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ThinkFast: November 13, 2008

By ThinkProgress  

"ThinkFast: November 13, 2008"

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President Bush may continue to block inquiries into his administration after he leaves office. “The Bush administration overstepped in its exertion of executive privilege, and may very well try to continue to shield information from the American people after it leaves office,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The Bush administration has so far committed $290 billion of the $700 billion financial bailout package. However, “no formal action has been taken to fill the independent oversight posts established by Congress when it approved the bailout to prevent corruption and government waste. Nor has the first monitoring report required by lawmakers been completed, though the initial deadline has passed.”

The office of President-elect Barack Obama announced that it will send two emissaries to meet unofficially with delegations at the G-20 summit. Former Republican Congressman Jim Leach and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will “meet with and listen to our friends and allies” on Obama’s behalf, said Obama senior foreign policy adviser Denis McDonough.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden and Dick Cheney will meet today at the “vice president’s residence on the sprawling Naval Observatory grounds in northwest Washington.” The Observatory would be Biden’s first home in DC; he has commuted from Delaware throughout the course of his Senate career.

Biden has reportedly asked Ron Klain to be his chief of staff. Klain served as Vice President Gore’s chief of staff during the Clinton administration and previously worked for Biden when he was Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman. Klain was played by the actor Kevin Spacey in the HBO movie “Recount.”

Yesterday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to lift “restrictions on the Navy’s use of sonar in training exercises off the California coast, a defeat for environmental groups who say the sonar can harm whales.” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the overall public interest tipped “strongly in favor of the Navy.”

Gay marriage is now officially legal in Connecticut. “New Haven Superior Court Judge Jonathan Silbert ruled at a brief hearing Wednesday morning that gay and lesbian couples now may pick up marriage license forms at town and city clerks’ offices statewide.”

According to a new report from the Human Rights Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights, “[f]ormer Guantánamo prisoners released after years of detention without charge went home to find themselves stigmatized and shunned, viewed either as terrorists or as United States spies.” The report urges President-elect Obama to investigate the treatment of detainees held by the U.S.

The world’s developed economies have slid into recession and will shrink further in 2009,” according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The organization predicts that the U.S. economy will “contract by 0.9 percent” and reports that this is the first time since the Arab oil embargo of 1974-75 that the “U.S., Europe and Japan have fallen into recession” simultaneously.

And finally: In an “elaborate hoax,” pranksters yesterday “distributed thousands of free copies of a spoof edition of The New York Times on Wednesday morning at busy subway stations” around New York City. The 14-page paper was dated July 4, 2009, had the headline “IRAQ WAR ENDS,” and imagined “a liberal utopia of national health care, a rebuilt economy, progressive taxation, a national oil fund to study climate change, and other goals of progressive politics.” The paper was reportedly the work of a group called the “Yes Men.”

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