ThinkFast: August 5, 2009

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"ThinkFast: August 5, 2009"

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U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, accompanied by President Clinton and CAP President and CEO John Podesta, arrived back home in California this morning after being held for five months in North Korea while reporting for Current TV. Current co-founder Al Gore released a statement, reading, “Our hearts go out to them – and to their families – for persevering through this horrible experience.”

Two former employees of Xe — the private military company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide — have alleged that founder Erik Price is complicit in the murder of individuals who were working with federal authorities investigating the company.

MoveOn.org recently announced it would place ads to pressure centrist Democrats on health care reform but yesterday, President Obama told Senate Democrats that he wanted “left-wing groups” to back off. “In this context about the less productive tone of the debate in Washington, he said he didn’t like to see ‘left wing groups attack fellow Democrats,'” a While House official said.

Groups on all sides of the health care reform debate are “pouring tens of millions of dollars into advertising campaigns designed to push the cause of reform forward, slow it down or stop it in its tracks.” According to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, more than $52 million has been spent nationwide on health care related ads.

Democrats in Congress are worried that with the intense focus on health care reform, “a major climate change bill may be left on the cutting-room floor this year.” Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has asked Senate committees to complete their work on cap and trade legislation by Sept. 28.

Prison employees and residents of Standish, MI want to keep the city’s maximum corrections facility “open at all costs, even if that means becoming the new home of Guantanamo Bay detainees.” While Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) opposed moving the detainees to Michigan, local residents “are most concerned about keeping some of the 340 jobs and other economic sustenance the prison provides.”

The city of New York has accused Lehman Brothers of underpaying its taxes by $627 million since 1996. The city is working to persuade a federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan to move it up the list of Lehman’s creditors.

And finally: Washington, DC had fun yesterday celebrating President Obama’s 48th birthday. Z-Burger — where President Clinton recently stopped by and picked up a “double burger (hold the mayo), onion rings, french fries, apple pie milkshake” — gave out free burgers and cake during lunchtime. The 250-pound cake, which took three days to construct, had “images of Obama throughout his life.” Employees at Madame Tussauds also put together “a wax birthday party.”

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