Washington Extra – Women of power

March 8, 2011

Were the cosmic pranksters having a laugh when the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day happened to fall on the same date as Fat Tuesday?

Washington showed off its woman power. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed their delight at meeting on such an auspicious day. USA/

Britain’s former first lady Cherie Blair was also at the State Department for the 2011 International Women of Courage Awards ceremony.

And the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, started her remarks with high praise for Hillary Clinton: “She is one heck of a Secretary of State. She has been an amazing gift, not just to our country but to the rest of the world.”

Clearly bygones are bygones when it comes to the woman who tried to beat her husband in the 2008 presidential race.

Looking ahead to the 2012 election, very few women are mentioned as potential presidential candidates. Republican Sarah Palin is the one who usually pops up in the mix of who might try to challenge President Barack Obama.

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite, told CNN today that she will make a decision early this summer.

The suspense continues…

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Obama faces no good choices over Libya

President Obama may have told Muammar Gaddafi his time is up but the real question is whether rhetoric will be matched by action forceful enough to get the Libyan leader to relinquish power. That looks doubtful for now as Obama faces “damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t” options that aren’t guaranteed to push out Gaddafi or ensure stability in North Africa.

For more of this analysis by Matt Spetalnick, read here.

Obama and U.K.’s Cameron urge quick exit for Gaddafi

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi must leave power quickly and weighed steps to stop the bloodshed, including a no-fly zone.

For more of this story by Caren Bohan and Phil Stewart, read here.

Republican 2012 candidates have doubts to overcome

Republican voters looking for their party’s 2012 challenger to President Obama will choose from a field that has as many perceived weaknesses as strengths. “It’s tough to beat an incumbent, and if you’re going to do it, you’re going to have to do it with someone who is stellar. It’s not clear that Republicans have that,” said Julian Zelizer, a political science professor at Princeton University. The candidates who can best manage their negatives are likely to be the ones who will rise from the pack.

For more of this story by Steve Holland, read here.

House Republicans draft new stopgap spending bill

Yet another budget stopgap spending bill was being crafted in the House of Representatives as the Senate bickered over when to vote on two longer-term measures that appeared sure to fail. The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee was readying a sixth stopgap measure to keep the government running beyond a March 18 deadline, when current funding authority ends, an aide said, adding that details were not firm. The aide said the next temporary bill, like the last one, would carve out new spending reductions. The last one claims to achieve about $4 billion in savings over two weeks.

For more of this story by Richard Cowan and Andy Sullivan, read here.

Republican Shelby roughs up Fed nominee Diamond

The top Republican on the Senate banking panel made clear he still opposes Federal Reserve nominee Peter Diamond, calling him an “old-fashioned” Keynesian supporter of big government. The opposition from Sen. Richard Shelby to a nomination Republicans have scuttled twice poses a challenge to President Obama, who must decide how much political capital he wants to spend to push for Diamond’s approval. “It is clear to many of us that he does not possess the appropriate background, experience, or policy preferences to serve on the Board of Governors,” Shelby said of the MIT professor and Nobel laureate.

For more of this story by Mark Felsenthal, read here.

Most US states say no to gasoline tax hikes

An anti-tax chill has states scrambling to find billions for road and bridge repair, but few are willing to consider gasoline tax hikes to close shortfalls. High unemployment, soaring pump prices due to recent Middle East tumult and potentially steep political consequences have most governors and legislatures, the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress dousing any notions of higher gas taxes. Nonpartisan transportation and fiscal policy groups, however, recommend increases now for infrastructure spending.

For more of this analysis by John Crawley, read here.

US says Saudi oil boost can’t keep crude under $100

Saudi Arabia has been pumping 9 million barrels per day of crude since January, far more than earlier estimated but not enough to keep oil prices below $100 for the rest of this year, the government’s forecasting agency said. The EIA also revised its previous estimates to peg Saudi output at 8.9 million bpd in December, 300,000 bpd more than earlier forecast. That is much higher than other estimates, and raises more questions about the extent to which the kingdom has increased output since the Libyan crisis.

