ThinkFast: March 30, 2011

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"ThinkFast: March 30, 2011"

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has condemned the actions of the five American soldiers charged with the murder of three unarmed Afghan men. Karzai, in his first public comments on the soldiers: “They killed our youth for entertainment. They killed our elders for entertainment.”

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) is maintaining his position that a government shutdown could be good for the country. In an interview with CBS News, Walsh said that “if we need a jolt, if we need the government shutdown for a few days for us to really get serious, I think the American people are with that.”

An Ohio House committee passed a bill that would severely limit the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions yesterday, and the legislation is expected to pass the full House today. The bill will leave “hundreds of thousands of Ohio’s families with less job security, lower wages and, in many cases, no job at all,” said Representative Dan Ramos, an Ohio Democrat.

IBM is breaking with other American multinationals by not pushing for a corporate tax holiday,” a proposal which Republicans and their corporate backers have been pushing recently. The tech giant called a tax holiday a “distraction” from more meaningful tax reform. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has signaled it may hold a similar position.

Yesterday, the House voted to terminate the Home Affordable Modification Program, the Obama administration’s program “designed to reduce mortgage payments for homeowners” in danger of foreclosure. While helping 600,000 homeowners, the program has underperformed and House Republicans said “it is a prime example of a federal program that isn’t worth the cost to taxpayers.”

In a speech on U.S. energy policy today, President Obama “will set an ambitious goal” to cut oil imports by a third over 10 years. He plans to outline four areas of focus to curb U.S. foreign oil dependence — domestic energy production, more natural gas in vehicles, car and truck efficiency, and encouraging biofuels.

Two co-founders of Park 51, the Muslim community center planned to be built blocks from Ground Zero in New York City, are considering a new project: building an interfaith cultural center to be built nearby. “Once we are ready to announce our new vision, we will talk to the property owner and see if it is the right location for us,” said co-founder Daisy Khan.

And finally: Karlos Marks came in second in elections for student government president at the University of Michigan last week, despite the fact that the candidate doesn’t exist. But not existing didn’t stop Marks — “and other variations of his name, including Karlos Marx, Karlos Markus and Carlos Marx” — from winning two seats on the student council. A mark appears to be a hoax organized by graduate students who must think they’re pretty clever now.

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