POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
February 2nd, 2011
04:30 AM ET
4 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.

WASHINGTON/POLITICAL
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com

CNN: Obama says Egypt's transition 'must begin now'
President Barack Obama warned Tuesday of "difficult days ahead" for Egypt and said the transition following President Hosni Mubarak's earlier announcement that he won't run for re-election in September must begin immediately. In a brief statement to reporters at the White House, Obama pledged continuing U.S. support for both a longtime ally and the aspirations of protesting Egyptians, whose eight days of growing demonstrations led to Mubarak's dramatic announcement on state television.

Bloomberg: Egypt Hired Top Washington Lobbyists to Protect Alliance, Gain U.S. Access
Three of Washington’s top lobbyists have helped Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s government get access to lawmakers to protect his nation’s status as a U.S. ally and major recipient of foreign aid, federal records show. Government-relations firms led by two former congressmen, Republican Bob Livingston and Democrat Toby Moffett, formed a joint venture in 2007 with lobbyist Tony Podesta to represent Egypt in Washington, according to records filed with the U.S. Justice Department’s foreign-agent registration office.

CNNMoney: Pressure builds for debt reduction
The push to come up with a plan to reduce national debt got a bipartisan bear hug in the Senate on Tuesday. Three lawmakers who sat on President Obama's bipartisan debt commission - Sens. Kent Conrad, Tom Coburn and Mike Crapo - convened a meeting of more than 30 senators from both parties "to make sure everyone comes to consensus on how big the problem is and how real it is," Coburn told CNN.

Denver Post: Sen. Mark Udall to push amendment to balance federal budget
Colorado Sen. Mark Udall will push for a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget — a move that breaks with most Democrats and continues a concentrated shift to the middle as he tries to redefine himself as a fiscal hawk. Udall is the first Democrat to co-sponsor a plan pitched by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., which requires lawmakers to balance the budget every year except in cases of Congress-approved war and if both the House and the Senate approve an override by a three-fifths majority.

CNN: Charlotte will host the 2012 Democratic National Convention
Democrats have chosen Charlotte, North Carolina, as the host city for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Charlotte was one of four cities vying to host the convention where the Democratic Party will nominate President Barack Obama for a second term. Cleveland, Minneapolis and St. Louis were all in contention to host the event, which is expected to have a major economic impact on Charlotte and the surrounding metropolitan area.

CNN: Not many House Republicans rejecting health benefits on principle
It's now official. Starting Tuesday, members of Congress may receive generous health care benefits - subsidized by Uncle Sam. Most lawmakers accept this insurance - the same perk afforded to some 8 million federal employees and their families.

CNN: Gingrich: Presidential leadership requires ‘different kind of approach’
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich didn’t announce his candidacy for president Tuesday night, but he did outline the issues he’d focus on in a campaign and the approach he’d take as commander in chief. “I think the country has enormous problems,” Gingrich said in remarks made exclusively to CNN. “I think it requires a totally different kind of approach, a ‘we the people, focus on the citizens’ approach that recognizes that all of us are in this together and that it’s going to take a tremendous amount of joint effort by millions of people for America to be successful.”

Jerusalem Post: 'After Egypt, US must tell allies it won’t abandon them'
The US needs to assure its allies that it won’t walk away from them when the going gets tough, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, widely expected to run in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, said on Tuesday. Huckabee, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, was responding to the criticism heard increasingly in Israel in recent days that the US unceremoniously abandoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a strong US ally for the past 30 years.

CNN: The Bottom Line: Whitman's Record-Breaking Run
We knew Meg Whitman had set a record in her failed bid to be the next California Governor. We now know the details: the Republican nominee and former eBay CEO spent $178 million, including $144 million of her own money. That is a record for spending in a non-federal race and makes her the biggest self-funding candidate in U.S. history. Democrat Jerry Brown spent less than a quarter of what his opponent did: $36 million.

CNN: Senate appropriations chair announces two year earmark ban
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who oversees Senate spending bills as chairman of the appropriations committee, announced Tuesday a two-year moratorium on earmarks.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Even leaving office, Rendell logs donations
To the end, the campaign money kept flowing to Ed Rendell. Already, by many estimates, the most prolific political fund-raiser in state history, the former governor added $1.4 million to his coffers last year, according to a report filed Monday with the state. It didn't matter that his campaigning days were behind him.

NATIONAL
For the latest national news: www.CNN.com

CNN: Report: U.S.-Canada border security lacking
America's 4,000-mile border with Canada is poorly monitored and riddled with serious security vulnerabilities, according to a federal report released Tuesday.

CNN: Less graphic body scanning machines tested at 3 airports
Tests are beginning on a software change in airport passenger scanning machines that will discontinue the display of personal body characteristics while still promising to catch questionable objects, the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday.

Washington Post: Mental health specialist recommended WikiLeaks suspect not be deployed to Iraq
A mental health specialist recommended that the Army private accused of leaking classified material to the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks not be deployed to Iraq, but his immediate commanders sent him anyway, according to a military official familiar with a new Army investigation.

CNN: Woman called 'Jihad Jane' pleads guilty
Colleen LaRose, the woman who authorities say called herself "Jihad Jane" on YouTube, has changed her mind about fighting government charges that she was plotting to wage violent jihad overseas. She pleaded guilty to all counts Tuesday at a federal change-of-plea hearing in Philadelphia. LaRose was indicted in 2009 on four counts, including conspiring to support terrorists and kill someone overseas. She was allegedly part of a plot to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who outraged some by depicting the prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog in 2007.

