– The L.A. Times reports: “Syrian forces widened a countrywide crackdown early Friday in defiance of growing international demands for an immediate end to violence.” Meanwhile, “Main streets in Hama were empty Thursday, windows shuttered and most shops closed after a week-long Syrian military assault to crush protests” there.
– In an attempt to protect the Pentagon from further budget cuts, GOP Reps. Buck McKeon (CA), Paul Ryan (WI) and Bill Young (FL) are demanding that the Obama administration lay out the national security implications should the deficit reduction “trigger” take effect.
– An unidentified U.S. senator has placed a hold on the nomination of the veteran diplomat picked to lead the International Security and Nonproliferation Bureau.
– Hamid Karzai has said he will not seek a third term as president of Afghanistan, saying he would abide by the constitution’s demand that he step down when his second five-year term concludes in 2014.
– Canada’s Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, commander of the NATO-led campaign against Libya, said forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi are no longer able to launch a credible military offensive.
– Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. will give an additional $17 million in aid for fighting famine in the Horn of Africa, including $12 million to help Somalis, which comes on top of the $105 million in U.S. assistance announced on Monday.
– The White House called on Israel and the Palestinians not to take unilateral actions that could undermine chances to renew peace talks. Spokesman Jay Carney made the remarks after Israel approved a plan to expand settlements in East Jerusalem.