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ThinkFast: March 28, 2006

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"ThinkFast: March 28, 2006"

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Tal Afar, an Iraqi town singled out last week by President Bush as a success story for American and Iraqi forces, “was last night the scene of a suicide bombing that killed at least 40 people and wounded 20 others.”

In an “apparent effort to mend his relationship with the press,” President Bush has been “holding informal off-the-record sessions with major news organizations over the last several days.” Knight-Ridder’s Ron Hutcheson said they were “likely part of the outreach aimed at improving support for the Iraq War.”

$28 Billion: Possible revenue oil companies stand to gain over the next five years under an obscure provision in last year’s giant energy bill that allows companies to avoid paying royalties on oil and gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico. “The provision received almost no Congressional debate, in part because Congress was lazy and in part because the provision was misleadingly advertised as cost-free.”

The White House withdrew its nomination of David Sanborn, a former Dubai Ports World executive, to run the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Abdul Rahman, the Afghan man who faced execution for converting to Christianity, was released from prison today and “quickly vanished,” “apparently out of fear for his life.” Italy’s foreign minister “said he would ask his government to grant Abdul Rahman asylum.”

Reps. Jane Harman (D-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI) — the ranking members of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees — sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urging that Bush withdraw his assertion that he can ignore portions of the USA Patriot Act.

A group of retired U.S. military officers said in a letter to the Supreme Court yesterday that Justice Scalia’s comments on enemy combatants “give rise to the unfortunate appearance that, even before briefing was complete, he had already made up his mind.”

Investigators working undercover for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) “slipped a radioactive substance – enough, they say, to make two dirty bombs – across northern and southern US borders last year in a test of security at American ports of entry.”

Donald Rumsfeld yesterday visited the site where Flight 93 crashed on September 11. He left a medallion typically given to U.S. troops overseas, a gesture “intended to link [the crash], through the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, to the wars started by the Bush administration in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

And finally: More than 25,000 evangelical Christian youth landed Friday in San Francisco for a two-day rally against “the virtue terrorism” of popular culture. “Are you ready to go to battle for your generation?” the lead organizer asked, “and the young people roared ‘yes!’ and some waved triangular red flags flown from long, medieval-looking poles.”

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