For more of this story, read here.

US stockpile an option for oil disruption-Goolsbee

White House economist Austan Goolsbee said tapping the U.S. emergency oil stockpile was one option the Obama administration has to respond to supply disruptions that sent world oil prices soaring. Fighting in Libya has idled around 1 million barrels per day of oil exports and Kuwait’s oil minister said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is considering boosting production.

For more of this story, read here.

Obama mulls choices for Commerce secretary job

President Obama has a chance to recruit a business leader to succeed Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, or to shuffle his staff by tapping U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk for the job, business sources said. Obama plans to appoint Locke, a Chinese-American, to be the next ambassador to China, administration officials said.

For more of this story by Doug Palmer and Caren Bohan, read here.

Afghan leader steps up criticism during Gates trip

Afghan President Hamid Karzai stepped up criticism of Western institutions and military forces, accusing them of hampering his government and causing unacceptable civilian casualties. The criticism came on the second day of a visit by Defense Secretary Robert Gates intended to assess security progress but clouded by Afghan anger over the mistaken killing of nine boys in a NATO air strike last week.

For more of this story by Missy Ryan and Abdul Saboor, read here.

Broadcasters stay strong in retransmission spat

Broadcast television still looks to be the winner after pay-TV outlets took their complaints about fees to carry broadcasters’ free-to-air content to the FCC. Last week’s FCC proposals make some inroads to help consumers when these disputes threaten to cause blackouts of major sporting events and popular programs. But industry experts say the rulemaking will not make a significant dent in broadcasters’ leverage during negotiations with cable and satellite television providers.

For more of this analysis by Jasmin Melvin, read here.

CFTC swap trading plan may stifle market-traders

The futures regulator risks stifling liquidity in swaps market by requiring traders to ask for quotes from at least five market participants, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank said. To shine light on the opaque over-the-counter derivatives market, the CFTC will require many swaps to trade on new “swap execution facilities,” one of the most contentious parts of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The CFTC has specified that “block trades” won’t have to move through SEFs. But the CFTC sets the bar too high for block trades, and few will qualify for the exemption, said Dexter Senft, a managing director at Morgan Stanley.

For more of this story by Roberta Rampton, read here.

What we are blogging…

Spending cuts an arrow through the heart of cowboy poets

Mean. That’s what Democrats say about Republican efforts to cut spending. They even want to rope in the cowboy poet. Democrats have decried a spending bill passed by House Republicans that would slash money for education, heating and food assistance for the poor, community health centers, public television and alternative energy sources. But who knew that federal funding for the arts and humanities helped provide a spotlight for cowboy poets.

For Donna Smith’s full post, click here.

Then came social issues and ‘morality’…

The 2012 presidential race, though lacking in declared GOP candidates, may be about to pry open a Pandora’s box of social issues that have long divided Republican and independent ranks. That could work against fiscal conservatives, just as the GOP girds itself for a showdown with Democrats over spending cuts and the debt ceiling later this spring.

For David Morgan’s full post, click here.

From elsewhere…

Lights go out in Seoul amid energy crunch

The bustling entertainment districts of one of the world’s largest cities, Seoul, were pitched into darkness early on Tuesday as the government clamped down on energy use to cope with rising oil prices. Neon signs and outdoor lights were ordered switched off in the business and entertainment districts in a tangible sign of how the oil price rise is hurting the resource-starved country.

For more of this story, read here.

Warner Bros to offer movies through Facebook

Warner Bros will make some films available on Facebook, opening up a new source of revenue for the social network and marking new competition for online entertainment companies. Consumers can pay for the movies using Facebook Credits. Until now, the virtual currency developed by Facebook has been primarily used in the social games that are popular on the site. The first movie available is “The Dark Knight,” which consumers can rent for 30 Facebook Credits, or $3.

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (First lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at awards ceremony)

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