"ThinkFast: May 1, 2009"
Associate Supreme Court Justice David Souter “plans to retire at the end of the term in June, giving President Obama his first appointment to the Supreme Court.” The generally liberal Souter has “grown increasingly sour on Washington and intends to return to his home state, New Hampshire.” President Clinton was the last Democrat to name a justice to the Court.
Yesterday, detainee Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda, after having denied the charges for the six years he was held in isolation in a naval brig off of South Carolina. His plea “reflects what we can achieve when we have faith in our criminal justice system,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
President Obama blamed “a small group of speculators” for forcing Chrysler into bankruptcy. “A group of investment firms and hedge funds decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout,” Obama said yesterday.
SEIU has “asked CNN and Fox News to pull a health care commercial by the group Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, describing it as ‘unfit to air.'” The union argued that “the ad should be pulled for overstating the power of a newly established federal board on comparative effectiveness research and misrepresenting the views of the two featured physicians.” FactCheck.org said that the ad was “misleading.”
“The number of terrorist attacks around the world fell by 18 percent last year but rose dramatically in Pakistan, growing in frequency and lethality,” according to a new State Department report on terrorism worldwide. Terror attacks also rose in Afghanistan while falling sharply in Iraq. Additionally, the number of suicide bombings declined worldwide, despite the increases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In a new report, the United Nations “is calling on Israel to freeze all pending demolition orders against Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem,” a move that reflects “growing international concern over developments in the contested city.” Israelis demolish Palestinian-owned structures claiming they lack permit, while Palestinians “say Israel limits construction to push them out of East Jerusalem.”
The Obama administration “is determined to continue withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq on schedule, despite a surge of violence in two Iraqi cities that shows no signs of abating.” “We are not even talking about” changing the withdrawal plan, an administration official said. “[T]here’s little more that the United States can do to help the Iraqis end their political, ethnic and sectarian feuds.”
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Democratic senators the Obama administration would not be requesting more bank bailout funds any time soon. “I asked him if they’d need more TARP funding and he said ‘No time soon,’” said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND).
Yesterday, the House passed legislation “putting new reins on the credit card industry,” which would prohibit “double-cycle billing and retroactive rate hikes and would prevent companies from giving credit cards to anyone under 18.” The Senate is expected to consider the bill “as early as next week.”
And finally: Queens can’t just walk into the White House. Yesterday, Queen Noor of Jordan waited outside the White House’s northwest gate to get clearance from Secret Service to enter. “The queen — who presented a Jordanian passport to the Secret Service — stood before the guard gate for several minutes spelling her name for the agents. ‘It could be under Queen Noor,’ she told the agent, spelling ‘N-O-O-R.’”
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