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ThinkFast: July 17, 2007

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"ThinkFast: July 17, 2007"

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War supporters responded yesterday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) call for an up-or-down vote on Iraq withdrawal legislation by threatening a permanent Iraq filibuster. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed “an automatic 60-vote threshold for all key Iraq amendments.”

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. “reached a tentative agreement for the purchase of Dow Jones & Co. at its original $5 billion offer price. The deal will be put to the full Dow Jones board this evening for its approval, said people familiar with the situation.”

“Former Republican congressman J.D. Hayworth said Monday that he has sent documents to the Justice Department in response to its investigation of disgraced fundraiser Jack Abramoff.”

20.5 million: Number of decisions to classify government secrets last year. But the Information Security Oversight Office said “more than 1 in 10 documents it reviewed lacked a basis for classification, ‘calling into question the propriety‘ of the decisions to place them off limits to public disclosure.”

“The Pentagon approves disputed costs on Iraq contracts at a much higher rate than on military contracts as a whole, Defense Department records show. Through last October, almost two-thirds of costs challenged by Pentagon auditors as inflated, erroneous or otherwise improper — more than $1 billion — were eventually approved by project managers.”

Children in Iraq “are much worse off than they were a year ago, and they certainly are worse off than they were three years ago,” said a senior U.N. official yesterday. He added that “gains made shortly after the United States toppled Hussein’s government in 2003…had been lost.”

“The Senate health committee is scheduled on Wednesday to consider a bill that would for the first time allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate cigarettes.” Health advocates are predicting that, “after more than a decade of debate, this may be the year tobacco regulation is made law.”

Sixteen detainees were transferred out of the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to authorities in Saudi Arabia, Pentagon officials announced yesterday, amid discussions within the Bush administration about how to close the facility.”

And finally: “Anyone who has ever wanted to buy gold bullion, walk on heated sidewalks or watch a flock of seagulls will find plenty to love” in the $56 billion budget Republicans pushed through the Wisconsin state Assembly last week. Similarly, the Democratic plan that passed the state Senate included “$10 for pictures frames and furniture in the Pensaukee town hall.” The spokesman for Gov. Jim Doyle (D) called the budget priorities “sad.”

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