ThinkFast: April 25, 2007

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"ThinkFast: April 25, 2007"

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Several retired generals endorsed Congress’ Iraq withdrawal legislation yesterday. Maj. Gen. John Batiste called it “important legislation [that] sets a new direction in Iraq,” while Lt. Gen. William Odom said it will “re-orient US strategy to achieve regional stability, and win help from many other countries – the only way peace will eventually be achieved.”

Embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will return to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, this time to meet with Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, who recently called for the attorney general’s resignation, accusing Gonzales of lying to the senator and his constituency in Arkansas.”

“After more than a decade of government inaction, gay-rights proponents in Congress have gotten several major bills moving through the Democratic-controlled chambers, a development that could result in the greatest expansion of federal protections for gays and lesbians in US history.” The measures include tougher action against both workplace discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation.

“The Iraqi government withheld recent casualty figures from the United Nations, fearing they would be used to present a grim picture of Iraq that would undermine the coalition’s security efforts.” The United Nations released its own figures, showing that sectarian violence remains high in Baghdad, despite the U.S. escalation strategy.

“After months of furious debate and threats of excommunication by the Catholic Church, Mexico City’s legislative assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to legalize abortion for the first time in the capital’s history.”

An NYT expose shows how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “charged with overseeing workplace safety,” has placed safety “in the hands of industry.” The agency “has killed dozens of existing and proposed regulations and delayed adopting others” under President Bush.

Office of Special Counsel chief Scott Bloch, who has launched an investigation into White House officials, “is himself under investigation by the inspector general of the Office of Personnel Management over accusations of politicizing his agency.” A lawyer for agency employees “said it was obvious that Mr. Bloch was trying to use the investigation to divert attention from his own problems.”

President Bush said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might have one-on-one talks with Iranian leaders at an international conference on Iraq next month. “What I’m not willing to do is sit down bilaterally with the Iranians,” he said in an interview. Later, he said Rice and Iran’s foreign minister might have bilateral conversations. “They could. They could,” Bush said.

Newly-appointed Defense Undersecretary James Clapper Jr. “is moving to end the controversial Talon electronic data program,” which “collected and circulated unverified reports” about alleged threats, including data on “anti-military protesters and peaceful demonstrators.”

And finally: There are “problems” in Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) office, according to an internal memo sent to staff. The biggest one: “[I]f you have a long magazine-reading bathroom trip planned (and you know what I mean), please go to the public restrooms. We don’t want to subject our staff or constituents to any fowl (sic) smelling odors while they are in the office.”

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.

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