Washington Extra – Waiting for Mubarak

February 1, 2011

Much of the day was spent waiting…

Waiting for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to make his move so that U.S. officials could react and the crisis could lurch into potentially calmer territory. EGYPT/MUBARAK-TRANSFER

It became clear that something was up when the State Department delayed its media briefing before canceling it altogether, and the White House indefinitely delayed its briefing.

Official Washington tends to clam up when it sees movement toward possible resolution of difficult situations so as not to disrupt chances for success.

Then Mubarak spoke: he won’t run for reelection in the Fall. That may not be soon enough for protesters who have called on him to step down now.

A number of candidates will probably run for Egyptian president, leaving the United States to tread carefully among them to ensure it can still call the new leader friend.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

Mubarak promise comes after private Obama message

President Hosni Mubarak’s speech announcing he will not seek reelection in September came after Washington delivered its clearest message yet that he should bow to popular pressure and prepare to transfer power. After days of pressing Mubarak to address the grievances of his people, Obama sent an envoy to privately urge the Egyptian president to prepare for a transition of power.

For more of this story by Caren Bohan and Andrew Quinn, read here.

Senate Republicans push health law repeal

Republicans moved to force a Senate vote to repeal President Obama’s healthcare overhaul — a day after a federal judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional. Democrats were expected to block the bid, which was made as an amendment to an unrelated aviation bill.  “It is not going to go anywhere,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. “We believe the healthcare law is good for the American people.”

For more of this story by Donna Smith, read here.

US sanctions Iranian, Turkish firms for missile aid

The Treasury blacklisted six individuals and five business entities in Iran and Turkey for providing materials and support to Iran’s ballistic missile development efforts. The sanctions target a procurement network that has facilitated more than $7 million in transactions for Aerospace Industries Organization, which oversees all of Iran’s missile industries.

For more of this story by David Lawder, read here.

Obama budget seeks “responsible” path to curb deficit

President Obama told his cabinet that his upcoming budget proposal for fiscal 2012 “will provide a responsible 10-year path for reining in the deficit,” the White House said. “Beyond simply reducing government spending, the president emphasized the need to reform and reorganize the government so it operates smarter and more efficiently,” the White House said in a readout of Obama’s cabinet meeting earlier on Tuesday.

For more of this story, read here.

US pilots new airport scans after privacy concerns

Aviation security authorities unveiled a new pilot program aimed at quelling an uproar about full-body scanners used to screen air travelers. The TSA is deploying new software for scanners in three airports that will show screeners an alert on a generic male or female figure only if an anomaly is detected and highlight the spot of concern. The agency has been under fire for using the full-body scanners because they showed a revealing picture of a person. Travelers and civil liberties advocates argued they were unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy.

For more of this story by Jeremy Pelofsky, read here.

SEC to propose rules for swap trading platforms

Securities regulators are expected to be less heavy-handed than futures regulators in moving privately negotiated swaps onto trading platforms when they meet to vote on their proposal. SEC staff has taken a slower approach than the CFTC, carefully incorporating input from commissioners’ offices, according to one person familiar with the discussions.

For more of this story by Sarah N. Lynch, read here.

Bank regulators to consider pay rule next week

Banking regulators will meet next week to consider a proposal that would ban bonus payments that promote “inappropriate” risk-taking by financial industry executives and employees. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair has said the rule on incentive-based pay practices will probably require financial firms to defer some of their executives’ compensation.

For more of this story by Dave Clarke, read here.

Health system not helping heart disease -CDC

Most Americans with the biggest risks for heart disease are not doing enough to control these risks, and the fragmented healthcare system is partly to blame, federal health officials said. “Although we’re making some progress, the United States is failing to prevent the leading cause of death — cardiovascular disease — despite the existence of low-cost, highly effective treatments,” said CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

For more of this story by Maggie Fox, read here.

What we are blogging…

Charlotte’s web catches Democratic convention

It’s Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic national convention. Democrats picked the banking center and Republicans chose Tampa, Florida, for their convention — highlighting the importance of the South to winning the White House next year.  In the 2008 election, Obama became the first Democrat to win North Carolina since President Jimmy Carter in 1976.

For the full post, click here.

From elsewhere…

Monster storm slams Midwest, heads northeast

A colossal winter storm stretching from New Mexico to Maine hit the heartland of the United States with snow, high winds and freezing rain on Tuesday, and experts said the worst was still to come as the monster event moved northeast and temperatures plunged. The storm, expected to affect as much as a third of the U.S. population, created blizzard conditions from the southern Plains to the upper Midwest, paralyzing grain and livestock movement and promising near-record snowfall.

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Egyptian State TV (still image taken from video of Mubarak)

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Dear Hosni Mubarak;

Who engineered 9/11 to sell hatred of Islam for 10 years?

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