ThinkFast: July 15, 2010

A USA Today analysis has found that “more than 3 million Americans could lose unemployment benefits by the end of July even as the government spends record amounts to compensate the jobless.” Nearly 400,000 Americans are losing unemployment benefits each week “saving the government $2 billion since June and an estimated $34 billion through November.”

Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and David Vitter (R-LA) are trying to push an amendment into a bill dealing with small business tax credits that would try to block the Obama administration’s lawsuit against the Arizona immigration law. Arizona’s Republican senators have yet to weigh in on the bill.

“The number of U.S. homes taken back by banks through foreclosure hit a record high in the second” quarter of 2010, data to be released today by research firm RealtyTrac finds. If the foreclosures continue at the same rate, “the number of homes taken by banks is likely to top 1 million by the end of 2010.”

Most Americans — 54 percent — “think the U.S. should set a timetable” for withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new CBS News poll found. “Most Americans continue to say things are going badly for the U.S. in Afghanistan, and those assessments are more pessimistic now than they were just two months ago.” “Just 35 percent are willing to have troops stay longer than two years.”

The Afghan government has approved “a program to establish local defense forces that American military officials hope will help remote areas of the country thwart attacks by Taliban insurgents.” After discussions with Gen. David Petraeus, President Hamid Karzai agreed to the new forces despite worries that they would form militias that the government could not control.

“Argentina legalized same-sex marriage Thursday, becoming the first country in Latin America to grant gays and lesbians all the legal rights” of heterosexuals. “Today’s historic vote shows how far Catholic Argentina has come, from dictatorship to true democratic values, and how far the freedom to marry movement has come, as twelve countries on four continents now embrace marriage equality,” said Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry.

Yesterday, a federal judge blocked a Nebraska law “requiring mental health screenings for women seeking abortions,” which was set to go into effect today. The judge said the measure would place “substantial, likely insurmountable” obstacles in front of women, requiring doctors to administer “screenings that could be impossible to perform under a literal reading of the law.”

House lawmakers “pushed ahead” yesterday with an amendment to ban BP “from obtaining new offshore oil leases because of its poor safety record.” While it won’t affect BP’s current leases, the amendment, added to a “broader oil rig safety bill,” highlights “the threat to BP’s long-term future in the US.”

First lady Michelle Obama announced yesterday that preventive health care services “will be free” under the Affordable Care Act. The law will “require all new private health insurance plans to cover services that can detect the first symptoms of long-term problems.” Chronic and often preventable diseases “are responsible for seven of 10 deaths in the U.S. each year and for 75 percent of the nation’s health spending.”

And finally: When billionaire Warren Buffett showed up at the White House yesterday, President Obama noticed his tie, “which was a bit worn around the edges, and gave Buffett one of his own, a red number.” The Washington Post writes that Buffet “is known as someone not concerned about a flashy appearance.”

ThinkProgress is hiring! Details here.