ThinkFast AM: July 12, 2006

The federal antiterrorism database includes potential “targets” like Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, and an unspecified “Beach at End of a Street,” a new inspector general report shows. Indiana is listed as the most target-rich state in the U.S., with “50 percent more listed sites than New York.”

House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) promised yesterday to crackdown on intelligence leaks to the media, suggesting “some unauthorized leaks could have been deliberate attempts to help al Qaeda.” To back up his claim, Hoekstra said: “I don’t have any evidence.”

$98.40: Next year’s monthly premium for Medicare Part B outpatient coverage, an 11 percent increase over this year and a 68 percent increase since 2003.

The defense industry, with White House backing, is bitterly fighting an amendment to the Senate’s 2007 defense spending bill that requires fixed-price contracts that set a firm limit on the cost of weapons systems. The Pentagon’s contracting system is currently plagued by waste and cost overruns.

The U.S. government “is discontinuing a controversial multibillion-dollar deal with oil services giant Halliburton Co. to provide logistical support to U.S. troops worldwide.”

Putin fires at Cheney. During an interview with NBC, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Vice President Cheney’s recent criticisms of Russia “an unsuccessful hunting shot.”

Meanwhile, a Russian pro-democracy conference was interrupted yesterday when “Russian security officers, in plain clothes” entered the hotel and “swiftly seized four members of a political movement opposed to [Putin], handcuffed them and rushed them away.”

Hackers in China broke into the State Department’s computer system in Washington and overseas in search of information, passwords and other data.” Officials say the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs “lost its Internet connectivity for several days” preceding North Korea’s missile tests.

And finally: Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco vetoed a bill making “I Love My Louisiana” the official state poem because it “lacked sufficient literary merit.” An excerpt: “I love my Louisiana/I propose this toast toward her/With my meager pen in hand/I somehow feel so primitive/To her majesty so grand.”

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