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ThinkFast: August 15, 2008

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"ThinkFast: August 15, 2008"

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Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs when her Black Hawk helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, “will lead a tribute to service members and veterans on the third night of the Democratic National Convention.”

During his tenure in the White House, President Bush has “raked in close to a billion dollars” as “the political fundraiser in chief.” “In all, Bush has personally raised more than $968 million for the Republican Party, GOP candidates and his own re-election campaign and inauguration during his two terms in office.” So far this year, he has raised roughly $70 million.

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi will wed this weekend in California, following the California Supreme Court’s monumental ruling that same sex couple’s have the “right to marry.” “It’s something that we’ve wanted to do and we want it to be legal and we are very, very excited,” DeGeneres said.

The Bush administration is “backing down from a threat to penalize states enrolling middle-class children” in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. States were directed to make the changes by Monday in order to avoid potentially facing financial penalties, but “with the deadline fast approaching, the administration made clear that the states were under no immediate threat of losing federal funding.”

On the trail today: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will attend a fundraising strategy session in Aspen, CO with more than 100 top fundraisers and supporters. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) continues his vacation in Hawaii.

The United States and Poland reached a deal on Thursday “to place an American missile defense base on Polish territory, in the strongest reaction so far to Russia’s military operation in Georgia. Russia reacted angrily, saying that the move would worsen relations with the United States.”

A new study in Science finds that dead zones — “areas of bottom waters too oxygen depleted to support most ocean life” — are spreading. There “are now 405 identified dead zones worldwide, up from 49 in the 1960s — and the world’s largest dead zone remains the Baltic Sea, whose bottom waters now lack oxygen year-round.”

A federal court has ruled that Saudi Arabia “could not be held liable” for the 9/11 attacks even though some donations to charity groups operated by the Saudi government “ended up in the hands of Al-Qaeda.”

Lawyers for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) “filed a flurry of pretrial motions” yesterday challenging the government’s public-corruption case against him. Prosecutors “responded with their own filings” and made public additional allegations against Stevens, “including claims that he allegedly asked for other gifts and favors and that he approached an unidentified witness about pending grand jury testimony.”

And finally: Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) was the featured speaker at a summit on Wednesday about the “emerging issue of producing electricity from wind.” At the meeting was a “wind potential map that showed most of Kansas in pink — reflecting wind speed of 16.8 to 17.9 mph at a height of 70 meters.” Brownback, however, took exception with the map, stating, “I didn’t think anything about western Kansas was “in a sweet spot for wind.”

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