N2K Top 10: Taliban Begin Using Child Suicide Bombers; Insiders Say Nato Still Relevant
Monday, June 20, 2011 | 7:36 a.m.
- TALIBAN BEGIN USING CHILD SUICIDE BOMBERS. A 12-year-old bomber recently killed four people, and more than two dozen other would-be child bombers are in Afghan custody. Maj. Gen. Dan Allyn, the top American commander in eastern Afghanistan, tells National Journal the Taliban are using female and child suicide bombers to reverse recent American and Afghan gains in the region.
- INSIDERS SAY NATO STILL RELEVANT. Even as operations in Afghanistan and Libya exacerbate what Defense Secretary Robert Gates called “significant shortcomings" in the trans-Atlantic alliance's military capabilities and political will, 72 percent of NJ's National Security Insiders say NATO has yet to outlive its usefulness. Separately, a majority of Insiders say the disagreement between Washington and Saudi Arabia in dealing with the region’s pro-democracy movements does not amount to a fundamental split between the two longtime allies.
- EVENTFUL WEEK AHEAD FOR U.S. ECONOMY -- PROSPECTS UNKNOWN. An event and a revised indicator figure will dominate this week’s U.S. economic news. The event is Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s second regularly scheduled press conference, following the end of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting Wednesday; don’t expect earth-shaking news from Bernanke, but look for clues on how the Fed seems set to balance growth and inflation fears moving forward. The indicator is the final report on first-quarter GDP growth, out Friday. Analysts expect an upward revision from the paltry 1.8 percent preliminary estimates -- no change would be another big blow to market confidence in the recovery.
- 'GANG OF FIVE' PLAN BEGINS TO EMERGE. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a member of the “Gang of Five” senators grappling with a deficit-reduction plan, said the group will rely on a ratio of roughly 3:1 spending cuts to revenue raises -- with one of the three coming from savings and interest, putting the real ratio at about 2:1, the formula put forward by the president’s deficit-reduction panel in December. Warner said an agreement among the five is imminent. It would include lowering tax rates but getting rid of loopholes with the goal of top corporate and individual tax rates in the high 20s.
- DSCC WINS MAY, NRSC OUT OF DEBT. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $4.1 million last month, more than the $3 million their foes at the National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled in. The DSCC had a whopping $7.8 million in the bank on June 1. But the DSCC has one thing the NRSC lacks: debt. The DSCC is likely to report being at least $3 million in the red when all is said and done, while NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer told NRSC Chairman John Cornyn of Texas their committee has paid off the last of its debt, as we reported last week.
- ADVISE, CONSENT, SHUT UP. The question of whether President Obama needs congressional consent to take military action in Libya is sharply dividing Republicans, with Senate hawks on one side and presidential hopefuls on the other. At last week’s presidential debate, the candidates criticized Obama for his actions in Libya, drawing strong reaction from Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. McCain said on ABC's This Week that Republicans risked putting politics above prudent foreign policy; on NBC's Meet the Press, Graham urged his congressional colleagues to stay out of the debate. “Congress should sort of shut up,” he said. “... If you think the pathway to the GOP nomination in 2012 is to get to Barack Obama’s left on Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq, you’re going to meet a lot of headwinds.”
- HOUSE TO VOTE ON ALASKA DRILLING BILL. The House will vote on -- and probably easily pass -- legislation later this week that streamlines the permitting process for drilling in the seas off Alaska’s coast. Republicans will say it will help lower gasoline prices and create help spur the economy, but environmentalists are pushing back. The Pew Environment Group is launching a new campaign this week urging President Obama to oppose more drilling in Alaskan waters.
- REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL ALLIES FOR OBAMA ON WAR COMMITMENTS. As the 2012 Republican contenders scramble to Obama’s left -- yes, the dovish left -- on various military commitments, Obama may count on two prominent backers in Congress: Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The two warned against the growing isolationist streak in the Republican Party during the Sunday shows and may be important voices of support if Obama decides to advocate for a more conservative troop drawdown in Afghanistan next month.
- CONSUMERS WILL SEEK PRESCRIPTION FOR OTC DRUGS. A survey from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which represents makers of over-the-counter drugs, finds 38 percent of people with tax-free health spending accounts plan to seek a doctor's prescription for over-the-counter drugs. That's because the 2010 health care reform law requires a doctor's script for all tax-free purchases. The over-the-counter requirement could be the next piece of the health care law to get repealed, as doctors complain of increased burden from writing prescriptions.
- DECISION MONDAY ON GRAND CANYON URANIUM MINING. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to announce at 1:15 p.m. whether the Obama administration will lift or extend a two-year moratorium on uranium mining around the Grand Canyon. Sources tell NJ to expect a continuation of the moratorium -- possibly for up to 20 years. Environmentalists and mining lobbyists have ramped up the pressure on both sides in recent weeks. Green groups, who fear that lifting the ban would lead to a “uranium rush” around a national treasure, will hail the move as a significant victory.
Today's Need-to-Know Video: Negative Trend: How The Economy Influences Political Ads.