ThinkFast: July 29, 2010

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"ThinkFast: July 29, 2010"

The House Republican leadership is urging its members to vote against a bill that would aid 9/11 responders suffering from health problems. The GOP policy statement complains that the aid program, which will be paid for by closing “a tax loophole on foreign companies with U.S. subsidiaries,” “creates a massive new entitlement program.”

A scientific study headed by the U.S. National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) finds that climate change is “undeniable” and that “human fingerprints” are clear. Seven indicators — air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere — were found to be rising.

Massey Energy, run by coal baron Don Blankenship, “plans to resume extracting coal by constructing a new entrance to its Upper Big Branch mine within months, despite continuing investigations of the explosion that killed 29 men there in April.” Massey also “wants government permission to restart two sections in an area untouched by the blast.”

Fox’s senior vice president for news admitted that it was a mistake to run a story on former USDA official Shirley Sherrod before all the facts were clear. “There was a breakdown in the system, and it is being addressed,” Michael Clemente told Politico.

The Obama administration “is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order” if they deem it relevant to a terrorism investigation. Records that can be obtained include sent e-mail addresses, times and dates e-mail was sent, and internet browser history. Government lawyers say “content” is not included.

Yesterday, the House voted to “reduce the disparity in the sentencing of people caught with crack cocaine versus powder cocaine,” altering a sentencing standard that has long been considered racist by critics. The new law will reduce sentencing disparities from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1.

Since 2008, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) “has steered more than $250 million in earmarks to beneficiaries whose lobbyists used to work in his Senate office.” Meanwhile, the “organizations that have enjoyed Shelby’s earmarks have seen their lobbyists and employees contribute nearly $1 million to Shelby’s campaign and political action committee since 1999.”

President Obama will “defend his administration’s education policies” in a speech today at the centennial convention of the National Urban League. The NUL is one of eight civil rights organizations that “released a report this week calling the president’s $4.35 billion education initiative an ineffective approach for failing schools.”

Opposition to the “landmark” health care reform law has “declined over the past month” from 41 percent to 35 percent, according to poll results released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Fifty percent of the public held a favorable view of the law,” marking the highest approval level for the law since it was enacted in March.

And finally: In the new video game Madden 11, when a team wins the Super Bowl, they get to meet President Obama, which SportsBlog Nation calls “either really cool or kind of terrifying.”

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