Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Syria: “Thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country on Friday calling for the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad, keeping up the pressure in the five-month-old uprising a day after an alliance of nations led by the United States publicly called on him for the first time to step down and toughened sanctions against his government. At least 18 people were reported killed, including some soldiers who disobeyed orders to shoot at protesters.”
* Libya: “Libyan rebels say a close Moammar Gadhafi associate who was once the No. 2 top regime official has defected in another blow to the increasingly isolated Libyan leader.”
* Plea deal for the West Memphis Three: “Three men convicted of the murder of three West Memphis boys have pleaded guilty to lesser charges in a deal with prosecutors that will have them released from prison with time already served.”
* Afghanistan: “Taliban insurgents blew up a truck outside the British cultural center in Kabul on Friday, then stormed the compound and fought a gun battle for more than eight hours with Afghan security forces trying to dislodge them. The violence, which came on the anniversary of Afghanistan’s 1919 independence from Britain, left at least eight people dead, in addition to the attackers, officials said.”
* Israel: “Israel struck militants in Gaza and Palestinians fired rockets back Friday following deadly gun attacks along the desert border with Egypt that have raised tensions between Israel and the new rulers in Cairo.”
* If you missed The Daily Show’s segment on “class warfare,” take the time to watch it. You’ll be glad you did. (thanks to reader C.B. for recommending it)
* Is Grover Norquist’s pledge no longer sacrosanct in GOP circles? A handful of congressional Republicans have begun distancing themselves from the written promise on taxes.
* A powerful, courageous piece from Jessica Valenti: “After a life-threatening pregnancy and a premature birth I was scared to hold my newborn daughter — or to get too attached.”
* Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) believes Americans are concerned about “the rise of the Soviet Union,” which ceased to exist two decades ago. Remember, GOP leaders put her on the House Intelligence Committee.
* And for all the Republican complaints that President Obama is taking a week-long break, despite a weak economy he can’t fix on his own, Eric Boehlert notes that 18 years ago this week, then-President Reagan launched a 25-day vacation. At the time, unemployment was at 9.5%. The right really should find something new to whine about.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.