Lowlights of the week: Budget talks stall 

Budget talks stall

1| Standoff could lead to shutdown

 The details: Talks between congressional Republicans and Democrats on how much to cut the federal budget for the next fiscal year stalled, leaving lawmakers little time to reach an agreement before the sixth short-term continuing resolution funding the government expires on April 8.

 Oil prices soar

 2| Highest costs since 2008

 The details: Oil prices have risen more than $20 a barrel since mid-February, when fighting between Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and rebels took 1.6 billions barrels per day of Libyan oil off the market. Honoring its promise, Saudi Arabia has begun supplying crude oil to European oil companies.

 Judicial blockade

 3| Wis. judge halts anti-union law

The details: Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi ordered a halt to implementation of a Wisconsin law that cuts public workers’ pay and reduced their collective bargaining rights. This was Sumi’s second attempt to derail GOP efforts to rein in state employee costs.

Inflation concerns

4| Price increases spook consumers

 The details: Consumer confidence fell sharply from February’s three-year high, as concerns about soaring gas prices and rising food costs dampened their willingness to spend. Most of February’s 0.7 jump in spending went to cover higher gas prices.

 Foreign bank bailout

 5| Federal Reserve finally fesses up

The details: At least 70 percent of the $110.7 billion in emergency loans made by the Federal Reserve at the height of the credit crisis were to foreign banks. The information was released after courts ordered the Fed to comply with Bloomberg News’ Freedom of Information Act request.

Yep, it’s you

6| Gray booed at Nats opener

The details: Embattled D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray was loudly booed by virtually “the entire crowd” attending the Nationals’ season opener. Gray was at the ballpark to announce the first “Play ball!” of the team’s season.

Many chiefs

7| Top-heavy police department

The details: Eighty-one members of D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department now earn six-figure salaries, for a nearly 30 percent increase since 2007. Meanwhile, the number of cops on the beat continues to dwindle and the department says it can’t afford to hire more.

Grade tampering

8| School cheating probe expands

 

The details: An investigation into whether the principal of D.C.’s McKinley Technology High School doctored students’ grades was expanded when other former school employees came forward to report similar grade tampering at their schools. D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan handed the case over to federal investigators.

Higher taxes

9| Md. residents taxed the most

The details: Residents living in the Maryland suburbs pay more in combined nonfederal taxes than their counterparts in Virginia or the District. Nearly 8 cents of every dollar Marylanders earn goes to local tax collectors.

Bridge blues

10| D.C. spans need major work

The details: A large percentage of bridges in the District are in dire need of repair, according to a report by Transportation for America. The two most dilapidated spans: the 14th Street Bridge and the Key Bridge, both commuter favorites.

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