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ThinkFast: August 13, 2008

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"ThinkFast: August 13, 2008"

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Former Virginia governor Mark Warner will be keynoting this year’s Democratic National Convention taking place in Denver later this month. Warner will be speaking on Tuesday, Aug. 26, the same night as Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

New figures from the Treasury Department show that the “federal budget deficit soared in July,” totaling $102.8 billion, “nearly triple the $36.4 billion deficit recorded in July 2007.” July’s deficit was pushed higher by “economic stimulus payments and $15 billion in outlays to protect depositors at failed banks.”

Randy Scheunemann, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) top foreign policy adviser, “prepped his boss for an April 17 phone call with the president of Georgia” and then helped McCain “prepare a strong statement of support for the fledgling republic.” That day, Scheunemann’s lobbying firm “signed a $200,000 contract to continue providing strategic advice to the Georgian government.”

McCain is “ignoring calls from several watchdog groups” including Public Citizen, CREW, and Campaign Money Watch, “to cancel an Atlanta fundraiser promoted by Ralph Reed, a longtime friend and business partner of imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff.”

On the trail today: McCain will campaign in Michigan today, accompanied by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is vacationing in Hawaii.

Russia and Georgia continue fighting this morning, accusing each other of “violating a cease-fire only 24 hours after it was agreed.” Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said “Russian tanks were attacking and ‘rampaging’ through the Georgian town of Gori,” but a “Russian military official disputed Georgia’s claim.”

A top U.S. government counterterrorism official said yesterday that “Al-Qaeda has exploited recent political turmoil in Pakistan to strengthen its foothold along the country’s border with Afghanistan” and “warned of a heightened risk of attack during the upcoming U.S. election season.” The official, Ted Gistaro, said “Al Qaeda is more capable of attacking inside the United States than it was last year.”

“The percentage of working poor in large metropolitan areas soared by 40 percent during the first half of the decade, reversing gains from the 1990s in the fight against poverty, according to a report released Tuesday by the Brookings Institution.”

“Almost one-third of U.S. homeowners who bought in the last five years now owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth,” according to Zillow.com, an Internet provider of home valuations. “Second-quarter home prices fell 9.9 percent from a year earlier, giving 29 percent of owners negative equity.”

More than one-fourth of Hispanic adults in the U.S. lack a regular health care provider,” according to a new Pew Hispanic Center report. The study found that “about 42 percent of Hispanics who have no health insurance lack a regular…provider, compared with 19 percent of the insured.”

And finally: Steven Howards, who was arrested for allegedly assaulting Vice President Cheney and is now suing the Secret Service, “has renewed his attempt to subpoena the vice president to tell a judge what happened.” “I feel confident the vice president will be deposed,” said Howards’s attorney. The AP reports that Cheney’s attorneys now have 20 days to respond to the latest motion.

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