A kung-fu master at the Shaolin Monastery in Henan Province, China. What a strkingly beautiful image. From National Geographic.
Which is the bigger development here?
Retreat for Rebels; Libyan Foreign Minister Quits from the New York Times
"In a stunning setback for the Qaddafi government, however, one of its most senior officials, foreign minister Moussa Koussa ... The Obama administration has been making strenuous efforts to convince the leadership around Colonel Qaddafi to abandon their support for the dictator. In Mr. Koussa they seem to have met with their first success, as his defection sent shockwaves through Tripoli."
I would love to be a fly on the wall when this guy is interrogated. You have to ask yourself: given Qaddafi's recent military successes, what tea leaves is this guy reading that he chooses NOW to jump ship?
C.I.A. Agents in Libya Aid Airstrikes and Meet Rebels from the New York Times
"The Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and contact rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials. While President Obama has insisted that no American military ground troops participate in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military, the officials said"
There is so much that could be said about this development -- none of it good.
Obama Flirts with a Doctrine (Doyle McManus) from the Los Angeles Times
"President Obama and his aides insist the U.S.-led intervention in Libya isn't part of a grand doctrine for the Middle East. But his plans for democracy have the earmarks of one."
Grateful for Airstrikes, Advancing Libyan Rebels Face New Challenges from the Atlantic
"U.S. and European missions have cleared the rebels' way forward, but their next steps will require more than bombs"
Have We Got Arab Politics All Wrong? (Max Fisher) from the Atlantic
"We've long tended to assume that foreign policy drives Arab public opinion, but the uprisings in Egypt and Syria may show us otherwise."
Obama Wins Arab Respect (Kate Seelye) from the Daily Beast
"In the president’s speech on Libya, he laid out his moral argument for saving lives in defense of democracy, without boots on the ground—an American role that has won him support in the Arab world."
On Libya's Revolutionary Road (Robert Worth) from the New York Times Sunday Magazine
"The sudden, bloody transformation of normal citizens into rebels."
An interesting long-form story on what's been happening in Libya.
Good News: We're Beating bin Laden (David Case) from the Global Post
"The Obama administration is winning the war on terror, according to Al Qaeda expert Peter Bergen."
An interesting related item:
Signs of Strain as Taliban Gird for Renewed Fighting from the New York Times
"The Afghan Taliban are showing signs of increasing strain after a number of killings, arrests and internal disputes that have reached them even in their haven in Pakistan, Afghan security officials and Afghans with contacts in the Taliban say."
File this under the "you've got to be kidding" Israeli-Palestinian Peace plan:
Israel Studies Plan to Build Island Off Gaza Strip from Al Arabiya [in English]
"Israel is studying plans to create an artificial island along the Gaza Strip with sea and air ports to be controlled by the Palestinian Authority, an Israeli television channel reported Tuesday. The project, under development for three months by Transport Minister Yaakov Katz proposes building a man-made island four kilometers (2.5 miles) long and two kilometers (1.2 miles) wide, Israel's Channel 2 television reported."
Of course, this is happening at the same time as this:
Massive Jerusalem Settlement Project to be Approved from Al Arabiya [in English]
"A massive new construction project of at least 1,400 homes is about to be authorized in a settlement neighborhood in occupied east Jerusalem, Israeli military radio reported Sunday."
Ok - I GET IT! The new Israeli peace plan is give the Israelis part of the West Bank in exchange for undeveloped "land" -- that really isn't even land yet -- out in the Mediterranean! But to make it especially SWEET for Palestinians, build it off of the Gaza Strip and give administration to the PA (instead of Hamas). Thus leaving both of them too busy negotiating/fighting with each other to do any meaningful negotiating/fighting with Netanyahu. Pretty impressive!
American Embarrassment (Joe Klein) from Time Magazine
"It is always an education to watch our American writhings from overseas. It is particularly excrutiating watching the Republican Party presidential candidates who, on a daily basis, pronounce some ignorant racist or irreligious twaddle...which--amazingly enough--manages to be heard around the world."
Y'know, I had long hoped that one the wing-nuts were sounding off the way they do every day that no one outside the US was actually watching. Guess not. They must think this country is COMPLETELY insane.
Republican Freshmen in House Shut Down Compromise, and Possibly the Government (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"Watching the newbie lawmakers march up the Senate steps, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for House Speaker John Boehner. The Republican freshmen have put him a position where he cannot take yes for an answer."
There seems to be some deal in the works this morning -- we'll see if it comes off.
States Broke? Maybe They Cut Taxes Too Much (Tony Pugh) from the McClatchy News Service
"The measure was originally part of a sweeping 2005 tax overhaul that abolished the state corporate income tax and phased out a business property tax. The tax cuts were supposed to stimulate Ohio's economy and create jobs. But that never happened once the economy tanked. Instead, the changes ended up costing Ohio more than $2 billion a year in lost tax revenue; money that would go a long way toward closing the state's $8 billion budget gap for fiscal year 2012."
What Happens To The Social Safety Net If The Government Shuts Down? from the Huffington Post
"Ron Haskins, a former White House and congressional adviser on welfare issues and current co-director of the Brookings Institution's Center on Children and Families, speculated that wide swaths of the safety net would remain intact. "I would think the agencies would determine many of these programs, especially safety net programs, are essential," Haskins said. Many experts agree with Haskins, citing what happened during the most recent government shutdown."
In MI, Gov. Snyder Signs Controversial Emergency Financial Managers Measures from the Associated Press via M-live.com
"Gov. Rick Snyder ignored the protests of thousands of angry union members at the Capitol Wednesday and signed legislation giving broad new powers, including the ability to terminate union contracts, to emergency financial managers appointed by the state of Michigan to run struggling cities and school districts."
The GOP War on Labor Moves to Academia (Andrew Leonard) from Salon
"Instead of merely whining about how the left has taken over the ivory tower, conservatives are taking action."
GOP Wary of ‘Advice’ From Field (David M. Drucker) from Roll Call
"A political dynamic that features a restive Republican base and aggressive House and Senate freshman classes with tea party roots could present Congressional Republicans with unique challenges as the party’s presidential candidates become more vocal."
Poll: GOP Budget Cuts Backfiring in Swing Districts from the Democratic Strategist
"The Republicans' proposed budget cuts are in trouble in the 50 most competitive Republican-held Congressional districts - nearly all of which gave a majority to Obama in the last presidential election. Support drops dramatically after respondents hear balanced information and messages, and incumbents in these battleground seats find themselves even more endangered."
Why Liberals Are Loving the Birthers (Clarence Page) from the Chicago Tribune
"Donald Trump has joined the "birthers," the odd movement that questions President Barack Obama's Hawaii birth certificate. That's a good way for the celebrity billionaire to appear as though he's making a serious run for the Republican presidential nomination, which he says he is considering. It also makes him sound like a secret agent for the Democrats."
Special Needs: A Review of Sarah Palin's Alaska (Janet Malcolm) from the New York Review of Books
"...what we see on Palin's face belies her bright words. She is devastated by the look into the future that the impaired little cousin gives her. We see her breaking down and beginning to cry, and we cry with her. At this moment, she is not Sarah Palin the wicked witch of the right. She is a woman one pities and sympathizes with and, yes, even admires."
A fair, occasionally funny, and often insightful review of Palin's widely panned program. Worth checking out!