ThinkFast: July 22, 2008


A military judge ruled yesterday that prosecutors in the trial of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s former driver, “cannot use as evidence some statements the defendant gave interrogators because they were obtained under ‘highly coercive’ conditions.” Hamdan’s “allegedly incriminating admissions made up a key part of the prosecution’s case against him.”

The current economic expansion “is the first in 60 years that may end before many Americans have recovered from the last slowdown. Annual family incomes adjusted for inflation have grown just 0.8 percent since the end of 2001.” Median U.S. family incomes, adjusted for inflation, dropped from $59,398 in 2000 to $58,407 in 2006.

The New York Times reports that “for the first time since the women’s movement came to life, an economic recovery has come and gone, and the percentage of women at work has fallen, not risen. … After moving into virtually every occupation, women are being afflicted on a large scale by the same troubles as men: downturns, layoffs, outsourcing, stagnant wages or the discouraging prospect of an outright pay cut.”

More than 100 members of Congress wrote to President Bush yesterday, urging him to “halt all action” on a proposal that “would change the definition of abortion, and drastically limit women’s access to birth control.” The proposal, floated last week, would require recipients of federal aid to certify that they don’t discriminate against people who refuse to provide forms of contraception.

On the trail today: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will arrive in Amman and meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will address supporters during a noon Town Meeting event at the Rochester Opera House in New Hampshire and then travel to fundraiser in Baltimore, MD.

Though Big Oil companies “insist they’re trying to find new oil” to help bring down gas prices, more than half of the money from their record profits is being spent on stock buybacks and dividends rather than exploration. While spending on stock buybacks and dividends has increased 25 percent since 2000, the percentage spent to find new deposits of fossil fuels “has remained flat for years, in the mid-single digits.”

FEMA reported yesterday that “[f]ederal officials vastly overestimated the value of hurricane relief supplies given away earlier this year. According to the report, the General Services Administration mistakenly counted “a single item as being worth as much as multiple items contained in a package of goods. The original GSA estimate of $85 million should have been $18.5 million.”

“Members of Congress appropriated more than $18 million in Defense Department earmarks in fiscal 2007 for projects that either were not needed or failed to support the Pentagon’s mission,” according to a DoD inspector general report.

Radovan Karadzic, “the wartime leader of Bosnian Serbs, was arrested Monday night” and is being extradited to The Hague where he will be tried by the U.N. war crimes tribunal. Karadzic “faces 11 counts of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other atrocities committed between 1992 to 1996.”

And finally: Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) guest appearance in the new movie, “The Dark Knight,” has been getting quite a bit attention on national blogs. Leahy, a huge Batman fan, appears in the movie “as a brave older gentleman who confronts the Joker after the evildoer crashes a swank party.” Writing on The Hill’s blog yesterday, Leahy expounded further on why he likes the film: “This, more than any earlier film, explores the psychotic nature of the Joker, but also the psychological conflicts in the Batman.” He also pays tribute to late actor Heath Ledger, who played the Joker.

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