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Morning Briefing: January 11, 2012

A new film bankrolled by Newt Gingrich supporters attacks Mitt Romney as a man “more ruthless than Wall Street,” responsible for laying off thousands of workers. The 28-minute film titled “When Mitt Romney Came To Town”, shows Romney laughing while saying, “Make a profit. That’s what it’s all about, right?”

Mitt Romney won last night’s New Hampshire primary with less than 40 percent of the vote, a smaller-than-expected margin of victory. Ron Paul came in second, and Jon Huntsman was third. Winning both Iowa and New Hampshire shores up Romney’s frontrunnner status going into South Carolina, where conservatives are desperately trying to stop his momentum.

On the heels of a strong second place showing in the Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire, Rep. Ron Paul’s (TX) campaign is urging all the other candidates except Romney to drop out and form an anti-Romney coalition backing him. “The race is becoming more clearly a two-man race between establishment candidate Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, the candidate of authentic change,” said campaign chairman Jesse Benton.

“A a group of Israeli analysts and former government officials” took part in a simulation that concluded that Israel could effectively strike and dismantle Iran’s nuclear program even after a successful nuclear test. “The simulation shows that Israel’s military option continues to be a significant lever…this option, or the threat to use it, is also relevant after an Iranian nuclear test,” said the report by Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.

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Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner asked China to greatly reduce its imports of Iranian crude oil on account of the “new U.S. sanctions policy against countries that don’t curtail their purchases.” Though it’s unclear whether China, who opposes unilateral U.S. sanctions on Iran, will comply, a senior U.S. official insists that “we have a reasonable shot at getting a number of countries to wean themselves off Iranian oil.”

The White House said yesterday that President Obama will ask Congress to raise the debt limit “in a matter of days, not weeks.” The U.S. reached the current $15.194 trillion limit on January 4, and Obama is seeking a $1.2 trillion raise to make “the third and final increase from the debt-ceiling deal reached last year.”

A federal judge in South Carolina halted the lawsuit over the state’s extreme immigration law until after the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on a similar challenge in Arizona. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel issued the order Tuesday; last month, Gergel blocked certain sections of the law from going into effect January 1, but other parts of the law are in effect.

A task force assigned to decide how much to compensate victims of a North Carolina sterilization program settled on $50,000 on Tuesday. Between 1929 and 1974, up to 76,000 women were sterilized as part of eugenics program. Dr. Laura Gerald, the head of the task force, said the money sent a message that North Carolinians “do not tolerate bureaucracies that trample on basic human rights.”

And finally: Have you ever seen President Obama sing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way?” Now you have. Watch it.

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