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

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Good morning!  Here’s what you need to know:

1.  President Obama defended the American-led military assault on Libya last night in a nationally televised address. He said the US had to attack to prevent a massacre that would have “stained the conscience of the world.”

2.  Reaction to the President’s speech was generally positive.  Neo-conservatives seemed particularly pleased.

3.  US airpower, first deployed to protect civilians in Benghazi, is now being deployed on an expanded mission to convince the Libyan military to give up the fight. 

4.  The political crisis in Yemen grew worse, if that’s possible.  The central government appears to be on the very edge of collapse.

5.  More than 60 people have died during crackdowns on protesters in several cities in Syria, according to Human Rights Watch. The Assad government appears increasingly bewildered. Political revolution in Syria would have serious (and perhaps destabilizing) consequences across the region.

6. German Chancellor Angela Merkel mis-read the public mood and paid the price at the polls in a provincial election that is being likened to a political earthquake. The centre-right power triad of Merkel, Sarkozy and Berlusconi have all seen their political fortunes decline this year.

7.  The US municipal debt market hasn’t collapsed, it’s gone into the deep freeze.  The FT reports: “The first quarter of the year will record the lowest amount of quarterly new issuance in more than a decade.”

8.  The shutdown of the US government in early April (April 5th is the de facto deadline for a budget deal) appeared more likely.  Leaders of various factions of both parties continued to bicker.

9.  Beginning next year, Michigan, which has been plagued by high unemployment, will pay fewer weeks of unemployment benefits than any other state in the nation.  Most states pay 26 weeks.  Michigan, due to budget woes, will only pay 20 weeks.

10.  Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) finds herself in trouble at home, due to self-inflicted political wounds. National Journal political analyst Charlie Cook now views her 2012 re-election campaign as a toss-up.

Extra, extra

# The Afghan Elite’s ATM: Kabul Bank.

# Fear and loathing in Cairo.

# An alternate view of why Black Americans are reversing the “great migration” and heading back down south.

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