TGIFriday Reads

I can’t believe it’s Friday already.  It just seems like my recent bout with the flu put me in some other time zone.  There is so much going on right now my head is spinning from all the news.  We have a nuclear melt down, another war with another madman, and congress nitpicking over little line items in the budget when there’s a sustained high rate of unemployment.  What’s next?

The WSJ reports that Egypt is arming the Libyan Rebels and that the White House knows this.  This is a clear indication that Libya’s neighbors want Gadhafi gone.

The shipments—mostly small arms such as assault rifles and ammunition—appear to be the first confirmed case of an outside government arming the rebel fighters. Those fighters have been losing ground for days in the face of a steady westward advance by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The Egyptian shipments are the strongest indication to date that some Arab countries are heeding Western calls to take a lead in efforts to intervene on behalf of pro-democracy rebels in their fight against Mr. Gadhafi in Libya. Washington and other Western countries have long voiced frustration with Arab states’ unwillingness to help resolve crises in their own region, even as they criticized Western powers for attempting to do so.

The shipments also follow an unusually robust diplomatic response from Arab states. There have been rare public calls for foreign military intervention in an Arab country, including a vote by the 23-member Arab League last week urging the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

SOS Hillary Clinton believes that the No-fly zone will require bombing. This has been indicated by some retired generals who have done similar actions in other UN actions like Bosnia.  Clinton is in Tunisia and has been traveling in the region.

“A no-fly zone requires certain actions taken to protect the planes and the pilots, including bombing targets like the Libyan defense systems,” Clinton said in Tunis, her last stop on a trip that also took her to Cairo and Paris.

In all her stops, Clinton’s done a mix of stressing the need for democracy in post-revolution Tunisia and Egypt, and pushing for international cooperation in responding to the crisis in Libya. On Thursday, her only full day in Tunisia, Clinton promised that the United States “will stand with you as you make the transition to democracy, prosperity and a better future.”

Democrats are finally pushing back on the Republican canard that Social Security is bankrupt.  Harry Reid also took on the falsehood that Social Security is some how related to the Federal Deficit.  It’s about time.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) appeared on MSNBC last night, where he strongly rejected the idea that Social Security cuts should be on the table during current budget talks. “I’ve said clearly and as many times as I can, leave Social Security alone. Social Security has not added a single penny, not a dime, a nickel, a dollar to the budget problems we have. Never has. And for the next 30 years, it won’t do that,” Reid said. “Two decades from now, I am willing to take a look at it. I am not willing to take a look at it now.”

House Republicans, meanwhile, have stated their intention to suggest “bold reforms” for Social Security in their 2012 budget, which House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) plans to release during the first week of April. At Politico’s “Playbook Breakfast” today, which Wonk Room attended, Ryan was asked about Reid’s position. Ryan said that Reid’s stance “just boggles my mind,” before later admitting that Social Security is “not a driver of our debt”

Politico reports that Republicans are trying to roll back financial reform.

Republicans clearly want to strike at the heart of banking reform with legislation attacking new regulations on derivatives, credit rating agencies and private equity firms. But their piecemeal approach suggests they are trying to do so without appearing to favor Wall Street over Main Street.

And for a party so vigilant on its messaging, the GOP doesn’t intend to swing the door wide-open for Democrats to go on the offensive in ways they couldn’t during the repeal debate over the far less popular health care law.

“There’s no question they didn’t like financial reform,” Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), one of the law’s namesakes and top Democrat on the committee said of Republicans. “But they’re more respectful of the public appeal of this and are going about this at the edges.”

Obama held a presser yesterday and announced that he had ordered a review of  safety at US nuclear facilities.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has conducted an “exhaustive study” of U.S. plants and they have been “declared safe for any number of extreme contingencies,” Obama said at the White House. Still, he said, a review should be conducted based on what is learned from the damage at the Japanese facility.

