ThinkFast: March 18, 2011

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"ThinkFast: March 18, 2011"

British Prime Minister David Cameron said today that British air force fighters will begin heading to the Mediterranean “in the coming hours” to join the international coalition in implementing a no-fly zone over Libya. “The Defence Secretary and I have now instructed the Chief of the Defence Staff to work urgently with our allies to put in place the appropriate military measures to enforce the [UN] resolution,” he said.

Update: Libya’s deputy Foreign Minister has declared that the government is ready to accept a cease-fire after the UN authorized a no-fly zone last night to protect civilians from Libyan pro-government forces. “We are ready for this decision [a ceasefire] but we require an interlocutor to discuss how to implement it,” Khalid Kaim said.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah “announced on Friday billions of dollars in handouts for his people and boosted his security apparatus” in an apparent attempt to head off a nascent pro-democracy movement. The announcement comes at a time when the Saudis have sent over a thousand troops to neighboring Bahrain to put down a pro-democracy uprising there.

Seven Bahraini opposition leaders were arrested in early morning raids by the government. The U.S. government has been calling for the government to negotiate with the opposition, but the arrests “left it unclear who could speak.”

Opposition to the war in Afghanistan has grown in the House,” with 93 lawmakers, including eight Republicans, voting yesterday for a bill that would have directed President Obama to remove U.S forces from the country by the end of the year. While the measure still fell far short of passing, it garnered 30 more votes than a similar measure introduced a year ago.

USA Today has found that the “suicide rate for female soldiers triples when they go to war, according to the first round of preliminary data from an Army study.” But “the suicide risk for female soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan is still lower than for men serving next to them.” The findings “also show that marriage somehow helps inoculate male and female soldiers from killing themselves while they are overseas.”

For the first time in its history, the Washington Post-ABC News survey has found that a majority of Americans back gay marriage. Five years ago, support for gay marriage was at only 36 percent, but now 53 percent say it should be legal.

A Wall Street Journal study found that 50 major corporations’ CEOS took home $126.1 million in 2010 bonuses, “the biggest gain in at least three years.” But under the new Wall Street reform law taking effect this year, every business whose stock-market value exceeds $75 million will have to let investors voice their opinions on such rewards.

President Obama “ordered a safety review of the nation’s nuclear power plants in an effort to quell mounting fears sparked by the unfolding catastrophe in Japan.” Yet he also defended American nuclear plants, saying they’ve been declared “safe for any number of extreme contingencies.”

And finally: In order to buy time for two colleagues who were running late to a vote, Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) “listed movie recommendations, used his cellphone and considered doing impersonations” on the House floor yesterday. Burton’s film recs? The “Lord Of The Dance 3D,” which was released Friday. “I just decided to wing it for a little bit and be a little interesting,” he told reporters afterwards.

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