ThinkFast: July 19, 2007


Rupert Murdoch’s potential takeover of Dow Jones, parent company of the Wall Street Journal, is worrying many employees. “There’s a real culture of passion for the truth, for shining lights in dark places,” said a reporter. “The overwhelming view here is that under Murdoch, that gets compromised from Day One, and that idea is devastating, heartbreaking, to people.”

“While Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a Democratic bid to force a vote on U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq,” a new CBS/NYT poll finds that 61 percent of Americans say “the war should be funded only if there’s a timetable for withdrawal.”

International wildfire crews could be called to help fight blazes in the bone-dry West as U.S. officials boosted the nation’s wildfire alert to its highest level” after dry lightning “blasted and sparked dozens of new blazes in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah, where firefighters have been stretched thin by nearly 70 fires bigger than 100 acres burning in 12 states.”

“As part of a new White House offensive to enlist support on Iraq, all senators and select House members (100 to 150) have been invited to the Pentagon today for a pair of videoconference briefings by Army Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S ambassador to Iraq.”

Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner said yesterday that a feared Iraqi insurgent Omar al-Baghdadi “never existed.” “General Bergner told reporters that a senior Iraqi insurgent captured this month said that the elusive Mr. Baghdadi was actually a fictional character whose declarations on audiotape were read by a man named Abu Abdullah al-Naima.”

“U.S. military officials have announced the deaths of four more American soldiers — killed, along with their Iraqi interpreter, by a roadside bomb aimed at their patrol in east Baghdad.”

“Contractors hired to clean up after Hurricane Katrina are fuming over delays in getting paid by Federal Emergency Management Agency,” with some owed as much as $150 million. “In hard-hit St. Bernard Parish, local officials expressed concern that the slow payments will discourage contractors from bidding” on upcoming major reconstruction projects.

“A federal judge in Washington on Wednesday upheld the right of a Yemeni man held as an enemy combatant at a U.S. military prison in Afghanistan to seek his freedom. The ruling is the first issued in a case filed on behalf of a foreign detainee held by the U.S. outside the country or the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station.”

While the Iraq Study Group and the Bush administration believe that training the Iraqi forces should be a top priority, Lawrence Korb and William Odom argue that “training or equipping these forces is not a solution.” “In effect we are arming different sides in a civil war. It is no accident that as the number of trained Iraqi security forces has grown, so have attacks on coalition forces, Iraqi civilians and the Iraqi security forces themselves.”

And finally: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is a “Harry Potter parent.” He has “read all six books about the boy wizard’s adventures with his older daughter.” “The challenge will be scheduling Harry Potter reading time in between Iowa and New Hampshire and fundraising, but I guarantee you they will figure out a way to do it,” his wife, Michelle Obama, said. “Harry Potter is huge in our house.”

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