Morning Must Reads: Gambit

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Protesters clash outside the National Museum in Cairo early on February 3. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

–Our colleague Vivienne Walt recounts a harrowing night in Tahrir Square:

I heard heavy rounds of automatic gunfire. Hundreds of pro-Mubarak supporters seemed to be fleeing the square in terror, running through the streets and over the 6 October Bridge, trying to escape the scene. Tracer fire could be seen shooting up into the night sky. Around 11:15 p.m., I saw a barricade of metal siding erected around the site of where the battle had begun in the afternoon; anti- and pro-Mubarak forces were tossing Molotov cocktails back and forth at each other.

–As the fighting continues, Mubarak’s gambit to stay in power relies on having a reason to clear the streets.

–In the latest issue of TIME: Fareed Zakaria on the state of Egypt and Joe on how to pursue stability in the region.

–Israel is stung by the U.S. dumping Mubarak.

–Egypt is not just arguably the most strategically important part of the Arab world, but the most demographically important as well.

–Nancy Scola puzzles over why Mubarak turned the Internet back on.

–David Bernstein thinks John Weaver, the former McCain aide advising Jon Huntsman, has been driving his proto-presidential machinations.

–There’s no indication John Thune plans to pull the trigger on a White House bid.

–Democrats position themselves for a budget fight.

–Ross Douthat despairs at Washington’s failure to adequately explain policy needs.

–Are exports an economic panacea? Not so much.

–Michael Lewis, the bard of national financial implosions, chronicles the Celtic collapse:

Ireland’s financial disaster shared some things with Iceland’s. It was created by the sort of men who ignore their wives’ suggestions that maybe they should stop and ask for directions, for instance. But while Icelandic males used foreign money to conquer foreign places—trophy companies in Britain, chunks of Scandinavia—the Irish male used foreign money to conquer Ireland. Left alone in a dark room with a pile of money, the Irish decided what they really wanted to do with it was to buy Ireland. From one another. An Irish economist named Morgan Kelly, whose estimates of Irish bank losses have been the most prescient, made a back-of-the-envelope calculation that puts the losses of all Irish banks at roughly 106 billion euros. (Think $10 trillion.) At the rate money currently flows into the Irish treasury, Irish bank losses alone would absorb every penny of Irish taxes for at least the next three years.

–Center for American Progress, the flagship think tank of mainstream Democrats, unveils a GSE reform plan.

Walter Shapiro on Ronald Reagan.

–An Egyptian snaps an incredible photo of the pro-Mubarak camel charge running over a reporter.

–And capturing Democratic frustrations perfectly, The Onion runs: Republicans Vote To Repeal Obama-Backed Bill That Would Destroy Asteroid Headed For Earth.

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