ThinkFast: April 6, 2010

Twenty-five coal miners died and four others remain missing in a “huge underground explosion” at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine yesterday, making it “the worst U.S. mining disaster in more than two decades.” The tragedy is the latest deadly disaster involving coal baron Don Blankenship’s Massey Energy, which has been repeatedly cited for “serious safety violations.”

President Obama said Monday that the nation’s new nuclear guidelines will “substantially narrow the conditions under which” the weapons will be used. The Nuclear Posture Review, to be released today, “renounces the development of any new” weapons and represents “a sharp shift” from “his predecessors.”

American taxpayers are making an 8.5 percent profit off bank bailouts, according to a new survey. The profits come from 49 companies that have already repaid their portion of the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, and the Treasury Department predicted Friday that the bailout would be a net profit to taxpayers once all of it is returned.

In a speech before a group of supporters yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took a jab at Sarah Palin. “I was going to give a few remarks on the people who were over here a week ago Saturday, but I couldn’t find it written all over my hands.” He added, “You betcha.”

Bombs hit apartment buildings and a market in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 45 people,” in a series of attacks that have killed more than 100 people over the last week. Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, whose bloc came out slightly ahead of current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s in the recent elections, blamed the violence on political gridlock.

Democrats and Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) “traded barbs” Monday over who was responsible for the expiration of unemployment benefits for thousands of Americans. Bunning insists that Democrats are responsible for not paying for the extension, while Democrats claim the benefits qualify for “emergency spending” that does not need to be immediately paid for.

“The panel established by Congress to investigate the causes of the financial crisis has been hobbled by delays and internal disagreements and a lack of focus,” the New York Times reports after interviewing “a majority of its members and government officials briefed on its work.” “We lost a fair amount of time on the front end,” said commissioner Keith Hennessy, a former economic adviser to President Bush.

“Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s top political advisers announced Monday evening that they are parting ways with the embattled committee following Chief of Staff Ken McKay’s dismissal.” Curt Anderson of OnMessage Inc., who advised Steele’s 2006 Senate run, “confirmed in a statement that his firm is ending its relationship with the committee and the chairman.”

State Department legal adviser Harold Koh attempted to articulate a legal rationale for the use of drone attacks, which many experts consider to be a violation of international law. “In this ongoing armed conflict, the United States has the authority under international law…to defend itself, including by targeting persons such as high-level al Qaeda leaders who are planning attacks,” Koh said.

And finally: President Obama’s thoughts on his pitching performance at yesterday’s Washington Nationals game.

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