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Taliban Vows Revenge, March Madness Hits Obama, and Top 10 Stories to Read on Your Lunch Break

(1) The Taliban vowed revenge today for the massacre of 16 Afghanistan civilians by a U.S. soldier over the weekend. The Taliban called the incident an attack by "sick-minded American savages." Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the incident "an assassination" and said the killing of civilians cannot be forgiven. Nine children and three women died in the massacre. One Afghan woman told the media that the soldier "dragged the boys by their hair and shot them in the mouth." More here.

(2) Violence is again brewing in Gaza. Israeli warplanes continue to bomb the strip, killing three more people (death toll now up to 18) including a boy and farm guard. Smaller Gaza factions have fired rockets at southern Israel. Hamas did not take part in the strikes. The violence, which began when Israel killed a top militant leader on Friday, has been the worst escalation in months.

(3) Energy analysts say that there is little President Obama or Congress can do in the short-term to relieve gas prices. Because gas prices are connected to oil prices, which are set by global markets based on a range of factors, there’s not a lot U.S. lawmakers or the White House can do. “Anybody who says they can affect prices in the next two or three months isn’t being honest,” said Robert Kaufmann, chair of the Department of Geography and Environment at Boston University. “We’re part of the world market.”

(4) March Madness has begun (bracket here), and President Obama has issued a challenge. The White House will publish a list of everyone who does better than President Obama's bracket predictions on BarackObama.com. Obama has yet to make his predictions.

Obama

(5) Women are gaining jobs in the economy recovery at a slower pace than men. That's according to a new study by the Center for American Progress entitled, "The Man-covery." Men gained jobs on net every month but one since March 2010, while women continued to lose jobs every month through September 2010. It wasn’t until December 2011 that women had on net gained jobs.

(6) In just two weeks, the Supreme Court will take up the challenge to President Obama's health care reform law. The lawsuit brought by 26 states is one of the most high-profile Court cases since Bush v. Gore. The Tea Party will be rallying at Capitol Hill the weekend before the arguments. Americans for Prosperity is having a “Hands Off My Health Care” rally on the day the court is supposed to hear arguments on the individual mandate. The ruling is likely to come down in June, but the political fight may go on for years.

(7) Chart of the day – Federal debt held by public (courtesy of Jordan Wolf): 

Federal debt

(8) Republicans are no longer a lock to win control of the Senate this year. In states such as Maine, Nebraska, and North Dakota, Senate races that once looked like slam-dunks for the GOP have become more competetive. The WSJ takes a look at the GOP’s chances to regain the majority in the Senate this fall. 

(9) Ten years after his book Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser says little has changed in the production, safety, and consumption of unhealthy food in America. Among the startling facts: 65 million people eat at a McDonald’s every day (more than ever); annual revenues of America’s fast-food industry have risen by about 20 percent since 2001; the number of fast-food ads aimed at American children has greatly increased; and the obesity rate among children aged 6 to 11 has tripled in the past 30 years.

(10) Here's ProPublica's timeline of leak prosecutions under the Espionage Act, showing how they’ve risen dramatically under Obama. "While the Obama administration has promised to strengthen protections for whistleblowers, it has also launched an aggressive crackdown on government employees who have leaked national security information to the press." Wikileaks

Photo Credit: isafmedia

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