ThinkFast: July 9, 2009


“CIA Director Leon Panetta recently testified to Congress that the agency concealed information and misled lawmakers repeatedly since 2001, according to a letter from seven House Democrats to Panetta made public Wednesday.” But the letter “contained no details about what information the CIA officials allegedly concealed, or how they purportedly misled members of Congress.”

President Obama threatened to veto the pending Intelligence Authorization Bill if it included a provision that would allow information about covert actions to be given to the entire House and Senate Intelligence Committees, rather than the so-called Gang of Eight.” The White House claimed an expansion would undermine “a long tradition spanning decades of comity between the branches regarding intelligence matters.”

The state of Massachusetts sued the U.S government yesterday over the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, arguing that it “interferes with the right of Massachusetts to define and regulate marriage as it sees fit.” Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage.

As the G8 met yesterday, the “world’s biggest developing nations, led by China and India” refused at a separate meeting to “commit to specific goals for slashing heat-trapping gases by 2050.” Instead, negotiators “embraced a goal of preventing temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and developing nations agreed to make ‘meaningful’ if unspecified reductions in emissions.”

Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and an occasional economic adviser to President Obama, said he thinks a second stimulus may be necessary. “I think that a second one may well be called for,” he told Good Morning America today. But, he added, “you hope it doesn’t get watered down in many ways.”

Although two-thirds of country “lives in large metropolitan areas, home to the nation’s worst traffic jams and some of its oldest roads and bridges,” these cities and their surrounding regions are “getting less than half the money from the biggest pot of transportation stimulus money.” Urban advocates worry that the disparities could “hurt the nation’s economic engines.”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) “knew more than a year ago” that Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) was “having an affair with a staffer –- and he reportedly urged Ensign to end the relationship and pay a substantial sum of money to the staffer and her husband.” When asked about the allegation, “Coburn’s office confirmed that the he knew about Ensign’s affair and had urged him to end it.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is “looking to force a vote as early as this week on the stalled nomination of Robert Groves to lead the Census Bureau,” despite the fact that Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Tom Carper (D-DE) continue to have holds on his nomination.

President Obama has selected Dr. Francis Collins, a scientist who led the Human Genome Project, to be the next director of the National Institutes of Health. He has been a champion of “personalized medicine,” which hopes to harvest the fruits of the genomics revolution in the form of better and safer clinical care.

And finally: The Daily Show’s John Oliver excoriated the media at yesterday’s Campus Progress National Conference. When some students insisted that the Daily Show was more valuable than cable news, Oliver replied that the statement was “not a compliment to us, it’s a well-aimed insult to them.” He subtly dinged MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, and said that Fox News’s Glenn Beck and right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh were “almost a joke within themselves…beneath contempt.”

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