CNN: Massive winter storm blitzes U.S. from Southwest eastward
A vast winter storm brought blizzard conditions to large sections of the upper Midwest and Ohio Valley early Wednesday, spreading a dangerous mix of snow, wind, ice and cold. The wintry precipitation gobbled up travelers trying to make their way on snow-choked roadways and snarled air traffic, forcing airlines to cancel thousands of flights again on Wednesday.

INTERNATIONAL
For the latest international news: http://edition.cnn.com

CNN: Foreigners flee Egypt as protests rage on
More foreigners are expected to flee from Egypt on Wednesday as governments expand evacuation efforts amid nationwide protests calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Mubarak announced Tuesday that he will remain in office until elections in September, sending hundreds of thousands to the streets to demand his resignation.

CNN: Yemen's president says he won't seek re-election or hand power to son
Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Wednesday he will not seek re-election nor hand over power to his son once his current term ends in 2013. "No extension, no inheritance," he told parliament. Saleh had called an emergency parliamentary meeting, ahead of a "day of rage" protests scheduled for the following day.

CNN: Jordan's king dismisses government, appoints new PM
The king of Jordan dismissed his government Tuesday and appointed a new prime minister with orders to implement political reform. The dismissal follows several protests calling for change in Jordan - protests that echo demonstrations that have swept across North Africa and the Middle East in the last few weeks.

Daily Telegraph: WikiLeaks: FBI hunts the 9/11 gang that got away
Secret documents reveal that the three Qatari men conducted surveillance on the targets, provided “support” to the plotters and had tickets for a flight to Washington on the eve of the atrocities. The suspected terrorists flew from London to New York on a British Airways flight three weeks before the attacks.

Vancouver Sun: 'Al-Qaida on brink of using nuclear bomb'
Al-Qaida is on the verge of producing radioactive weapons after sourcing nuclear material and recruiting rogue scientists to build "dirty" bombs, according to leaked diplomatic documents. A leading atomic regulator has privately warned that the world stands on the brink of a "nuclear 9/11".

Los Angeles Times: Invested in 'soft power,' India awaits Karzai visit
Indian leaders hope visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai this week will emphasize the safeguarding of mutual interests between the two countries based on historical and cultural links as talks cover the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan expected to begin this summer.

The Guardian: China poised to pour $10bn into Zimbabwe's ailing economy
Zimbabwe could be in line for a windfall of up to $10bn (£6.19bn) from China, a potentially huge boost to its ailing economy, its ministers have claimed. But such an investment would be likely to heighten concerns about president Robert Mugabe's increasingly warm relationship with China, which has been accused of turning a blind eye to human rights violations across Africa.

Washington Times: Britain slammed in Lockerbie ‘charade’
Relatives of the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing denounced the British government Tuesday, after learning more about London’s private contacts with Libya over the release of the only man convicted in the terrorist attack over Scotland that killed 190 Americans. A confidential cable from the U.S. Embassy in London in 2008 reveals that Britain was concerned about its valuable business with the oil-rich North African nation if Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, died in a Scottish prison where he was serving a life sentence.

CNN: Forecasters: Cyclone poses 'serious threat to life' in Queensland
A huge tropical cyclone taking aim at Australia's Queensland state has strengthened to a Category 5 - the highest designation on Australia's cyclone classification system - and its landfall is "likely to be more life threatening than any experienced during recent generations," forecasters said. The cyclone threatens more devastation for Queensland, which already has been hit by deadly flooding in recent weeks.

BUSINESS
For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com

CNNMoney: Dow, S&P 500 close at highest levels in 2 years
U.S. stocks started February with a bang Tuesday, with the Dow and S&P 500 closing above key psychological levels for the first time in more than two years, and the Nasdaq gaining almost 2%. Investors overcame ongoing jitters over protests in Egypt and new developments in Jordan, where the king dismissed his government and appointed a new prime minister.

CNN: Google, Twitter help give voice to Egyptians
Google has launched the latest salvo in an effort to overcome internet blackouts in Egypt during anti-government protests there. "Like many people we've been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground," Google said on its official blog. The result was a collaboration between Google, Twitter and SayNow (a service Google acquired last week) to let people without access to the Web share messages on Twitter via voice mail.

Wall Street Journal: Multinationals Keep Egypt Offices Shut, Workers Home
Multinational companies had no immediate plans to reopen Egyptian offices or bring back evacuated employees after President Hosni Mubarak's attempt to restore stability failed to placate protesters. Companies including Heineken NV, Procter & Gamble Co. and Coca-Cola Co. said they would continue to track developments in Egypt but didn't yet plan to restart shuttered operations.

CNNMoney: IMF: Global rebound 'not the recovery we wanted'
Growing economic imbalances on a global scale and greater income inequality could fuel the next crisis, the head of the International Monetary Fund warned Tuesday.

Washington Post: Low rates prompting more 'cash-in' refinances
A record number of homeowners are kicking in cash when they refinance their mortgages, in most cases to qualify for interest rates that are now near historic lows, mortgage financier Freddie Mac reported this week. …Borrowers, in essence, are buying peace of mind about their debts by moving to more affordable mortgages and, according to the firm, coming out ahead by using cash that's earning little interest in the bank to realize significant savings on their monthly loan payments.

In Case You Missed It

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney says the real objective of the Egyptian protests have been met.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2011/02/01/piers.romney.egypt.cnn

Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns tells John King why he thinks Obama's diplomatic strategy in Egypt works.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2011/02/01/jk.nicholas.burns.intv.cnn

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