ThinkFast: June 16, 2009

Gay Pride Parade Flag

The Human Rights Campaign sent a letter to Obama yesterday “to protest the administration’s recent legal backing of the Defense of Marriage Act.” “This brief would not have seen the light of day if someone in your administration who truly recognized our humanity and equality had weighed in with you,” the letter said. The New York Times criticizes the administration’s decision as a “bad call on gay rights.”

Iran’s Guardian Council said today that “it was prepared to order a recount of disputed ballots in Friday’s deeply divisive elections, but ruled out an annulment of the vote.” Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday ordered a formal review of the electoral process. Opposition candidates, including top challenger Mir Hussein Moussavi are calling for a new election to be held. 

“Defense Department officials are debating whether to ignore an earlier promise and squelch the release of an investigation into a U.S. airstrike last month, out of fear that its findings would further enrage the Afghan public, Pentagon officials told McClatchy Monday.” The decision about what to release regarding the May 4 air attack that killed dozens of Afghan civilians “is now in limbo,” the official said.

After a meeting with President Obama yesterday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi agreed to take three detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The EU also said yesterday that European nations “are ready to help the Obama administration ‘turn the page‘ on Guantanamo, and take detainees on a case-by-case basis.”

With the Boston Red Sox coming to town next week to play the Washington Nationals, members of Congress sense a great fundraising opportunity. More than a dozen lawmakers have scheduled fundraisers at Nationals Park, selling lobbyists marked-up seats and the chance to make their own pitch.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has released a report alleging to have found $5.5 billion in wasteful spending among President Obama’s stimulus projects. “Senator Coburn’s report, however, is filled with inaccuracies,” an Obama economic adviser replied, “including criticisms of projects that have already been stopped, projects that never were approved and some projects that are working quite well.”

President Bill Clinton, currently serving as the U.N.’s special envoy to Haiti, said that “Haiti has the best chance in decades to escape poverty and political upheaval and he will seek in his new job as U.N. special envoy to improve life for the estimated 9 million Haitians.”

The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, said combat troops will leave all Iraqi cities by their scheduled deadline of the end of this month, “including Mosul, which remains the country’s most dangerous urban area.”

According to a new report from the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General finds that “[f]ewer than half of Veterans Affairs centers given a surprise inspection last month had proper training and guidelines in place for common endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopies” and that “errors in…minimally invasive procedures performed at VA facilities may be more widespread than initially thought.”

And finally: Sen. John McCain twitters about the purchase of his new car. “Time to get a new car — decided on the Ford Fusion Hybrid,” McCain wrote in a tweet yesterday. In a 2007 interview, the Arizona Senator famously couldn’t remember what kind of car he drove. (An aide had to remind him that he owned a Cadillac.) McCain’s new hybrid gets 41 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.