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Oil company CEO claims prices aren’t hurting economy

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson said Wednesday he doesn’t think the recent jump in oil prices is hurting the U.S. economy — at least, not yet. The head of the world’s largest publicly traded oil company said that in 2008, when oil surged to near $150 per barrel, Americans didn’t change their driving and spending habits until gasoline prices topped $4 per gallon. Average gas prices peaked at $4.11 in July that year. “I don’t know if that tip-over is still at the same $4 level or not,” Tillerson told reporters at the New York Stock Exchange. “We’ll see.” Oil
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NPR head steps down after remarks about the right

NPR will forge ahead in the fight for federal money despite six months of bad PR — and without its chief executive. NPR’s president and CEO resigned Wednesday to limit the damage from hidden camera footage of a fellow executive deriding the tea party movement as “seriously racist.” Conservatives called the video proof that the network is biased and undeserving of federal funds. From the news organization’s perspective, the timing was exceptionally bad. The battle for funds will be the toughest yet, with Republicans in the new House majority looking to cut all federal funding of public radio and television.
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February Foreclosures hit three-year low

Foreclosure filings dropped to a 3-year low in February due to an ongoing backlog following last year’s halt in activity, according to a RealtyTrac report on Thursday. Notices of default, auctions and bank repossessions tumbled 13.9 percent from January to 225,101, the lowest since February 2008. Filings dropped 27 percent from February of last year, the biggest year-over-year drop since RealtyTrac started the report in 2005. Investigations into the foreclosure process prompted temporary halts from some servicers late last year. A bottleneck among lenders, servicers and attorneys as they refile paperwork that was improperly done means homes that would otherwise
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Back to the bargaining table in budget debacle

Their opening budget gambits history, lawmakers are returning to the bargaining table in search of a fiscal plan that cuts spending, as voters demanded in the last election, and could carry political value in the next one. The balance is particularly delicate for senators up for re-election next year. Some, mostly Democrats, bucked their parties in a pair of votes Wednesday that sank a slashing budget proposal passed by the House and killed a less onerous Senate alternative. The two versions were nearly $50 billion apart on how much spending should be cut over the next seven months. Neither stood
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Budget battle puts Social Security in play

In the midst of the budget crisis, an old debate has broken out with new force: Should Social Security be seen as part of the deficit that Washington needs to rein in? The White House is balking at calls to tackle Social Security’s financial problems now, before baby boomers swamp the system. But the massive retirement program, like the rest of the government, is running a deficit and has become part of the argument on Capitol Hill. The elderly and disabled don’t need to worry about losing their benefits or seeing them cut anytime soon. The Obama administration is correct
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Wisconsin Senate strips state workers of union rights

The nearly month-long standoff in the Wisconsin Legislature over explosive union rights legislation rocketed toward a dramatic finish Thursday after Senate Republicans outmaneuvered their missing Democratic counterparts and pushed through the bill. The dramatic turn of events late Wednesday set up a perfunctory vote Thursday morning in the Assembly on the measure that would strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from most public workers. Once the bill passes the Assembly, it heads to Republican Gov. Scott Walker for his signature. Within hours after the Senate passed the bill, a crowd of hundreds of protesters grew to about 7,000 in the
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Libya a touchy subject for candidates

What to do about Libya and Moammar Gadhafi? It’s not only a national security question for President Barack Obama. Twenty months before the next election, it’s a difficult political question, too, for the Republicans who hope to take his place as commander in chief. There are plenty of strong opinions coming from Capitol Hill. Lawmakers of both parties are sounding off, including some calling for immediate military action. But others are urging moderation. Obama met Wednesday with his top security advisers to discuss a variety of humanitarian and military options. The White House emphasized that key decisions have yet to
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Tight security for hearings on Muslim community

Extra security will accompany a New York congressman as he chairs a hearing focused on the U.S. Muslim community and its willingness to help prevent radical Islamic terrorism. Rep. Peter King told The Associated Press that he has had a larger security details for the past few months because of an overseas threat relayed in December. Since then, round-the-clock security has been provided by the New York Police Department and the Nassau County, N.Y., police. On Thursday, however, at King’s request, the Capitol Police will be securing the congressional hearing room and surrounding areas, as well as his office, as
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