ThinkFast: January 27, 2009


Some of the nation’s largest and most sturdy employers “announced plans yesterday to slash more than 55,000 jobs.” The cuts “extended to companies that were once considered bright spots in the U.S. economy, such as construction equipment maker Caterpillar (20,000 jobs cut), pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (19,500), Sprint Nextel (8,000), Home Depot (7,000), Texas Instruments (3,400), and GM (2,000).

Roughly two-thirds of the spending and tax cuts in the House stimulus plan will “flow into the economy by the end of fiscal 2010, producing a ‘noticeable impact on economic growth and employment,'” the Congressional Budget Office said yesterday in its “first cost estimate” of the plan. Citing the CBO, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the plan will help create jobs while making responsible investments for the future.

In “his first formal television interview as president,” Barack Obama told the Arabic satellite TV network Al-Arabiya yesterday that his “job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.” “And my job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives,” said Obama.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that employees “fired after cooperating in sexual harassment investigations may sue for retaliation.” The case involved three women who participated in a Tennessee school system’s internal investigation into the possible misconduct of an employee relations director. The three women were fired for speaking out; the perpetrator was not.

Yesterday, over 2,000 government employees involved in foreign policy issues “signed a letter delivered to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton…calling on the government to give equal benefits to same-sex partners.” While the Bush administration resisted such efforts, “Clinton, during her confirmation hearings, indicated a greater willingness to explore the issue.”

Late last week, the BBC refused to air an appeal from a charity group seeking to send aid to Gaza. The decision, which the BBC “defiantly reaffirmed” on Monday, has caused heated protests in Britain and spurred more than 11,000 complaints to the network. The appeal was created by some of Britain’s most respected aid groups, including Oxfam and the Red Cross.

Detroit slammed President Obama’s move yesterday toward approving of California’s auto emissions standards, saying the regulations “would basically kill the industry.” David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, warned, “It would have a devastating effect on everybody, and not just the domestics.”

The White House was hit with an email “server outage” yesterday. The Washington Post explains, “Instead of BlackBerrys, everyone used cellphones” and the press office relied on a loudspeaker and photocopies to distribute releases. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs quipped, “I haven’t had a less stressful day in five years.”

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Karl Rove a second time. The committee is seeking to learn about Rove’s suspected role in U.S. attorney scandal. Rove’s attorney commented, “It’s generally agreed that former presidents retain executive privilege as to matters occurring during their term.”

And finally: How do you spell “Barack Obama”? Well, it depends on which website you visit. The site gooseGrade.com released a study finding that at least 60 million web pages misspell Obama’s first name. Roll Call took a look at federal lawmakers’ websites at least five members have used “Barak,” including Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) in a statement congratulating Obama on his election victory. At least four have used “Barrack.”

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