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ThinkFast: May 2, 2008

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"ThinkFast: May 2, 2008"

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Yesterday, Vice President Cheney’s office agreed to let chief of staff David Addington testify about the administration’s interrogation policies if he is subpoenaed by Congress. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the issue on May 6.

On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) blamed the deadly 2007 collapse of a Minnesota bridge on “wasteful, unnecessary pork-barrel projects.” But after being rebuked by Minnesota leaders, including Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), McCain “backtracked somewhat” yesterday, saying that “he couldn’t be sure if redirected spending would have prevented the tragedy.”

Thousands of immigrants and their supporters turned out in several cities across the nation yesterday to hold “May Day” rallies, calling for an end to workplace raids and deportations. “We want a commitment from the three presidential candidates to pass humane immigration reform in the first 100 days in office,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, one of rally’s organizers.

Sen. John Warner (R-VA), “an early supporter of Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) GI Bill,” said he’s “quite certain” Congress will pass the bill, but he hinted at changes ahead. “There’s a possibility that we might make some changes in the Webb bill…reflecting what I believe are some important points raised by other senators,” said Warner.

A $6-billion reading program, part of Bush’s No Child Left Behind program, “has failed to make a difference in how well children understand what they read, according to a study by the program’s own champion,” the Department of Education. “There was no difference in comprehension scores between students who participated in Reading First and those who did not.”

After having “spent years working school boards, with only minimal success,” critics of evolution are now “turning to a higher authority: state legislators.” “In a bid to shape biology lessons, they are promoting what they call ‘academic freedom’ bills that would encourage or require public-school teachers to cast doubt on a cornerstone of modern science” — the theory of evolution.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved language in a bill that would “require military contractors, like KBR Inc., to report sex crimes committed by or against their employees, and provide employee victims with assistance and protection.”

“Significant needs remain unmet” in treating soldiers with traumatic brain injury, according to a report released yesterday by the Veterans Affairs inspector general, which said many veterans “are not getting adequate healthcare and job assistance.” “Brain injuries have become the dominant wounds from the Iraq war, Pentagon and VA records show, but the Pentagon has been slow to react to the growing problem.”

“In what industry analysts are calling a first, about one in five vehicles sold in the United States was a compact or subcompact car during April,” compared to a decade ago, when only in in eight cars sold were compact. Rising gas prices are fueling the “dramatic shift,” analysts say.

And finally: Even the rich and famous are facing foreclosure. Former U.S. baseball star Jose Canseco, who retired in 2001, has admitted that he has “lost his California mansion to foreclosure — one of the first celebrities to publicly admit being a statistic in the U.S. housing crisis.” Canseco owed a bank more than $2.5 million on his 7,300 square-foot house located in a Los Angeles suburb. “I decided to just let it go, but in most cases and most families, they have nowhere else to go,” he said.

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