ThinkFast: July 6, 2010

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet today at the White House in an effort to move the Israelis and Palestinians to resume face-to-face peace talks. The “time has come” for direct talks “because there is no other way to advance peace. I hope this will be one of the results of the visit to Washington,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.

“In the 77 days since oil from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon began to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has skimmed or burned about 60 percent of the amount it promised regulators it could remove in a single day.” The disparity “underscores what some officials and environmental groups call a misleading numbers game that has led to widespread confusion about the extent of the spill.”

“The Defense Department has kept up its immense purchases of aviation fuel and other petroleum products from BP even as the oil company comes under scrutiny for potential violations of federal and state laws.” The company has “contracts worth at least $980 million” and “was the Pentagon’s largest single supplier of fuel” in fiscal 2009, providing nearly 12 percent of total Defense fuel purchases.

The federal agency charged with protecting endangered species “signed off on the Minerals Management Service’s conclusion that deepwater drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico posed no significant risk to wildlife, despite evidence that a spill of even moderate size could be disastrous, according to federal documents.”

A fundraising “revolt” among Wall Street donorsis hurting” the Democrats’ two congressional campaign committees, with contributions are down 65 percent from two years ago. A Washington Post analysis attributes “the drop in support” to bankers, hedge fund executives, and financial services executives “upset about the financial regulatory reform bill that House Democrats passed last week.”

Utah has become the state of choice for Americans looking for gun permits, with “[n]early half of the 241,811 permits granted by the state” now held by nonresidents. Utah “stands out because its permit is relatively inexpensive” — $65.25 for a five-year permit and just $10 to renew — “and is broadly accepted, and the requisite safety class can be taken anywhere.”

The Justice Department “has decided to file suit against Arizona on the grounds that the state’s new immigration law illegally intrudes on federal prerogatives.” The lawsuit — which could be filed as early as today — “will invoke for its main argument the legal doctrine of ‘preemption,’ which is based on the Constitution’s supremacy clause and says that federal law trumps state statutes.”

Republicans calling for RNC chairman Michael Steele’s ouster after his claim that the Afghanistan war cannot be won could face an uphill battle. Under Party rules, “two-thirds of the committee’s 168 members, or 112 members, would have to vote in favor of such a move” meaning that 35 members who supported his chairmanship would have to vote remove Steele.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) “offered a hint” on Sunday “that he may support the financial reform bill when it comes to a final vote later this month.” “I’m going to be making a decision soon, but I’m liking what I see,” Brown told WHDH television station in Plymouth, MA. Last week, a $19 billion bank tax was removed from the bill after Brown threatened to vote against the legislation.

And finally: Commercials are now marketing to the Tea Party audience.

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