ThinkFast: August 10, 2009

Bill Clinton returns from North Korea with detained journalists

Offering the first personal account of “his dramatic rescue of two jailed journalists from North Korea,” former President Bill Clinton said, “I was asked to do a job. I did it to the best of my ability.” Clinton added that he did not want “to say anything that could in any way play any role in the maximum freedom that I want my President and our government and the national security team to have in charting the way forward.”

A new group of upper-income earners calling itself Wealth for the Common Good is launching a public campaign calling for a rollback of the Bush tax cuts on the highest tax bracket. The group says that rather than waiting for the tax cuts to expire in 2011, that Congress should repeal them now.

The White House is introducing a new health care website today that “debunks some common myths” and provides visitors “with online tools and content to share the facts with friends, family and anyone else in your social network.” Check it out here.

In a USA Today op-ed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) condemn the “ugly campaign” this August to “to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue.” “Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American,” write the two House leaders.

Wall Street “banks have become so eager to lure and keep top deal makers and traders that they are reviving the practice of offering ironclad, multimillion-dollar payouts — guaranteed, no matter how an employee performs.” The Obama administration’s pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg, has privately met with executives and urged them to “voluntarily rework any guarantees for big earners.”

Four bombs exploded this morning in Baghdad and Mosul, killing nearly 50 people and injuring more than 200. The first attack took place in Mosul in a Shiite neighborhood while the second occurred two hours later in Baghdad where day laborers gathered. More than 50 were killed Friday in bombings in Baghdad and Mosul.

Anthony Cordesman, an adviser to General Stanley McChrystal, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, is calling for the United States to send up to 45,000 extra troops to Afghanistan. “Nato must change its strategy and tactics after years in which member countries, particularly the United States, failed to react to the seriousness of the emerging insurgency,” Cordesman wrote.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that he would be willing to forgo a public health insurance option in order pass health reform. Durbin told ThinkProgress last week that he would “reluctantly” support such a course. Also, last Friday, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) told Bill Press that she supports a public plan.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund is hosting a clean energy summit in Las Vegas today. Participants include former President Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and many others.

Recent Gallup polls have found that Americans are “cooling to global warming.” Forty-one percent say global warming is exaggerated, up from 35 percent last year. Global warming “placed last among eight environmental concerns…with water pollution landing the top spot.” And for the first time in 25 years, “more Americans care about economic growth than the environment.”

And finally: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) keeps the Twitter hits coming. In June, Grassley got widely-mocked for a series of nonsensical tweets attacking President Obama. Now, the senator is using his unique 140 character phrasing again to promote the Wyden-Bennett health care bill by saying, “There is one bipartisan_Wyden-Bennett GiveLookSe.”

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