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ThinkFast: April 9, 2010

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"ThinkFast: April 9, 2010"

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In an interview last night, President Obama responded to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s criticism of his nuclear weapons policy, saying, “the last I checked, Sarah Palin is not much of an expert on nuclear issues” “If the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff are comfortable with it, I’m probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin,” said Obama.

“Anger over the health-care overhaul has led to a nearly threefold increase in recent months in the number of serious threats against members of Congress.” Federal lawmakers reported “42 threats in the first three months of this year, compared with 15 in last three months of 2009.” According to the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, “[n]early all of the recent threats appear to come from opponents of the health-care overhaul.”

The operator of the Upper Big Branch Mine-South, where an explosion killed 25 miners this week, “was warned by federal officials just over two years ago that it could be cited for having a ‘pattern of violations,’ which would have allowed far stricter federal oversight of the mine. But the mine escaped the stepped-up enforcement even though it continued to amass violations.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled his plans to attend a nuclear nonproliferation summit in Washington next week reportedly fearing “that Muslim states were planning on using the occasion to raise the question of Israel’s nuclear arsenal.” Israel refuses to discuss whether or not it has a nuclear weapons program and will not join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Two Republican National Committee (RNC) members from North Carolina have called on Chairman Michael Steele to resign. The state’s chairman called for Steele to step down yesterday, and now RNC member Dr. Ada Fisher is as well, saying, “Leadership demands that when something is fundamentally wrong, we must stand up to it.”

In a “signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee” former Colin Powell Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson said the Bush administration “knew [some] Guantánamo prisoners were innocent” but refused to release them based on political reasons. “He had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent,” Wilkerson asserts of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) plans to announce his retirement today, Democrats briefed on his decision said.” Stupak led a pro-life group of Democrats during the health care debate, but “hinted” that he might retire “in a letter to constituents on Wednesday.”

A large coalition of civil liberties groups has sent a letter to Congress urging members to vote against closing the Guantánamo Bay prison camps unless the Obama administration alters its internment policies. The groups, which include the ACLU and the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society, object to the administration’s right to detain people indefinitely without trial, among other things.

The number of improvised explosive devises in Afghanistan has doubled in the past year, “prompting U.S. officials to rush billions of dollars of new protective gear to troops and double the number of road-clearing teams.” The plan “follows Pentagon warnings of an increase in casualties in the months to come.”

And finally: “I want to get on the Metro,” First Lady Michelle Obama tells Conde Nast Traveler, commenting on all the normal D.C. activities she wishes she could do.

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