Good morning! Here’s what you need to know right now:
1a. Oil prices jumped yesterday $2 USD on reports of civil unrest in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern province. A “Day of Rage” has been called for today by Saudi citizens and “activists.” Everyone is waiting to see what develops.
2. The Obama Administration has decided to market its MENA (Middle East and North Africa) strategy as “pragmatic restraint.” There’s not much else they can do. US public opinion is firmly opposed to intervention in the affairs of MENA states.
3. US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper predicted yesterday that because Col. Qaddafi’s regime has superior military resources, “over the long term,…the regime will prevail.” The White House immediately distanced itself from this assessment, saying it was a “static analysis,” whatever that means.
4. Big day in Euro-world. The NYT reports: “Faced with financial turmoil that has resisted every emergency fix the European Union has adopted, European leaders are considering a radical step: giving up some of their independence to set domestic economic policies and cutting back many of the wage and welfare benefits that have defined the region’s politics for decades. In return, the European Union would provide funds to shore up the weakest member states, including Portugal, Greece and Spain.”
5. The WSJ reports: “India has tested the naval version of a short-range missile capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads, a defence ministry official said Friday. The missile was test-fired Friday from a navy warship in the Bay of Bengal.”
7. The US government spent $333.2 billion in February but brought in only $110.7 billion in revenue, the Treasury Department said. The result was a $222.5 billion deficit, the highest-ever one-month deficit in US history.
8. Mary Williams Walsh, the nation’s best reporter on the state and municipal pension crisis, has an important overview of the crisis today. She notes that the unfunded liabilities of state and municipal pensions and retiree health benefits are so vast that bridging the gap will require painful restructuring.
9. Unions representing police and firemen were specifically excluded from the Wisconsin “budget repair” legislation that will soon be signed into law by Governor Scott Walker. As they have been in other states as well.
10. The American electorate is once again souring on its elected representatives. Not that they were very keen on them to begin with. The approval rating for Congress is back in the teens, according to a new Gallup survey.
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