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ThinkFast: February 17, 2011

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"ThinkFast: February 17, 2011"

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Several school systems in Wisconsin cancelled classes today, as teachers and other public employees continue to protest a bill that would force steep wage cuts and a loss of collective bargaining rights. At least 10,000 employees and supporters protested yesterday.

Hundreds of heavily armed riot police officers in Manama, Bahrain rushed into large crowd of demonstrators yesterday without warning, “firing tear gas and concussion grenades.” Many demonstrators were sleeping before the raid and after, “Men, women and young children ran screaming, choking and collapsing.”

In a memo to House Republicans marked “confidential”, the Tea Party group FreedomWorks urges the GOP to focus on expanding the unregulated individual health insurance market, without paying too much attention to “how many people are covered.”

CIA Director Leon Panetta said yesterday that the U.S. would most likely move Osama bin Laden or his deputy, if captured, to Guantánamo Bay. “We would probably move them quickly into military jurisdiction at Bagram for questioning and then eventually move them probably to Guantánamo,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) argued against any cuts to Social Security in a meeting with President Obama at the White House yesterday. The president and Congressional leaders are reportedly working behind closed doors on a deficit reduction agreement, and Reid wants any reductions in Social Security benefits to be “off the table.”

Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell wants the U.S. intelligence community to answer for its faulty intelligence on Iraq’s WMD program. “The question should be put to the C.I.A.” and the Pentagon, Powell told the U.K.’s The Guardian, as to why “false information was put into the [National Intelligence Estimate] sent to Congress, the president’s State of the Union address and my…presentation to the U.N.”

Yesterday, the House cut $450 million in funding for the Joint Strike Fighter second engine as GOP freshmen joined Democrats to “eliminate a military program that the Pentagon has said is unnecessary.” The 233-198 vote “was a defeat for Speaker John Boehner” (R-OH), who “personally tried to dissuade members from cutting the engine funding.”

A state police officer who was derided as an “idiot” three times by Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) rejected an effort by the governor to reach out to him by phone. The officer demanded an in-person apology and a meeting, which has not yet been scheduled.

Florida Rep. John Mica (R) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D) “are scrambling to salvage” $2.4 billion in high speed rail funding that Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) rejected yesterday. Blasting Scott’s decision as “more than a hiccup,” Mica is working with Nelson and federal officials looking into other options to fund it, including creating an authority among cities from which the money could flow.

And finally: You can’t use Google to verify this, but Google may be building an Islamic caliphate in Egypt, according to Glenn Beck, Fox News’ professional conspiracist. Beck has been very concerned that a Google executive was involved in the pro-democracy protests in Egypt — which he has vigorously opposed — and last night, he vowed, “I won’t use their products anymore unless I have to.”

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