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ThinkFast: November 20, 2007

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"ThinkFast: November 20, 2007"

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New Orleans lost out in the competition to host one of the 2008 presidential debates Monday after the commission that selects the sites decided that the city has not sufficiently recovered from Hurricane Katrina to handle such a major event.”

The FBI released its hate crime statistics for 2006 showing an increase of 7.8 percent. The Southern Poverty Law Center says the FBI report “severely flawed,” noting that Alabama reported only one hate crime in 2006, while Mississippi and Hawaii did not report any hate crimes at all. “In fact, the level of hate crimes in the United States is astoundingly high — more than 190,000 incidents per year.”

CQ reports that Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) “is ready to play nice when considering President Bush’s latest round of nominees to fill a raft of vacancies in the upper echelons of the Justice Department.” After Bush reportedly called him at home, Leahy pledged, “I’m going to try to move as quickly as I can on them.”

CBS’s “60 Minutes” is gathering information in Alabama about the case of incarcerated former Gov. Don Siegelman. Siegelman’s prosecution was opposed by DoJ prosecutors and was reportedly interfered with by Bush administration political operatives.

While the violence in Baghdad declines, “northern Iraq has become more violent than other regions as al-Qaida and other militants move there to avoid coalition operations elsewhere.” “What you’re seeing is the enemy shifting,” Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling told reporters yesterday.

When the House voted on Iraq redeployment legislation last week, three Republicans — Reps. Chris Shays (R-CT), Jim Walsh (R-NY) and Phil English (R-PA) — “voted to order withdrawal for the first time,” likely influenced by the tough re-election campaigns they face in ’08.

US contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan more than doubled from 2004 to 2006 to over 25 billion dollars but government oversight of the firms involved has slackened,” reports the Center for Public Integrity. Former Halliburton subsidiary KBR topped the list with more than $16 billion in U.S. contracts.

“Apparel retailer Gap is canceling half of its orders with a vendor in India and promises to donate $200,000 to improve working conditions there. The move comes after revelations that some of its clothes were made by children as young as 10.”

And finally: “Robert Novak is a prince, all right, and every member of royalty needs a chariot befitting his title. That must be why the right-leaning columnist and author of ‘Prince of Darkness’ was spotted pulling up to the Capitol on Friday in his sleek (and slightly menacing-looking) black Corvette convertible.”

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