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ThinkFast AM: June 19, 2006

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"ThinkFast AM: June 19, 2006"

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President Bush sets off for a “very quick” trip through Europe tomorrow. Ahead of his departure, the Financial Times reports that a new poll indicates Europeans identify the U.S. as the greatest threat to global stability (36 percent). Iran and China come in second and third.

According to a Pentagon spokesman, three remaining U.S. reporters were banned from Guantanamo Bay last week because reporters had threatened to sue if the Americans were allowed to stay. According to one of those reporters, the Pentagon lied.

Despite his promises to push for lobbying reform, some House conservatives still doubt House Majority Leader John Boehner’s (R-OH) commitment: “With this leadership, we never will get rid of earmarks.”

The Washington Post obtained a “sensitive” cable from the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice outlining the “the daily-worsening conditions for those who live outside the heavily guarded international zone: harassment, threats and the employees’ constant fears that their neighbors will discover they work for the U.S. government.”

In an effort to crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers, the “Homeland Security Department also is seeking access to Social Security Administration records of workers whose numbers and names don’t match — access that has long been blocked by privacy concerns.”

A federal judge “signaled that he was inclined to rule against Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and a bipartisan group of House leaders as they challenged the constitutionality of an FBI raid on the Louisiana Democrat’s office last month.” The judge said he was “not sanguine about the argument advanced by Mr. Jefferson’s attorney and the House counsel.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein indicated her desire to introduce a resolution in the Senate this week that would call for a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq, an amendment based on the Strategic Redeployment plan laid out by the Center for American Progress. “I don’t know why we are so afraid to stand up and say, ‘look, we want to see an end to this thing’,” she said.

“An environmental disaster is brewing in the heartland of Iraq’s northern Sunni-led insurgency, where Iraqi officials say that in a desperate move to dispose of millions of barrels of an oil refinery byproduct called ‘black oil,’ the government pumped it into open mountain valleys and leaky reservoirs next to the Tigris River and set it on fire. The resulting huge black bogs are threatening the river and the precious groundwater in the region.”

Over the weekend, pro-whaling nations won a razor-thin International Whaling Commission vote to declare that “the moratorium on commercial whaling was meant to be temporary and is no longer needed.”

And finally: Eddie Favre, the mayor of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and a “distant cousin of Green Bay Packers quarterback and Mississippi native Brett Favre,” has said he is “not shedding his Bermuda shorts until his city is back on its feet.” “Until you make us whole, I’m wearing short pants,” Favre says. “Somebody is going to get stuck with these ugly legs.”

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