though, U.S. officials say they are not targeting the Libyan leader.
3. Tanks and armoured vehicles were deployed in Yemen today after three top army commanders gave their support to opposition protesters. The defections come one day after the president fired his cabinet over the deaths of at least 45 people at the hands of government forces.
4. Protesters in Syria clashed with security forces for the third straight day Sunday, setting fire to government buildings in the southern city of Dara’a. Police officers fired live ammunition into the crowds, killing at least one, the NYT reports.
5. Egyptians approved a series of constitutional amendments in a historic – and largely fraud-free – vote Saturday, paving the way for parliamentary elections within months. Protest leaders criticised the rushed timeline set forth in the amendments which are supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and the ruling party.
6. The huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan last week caused up to $235 billion in damages, making it one of the most expensive natural disasters on record, the World Bank said Monday. So far, the death toll is more than 8,000 and another 13,000 people are still missing.
7. U.S. energy officials said they are doing a complete review of procedures at the country’s nuclear energy facilities in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi crisis. N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said over the weekend that he plans to go over concerns about the safety of the Indian Point plant located north of N.Y.C.
8. The city of Costa Mesa, Calif., has laid off nearly half of its workforce due to rising pension and personnel costs. One maintenance worker committed suicide by jumping off the city hall roof after receiving his layoff notice.
9. On her first trip to India this weekend, Sarah Palin talked tough on China and said she is still thinking about making a presidential bid in 2012.
10. President Barack Obama moves to Chile today, where he is expected to outline his vision for U.S. relations with Latin America. He’ll also take questions on Libya, the BBC reports.
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