$3.47 a gallon: The average price of self-serve regular gasoline on Friday, according to the Lundberg Survey. Mid-grade was at $3.59 and premium was $3.70. “The national average price for regular gasoline rose nearly 16 cents in the past two weeks. … Regular is up 60 cents from a year ago.”
The economy has soared past Iraq as the top problem on the minds of voters. “With growing layoffs, tight credit and an ailing housing market, 67 percent say the economy is an extremely important issue, up from 46 percent in November. Gasoline prices follow close behind at 59 percent.”
The state of the economy is also the top concern for voters between the ages of 18 and 29, according to a new CBS News/MTV poll. Seventy-five percent of young adults say that “the state of the economy is bad,” and only one-third believe “their job prospects are excellent or good.”
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Baghdad yesterday, where a ceremony featuring Rice in the Green Zone was delayed by a “duck and cover” alert, “one of several during her six-hour visit to the fortified compound housing the U.S. Embassy and much of the Iraqi government.” There were three separate rocket attacks during her visit.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has backed down from a proposal to establish a League of Democracies after experts warned it “could damage U.S. interests by alienating countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Russia.” McCain now “says the group would not use military force, and would be an informal organization.”
In an examination of the “list of 106 elite fund-raisers who have brought in more than $100,000 each” for McCain’s campaign, the New York Times “found that about a sixth of them were lobbyists.” “The sizable number of lobbyists” raising money for McCain “are outnumbered on the list only by those working in the financial services industry.”
“The Bush administration is challenging a court ruling that White House visitor logs are public documents, saying releasing the records would infringe on the separation of powers.” Government lawyers argue the president and vice president “must be able to receive visitors and solicit advice privately.”
In the battle of Basra, Iran and the United States find themselves on the same side. “The American-Iranian convergence is all the more remarkable because of mutual animosity. The United States says that Iran has backed thousands of attacks on American troops in Iraq. … Meanwhile, at the level of senior officials at least, Iran takes quite seriously its depiction of the United States as the planet’s Great Satan.”
Today, a San Francisco court will hear a class action lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who claim that the government’s “inadequate care is leading to an increase in suicides.” Approximately 18 veterans — five of them under VA care — kill themselves each day.
And finally: Last week, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) “proved why he’s a Congressman, not an ‘American Idol’ finalist.” During a floor speech on Wednesday, Westmoreland tried to add “a musical punctuation” to a policy point. He began singing the theme song to the old sci-fi show “The Twilight Zone.” “Dada dee da. Dada dee da,” Westmoreland sang. Unfortunately, his “monotone attempt at singing” was “so inscrutable, it didn’t even make it into the Congressional Record transcript.”
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