Morning Briefing: March 26, 2012

Scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact have determined that the last decade’s heat waves and extreme rainfall are probably linked to global warming. “[T]here is now strong evidence linking specific events or an increase in their number to the human influence on climate,” the scientists wrote in a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

A stunning 92 percent of money from the securities and investment industries spent so far on the 2012 presidential campaign has gone to the GOP — and 72 percent of the nearly $33 million in contributions from Wall Street has benefited Mitt Romney.

President Obama called for further reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals today, saying both countries could significantly reduce their stockpiles without compromising safety. “We have more nuclear weapons than we need,” Obama told students at a university in South Korea ahead of a nuclear security conference there.

Rick Santorum continues to outperform Mitt Romney in the South, winning the Louisiana primary on Saturday by a wide margin. Santorum won 49 percent to Romney’s 26 percent, while Newt Gingrich finished a distant third, and is expected to receive no delegates.


Santorum is under fire from Republicans for suggesting that the GOP might as well re-elect Obama if they nominate Romney. He lashed out at a New York Times reporter this weekend for asking about the issue, calling the question “bullshit.”

Despite President Obama’s restrictions on revolving door activity, several senior administration figures have left for jobs in the lobbying and influence sector.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is calling on the Department of Justice to open an investigation into “stand your ground” laws, the controversial statute at the center of the Trayvon Martin case. Florida is one of several states that allows for the use of deadly force if a person feels seriously threatened.

U.S.-led peace talks with the Taliban are going nowhere, the International Crisis Group warned today, saying the United Nations should take the lead in the talks meant to prevent Afghanistan from sliding into civil war and to help U.S. and NATO forces leave sooner.

Doctors say it is not likely that 71-year-old former Vice President Dick Cheney received special treatment when he had a heart transplant this weekend, but it has reopened a debate about whether organ transplant rules should be adjusted to favor youth.


And finally: The Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments today on the Affordable Care Act and everyone wants a seat in the chamber, but it’ll cost you. There is a niche industry in Washington of professional line standers, who will hold a spot for days at a time in all weather conditions, for about $15 an hour.