ThinkFast: December 10, 2008


Bank of America has agreed to extend a loan to Republic Windows and Doors so that it can pay its workers. Since Friday, 250 laid-off employees have been staging a sit-in at the shuttered Chicago factory, protesting the fact that the company gave them just three days notice of the plant’s closing.

A tentative agreement between President Bush and congressional Democrats would give a $15 billion loan to the Big Three as early as next week and allow Bush to immediately appoint a “car czar” to oversee the bailout. Congress could revoke the funds if the companies failed to cut costs and restructure debt by March 31. So far, Democrats have kept a provision requiring automakers to drop lawsuits opposing California’s strict emissions limits, but the White House says the rule could kill the deal.

Former Clinton administration EPA chief Carol Browner is expected to “take a new White House position as head of environmental, energy, climate and related matters.” Progressive reformers have advocated the creation of a “National Energy Advisor” to coordinate government resources in transforming our nation to a low-carbon economy.

The House Ethics Committee voted to expand its investigation into Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) to “examine his role in preserving a tax loophole for an oil drilling company whose chief executive pledged $1 million to a City College of New York project” that will bear Rangel’s name. Rangel insisted yesterday he will not step down.

Yesterday, New Jersey’s 13-member Civil Union Review Commission unanimously concluded that state legislators “should allow gay couples to marry, setting up what could be a spirited debate over whether the state should be the first to allow gay marriage by passing a law, rather than by court mandate.” The panel included both liberal advocates and a self-described “pro-life Republican.”

The Iowa Supreme Court is now hearing “a case that could make Iowa the first Midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage.” The legal core of the case, Varnum v. Brien, “is whether the state’s 10-year-old law defining a ‘valid’ marriage as only ‘between a male and female’ violates the Iowa Constitution’s guarantees of equal treatment and due process.”

963,000,000: The number of people who are facing a hunger crisis in the world, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. “The ongoing financial and economic crisis could tip even more people into hunger and poverty,” the FAO added.

“A lawyer for former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama urged a federal appeals court panel on Tuesday to overturn Mr. Siegelman’s 2006 bribery conviction” but the justices seemed unlikely to overturn the conviction. If the court rules against Siegelman, “he faces a return to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence of seven years and four months.”

A new study by the New America Foundation “places the United States at the top of the list of the world’s leading arms-selling nations in 2007, accounting for more than 45 percent of all global weapons transfers.” The Bush administration “signed arms sales agreements…worth more than $32 billion last year, including with one or more parties involved in 20 of the world’s 27 major conflicts.”

British troops will begin withdrawing from Iraq in March after regional elections in southern Iraq, and the troop levels will fall to 300-400 by June, according to the Ministry of Defense. “A U.S. brigade will replace the British force at Basra airport.”

And finally: Washington, DC jewelers are breaking out the inauguration “bling.” The DC Examiner has some photos of pieces here.

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