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1. Looks like we’re heading off the cliff. Two Senate proposals to avoid the sequester appear unlikely to pass before tomorrow’s deadline. One would allow Obama to select alternative spending cuts, and Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing another proposal to raise $110 billion in taxes and “alternative savings.” Neither bill is popular enough to receive the required 60 votes. Brace yourself for $85 billion in across-the-board spending slashes.
2. Rubio cozies up to Wall Street. Sources report that Sen. Marco Rubio is courting potential investors on Wall Street, which suggests we can expect to see a “Rubio for President” campaign in 2016.
3. Stock market nears all-time high. With reports of strong earnings, the Dow registered impressive growth for the second consecutive day. Financial advisors caution against over-excitement, as looming spending cuts may temporarily hurt the market.
4. Millionaire’s mission to Mars: “It’s about inspiring the children.” Yesterday, former rocket scientist Dennis Tito announced a plan to send a middle-aged couple to Mars in 2018. The 501-day mission will orbit the team around Mars for a total of 10 hours. Experts say that Tito’s plan “teeters on the edge of credibility.”
5. Housing wasn’t this nice when I was in college. Major real-estate companies are planning to capitalize on a surge in the number of students spending on off-campus housing by building new developments that offer swimming pools and ice-skating rinks. Last year, students shelled out $3.7 billion to live off campus.
6. Racial income inequality continues to grow. A recent study shows that the income gap between African-Americans and whites has tripled in the last 25 years.

7. The pope’s last day. Meeting with cardinals for the final time as pope, Benedict XVI swore obedience to his unnamed successor. Benedict will formally retire at 8 p.m. Rome time, and a helicopter will fly him to a hilltop town outside of Rome earlier in the day. Look out for the Pope’s final tweet later today.
And, in case you’re curious: Find out why Benedict is giving up those awesome red shoes (among other papal objects).
8. Head of Mexico teachers union arrested. Elba Esther Gordillo is accused of misusing more than $200 million in funds. The arrest will have a huge impact on national politics: Gordillo influenced the vote of over one million union members.
9. Syria rumors confirmed. White House officials have corroborated yesterday’s rumors that the U.S. will provide non-lethal assistance to Syrian rebels.

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