ThinkFast: August 17, 2010

Rupert Murdoch - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009

According to its July 15 filing with the IRS, Gov. Haley Barbour’s (R-MS) Republican Governors Association received a $1 million contribution from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. While the company’s media outlets, including Fox News and the New York Post, “play politics more openly than most,” the donation to RGA is “a new step toward an open identification” between Murdoch and the GOP.

The CIA has discovered tapes of 9/11 plotter Ramzi Binalshibh being interrogated in 2002 at a Moroccan-run facility used by the CIA. The tapes, discovered under a desk, could illustrate how foreign governments aided the U.S. in detaining and questioning terror suspects.

An Air Force officer who sued the government over his pending dismissal under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has won a small victory, as the Air Force has agreed to at least temporarily delay any discharge. Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach sued to stop his discharge and asked that DADT be repealed on constitutional grounds.

A federal appeals court has stayed California’s ban on same-sex marriage until it decides whether the ban is constitutional. The ruling follows a lower court’s overturning of the ban, and marriages are now on hold until a decision by the appeals court, which would come in December at the earliest, or by the Supreme Court, which could take much longer.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) backed Obama’s decision to support the building of an Islamic center near Ground Zero. “That’s a local decision,” Brown said. “We’re not at war with a religion, we’re at war with terrorism.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) held a press conference yesterday where he criticized both sides in the Ground Zero mosque debate. He cautioned that while the sensitivities of those opposed to the mosque cannot be ignored, “we cannot paint all of Islam” as extremist. He also criticized the president for turning the issue into “political football.”

An Associated Press investigation finds that utilities nationwide “are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry’s standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come.” More than 30 traditional coal plants have been built or are under construction since 2008, which is the industry’s largest expansion in two decades.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates plans to retire next year. “I think that it would be a mistake to wait until January 2012,” he said in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine. “This is not the kind of job you want to fill in the spring of an election year,” he added. President Obama was reportedly “not surprised” by reports of Gates’ plans to retire.

An Iraqi suicide bomber struck a group of army recruits near a military headquarters in Baghdad, killing 60 people and wounding 125. A spokesman for the Iraq military said Al Qaeda in Iraq was likely behind the attack.

And finally: At the Iowa State Fair on Friday, Clifford the Big Red Dog “drew a similar-sized crowd” as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was set up “a few yards away” from the children’s TV canine.

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