ThinkFast: February 1, 2011

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry (D-MA) called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down when the country holds its next presidential election. In an op-ed in the New York Times, Kerry said neither Mubarak nor his son should run for the presidency, writing, “the best way to avoid unrest turning into upheaval is for President Mubarak to take himself and his family out of the equation.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said he “would like to see a transition to permanent democracy” in Egypt. Such action “would be best undertaken if President Mubarak were to step out of the way or lead the transition,” Romney said, adding, “But I don’t know that I would say to the President, ‘You should call for Mubarak’s resignation.’”

The Obama administration said that it supports a role for Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in a new Egyptian government. But the White House said the groups must reject violence and embrace democracy. A Clinton administration Mideast negotiator said the statement is a “pretty clear sign that the U.S. isn’t going to advocate a narrow form of pluralism, but a broad one.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah “has sacked his government in the wake of street protests and has asked an ex-army general to form a new Cabinet.” It is likely that Abdullah fears that he will meet the same fate as embattled Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

In the Human Rights Campaign’s “New Yorkers For Marriage Equality” video, former first daughter Barbara Bush took a public stand in support of same-sex marriage. While she believes “everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love,” her father President Bush pushed for a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) announced yesterday that all 47 GOP senators support his bill to repeal the new health care reform law passed last year. DeMint said he wants to “start over” and pass a new bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said a repeal vote is “unlikely.”

In order to protest the new health care law’s individual mandate for health insurance, a group of South Dakota legislators have unveiled a bill that would require all adults to own a gun. “Do I or the other cosponsors believe that the state of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not,” said one of the bill’s sponsors. “But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance.”

Obama will propose eliminating $4 billion a year in tax breaks for oil companies in his new budget, marking his “third effort to eliminate federal support for an industry that remains hugely profitable.” While all previous efforts ran up against congressional opposition and “heavy lobbying” from industries, Obama’s new proposal will rekindle a long-running debate over federal subsidies for all energy types, including green energy.

And finally: The government of Malawi is getting serious about a nasty threat facing the country: flatulence. The government of the African country is finalizing plans to criminalize breaking wind in the public, vowing to punish offenders “who foul the air” in a bid to “mould responsible and disciplined citizens.”

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