The president said the administration will keep the public informed about the nuclear crisis and sought to allay any health concerns in the U.S.

“We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States,” including Hawaii, Alaska and territories in the Pacific, he said.

Obama’s remarks reinforced statements earlier today by NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko that the government continually reviews safety and standards and will do so based on what is learned from the situation in Japan. There is no immediate need for special inspections of U.S. nuclear plants, he said.

Meanwhile, the EPA has proposed tougher air pollution standards for US power plants.

Newly proposed national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollutants from power plants could prevent as many as 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks a year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The proposed standards, released Wednesday by the EPA in response to a court deadline, could also prevent 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and 11,000 cases of acute bronchitis among children each year; avert more than 12,000 emergency room visits and hospital admissions annually; and lead to 850,000 fewer days of work missed due to health problems.

Under the proposal, many power plants would be required to install proven pollution control technologies to reduce harmful emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases, the EPA said.

Opposition leaders in Bahrain have been arrested following a crackdown on protests.

Several opposition leaders and activists have been arrested in Bahrain following a violent crackdown on anti-government protests in the Gulf kingdom.

State television said “leaders of the civil strife” had been arrested for communicating with foreign countries and inciting murder and destruction of property.

Among those arrested were Hassan Mushaima, who had returned last month from self-imposed exile in the UK after Bahraini authorities dropped charges against him, and Ibrahim Sharif, head of the Waad political society, a secular group comprising mostly Sunni members.

Also taken into custody early on Thursday was Abdul Jalil al-Singace, a leader of the Haq movement, who was jailed last August but was freed in late February as part of concessions by the Khalifa royal family to protesters.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent, reporting from the capital, Manama, said a crackdown on the opposition’s main voices was under way.

“Significant members of the opposition were arrested overnight, including some prominent activists. Soldiers broke into the houses of these figures early in the morning and made these arrests,” he said.

Later in the day, protesters ignored warnings to stay at home and gathered in Dair and Jidhaf just outside Manama.

What a world!

One last article from Politico on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the role she played in getting the world to take on Gadhafi.  Also, some more hints on her future plans.

Clinton has made similar “I’m not here forever” comments before – but it was the timing of her remarks to CNN on Wednesday that raised eyebrows, coming at a critical moment in her fierce internal battle to push President Barack Obama to join the fight to liberate Libya from Muammar Qadhafi.

Clinton’s position was vindicated early Thursday evening when the United Nations Security Council – at the urging of the United States – approved a resolution authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians, including a no-fly zone. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters that such a move could involve direct attacks on pro-Qadhafi forces now bearing down on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

Clinton’s persistence in the anti-Qadhafi cause has been such a constant in the White House in recent days that Obama, according to reports, joked about Clinton lobbing rocks through his window during his remarks at Saturday night’s Gridiron dinner.

“Stay tuned,” said one Clinton friend when asked if the secretary would ultimately prevail.

Two Clinton friends, who speak with her regularly, told POLITICO she wasn’t trying to send any message to Obama with her interview with Wolf Blitzer Wednesday and she has no plans to leave earlier than the end of the president’s first term.

Whats on your reading and blogging list today?


43 Comments on “TGIFriday Reads”

  1. bluelady says:

    Japan is considering burying the reactor(s?) in sand and concrete to prevent meltdown-Reuters
    http://tinyurl.com/49g5zbd

    Holy shit!
    It’s becoming another Chernobyl, only the West wasn’t allowed much news access for that one.I think it was scarier not knowing what was going on than having an abundance of news as we do for the Japanese crisis.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I sure hope Reid sticks to his guns on Social Security. He tends to be a waffler, but he sounds really serious this time.

    • Fredster says:

      And “douchy” Ryan and the rest know that all they have to do is to raise or removed the limits on Soc.Sec. income and it will resolve the slight problems right now.

