ThinkFast: March 12, 2010

West Bank

Israel has sealed off the West Bank for 48 hours, preventing Palestinians from entering Israel” due to increasing unrest in the Palestinian territory. There have been ongoing clashes between police and protesters in the West Bank for weeks, “sparked by deadlock in peace talks and Israel’s inclusion of two West Bank shrines on a list of national heritage sites.”

Fox News host Glenn Beck’s recent attack on churches that preach about social justice has “prompted outrage from several Christian bloggers.” Rev. Jim Wallis, who leads the Christian antipoverty group Sojourners, called on Christians to leave Beck. “What he has said attacks the very heart of our Christian faith,” Wallis wrote.

A Democratic leadership source told CNN Radio that the legislative push to finish health care reform “begins Monday when the House Budget Committee is expected to vote on a key procedural piece of the health care package.” The “measure will not contain new policy language,” but will begin “the process, known as reconciliation, that Democrats are using to pass and change the Senate health care bill.”

Nearly 10,000 “rescue and cleanup workers at ground zero [of the World Trade Center attacks] who sued the city over damage to their health” have been awarded a $657.5 million settlement. The plaintiffs have been suffering from ailments such as asthma for years following the rescue efforts.

President Obama said yesterday that he would push for an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system if he could attract significant Republican support. However, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Obama could lose GOP backing if reconciliation is used to pass measures related to health care reform.

The Obama administration has settled on Janet L. Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, to serve as vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve,” a senior administration official told the New York Times. Yellen, who was widely considered to be the front-runner for the position, “would succeed Donald L. Kohn, who intends to retire when his four-year term expires in June.”

The housing market “is facing swelling ranks of homeowners who are seriously delinquent but have yet to lose their homes” — threatening “a new wave of foreclosures that could hit just as the real estate market has begun to stabilize.” Economists say it could take years for the nearly 7 million homes eligible for foreclosure to be “put on the market and purchased by new owners.”

“Democratic Congressional leaders struck a tentative agreement” yesterday to bundle an overhaul of federal student loan programs “into an expedited budget package along with” a health care bill. The move “breathes new life” in the loan plan and would allow “both measures to be passed by the Senate on a simple majority vote.”

President Obama announced the names of the charities he will donate his $1.4 million in Nobel Prize winnings to yesterday. The Fisher House, a nonprofit that assists military families, the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, and the Afghanistan-Pakistan based Central Asia Institute will receive the most money.

And finally: Fox News host Glenn Beck thinks Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” is “anti-American” “propaganda.”

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