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ThinkFast: March 31, 2009

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"ThinkFast: March 31, 2009"

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66 percent: President Obama’s approval rating, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Forty-two percent of the public believes the country is on the “right track,” the “highest percentage saying so in five years and marks a sharp turnabout from last fall, when as many as nine in 10 said the country was heading in the wrong direction.”

Business Forward, a new trade group founded by several Democratic consultants, is providing business lobbyists an opportunity to court key White House staffers. “Some business trade association representatives see Business Forward as an invention of the White House to create a fissure within the business community, which typically leans Republican.”

As President Obama leaves for the G20 summit in London today, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said there is only “a very small gap” between the United States and Europe on “how to make the [global financial] system more robust and stable.” Geithner told the Financial Times regulation would be a sovereign issue, rejecting the idea of a global systemic risk regulator.

The Justice Department announced yesterday that it has decided to release a detainee from Guantanamo Bay named Dr. Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi. Batarfi, “a Yemeni doctor who the Bush administration once claimed had taken part in an anthrax program of Al Qaeda,” will be released to “an appropriate destination country.” He is the second detainee released by the Obama administration.

Today, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) will “unveil draft legislation to reduce U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent,” with the ultimate goal being to reduce emissions to “83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.” The draft “will be missing crucial details for a cap-and-trade program, including how emission credits would be either given to businesses or sold to them via auction.” Yglesias explains why auctions are preferable.

Residents in upstate New York’s 20th’s congressional district will pick the successor to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today in a race between Republican Jim Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy. The race is “tight.” President Obama has endorsed Murphy, and Vice President Biden has recorded a radio ad for him.

“Nearly 70 percent of the Pentagon’s 96 largest weapons programs were over budget last year, for a combined total of $296 billion more than the original estimates,” the Government Accountability Office reported yesterday. The auditing agency also found that “the programs were behind schedule by an average of 22 months, up from 21 months last year and 18 months in 2003.”

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and CNBC’s Suze Orman were honored last weekend for supporting and promoting equal rights for the LGBT community. They were honorees at the 20th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards.

And finally: Do the personalities on the Fox Business Network have the skills to be rock stars? David Asman, Cody Willard, and others joined together this past weekend to play “Learning to Fly” by the Foo Fighters. Watch their performance here.

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