  3. purplefinn says:

    From BBC:

    Libya’s government is declaring an immediate ceasefire, hours after a UN Security Council resolution backed a no-fly zone over the country.

    Libyan Foreign Minister Mussa Kussa said the ceasefire was intended “to protect civilians”.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12787739

    • bostonboomer says:

      Protect civilians. That Gaddafi is too much. LOL

    • paper doll says:

      shows it should have ben done weeks ago.
      Gaddafi suddenly discovered his war machine has back up lights

    • dakinikat says:

      That’s so obvious.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      I think Obama is giving another “speech” sometime today about Libya…anyone heard about this?

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        I had some info on this statement that Obama is giving, scheduled at 2pm. My DSL is acting up and the entire comment was lost. Yuk…

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        U.S. and Libya: Clinton unimpressed by Libya cease-fire, says Kadafi must go – latimes.com

        While planning continues at the Pentagon, a senior defense official said the U.S. military awaited final decisions from President Obama.

        “The president hasn’t made any decisions about the use of force yet,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

        U.S. officials may be seeking to work out a secondary support role in Libya. U.S. defense officials, starting with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, have been leery of military engagement in the country with American forces already stretched in Afghanistan and Iraq.

        The White House said Obama would issue a statement about the conflict in Libya at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon in the East Room, hours before he departs for South America for a five-day, three-nation tour focused on economic issues. He has called for Kadafi’s removal from power.

    • WomanVoter says:

      The No Fly Zone came a little late with Gaddafi just about ready to attack Benghazi and in Europe there is criticism of someone dragging their feet, but busy golfing and doing basketball…hemmm, who could that be….hemmmm…

  4. Peggy Sue says:

    I hope Reid and other liberals stand firm on SS. Because apparently a battle is being waged within the Administration. Article from The Hill here:

    http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/149489-social-security-reform-splits-the-white-house

    Geithner and his crew are pushing for cuts and Obama, of course, is weighing the political pros and cons. You’ll note how the American public never figures into these equations.

    I also read that the Republicans are turning their sights on Elizabeth Warren. They want her and her Consumer Protection Agency crippled. No surprise there, I guess. Anything that protects the public’s interest is fair game for the GOP.

    Hillary Clinton has taken a win on the Lybia affair, despite the President’s crass jokes at her expense–that she was keeping him awake by throwing rocks at the window.

    The man is an ass! I’m not sure how the Lybia business will ultimately end. This is dicey at best and we’re stretched thin. But I’m always stunned how we always have money for War but we’re broke for anything that would improve the welfare of the American public.

    The paradox continues.

    • paper doll says:

      Hillary Clinton has taken a win on the Lybia affair, despite the President’s crass jokes at her expense–that she was keeping him awake by throwing rocks at the window

      Apparently that’s what it takes

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    UK’s Express is asking whether Obama is the weakest president in history?

    Express.co.uk – Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | Express Yourself :: Barack Obama: The Weakest President in history?

    What is the Obama administration’s position on the protests in the Gulf island state of Bahrain, which the authorities there are savagely suppressing with the help of troops shipped in from Saudi Arabia? What is the White House view on the alarming prospect of the unrest spreading to Saudi Arabia itself? Who knows? Certainly not the American people, nor the leaders of nations which would consider themselves allies of America.

    The President has not really shared his views, which leads us to conclude that he either doesn’t know or chooses, for reasons best known to himself, not to say. The result is that a very real opportunity to remove an unpredictable despot from power may well have been lost. Who knows when or if such an opportunity will come along again?

  6. Minkoff Minx says:

    Update on NYT Journalist:

    Libya Says It Will Release Times Journalists – NYTimes.com

    Four New York Times journalists missing in Libya since Tuesday were captured by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and will be released Friday, his son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, told Christiane Amanpour in an ABC News interview.

    Like many Western journalists, the four had entered the rebel-controlled eastern region of Libya without visas over the Egyptian border to cover the insurrection against Colonel Qaddafi.

