President Unveils Budget Plan, China Ranks as World’s 2nd Largest Economy
President Obama will officially release a budget blueprint aimed at reducing the deficit by $1.1 trillion over the next decade. The proposal is meant to counterbalance the cuts proposed by Republican leaders in Congress. The plan would cut federal spending in some 200 programs but increase investment in areas like transportation, a reflection of the themes put forth in the president’s State of the Union address.
There’s more on the budget plan from the Morning Line.
China Overtakes Japan as World’s No. 2 Economy
In line with projections, Japan officially announced that China has surpassed it as the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States. Japan reported a decline of 1.1 percent in the last quarter, compared to an increase in GDP for China of 9.8 percent over the last year.
Japan has held on to the No. 2 slot for much of the past four decades. China’s per capita income still lags far behind Japan’s.
Japanese economic minister Kaoru Yosano emphasized the cooperative angle, saying China’s growth was “one of the cornerstones for simultaneous growth in the region.”
The economic power shift underscores a political rivalry, manifested in territorial disputes and the recent clash between a Chinese boat and Japanese Coast Guard vessel.
Three Die in Suicide Blast in Kabul
Two security guards and a suicide bomber died in an explosion in a shopping center in Kabul. The guards reportedly tried to prevent the man from entering the mall when he detonated himself.
In the moments after the blast, a gun battle broke out as other insurgents clashed with security forces.
The latest attack comes after a January explosion at a market favored by foreigners, which killed nine people.
Afghan security forces have been struggling to secure the capital, which had in recent months seen a downturn in violence. There has been talk of entering negotiations with some Taliban elements.
Iran Moves to Staunch Planned March
Riot police blanketed Tehran in an attempt to prevent an opposition march reminiscent of the recent protests in Egypt as authorities openly discouraged gatherings challenging the country’s leadership.
Potential demonstrators were forewarned that a protest could result in violence. Hossein Hamadani, a commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has previously said in state media that “[T]he conspirators are nothing but corpses,.”
The Iranian government has praised protesters in Egypt but have clamped down on opposition leaders who could be symbolic figures in similar protests at home. In a statement, the White House decried the contradiction, saying “the Iranian government has declared illegal for Iranians what it claimed was noble for Egyptians.”
Iran saw mass protests in the summer of 2009, but the movement was quickly quelled. Human rights groups estimate some who participated in the protests have been hanged, according to the New York Times.