Tuesday’s Mini-Report

TUESDAY’S MINI-REPORT…. Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Japan: “A small crew of technicians braved radiation and fire through the day on Tuesday as they fought to prevent three nuclear reactors in northeastern Japan from melting down and to stop storage pools loaded with spent uranium fuel rods from bursting into flames.”

* The next move: “As they raced to avert a potential nuclear catastrophe, Japanese officials said Tuesday that they were considering a risky plan to spray water from a helicopter to prevent new fires in a pool of spent fuel at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.”

* Libya: “Behind tanks, heavy artillery and airstrikes, forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi routed on Tuesday a ragtag army of insurgents and would-be revolutionaries who were holding the last defensive line before the rebel capital of Benghazi.”

* A new U.S. alternative: “As Muammar Qaddafi’s forces push east and bare [sic] down on opposition rebels, the White House continues to deflect calls for a no-fly zone in Libya, instead offering up an entirely new option Tuesday. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. is trying to find ways to free up some of billions of dollars of assets seized from Libyan leader’s government to provide help for the Libyan opposition.”

* Bahrain: “Bahrain’s king declared a three-month state of emergency Tuesday to quell a Shiite uprising, as clashes spread through the capital and surrounding villages in a showdown that drew in the region’s major powers and splintered along its main sectarian faultlines. At least two Bahrainis and a Saudi soldier died, and hundreds of protesters were injured by shotgun blasts and clubs.”

* At this point, I’ll take the good economic news where I can find it: “The Federal Reserve maintained its ultra-loose monetary policy on Tuesday, saying the economy was gaining traction while flagging potential inflation risks from costlier energy and food.”

* Eternal optimism at the Senate Armed Services Committee: “Gen. David H. Petraeus told lawmakers Tuesday that the U.S. and NATO forces he commands in Afghanistan have halted the Taliban’s momentum in much of the country, but he predicted difficult fighting ahead as the radical Islamist insurgents try to regain lost territory in a spring offensive.”

* In the meantime, the bottom appears to be falling out when it comes to public support for the conflict.

* Senate Republicans won’t let the chamber vote on cabinet secretaries until the GOP gets the trade deals it wants. Have I mentioned the ridiculousness of the chamber’s dysfunction lately?

* Demonstrating the height of pettiness, Republicans in Wisconsin’s state Senate are still trying to punish Democrats, refusing to count their committee votes.

* The jockeying for the next director of the FBI is already underway.

* Serwer 2, Thiessen 0.

* Congratulations to Greg Sargent, the well-deserved recipient of the Hillman Foundation’s February Sidney Award for his coverage of the Wisconsin labor protests.

* Good news, says the College Board. Maybe college applications aren’t as hard as we thought.

* And finally, Media Matters has a terrific new report, called, “‘Where Are The Jobs?’ The GOP’s Two-Year Campaign Against Job Creation and Economic Growth.” Reading it, I found it hard not to wonder if congressional Republicans aren’t making a deliberate effort to hold the economy back in order to hurt President Obama.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.