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ThinkFast: November 17, 2006

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"ThinkFast: November 17, 2006"

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Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced legislation yesterday that would amend the existing law governing military tribunals of detainees. Among other things, the bill “seeks to give habeas corpus protections to military detainees” and narrow the definition of “unlawful enemy combatant” to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States.

“The U.S. military called no witnesses, withheld evidence from detainees and usually reached a decision within a day as it determined that hundreds of men detained at Guantanamo Bay were ‘enemy combatants,’ according to a new report.”

31 percent: President Bush’s approval rating on his handling of the Iraq war, “the lowest level ever,” according to a new AP-Ipsos poll.

“Pentagon guidelines that classified homosexuality as a mental disorder now put it among a list of conditions or ‘circumstances’ that range from bed-wetting to fear of flying.”

The new “State of the Arctic” analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that “Arctic sea ice coverage this past March was the lowest in winter since measurements by satellite began in the early 1970s.”

“Global talks to widen a fight against climate change reached gridlock on their final day on Friday after scant progress overnight to encourage rich nations to help Africa.” The nations remain deadlocked on the extension of the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol for fighting warming beyond 2012.

Violence in Iraq continues to increase in scope, complexity, and lethality,” Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples told the Senate Armed Services Committee. He described “an atmosphere of fear and hardening sectarianism which is empowering militias and vigilante groups, hastening middle-class exodus, and shaking confidence in government and security forces.”

Former Secretary of State James Baker met recently with Syrian officials to urge their cooperation in quelling the violent insurgency. The developments suggest the Iraq Study Group “will recommend that President George W. Bush reverse current policy and engage in talks with the leadership in Damascus.”

The incoming majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday “vowed to impose intense oversight on the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division next year, telling a Bush administration official in charge of the agency that the next Congress will scrutinize whether civil rights laws are being properly enforced.”

And finally: Mackris v. O’Reilly: an opera in 31 parts. Composer Igor Keller has written an opera “in the style of Handel’s Messiah” that “touches on all the embarrassing details mentioned in” the Oct. 2004 sexual harassment suit producer Andrea Mackris brought against Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. Performances will be held on January 12 and 13 at the University of Washington in Seattle.

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