ThinkFast: July 11, 2007


Former White House aide Sara M. Taylor will refuse to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee today “about matters President Bush has deemed shielded by executive privilege, but she will offer to respond to other questions from senators that do not breach White House confidentiality.”

“I believe we are entering a period this summer of increased risk,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board yesterday. He indicated that his “remarks were based on ‘a gut feeling’ formed by past seasonal patterns of terrorist attacks, recent Al Qaeda statements and intelligence he did not disclose.” Keith Olbermann responds.

Sen. David Vitter visited a Canal Street brothel several times “beginning in the mid-1990s, paying $300 per hour for services at the bordello.” Attempting to defend Vitter against the solicitation of prostitution charges, the so-called “Canal Street Madam” whose operation was shut down by a federal investigators in 2001 said, “I want his wife to know he’s a good man.”

“Two senior Justice Department officials said yesterday that they kept Attorney General Alberto Gonzales apprised of FBI violations of civil liberties and privacy safeguards in recent years.” Gonzales told Congress: “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse” after 2001. But Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth L. Wainstein said, “I’m sure we’ve discussed violations that have occurred in the past.”

Baseball bats going extinct. At a baseball bat factory tucked into the lush tree country in northwestern Pennsylvania, the operators have drawn up a “three-to-five-year emergency plan” if the white ash tree, which has been used for decades to make the bat of choice, is compromised by the effects of global warming.

The Fish and Wildlife Service “took the first step yesterday” toward declaring 10 penguin species endangered. Their survival “is deemed at risk in part because of the increasing warmth of the atmosphere and the oceans” because of global warming.

Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) will unveil a bill today that would require “power producers, refiners and steelmakers in the U.S….to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2030.” The so-called cap-and-trade system would create a market for trading greenhouse gas permits.

“More than two dozen mortar shells pounded the Green Zone on Tuesday, killing three people, including a U.S. military member, and injuring 18, among them five Americans.”

Yesterday, the White House promised to veto a House bill “that would slash subsidies paid to college student-loan companies.” The legislation has “been attacked by the $85 billion student-loan industry, but championed by industry critics, including some student groups.”

And finally: Congratulations, Springfield, VT! The small New England town (pop. 9,500) beat out 13 other Springfields to host the premiere of The Simpsons Movie. Yesterday, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy issued a statement: “After 18 years, it’s good to finally welcome the Simpsons home. Vermonters love The Simpsons. … Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie will look great on that yellow carpet with the Green Mountains as a backdrop.”

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