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ThinkFast: May 28, 2008

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"ThinkFast: May 28, 2008"

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Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that the Iraq war was sold to the public with a “political propaganda campaign” led by President Bush, aimed at “manipulating sources of public opinion” and “downplaying the major reason for going to war.” McClellan said Vice President Cheney was “the magic man” who steered policy while leaving no fingerprints.

“Pentagon figures show 40,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder since 2003.” The number diagnosed “jumped nearly 50 percent in 2007 over the previous year, as more of them served lengthy and repeated combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index declined for a fifth-consecutive month, to 57.2 from 62.8 in April,” the “lowest reading since October 1992.”

In an assessment obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, the Pentagon inspector general (IG) estimates that “nearly half of the military’s $316 billion weapons budget went unchecked last year because the IG’s office lacked the manpower.” Auditors are having “trouble keeping pace with the ever-expanding defense budget and combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Iraq’s largest Sunni Arab political bloc has suspended talks on ending its boycott of the Shiite-led government due to a dispute over which positions it would assume, the head of the bloc said Wednesday.” The three-party bloc “pulled its members out of the 39-member Cabinet in August, saying they were not getting enough say in decision-making.”

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that employees are protected from retaliation when they complain about discrimination in the workplace, adopting a broad interpretation of workers’ rights under two federal civil rights laws.” The decisions are “evidence of a new tone and direction from the court this year,” the New York Times notes.

“At least three Iraqis appeared yesterday before a federal grand jury hearing evidence in the September shootings in Baghdad by Blackwater Worldwide security guards that left 17 Iraqis dead. … The grand jury has also heard testimony from Blackwater personnel and U.S. officials.”

ExxonMobil has “admitted that its support for” climate change denier groups “may have hindered action to tackle global warming,” and it the company announced it will cut funds to many of these groups. The move comes as shareholders, meeting in Dallas today, are expected to “urge ExxonMobil to take the problem of climate change more seriously.”

Ali Larijani, a prominent conservative and a “powerful rival” to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “became speaker of Iran’s parliament today, clearing the way for a potential challenge against the hard-line head of state ahead of 2009 presidential elections.”

And finally: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) has close ties to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Weiner is dating Huma Abedin, Clinton’s “body woman” and “ glam body gal.” “I’m doing a lot [for the campaign], but it’s largely because I’m dating Huma,” he admitted. “It’s not a great environment to forge a relationship.”

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