ThinkFast: April 8, 2010

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"ThinkFast: April 8, 2010"

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park has lost two more of its glaciers to climate change and many of the rest may be gone by the end of the decade,” according to Dan Fagre, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. The glaciers, which once numbered as many as 150, have been reduced to 25.

Federal air marshals “confronted” a Qatari diplomat on a flight last night after he had apparently lit a cigarette in a bathroom and subsequently made a sarcastic comment that he was trying to light his shoes on fire. NORAD sent “two fighter jets and a phalanx of law enforcement officials to meet the plane” when it landed in Denver. There “was no immediate indication of terrorism.”

Americans lay the blame for the rough economy at the feet of President Bush, according to a new Harris poll. Thirty-one percent of respondents said Bush bears responsibility, followed by Wall Street at 25 percent. Only 14 percent blamed President Obama. Pollster Louis Harris wrote that Bush and “the state of the economy he left as part of his legacy still sticks in the craw of Americans.”

President Obama and Russian President Medvedev signed a nuclear arms treaty today in Prague to reduce U.S. and Russian strategic warhead deployments to 1,550 each, down from 2,200. Both countries “would be limited to 800 total land-, air- and sea-based launchers — 700 of which can be deployed at any given time — down from 1,600 permitted under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991.”

Republican Party leaders, including Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour, Rick Santorum, and Tim Pawlenty, will be traveling to New Orleans for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. “The weekend event, expected to draw several thousand activists from key southern states,” may also pose a test for RNC chair Michael Steele, who will address the crowd on Saturday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) vowed to continue to push for a hearing to confirm Obama judicial nominee Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Republicans are demanding a delay “over the nominee’s failure to fully disclose his speeches and writings.”

Obama administration officials said at a briefing yesterday that “they would fight efforts to broadly exempt companies and others that use derivatives contracts from having to abide by new trading restrictions” in new financial reform legislation. “This is an area that there is an enormous amount of lobbying on from the financial industry,” said Treasury’s assistant secretary Michael Barr.

Federal agents in California arrested a man yesterday for allegedly threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Officials said a man had called Pelosi’s homes in California and Washington “several times.” More details should emerge after the man appears in court this morning.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warned yesterday that Americans may have to accept higher taxes or changes in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security if the nation is going to reduce staggering budget deficits. “[U]nless we as a nation demonstrate a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility, in the longer run we will have neither financial stability nor healthy economic growth,” he said.

And finally: Reporter Helen Thomas has become so popular that people wanting to reach her are now sending fan mail to the White House. “Much like the United States Postal Service accepts Santa Claus’ mail heading to the North Pole, the staffers at the Lower Press Office sift through her mail — addressed to Helen Thomas, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — and give it to the veteran White House correspondent every three months.”

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