Good morning! Here’s what you need to know right now:
1. France’s foreign minister, Alain Juppe, said Wednesday that there was still time to turn the tide against embattled leader Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. He urged quick passage of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the installation of a “no-fly” zone over Libya.
2. The son of Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi said this yesterday about French President Nicolas Sarkozy: “(He) must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We funded it and we have all the details and are ready to reveal everything. The first thing we want this clown to do is to give the money back to the Libyan people. He was given assistance so that he could help them. But he’s disappointed us: give us back our money. We have all the bank details and documents for the transfer operations and we will make everything public soon.”
3. The Obama Administration, which called for the leadership in Egypt and Libya to step down, is making no such request in Bahrain. US policy for the monarchies in the Gulf is, basically, “don’t fail, try to reform.“
4. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Bahrain arrested several opposition leaders and activists in dawn raids on their homes Thursday, as the government continued its attempt to stifle the recent uprising on the strategic Gulf island.”
5. US counter-terrorism operations have been compromised by the turmoil across the Middle East and North Africa. Information from Yemen, Libya and other nation-states in the MENA region about specific terrorists and terror groups has slowed and, some cases, stopped altogether.
7. Democrat Erskine Bowles co-chair of the White House’s deficit-reduction panel last year, predicted last night that 35 to 40 additional U.S. senators would back a deficit reduction plan being drafted by a group of lawmakers known as the “Gang of Six.” The plan calls for spending cuts and tax increases that would reduce the budget deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years.
8. The WSJ reports: “The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee wants to cut the top U.S. tax rate to 25% for individuals and corporations, and cut or eliminate many popular deductions.” Sweeping tax reform of this type will be difficult to get done, to say the least.
9. President Obama is being criticised for a “lack of leadership” on national security and budget issues. He travels to Rio this weekend.
10. Governors are having a hard time getting austerity budget deals done. Jerry Brown (D-CA) thinks that if a budget agreement cannot be reached, his state will be in for some very dark days. “There’ll be an unleashing of left and right forces,” he told a veteran California journalist. “Everyone will come out fighting. California will become a battleground. … It’ll be a war of all against all. The loser will be the people of California.”
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