ThinkFast: July 2, 2008


Iran’s oil minister, Gholam Hossein Nozari, warned today that if attacked, his country would “react fiercely, and nobody can imagine what would be the reaction of Iran.” He also cautioned that such an offensive by Israel or the United States would create turmoil in the world’s volatile oil market.

“Caught off guard by recent Iraqi military operations, the United States is using spy satellites that ordinarily are trained on adversaries to monitor the movements of the American-backed Iraqi army, current and former U.S. officials say.”

Prompted by a report last week by the Justice Department’s inspector general, the Office of Special Counsel is opening “a new examination into political hiring practices” at the department. The watchdog informed the department this week that it will work to “to determine whether disciplinary action is warranted” for “those who considered political affiliation in making decisions” and “those who let them do that.”

More than 7,000 supporters of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) have organized “on Mr. Obama’s own campaign Web site” calling on him “to reverse his decision to endorse legislation” that expands the government’s domestic spying powers and provides legal protection to the telecom companies that worked with President Bush’s domestic warrantless wiretapping program.

On the trail today: Sen. Obama will visit the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs to “outline his national service agenda.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is taking a 20-hour visit to Colombia, “a curious stop for an American presidential candidate.”

The Washington Post reports Obama received a “discount” interest rate on his home mortgage loan. “He locked in an interest rate of 5.625 percent on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, below the average for such loans at the time in Chicago.”

Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) office has begun “laying the groundwork for a new attempt to provide universal healthcare.” The plans signal that Kennedy “intends to work vigorously to build bipartisan support for a major healthcare initiative when he returns to Washington in the fall.”

The Washington Post reports, “More than 900 cases alleging that government contractors and drugmakers have defrauded taxpayers out of billions of dollars are languishing in a backlog that has built up over the past decade because the Justice Department cannot keep pace with the surge in charges brought by whistle-blowers.”

In 2002, “an entire interrogation class” at Guantanamo Bay showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners was based on “a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.”

Blackwater Worldwide’s “bid to expand its military-training business in the San Diego area has already sparked controversy in California and is now posing problems in Washington.” Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) “is holding up the approval of four civilian defense officials until he gets more information from Defense Secretary Robert Gates about” the Blackwater training facility.

And finally: The American Family Association has a policy of replacing the word “gay” with “homosexual” on its Christian news outlet, OneNewsNow. To do so, it has set up an automatic filter. But the system went awry when it ended up publishing a story about a world-class U.S. sprinter named “Tyson Homosexual” (whose real name is “Tyson Gay”). Therefore, OneNewsNow published an AP story reading, “Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has.” OneNewsNow said that it has now taken “the filter out for that word.”

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