ThinkFast: February 9, 2011

Stephen Johnson, the EPA administrator under President Bush, was planning an aggressive effort to combat global warming until the White House shut him down, according to documents released by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). Johnson outlined his three-phase plan to Bush in early 2008, but Bush overruled him after hearing counter-arguments from the office of Vice President Cheney and Exxon Mobil Corp.

White House budget director Jack Lew said the President will seek aid for state unemployment insurance programs burdened by debt because of high jobless rates. Obama “will seek a delay of state tax increases and a suspension of interest payments owed to the federal government, along with a future increase to the minimum income level subject to unemployment insurance taxes.”

The head enforcement officer of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fired a warning shot to Wall Street in an interview yesterday, saying the agency plans to “immediately” use its powers to take on misbehavior by large financial institutions when the office opens in July. Richard Cordray said he will use the same aggressive approach he practiced as Ohio’s attorney general.

Most Americans think the Obama administration is handling the political crisis in Egypt well, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center. Nearly 60 percent approve of Obama’s response. Meanwhile, a Gallup poll shows 82 percent of Americans are sympathetic to the protesters.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, is warning Americans to expect “a brutal fight in the spring when Taliban insurgents try to return from their winter safe haven.” Petraeus also says he will “make recommendations” on a possible timeline of withdrawal after surveying the “conditions on the ground.”

Today, a California district attorney’s office charged 11 Muslim students with an “organized attempt to squelch” the Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine last year. Though many protested against charges for “shout[ing] down” a speaker as overzealous, the D.A. said the students “preplanned violation of the law.”

Keith Olbermann, who recently ended his show on MSNBC, will host a new program on Current TV. Olbermann will also serve as Current TV’s Chief News Officer as he hosts his “one-hour prime-time show airing each weeknight from New York.”

The UN’s food agency warned yesterday that a severe drought was threatening the wheat crop in China — the world’s largest producer — and is resulting in drinking water shortages. “China’s grain situation is critical to the rest of the world — if they are forced” to import grain, “it could send huge shock waves through the world’s grain markets,” said one industry expert.

And finally: Newly elected Tennessee state Rep. Julia Hurley (R) credits her success to her time waitressing at Hooters. The 29-year-old legislator writes in the current issue of Hooters Magazine that while she has “taken quite a bit of flack” for being a Hooters Girl, “I know that without that time in my life I would not be as strong-willed and eager to become successful.”

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