"ThinkFast: January 13, 2010"
Yesterday, a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti collapsed countless buildings and claimed an “as-yet uncounted number of lives — perhaps thousands.” Deemed a “catastrophe of major proportions,” the quake destroyed much of the capital city Port-au-Prince. The State Department informed that you can make a $10 donation by simply texting “HAITI” to “90999.”
The White House is pushing for a national health-insurance exchange to be included in the final health care reform bill, “which would give House Democrats one of their top remaining demands.” The Senate bill, which “Obama has told House Democrats that he intends to use” as “the framework for the final legislation, contains state-based exchanges. Igor Volsky describes the differences between the two here.
President Obama will ask Congress for an additional $33 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on top of a record breaking $708 billion for the Defense Department next year. Most of the $33 billion will go to Afghanistan.
“Two lobbyists had a hand in writing language” drafted by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) aimed at limiting the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “regulate major emitters of greenhouse gases.” Murkowski has been leading the fight against allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Top Republican National Committee members “are preparing a motion demanding that RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele cancel promotional events” for his new book. “The proposed motion, to be presented to the 168-member RNC at its annual winter meeting in Honolulu at the end of this month, also would direct him to donate to the RNC and Republican candidates all proceeds from the book.”
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue “blasted a range of White House policies” yesterday as he announced that the Chamber will “be deeply involved in the 2010 elections.” Saying that lawmakers “seemed to be focused on everything but the creation of jobs,” Donahue claimed that the country could end up with “even greater economic misery” if Obama and Congress do not extend the Bush tax cuts.
Google said yesterday that “it would stop cooperating with Chinese Internet censorship and consider shutting down its operations in the country altogether, citing assaults from hackers on its computer systems and China’s attempts to ‘limit free speech on the Web.'” Google cited cyberattacks that were aimed at the Gmail user accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
A high-level Pentagon inquiry into the Ft. Hood shootings has concluded that the “military should focus more resources on identifying service members who might pose a threat to their colleagues.” The report “outlines a series of steps” to prevent future attacks, including more forthright” performance evaluations.
“President Obama has ignited a surge of optimism among African Americans,” a new Pew poll shows. A majority of African-Americans say they believe “Obama’s election has improved race relations,” and 39% say they are better off now than five years ago. But, “the hope for [racial] reconciliation that accompanied” Obama’s election still “remains far off.”
And finally: The pro-secession movement moves outside of Texas — to Vermont.
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