ThinkFast: July 15, 2008

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"ThinkFast: July 15, 2008"

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Lawyers for Canadian detainee Omar Khadr have “released excerpts of videotaped interrogations” today, “providing a first-ever glimpse into the secretive world of questioning enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay. In the 10-minute video, Khadr is often weeping, “pulling at his hair,” chanting “Help Me,” and even tells agents that he was tortured while being held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

The Bush administration is seeking to require “all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control.” The proposed rule would force hospitals, clinics and medical schools to sign “written certifications” as a prerequisite to getting federal funds.

Taliban insurgents who attacked a remote American-run outpost near the Pakistan border on Sunday outnumbered allied forces almost three to one and “some breached the NATO compound in a coordinated assault that took the defenders by surprise.” The attackers were eventually “driven back in a pitched four-hour battle.”

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds “the country split down the middle between those backing Sen. Barack Obama’s 16-month timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq [50 percent] and those agreeing with Sen. John McCain’s position that events, not timetables, should dictate when forces come home [49 percent].” Sixty-three percent “somewhat” or “strongly” felt the war was “not worth fighting.”

On the trail today: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will deliver a major policy address on Iraq and national security at the International Trade Center in DC. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will attend a townhall in Albuquerque and a fundraiser in St. Louis.

The euro has jumped “to a new all-time high versus the dollar, surging as high as $1.6036, according to FactSet, as the greenback saw a broad decline against major currencies on intensifying credit worries.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said “that he would not allow a vote on an amendment giving states new authority to seek oil off their coasts” when he brings an energy bill to the floor later this month. “We want oil and gas companies to drill on the leases they’ve been given,” Reid said.

The Bush administration’s misguided drive to extract Colorado’s oil shale “carries none of the Western wisdom acquired over the past century,” warns Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), in a Washington Post op-ed today. Oil shale development would require massive amounts of scare Colorado water, and “energy companies are still years away” from knowing whether it can cost-effectively produce oil on a commercial scale.

“House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel is soliciting donations from corporations with business interests before his panel, hoping to raise $30 million for a new academic center that will house his papers when he retires.”

The “staff director for the House ethics committee has reportedly resigned,” leaving the committee “somewhat paralyzed.” As a result, “both the House and Senate ethics committees may be operating without a permanent staff director in the runup to the national political conventions,” the Hill Reports.

And finally: In an NBC interview on Friday, basketball star Charles Barkley curiously told NBC, “My game is like a blog.” The blog Deadspin, which interviewed Barkley the day earlier, caught up with him and asked him what he meant by the phrase. Barkley replied, “When I talked with you on Thursday, and you said your were blogging my rounds, I didn’t know what that was. What’s a ‘blog?’ … So when they asked me on television how to describe my golf game, I told them ‘My game is like a blog.’ Because I don’t know what a blog is, but it don’t sound good.”

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