ThinkFast: May 20, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told The Hill yesterday that she vows to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by the end of this year. “I don’t have any doubt that ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ will be a memory by the end of this year,” said Pelosi.

The Senate failed to reach the 60 votes necessary for cloture on debate of its financial regulatory reform bill yesterday. Two Democrats, Sens. Russ Feingold (WI) and Maria Cantwell (WA), joined Republicans to block the vote. They demanded that votes be allowed on amendments making the bill tougher on Wall Street.

The National Research Council, the nation’s leading scientific body, declared yesterday that “climate change is a reality and is driven mostly by human activity, chiefly the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.” The group issued three reports outlining the harmful human influence on the climate as overwhelming and arguing for immediate strong action to limit carbon emissions.

Prominent oceanographers are “accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate scientific analysis of the damage” from the Gulf oil spill “and of allowing BP to obscure the spill’s true scope.” The scientists are concerned that agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been “slow to investigate the magnitude of the spill and the damage it is causing in the deep ocean.”

The administration has created three offices to replace the Minerals Management Service, which had been accused of corruption and incompetence. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed an order establishing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to oversee oil drilling leases, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to oversee drilling safety, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue to oversee fee collection.

“Mexican President Felipe Calderón used a rare state visit to the White House” to condemn Arizona’s new immigration law as “discriminatory,” saying it could “create hatred that will benefit no one.” Calderón also called on the U.S. government to move on an overhaul of its immigration laws during a “lavish” welcoming ceremony yesterday before a state dinner.

2009 saw “record growth in small businesses,” according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, released today. “More entrepreneurs launched new businesses in 2009 than any other time in the past 14 years,” the study found, despite “tight lending standards banks imposed during the recession.”

“Almost six years after issuing a landmark report on terrorism, the heads of the 9/11 Commission…expressed frustration that more progress hasn’t been made on several of the commission’s key recommendations.” Bureaucratic problems, such as a difficulty in sharing intelligence between agencies, “threaten public security,” they said.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has set Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings for June 28. “I would urge everybody to come to the hearing with an open mind, listen to her answers to those questions, and we will make sure that every senator – both sides of the aisle – has ample time to ask the questions they want,” Leahy said.

In the past two days, the Pakistani government has blocked access to YouTube and Facebook because of content on those sites which are deemed “sacrilegious.” The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said it acted after failing to convince both sites to remove the “derogatory material,” but expressed its hope to resolve the dispute in a way that “ensures religious harmony and respect.”

And finally: “We could do without him, can’t we?” — “Glee” star Jane Lynch’s response to a question by CBS’s Katie Couric about what she thinks of right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh.

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