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ThinkFast: April 1, 2009

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"ThinkFast: April 1, 2009"

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The Justice Department will drop all charges against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens due to problems with the prosecution. Attorney General Eric Holder was reportedly “horrified by the failure of prosecutors to turn over all relevant materials to the defense.” In a statement this morning, Holder said, “I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”

The special congressional election in New York between Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco is too close to call, “with the two candidates separated by just 59 votes and a lengthy process of awaiting and counting absentee ballots set to begin.” It “might be mid-April before the race is settled,” notes Politico.

Presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke met briefly with Iran’s deputy foreign minister Mohammad Mehdi Akhondzadeh at a conference on Afghanistan yesterday. The meeting marks “the first face-to-face encounter” between the Obama administration and Iran. “It was cordial, unplanned and they agreed to stay in touch,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Fifty-six percent of the American public still believe the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Fifty-one percent believe that the United States should focus “more on defeating the Taliban military” and people are evenly divided on whether or not progress is being made in the war.

I think of you as a goon,” David Letterman told Bill O’Reilly last night. “You’re too smart to believe what you say.” O’Reilly tried to distinguish himself from fellow hatemongers Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck by claiming that he’s a journalist. “I got a degree, I paid a lot of money for… I went out, covered stories… those guys are basically entertainers… we give information.”

Obama is planning to begin negotiations with Russia today for a new nuclear arms control treaty. Both American and Russia officials “privately indicated that they could agree to reducing their stockpiles perhaps to about 1,500 warheads apiece, down from the 2,200 allowed under a treaty signed by President George W. Bush.”

In a reverse of Bush administration policy, the Obama administration has announced that the United States “will seek a seat on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council,” saying that “working from within was the most effective means of altering the council’s habit of ignoring poor human rights records of member states.”

Momentum among Democrats is growing to use special budget rules to push major healthcare reform this year through the Senate with a simple majority.” Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), who are possible members of a House-Senate conference committee, refused yesterday to rule out the use of reconciliation, which would prevent the use of a filibuster to block health reform.

Former Bush national security adviser Stephen Hadley “is heading to the U.S. Institute of Peace — the congressionally created and funded outfit that focuses on international conflict management, as a senior adviser for global affairs.” Hadley will co-chair a working group on the Middle East with former Clinton national security adviser Samuel R. Berger.

And finally: Happy April Fool’s Day, from the Guardian.

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