News Roundup (Updated)

I’m running late this morning. Will update my news roundup later on this afternoon.


I love the Shuttle. I’m sad that we couldn’t figure out a way to update it and keep it going.

From TP:

Michele Bachmann became the first presidential candidate to sign a pledge created by THE FAMiLY LEADER, an influential social-conservative group in Iowa. By signing the pledge Bachmann “vows” to “uphold the institution of marriage as only between one man and one woman” by committing herself to 14 specifics steps. The ninth step calls for the banning of “all forms” of pornography. The pledge also states that homosexuality is both a choice and a health risk. You can read all the details of the pledge here.

The Labor Department reports that employers added only 18,000 jobs last month, the fewest monthly total in the past nine months. “Hiring has slowed sharply in the past two months. The economy added an average of 215,000 jobs per month in the previous three months.” The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent; 14.1 million people are unemployed.

In an op-ed published in the Jakarta Globe, Brookings Institution researchers Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz note that 70 million people annually are escaping global poverty, a gain that has been little-noticed. The researchers note, however, that most of these gains are being experienced in China and emerging economies, not in countries in the African or Latin American continents.

As President Obama presses to reduce the deficit by closing tax loopholes, “a small but powerful group” of jet manufacturers and users are fighting to protect their corporate jet tax breaks. These industry officials have contributed millions to lawmakers from both parties over the years, and have launched an effective counterattack to Democrats’ attempt to use it as a symbol of a tax system skewed toward helping the rich.

A bipartisan group of senators announced Thursday that they have reached an agreement to end ethanol subsidies. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and John Thune’s (R-SD) plan would take effect at the end of July, saving $2 billion over the rest of the year. The group wants to attach the plan to the debt-reduction package that is currently being negotiated.

Treasury officials are discussing ways in which they could avoid default if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling, even as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says there are no contingency plans if the limit is not raised. Among the options they are studying is whether the government candelay or prioritize payments and if the Constitution allows Treasury to continue to issue debt without raising the limit.

The White House will propose new steps on gun safety in the next several weeks, six months after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). The proposal is “not expected to involve legislation” or take on banning assault weapons, but “could include executive action to strengthen the background check system.”

“The map of Africa will be redrawn” tomorrow when southern Sudan becomes an independent nation after years of civil war that culminated in a U.S.-backed peace treaty and independence referendum. Many questions remain — including how to fully demarcate the border and divide oil revenue — but U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice called it “a remarkable [moment]nonetheless.”

Yesterday evening, Texas put to death a Mexican man despite pleas from the White House to stop the execution — a potential violation of international law. The Supreme Court denied a stay of execution, after defense lawyers argued Humberto Leal was denied help from his home country that could have helped him avoid the death penalty. In his last minutes, Leal apologized for raping a killing a teenage girl in 1994, and said “Viva Mexico!”

Leaders of the House Congressional Progressive Caucus yesterday sent a letter to President Obama demanding that there be no cuts to Social Security or Medicare in a debt ceiling deal. The lawmakers also called for tax increases on the very rich. “Tax breaks benefiting the very richest Americans should be eliminated as part of this deal,” they wrote.

We aren’t Greece and we never will be. As I say it, Greece has two problems. One is overspending. As I showed a couple of days ago, our problem is not overspending. Secondly, Greece has very little industry. What do they make? What do they provide?

We need 11 million jobs. We need them now. President Obama stated, “we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.”

The final launch of the shuttle program went off without a hitch. I’m deeply saddened that we are closing this down.