    “They entered the country illegally and when the army, when they liberated the city of Ajdabiya from the terrorists and they found her, they arrest her because you know, foreigners in this place,” Mr. Qaddafi said, according to the transcript of the interview. “But then they were happy because they found out she is American, not European. And thanks to that, she will be free tomorrow.” Mr. Qaddafi was apparently referring to Lynsey Addario, an experienced war photographer, but Libyan government officials told the United States State Department on Thursday evening that all four would be released.

    • paper doll says:

      It’s astonishing what a no fly zone can do…these New York Times journalists owe Hillary Cliton a big mac, WITH fries and a coke…at least

  7. Minkoff Minx says:

    Yemen declares ‘state of emergency’ – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

    From AJE in the last few minutes…

    Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, has declared a nationwide state of emergency, after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests killed at least 30 people, and left scores more wounded, in the capital Sanaa.

    Saleh said on Friday that the decision to impose the state of emergency was made by the country’s national security council, but there was no immediate indication of how long it would last.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Finally!! The SEC is moving against WAMU’s executives and also Fannie and Freddie execs on their mortgage practices!!!

    The SEC, responsible for enforcing securities laws, is alleging that at least four senior executives failed to provide necessary information to investors about the companies’ mortgage holdings as the U.S. housing market collapsed.

    But the agency that most closely regulates Fannie and Freddie, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, disagrees with that assessment, according to sources familiar with the matter.

    FHFA officials think Fannie and Freddie’s financial disclosures, which agency staff members had reviewed before the documents were released to the public, were sufficient, the sources said. One source added that FHFA has sent a letter to the SEC opposing the filing of charges.

  9. Minkoff Minx says:

    War On The Poor: Minnesota Republicans Want To Bust Poor People Who Carry Cash | Crooks and Liars

    St. Paul, MN – Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all.

    • bostonboomer says:

      WTF?!

    • Delphyne says:

      That is shameful and utterly cruel.

    • Peggy Sue says:

      What??? And I’m sure these same people call themselves ‘good Christians.’ Nothing like dehumanizing the down and out. Oh yeah, we’ll give you a hand up. But you have to crawl first.

      There’s no sense to this. I’m not sure whether this is cruel or flatout evil.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      It just is completely crazy that these people actually come up with these kind of ideas. I don’t understand it at all. And of course…who is more than likely to be affected by this f!cked up law? Poor women…especially poor black women. The assault on women and girls from the right is becoming even more “gutsy” with all these ridiculous proposed legislation. There has to be some kind of leadership from the few women’s cause and issues groups. (NOW, NARAL, etc.) I swear, it makes me want to start my own damn group that can really get a revolution started.

      I am working on yet another post on the crusade against women and girls. (I sound like a broken record…I know.) Look for it sometime tonight.

    • dakinikat says:

      This is really insane most of the poor are ‘unbanked’. They don’t use banks so what are they going to use? They have to use checking cashing places and frequently pay bills there too getting incredible fees etc. Most of them don’t have enough balances to have bank accounts and banks and bank branches are in short supply in poor neighborhoods so there is no way to get to their money or to deposit it.

      This is really cruel.

    • Fannie says:

      These republicans are turning out to be the sorriest sob’s I’ve ever heard of. Time for the poor people to march in their neighorhoods and see where they are getting the cash to put in their wallets, and to put a stop to the thousands they receive from displaced and unemployed poor people.

      Time to organize, we got nothing to lose.

  10. dakinikat says:

    Try this one on for size:

    GOP Bill Would Force IRS to Conduct Abortion Audits

    Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?

    In testimony to a House taxation subcommittee on Wednesday, Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, confirmed that one consequence of the Republicans’ “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” would be to turn IRS agents into abortion cops—that is, during an audit, they’d have to detemine, from evidence provided by the taxpayer, whether any tax benefit had been inappropriately used to pay for an abortion.