ThinkFast: March 5, 2009


In “an unusual public criticism of Israel,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday that the country’s “plan to destroy dozens of Palestinian homes in Arab East Jerusalem was ‘unhelpful’ and contrary to Israel’s obligations under a U.S.-backed peace plan.” She added she would raise the issue, along with “concern over the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, with Israeli officials.”

According to a senior White House official, President Obama “has launched a high-level, urgent review’ of U.S. policy toward Sudan that will consider whether the U.S. should re-examine joining the International Criminal Court, which the Bush administration had emphatically rejected.” The official said a decision will be ready “within weeks.”

“Congressional Republicans are trying to figure out how to distance themselves from Rush Limbaugh without really distancing themselves too much from Rush Limbaugh.” In interviews with Politico, leading GOP lawmakers “took a delicate, almost pained approach to explaining their party’s relationship with Limbaugh,” fearing that ill words would bring “the wrath of his powerful microphone and millions of listeners.”

President Obama is hosting a health care summit today that will “bring together historical adversaries” in an effort to move forward on health reform. The major stakeholders in health care will discuss “health care costs, access and quality.” “They are coming to the White House and coming to the table because they want to get this done,” says Melody Barnes, Obama’s top domestic policy adviser.

Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection has formed a partnership with the environmentalists heading Dot Eco Ltd, who are formally applying to register the domain “.eco.” “This is a truly exciting opportunity for the environmental movement and for the internet as a whole,” says Gore.

President Obama nominated W. Craig Fugate yesterday to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Fugate, who has been director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management since 2001, “is credited with steering the state through some of the most devastating hurricane seasons in recent history.” In a statement, Obama said that Fugate “has what it takes to help us improve our preparedness.”

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that “state juries may award damages for harm from unsafe drugs even though their manufacturers had satisfied federal regulators.” The 6-to-3 ruling “upheld a jury verdict of $6.7 million in favor of a musician from Vermont whose arm had to be amputated after she was injected with an antinausea drug” and was a “a major setback for business groups that had hoped to build a barrier against injury lawsuits.”

The administration’s plan to stem the tide of foreclosures is “the most ambitious effort since the 1930s to help troubled homeowners.” The plan would let bankruptcy judges restructure mortgages and would protect loan-servicing companies from lawsuits by investors.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “appeared to suggest” yesterday that the White House would “consider dropping or modifying” their proposal to cap “itemized deductions for mortgage interest and charitable donations to help pay for his health-care overhaul.” The proposal had met strong resistance from senior Democrats in congress.

And finally: In a hate-filled screed, far right activist David Gibbs rallied North Carolinians to oppose gay marriage, claiming it would “open the door to unusual marriage.” “Why not polygamy, or three or four spouses?” Gibbs asked. “Maybe people will want to marry their pets or robots.” The Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen comments, “The times they are a changin’. Rick Santorum warned us about ‘man-on-dog’ relations; now we have David Gibbs raising the specter on man-on-robot action.”

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