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ThinkFast: February 2, 2011

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"ThinkFast: February 2, 2011"

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Likely fearing the same pro-democracy protest movement that has swept through both Tunisia and Egypt, other leaders in the Arab world are reshuffling their governments. Jordan’s King Abdullah dismissed his entire cabinet, and Yemeni president Ali Saleh announced that he will not run for re-election in 2013. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has announced immediate municipal elections.

Addressing the nation after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced he won’t seek re-election yesterday, President Obama said Egypt’s transition to a new government “must begin now.” While Obama restated calls for a “peaceful,” “orderly transition,” his adamancy suggested that Mubarak’s plan to remain in office until the next election “may not quell the protests in Cairo’s streets.”

Last year, “total compensation and benefits at publicly traded Wall Street banks and securities firms hit a record of $135 billion,” at a time when the nation continues to struggle through one of the worst economic periods in its history. “Things are shifting back to where they were before,” said Robert Brown, a University of Denver law professor, about Wall Street pay before and after the recession.

Fox News host Glenn Beck last month had his worst ratings since his Fox show started in January of 2009, drawing just 1.7 million total viewers — down from a peak of over 3 million. His days of mega viewership are likely “never coming back.” Meanwhile, radio stations in New York and Philadelphia recently dropped Beck’s radio program.

Senate Republicans will push ahead with a vote to repeal the new health care law. The vote is expected today but “is almost certain to fail, likely ensuring that the push by Congress to undo the health measure goes no further, at least until the next election.”

House Republican leaders will greet EPA chief Lisa Jackson’s visit to the Hill today with a bill to “prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.” Expected to be introduced today, the bill would nullify all of the EPA’s steps has taken to control air and water pollution to date, including “a finding that greenhouse gasses endanger public health.”

The Carnival Corporation’s cruise lines benefit from federal, state and local services, yet over the past five years, the company has paid only 1.1 percent of its $11.3 billion in profits in total taxes “thanks to an obscure loophole in the tax code.” Likewise, of the 500 big companies on the S&P stock index, 115 paid a total tax rate of less than 20 percent while 39 paid less than 10 percent.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) believes the guns used to killed a border patrol agent near the Arizona-Mexico border last month may have been purchased in an Arizona gun store as part of a federal sting, and were then smuggled into Mexico. Grassley sent a letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms asking for a briefing about whether “negligence by federal agents…failed to keep the firearms out of Mexico.

And finally: Fox News is a home wrecker. The estranged wife of comedian and right-wing personality Kelsey Grammer said her marriage fell apart in part because her husband preferred watching Fox News to being intimate with her. “He was too busy watching Fox News, he didn’t want to cuddle,” Camille Grammer told CNN host Joy Behar on Monday.

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The WonkLine: February 2, 2011 ›

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