ThinkFast: April 11, 2007

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"ThinkFast: April 11, 2007"

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Two bombs went off today in Algiers killing 30 people, “the first such attacks in Algeria’s capital in years. … Residents said it was the first time since the 1990s that a powerful bomb targeted the centre of the Mediterranean city, where police had stepped up security following an upsurge in attacks by suspected Islamist insurgents in the countryside.”

U.S. forces in Baghdad “are now planning a massive and highly controversial counter-insurgency operation that will seal off vast areas of the city, enclosing whole neighbourhoods with barricades and allowing only Iraqis with newly issued ID cards to enter.”

A new Bloomberg/LA Times poll finds that six in 10 “Americans expect a recession within a year and disapprove of President George W. Bush’s handling of the economy even though the unemployment rate is at a five-year low.”

Despite the fact that Sens. John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton are not taking part in the Fox News presidential debate cosponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus, the CBC released a statement last night “announcing that it stands by its plan.” The statement said the CBC “will determine the format and select the panelists for the debates.”

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has circulated a draft bill that would expand the government’s surveillance powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, liberalizing how that law can be used. “The court-approved surveillance could include planting listening devices and hidden cameras, searching luggage and breaking into homes to make copies of computer hard drives.”

“Sunni militants and residents of the Baghdad neighborhood of Fadhil fought a fierce daylong battle with the Iraqi Army and American soldiers on Tuesday in what appeared to be the most sustained confrontation since the start of the security plan to calm violence in the capital.” Fighting began after Iraqi soldiers raided a Sunni mosque.

“Recent graduates of the US Military Academy at West Point are choosing to leave active duty at the highest rate in more than three decades, a sign to many military specialists that repeated tours in Iraq are prematurely driving out some of the Army’s top young officers.”

Yesterday, the Bush administration agreed to allow North Koreans suspected of money laundering and counterfeiting U.S. dollars to get their money back as part of a deal to “ensure that North Korea shuts down its nuclear reactor by the end of the week.” Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton blasted the administration’s decision, saying the retreat is “an image of surrender that is going to be hard to erase.”

“Companies including Procter & Gamble Co. and Staples Inc. are pulling advertisements from Don Imus’ show due to the shock jock’s on-air racial slur about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.”

And finally: Rush Limbaugh is giving away eight, 80-gig video iPods to people who sign up for his e-mail newsletter. Now, “Phillip Torrone of Make magazine and Adafruit Laser Services, a laser-etching etching service for iPods and MacBooks, has kindly offered to etch OxyContin pills for free onto any Rush Limbaugh iPod.” Torrone stated, “I’ll etch pills all over it for free with my laser. We can then auction it off and give the $ to a group Rush [haters].”

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