Morning Briefing: March 23, 2012

In the aftermath of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s attempt to stop funding Planned Parenthood, at least five high-ranking executives have left the group, and Dr. LaSale Leffall will step down as board chairman on March 31.

Today marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, which will have to fight for its life next week before the Supreme Court. The law has already had some big effects on the country’s health care system.

Undercover New York City Police Department officers infiltrated liberal political groups, according to newly revealed documents — the latest example of the NYPD spying on groups opposing government policies legally.

“Across the country, the oil and gas industry is vastly increasing production” as the U.S. edges closer to energy independence, the New York Times reports. In 2011, the country imported just 45 percent of the liquid fuels it used, down from a record high of 60 percent in 2005. That the number is expected to decrease this year.


The number of people filing new applications for unemployment insurance dropped to the lowest level in four years. New claims for the benefit fell by 5,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 348,000 last week, the lowest level since March 2008.

The SEC has opened an investigation in to whether some sophisticated, rapid-fire trading firms have used their close links to computerized stock exchanges to gain an unfair advantage over other investors. So called “high-frequency trading” has come under fire since the 2008 financial meltdown.

During a campaign stop in San Antonio on Thursday, Rick Santorum struck a blow to party unity by announcing that if “Etch A Sketch candidate” Mitt Romney were to win the Republican nomination, voters may as well reelect President Obama.

Officials are expected to charge Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales with 17 counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder today, along with other charges, after a shooting rampage in two Afghanistan villages. He will be read the charges at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he’s been held.

Almost a month after George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, African-Americans are calling on President Obama to speak out against the tragedy. Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse University professor, described it as a “double standard” that Obama called Sandra Fluke after Rush Limbaugh attacked her on air but hasn’t offered condolences to Martin’s family.


And finally: Former senator Arlen Specter, the Republican-turned-Democrat from Pennsylvania, payed Mitt Romney a backhanded compliment yesterday, telling told The Hill that he’ll considering voting for the Republican, but “I’m going to wait to see which Romney it is,” he said.