| WASHINGTON, March 11
WASHINGTON, March 11 There is nothing quite
like a horrific natural disaster to put things into
perspective, and Japan's 8.9 earthquake and devastating tsunami
Friday were no different. Before getting down to business, we
paused this morning to consider our own fragility, including
President Barack Obama, who said he was "heartbroken" by
Japan's heavy loss of life.
Against such a stark backdrop, America's high gas prices
might seem like a frivolous topic. But, in fact, it is serious
-- for Americans whose lifestyle dictates heavy gas consumption
and for a president who is under pressure to deliver his people
some relief at the gas pumps.
Before Mr. Obama called a press conference to address
energy issues, a Reuters-Ipsos poll this week showed that
American confidence in the way the country is going slumped to
a two-year low and the pollster said soaring gas prices were to
Mr. Obama had a two-pronged message for Americans, who
produce 2 percent of the world's oil, but consume 25 percent.
As economic recovery and political tensions in the Middle East
and North Africa drive up prices, he will do everything
possible to stabilize supply and bring oil prices down. But he
also used the price shock to remind Americans that they rely
too much on oil and need to embrace once and for all the clean
energy future. Heck, even the legendary ex-oilman T. Boone
Pickens says so. Mr. Obama used Pickens' famous quip to make
his point on Friday: "This is one emergency we can't drill our
way out of."
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Here are our top stories from Washington today:
Obama vows to dampen fuel prices, calls for reform
The United States must reduce its dependence on oil and
reform energy policy, President Obama said, pledging to do all
he could to keep gasoline prices low. [ID:nN11126555]
Obama says Gaddafi squeezed, Libyan rebels want more
President Obama said the international community was
"tightening the noose" on Muammar Gaddafi, but Libyan rebels
said their three-week-old insurrection could fail without a
no-fly zone. [ID:nLDE72A00Z]
U.S. readies relief for quake-hit ally Japan
President Obama sent condolences to the people of Japan
and said the United States would provide any help its close
ally needed after a massive earthquake and tsunami killed
hundreds of people. [ID:nN11240635]
Obama: Budget standoff may last beyond next week
President Obama said Democrats and Republicans negotiating
government spending bills for this year may not reach a March
18 deadline for resolving their dispute. [ID:nN11154802]
US mortgage settlement proposal likely doomed
A settlement proposal by state attorneys general with the
five biggest mortgage servicers stands out less for what it
contains than for what it omits -- terms for resolving the most
difficult issues dividing regulators and the big banks.
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