ThinkFast: April 1, 2010

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"ThinkFast: April 1, 2010"

A federal judge ruled yesterday that “the National Security Agency’s program of surveillance without warrants was illegal, rejecting the Obama administration’s effort to keep shrouded in secrecy one of the most disputed counterterrorism policies of former President George W. Bush.” Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance.

Top Republicans are starting to worry that their rallying cry to “repeal” the health care reform bill “just might singe GOP candidates in November’s elections…if voters begin to see benefits from the new law.” Some Republicans, like Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), a GOP Senate candidate in Illinois, are easing back from their earlier “adamant repeal-the-law stance.”

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) and Attorney General John Kroger (D) are not only refusing to join states fighting to repeal health reform, but they have announced that they will take legal action to defend the constitutionality of the new health care law. “The health care reform cases present some of the most important constitutional issues facing this generation,” said Kroger.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) canceled a health care town hall meeting on Tuesday due to security concerns. “We just thought it best to cancel it for safety concerns. This was not meant to be a place where we’re going to talk partisan politics,” a Ryan spokesperson said.

At least 30 survivors of the earthquake in Haiti who were brought to the United States in the disaster’s aftermath are now being held in a Florida prison because they lack visas. They “were taken into custody by immigration authorities and held for deportation,” and legal advocates “have tried for weeks to persuade government officials to release them.”

After resisting the idea of new Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, the Chinese government has agreed “to enter negotiations over the language of a new resolution to intensify international pressure on Iran.” “They have agreed to start,” said French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner. “Talking about the substance is a new step forward.”

Three Republicans have decided to skirt their party’s self-imposed one-year ban on congressional earmarks: Reps. Joseph Cao (LA), Ron Paul (TX), and Don Young (AK). Paul argued that earmarking is actually more transparent than the regular budget process, and Cao called the GOP’s stance “shortsighted.”

Tony Perkins, the president of the conservative Family Research Council, urged his supporters “to stop donating to the Republican National Committee and instead contribute to its own coffers or to candidates with like-minded goals.” “I’ve hinted at this before, but now I am saying it – don’t give money to the RNC,” Perkins wrote in his column on the organization’s website.

“Top hedge fund managers rode the 2009 stock market rally to record gains, with the highest-paid 25 earning a collective $25.3 billion,” reports the New York Times. One such manager, for example, made $4 billion last year because he “wagered that the government would not let the big banks fail.”

And finally: Turtles nest near Rush Limbaugh’s pool after he bought ads protesting laws that protect them.

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