ThinkFast: July 10, 2008

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"ThinkFast: July 10, 2008"

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Democrats in Congress are negotiating a compromise on offshore oil drilling. “Democrats also want any compromise plan to include investments in clean and renewable energies, a crackdown on oil speculators and proof that the oil and gas companies are fully utilizing land that is already leased for exploration.”

According to American military and intelligence officials, “there has been an increase in recent months in the number of foreign fighters who have traveled to Pakistan’s tribal areas to join with militants there.” The officials said “the flow may reflect a change that is making Pakistan, not Iraq, the preferred destination for some Sunni extremists” and “shows a further strengthening of the position of the forces of Al Qaeda.”

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) yesterday “accused an Army general of misleading Congress about problems with a major defense contractor in Iraq.” Dorgan said Maj. Gen. Jerome Johnson told the Senate Armed Services Committee “in April 2007 that there were no widespread problems with water supplied by KBR, after the Pentagon’s inspector general had already found that there were.”

Yesterday, the House approved legislation “designed to ensure the preservation of e-mails by the White House and other federal agencies.” The measure “passed 286-137 in the wake of accusations that the White House had failed to preserve internal e-mails.” The White House has threatened a veto.

Home foreclosure filings jumped 53 percent in June from a year earlier,” according to real estate data firm RealtyTrac. Though they were down 3 percent from May, “foreclosures are expected to rise further.”

On the trail today: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) holds a town hall meeting at Bayloff Stamped Products factory in Belleville, Michigan. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will unveil his plan for helping working women at a town hall meeting today in Fairfax, VA.

USA Today reports that the candidates’ votes are increasingly falling by the wayside as they campaign for president. Obama returned to Capitol Hill yesterday, marking the 12th day this year that he has showed up for a Senate roll call. McCain “has an even worse attendance record: six days.” The last time he voted was on April 8.

The chief economist of England’s carbon reduction agency criticized the climate plan agreed to at the G8 summit as not doing “a single thing” to reduce emissions. Professor Michael Grubb of the Carbon Trust accused G8 leaders of “an abrogation of responsibility” for their “lack of anything specific that will make any difference.”

Gulf Stream Coach, a leading U.S. trailer manufacturer, “failed to disclose to Hurricane Katrina evacuees or the government its internal findings that formaldehyde in some units exceeded a federal health standard by as much as 45 times in 2006, its chairman acknowledged to Congress yesterday.”

In an overwhelming 412-9 vote, the House yesterday approved a bill that would provide housing assistance to homeless veterans. White House advisers are urging President Bush to veto the legislation because it would require “builders of veterans housing to pay employees prevailing wage.”

Iran test-fired nine missiles yesterday — including at least one capable of striking Israel.” While Defense Secretary Robert Gates said “the world is not closer to a military confrontation,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “We will defend American interests and the interests of our allies… No one should be confused about that.”

And finally: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is still a huge Grateful Dead fan. On Tuesday, he “bounded” out of a Capitol elevator singing the song “Casey Jones.” “Driving that train,” he sang, although Roll Call notes he “stopped before completing the second part to that lyric, which goes, High on cocaine.” Leahy said that one of the best moments was when he brought the Grateful Dead “to the Senate Dining Room when [singer and guitarist] Jerry [Garcia] was alive.”

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