– Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced yesterday that the Pentagon will reshape future budgets in order to reduce projected spending by nearly $500 billion. However, he said the new budget “would leave the U.S. in position to simultaneously fight a land war with North Korea and prevent Iran from closing the Strait of Hormuz.”
– Afghan peace negotiators believe that the Taliban is prepared to moderate its hard-line, fundamentalist positions and Taliban negotiators says upcoming peace talks have a good chance of success.
– Senior Israeli officials have reportedly adopted intelligence estimates, backed by academic studies, casting doubt on the assumption that a military strike on Iran would result in a dangerous retaliation from Tehran.
– A law under consideration in Iran’s parliament on Sunday could halt oil exports to Europe, a move pushing back against the European Union’s newly agreed upon embargo on Iranian oil.
– Stopping short of issuing a veto threat, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov reportedly said that Russia will not support a U.N. draft resolution calling for Syrian president Bashar al Assad’s ouster.
– Causing a nuisance and fear of violence among residents, rebel fighters continue to loom large on the streets of the Libyan capital Tripoli, where pledges to get them jobs and their own refusal to deal with the un-elected transitional government keep them unfulfilled.
– Religious zealots living in the illegal West Bank settlement outpost of Migron are defying the Israeli government’s plans to evict them, thus “setting up a showdown that has threatened to rip the ruling coalition apart.”
– The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it will give $750 million to shore up the finances and expand the the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.