ThinkFast: February 26, 2007

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"ThinkFast: February 26, 2007"

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President Bush has sent “an unusually tough message to one of his most important allies,” Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. But the “tough message” is about what others will do: Bush has warned “that the newly Democratic Congress could cut aid to his country unless his forces become far more aggressive in hunting down operatives with Al Qaeda.”

200,000: Number of U.S. veterans who are homeless, including approximately 500-1,000 who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Senate will begin debate today on a binding resolution to rescind the 2002 Iraq resolution granting Bush war authority. Bob Novak reports that Sens. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) will oppose the resolution, while Gordon Smith (R-OR) indicated he might favor it.

A 2002 study that “suggested adult stem cells might be as useful as embryonic ones was flawed and its conclusions may be wrong, a scientific panel says.” The study is frequently cited by conservatives to justify opposition to embryonic stem cell research.

Escalation update: “U.S. troops, Iraqi soldiers and officials, and Baghdad residents say the plan is hampered because security forces cannot identify, let alone apprehend, the elusive perpetrators of the violence. … ‘I don’t know who I’m fighting most of the time,’ said Staff Sgt. Joseph Lopez.’”

Lawmakers have continued to take trips paid for by outside groups since the House voted last month to restrict who can pay for such travel. “House travel records show that 19 members since Jan. 5 have accepted airfare, meals and lodging from special interests, including groups that employ lobbyists.”

Governors in Washington at the National Governors Association meeting warned that President Bush’s escalation in Iraq will put an unbearable burden on an already overstretched Guard and Reserve. “Currently, we don’t have the manpower or the equipment to perform that dual role” of responding to both state and federal needs, said Gov. Michael F. Easley (D-NC).

“The Rev. Al Sharpton, the prominent civil rights activist, is descended from a slave owned by relatives of the late senator and one-time segregationist Strom Thurmond, a genealogical study released Sunday reported.” Sharpton said the news was “probably the most shocking thing of my life.”

TXU Corp., Texas’ largest electricity producer, has agreed to be sold to a group of private-equity firms in what could be the largest private buyout in U.S. corporate history. Environmentalists are hailing the buyout, since the prospective new owners say they will cancel eight of 11 proposed coal plants and back national legislation for mandatory reduction in global warming pollution.

And finally: Nuts over “truck nutz.” A Maryland lawmaker has proposed legislation to ban the “outsized plastic testicles that truckers dangle from the trailer hitches of their pickups.” Said delegate LeRoy E. Myers, “I think it’s a pretty serious problem. You have body parts hanging from the hitches of cars. We’ve crossed a line.” His bill would prohibit motorists from displaying anything resembling or depicting “anatomically correct” or “less than completely and opaquely covered” human or animal genitals. The offense would carry a penalty.

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