"ThinkFast: April 18, 2008"
According to a new Washington Post-ABC poll, nine in 10 Americans “now give the economy a negative rating, with a majority saying it is in ‘poor’ shape, the most to say so in more than 15 years.” Moreover, more than 60 percent reject “the notion that the United States needs to win” in Iraq “to effectively battle terrorism,” and “56 percent of Americans say the United States should withdraw.”
“The Justice Department is investigating whether agency lawyers improperly advised the military it could use harsh interrogation methods and concluded that President Bush’s wartime authority could not be limited by domestic law or international bans on torture.” A recently released March 2003 memo is being “included in an ongoing internal review about the CIA’s use of waterboarding.”
“Trying to stem the infiltration of militia fighters, American forces have begun to build a massive concrete wall that will partition Sadr City, the densely populated Shiite neighborhood in the Iraqi capital. The construction, which began Tuesday night, is intended to turn the southern quarter of Sadr City” into “a protected enclave, secured by Iraqi and American forces,” where the Iraqis can focus on reconstruction.
A company of Iraqi troops in Sadr City abandoned their posts today, after “they came under attack from Shiite militiamen who used the cover of a sandstorm.” This latest setback comes after “more than 1,300 Iraqi soldiers and police deserted or refused to fight” against Shiite militias during recent fighting in Basra.
An Air Force inspector general’s report says Maj. Gen. Stephen Goldfein and others “worked inside the Air Force contracting system to favor” Strategic Message Solutions and its owners, “despite an offer by the company that was more than twice as expensive as a competing bid.” As part of Goldfein’s efforts to help the company, he “arranged for President Bush to record a video testimonial” on the company’s behalf.
“Suicide bombers conducted 658 attacks around the world last year, including 542 in U.S.-occupied Afghanistan and Iraq.” The bombings, in dozens of countries on five continents, “killed more than 21,350 people and injured about 50,000 since 1983, when a landmark attack blew up the U.S. Embassy in Beirut,” 25 years ago today.
The Senate approved “a resolution asking the Justice Department to look into the circumstances surrounding the $10 million expenditure for a highway interchange in Florida backed by Rep. Don Young [R-AK].” Young has “denied that he pushed the provision as a result of receiving $40,000 in campaign donations from developers who owned 4,000 acres of land next to the proposed interchange.”
With Americans focusing on the increasing job losses, “the less-noticeable shrinking of hours and pay for millions of workers around the country appears to be a bigger contributor to the decline” of the economy. Total hours worked dropped last month compared to six months earlier, the first such drop since “February 2001, when the economy was on the doorstep of recession.”
An internal survey of employees at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “found that only 58 percent were satisfied with their jobs, the same as results from a 2006 survey that measured job satisfaction across the government.” DHS employee satisfaction ranked at the bottom of the 2006 poll.
And finally: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is looking forward to the next president. Yesterday he talked to reporters about the three remaining presidential candidates: “Some of the things they will be in favor of I will agree with, some of the things they will be in favor of I won’t. But at least we’ll have an adult in office who can lead and can accomplish something.” Bloomberg refused to say whether he was criticizing President Bush.
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