ThinkFast: August 7, 2008


House Republicans plan to continue their political stunts on oil drilling “for at least the next two weeks — right up to the start of the Democratic Convention in Denver” on Aug. 25. The memo from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) to GOP members said that their “protest is making history.”

Officials asserted yesterday said they had evidence that “would have convictedformer government scientist Bruce Ivins in the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people, stating that he was the “sole custodian” of the unique anthrax strain. Glenn Greenwald has more.

Across the country, “utility shut-offs for customers behind on their energy bills are increasing…reaching 50% or more in some hard-hit areas.” The increase is the result of an “economic double whammy of high gasoline prices and rising utility bills” in a “sagging economy.”

The budget deficit for fiscal year 2008 will be “around $400 billion,” according to a new Congressional Budget Office estimate. CBO’s prediction is “slightly higher than the White House’s deficit estimate of $389 billion,” both of which “approach the record-breaking deficit suffered in fiscal 2004 of $412.7 billion.” Last month, the White House predicted the deficit could reach nearly $490 billion in fiscal year 2009.

On the trail today: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) plans to return to Ohio with a town hall meeting in the city of Lima. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) campaigns in Minneapolis before traveling to Chicago.

McCain’s “shifting rhetoric” on whether or not he’d raise payroll taxes to fund Social Security “has entangled even some surrogates.” But Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said he “didn’t go nuts the way some other conservatives did” over McCain’s confusion because “he’s been reassured by the senator’s aides.”

As Kenya and Tanzania marked the 10th anniversary today of deadly bombings at the countries’ U.S. embassies, “police conducted a manhunt for the al-Qaida suspect believed to have masterminded the attacks.”

Professor Bob Watson, one of the British government’s top scientific advisers, has said “the UK should take active steps to prepare for dangerous climate change of perhaps 4C.” While the “EU is committed to limiting emissions globally so that temperatures do not rise more than 2C,” a “4C temperature rise would have a catastrophic impact.”

The National Center for Atmospheric Research has shut down a program to help poor countries deal with the calamitous effects of climate change, such as droughts and floods. The shut down “resulted from the shrinking of federal science budgets,” though the program’s annual budget totaled only $500,000.

According to new federal statistics released yesterday, “the average time that hospital emergency rooms patients wait to see a doctor has grown from about 38 minutes to almost an hour over the past decade.” Dr. Stephen Pitts, lead author of the CDC report, said “there are more people arriving at the ERs. And there are fewer ERs.”

And finally: In a new interview with Glamour magazine, Meghan McCain opens up about her difficulties dating: “I go on dates and guys are like, ‘Oh, you really look like John,’ and I’m like, ‘As I get older, I’ll look more like him. [Laughs.] You could actually be dating John McCain.'”

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