ThinkFast: January 28, 2008

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"ThinkFast: January 28, 2008"

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This afternoon, “the Senate will vote on whether to cut off debate about reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV) is working against the motion, and it is expected that Republicans will not have the 60 votes needed to end the discussion.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told a crowd of supporters on Sunday, “It’s a tough war we’re in. It’s not going to be over right away. There’s going to be other wars.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will make a historic trip to Iraq sometime before March 19 — the first such visit ever by an Iranian leader. “Iraqi officials said Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd who has close relations with Iran’s ruling clergy, invited Ahmadinejad to visit.”

The former CEO of Countrywide Financial, Angelo Mozilo, is giving up $37.5 million of severance pay “in the face of pressure from politicians who have berated him for continuing to collect large sums from the mortgage lender even as millions of Americans face the threat of foreclosure.”

Automakers and their allies have stepped up lobbying to convince states that a proposal by California to cut tailpipe emissions sharply to fight global warming could further depress the struggling U.S. industry.” The Bush administration recently blocked the initiative, but California and 15 other states are suing the EPA to have the ruling overturned.

Today, the Washington Post is launching The Root, “an online magazine primarily for a black audience, with news and commentary on politics and culture, and tools for readers to research their family histories.” The magazine will be edited by Harvard University professor and writer Henry Louis Gates Jr..

Haaretz reports “the annual global report on anti-Semitism being presented to the cabinet Sunday morning points to a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, Australia, the United States and Ukraine together with an overall decrease in Western Europe.”

Reflecting “growing recognition that the United States risks further setbacks, if not deepening conflict or even defeat, in Afghanistan,” the Bush administration is seeking to “re-energize its terrorism-fighting war efforts” in the country while also “refocusing on Pakistan, where a regenerating al-Qaida is posing fresh threats.”

Private security contractors operating in Iraq are recruiting heavily from the needy in Latin America. For Latin American recruits, the pay is the major lure. “It’s a hard-to-match deal for ex-soldiers and cops with little education. Some returnees even describe the postings nostalgically as a kind of dream job.”

And finally: Watch out for the State of the Union squatters. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a regular squatter, will be arriving at the House chamber more than five hours before tonight’s SOTU address in order to score an aisle seat “so her constituents, friends and family can see her whisper into the president’s ear before he addresses the nation.” Ros-Lehtinen plans to bring a “mountain of paperwork” to pass the time waiting. Other famous squatters include Reps. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and Michelle Bachmann (R-MN).

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