Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Is Italy next? “Throughout Europe’s debt crisis, Italy has largely managed to steer clear of the troubles that engulfed its more profligate Mediterranean neighbors. But the contagion that started in the euro zone’s smaller countries is suddenly moving to some of its largest. As Greece teeters on the brink of a default, the game has changed: Investors are taking aim at any country suffering from a toxic combination of high debt, slow growth, and political dysfunction — and Italy has it all, in spades.”
* Pakistan: “The Obama administration is suspending and, in some cases, canceling hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Pakistani military, in a move to chasten Pakistan for expelling American military trainers and to press its army to fight militants more effectively.”
* Panetta in the Middle East: “Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who arrived in Kabul on Saturday, said the United States was ‘within reach of strategically defeating Al Qaeda’ and that the American focus had narrowed to capturing or killing 10 to 20 crucial leaders of the terrorist group in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.”
* Don’t be too surprised if Rupert Murdoch’s media scandals expand here in the U.S.
* Sixteen Democratic senators, led by Colorado’s Michael Bennet, are urging the Justice Department to examine whether the spate of voter-ID laws violate the Voting Rights Act. Here’s hoping the DoJ takes this seriously.
* Saturday, President Obama announced official recognition of the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state.
* Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is drawing support from many of his Democratic colleagues, but Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has refused to endorse the plan — it reduces the debt with 50% cuts and 50% new revenue, which Nelson can’t tolerate.
* Four more banks pay back their TARP loans.
* There’s no such thing as an “Obama Doctrine,” and there’s nothing wrong with that.
* Tie the knot to get the benefits: “Now that same-sex marriage has been legalized in New York, at least a few large companies are requiring their employees to tie the knot if they want their partners to qualify for health insurance.”
* I suspect if Robert Samuelson subjected his work to editors and/or fact-checkers, he’d never see any of his columns get published. Alas, the Washington Post publishes his falsehoods anyway.
* R.I.P, Betty Ford.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.