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ThinkFast: June 23, 2008

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"ThinkFast: June 23, 2008"

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“Five years into the war in Iraq and nearly seven years into the war in Afghanistan, getting news of the conflicts onto television is harder than ever.” Almost halfway into 2008, the three evening network newscasts have shown 181 weekday minutes of Iraq coverage, compared with 1,157 minutes for all of 2007. “That’s about two minutes of Iraq coverage, per network, per week.”

Lawyers for the White House and Congress are headed to court” today to argue whether the House Judiciary Committee can force White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former Counsel Harriet Miers to testify about their roles in the U.S. attorney scandal.

More than four years after it began broadcasting, the Arab television station Al-Hurra — the centerpiece of a U.S. government campaign to spread democracy in the Middle East – “is widely regarded as a flop in the Arab world, where it has struggled to attract viewers and overcome skepticism about its mission.”

Dr. James Hansen, who warned Congress 20 years ago today that human-induced global warming had begun, will “call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.”

On the trail today: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will be in Albuquerque to address a small group of working women from around New Mexico. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will talk about national security and energy independence in Fresno, California.

The Army and Air Force discharged a disproportionate number of women in 2007 due to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” according to statistics obtained by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. While women make up just 14 percent of Army personnel and 20 percent of Air Force, they accounted for 46 percent of those discharged by the Army last year and 49 percent of those discharged by the Air Force.

New York Gov. David Paterson (D) said that he has reached an agreement with state legislative leaders to “extend health benefits to hundreds of workers who toiled at the World Trade Center site after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

It will cost more than $8 billion to replace or renovate the security around the most vulnerable U.S. embassies abroad, according to State Department documents. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration has spent $4.1 billion in embassy renovations, but “at least 150 American missions abroad fall short of” necessary security standards.

And finally: Counterculture comedian George Carlin died yesterday of heart failure at the age of 71. Carlin, who began his comedy career in the 1950s, was recently named the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Here’s a clip of one of his classic routines:

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