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ThinkFast: May 12, 2008

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"ThinkFast: May 12, 2008"

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While “the number of Americans being secretly wiretapped” or having their records reviewed by the government continues to increase, “the number of terrorism prosecutions ending up in court” has continued to decline. Experts say that the trends are evidence that “the government has compromised the privacy rights of ordinary citizens without much to show for it.”

Two campaign aides to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) were forced to quit because of ties to a firm that once represented the Burmese military Junta. Doug Goodyear, whom McCain chose to run the Republican National Convention, and Doug Davenport, a regional campaign manager for McCain, resigned over the weekend. More on McCain’s troubling lobbying ties here.

On Friday, a military judge barred Gen. Thomas Hartmann, the legal adviser at Guantanamo Bay, “from participating in the case against Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s former driver.” Hamdan’s lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, alleged Hartmann’s “dual role of supervising the prosecution and providing legal advice to the commissions administrator, who must make impartial rulings,” constituted a “conflict of interest.”

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere “has reached a record high, according to new data published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists say the new figures confirm that CO2 “is accumulating in the atmosphere faster than expected.”

The Missouri legislature is set to vote this week on a constitutional amendment requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote, creating “far more rigorous demands than the voter ID requirement recently upheld by the Supreme Court.” “Critics say the measure could lead to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of legal residents who would find it difficult to prove their citizenship.”

In a sign of Iran’s growing influence in Iraqi politics, violent clashes between militias loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr and the Iraqi government “came to a halt this weekend after Mr. Sadr agreed to a truce brokered by Iran.” Iran’s scope of influence has widened” in Iraq, putting “the Iraqi government at a precarious position between two important friends, the U.S. and Iran.”

The LA Times reports that the U.S.’s evidence of Iranian weapons flowing into Iraq showed some cracks recently. “A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran.”

Bloomberg writes that President Bush’s promised Mideast agreement is still mission unaccomplished. Bush’s habit of “delving into Middle East peacemaking in fits and starts” has produced little progress. Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad said that talks “have not proceeded at a pace that’s consistent to obtain the objectives set forth at Annapolis.”

A Washington Post investigation, joined by 60 Minutes, has found disturbing evidence that immigrants are suffering from neglect and some don’t survive detention in America. Post reporter Dana Priest says the investigation showed an immigrations and customs bureaucracy “that offers many immigrants no care or slow care or poor care…and they also show that the employees inside are panicked about this.”

And Finally: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has such a “fondness for ‘The Office’” that at a recent gala sponsored by Time magazine “he seemed slightly star-struck upon meeting B. J. Novak, a writer and actor on the show.” When he was introduced to Novak, McCain “started rattling off the details of ‘Dinner Party,’ a recent episode that he apparently enjoyed and remembered.”

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

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