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ThinkFast: April 12, 2011

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"ThinkFast: April 12, 2011"

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Details of last week’s government funding deal were released yesterday, showing President Obama was able to “to save favorite programs – Pell grants for poor college students, health research and ‘Race to the Top’ aid for public schools, among others – from Republican knives.”

But the $38 billion in cuts from the deal, combined with growing cuts in state and local government spending, along with other economic problems, such as high gas prices, may shave a full percentage point off domestic economic growth in 2011, experts are forecasting.

President Obama is expected to announce his support for the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission plan tomorrow in a speech at George Washington. The plan would cut $4 trillion in debt over the next decade, but unlike Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan released last week, it incorporates revenue increases and cuts to many programs, including the military.

The UN’s special rapporteur on torture said he is “deeply disappointed” that he has been unable to meet “with Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused of passing classified material to WikiLeaks.” Manning’s attorney says Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and representatives from Amnesty International were also denied requests to visit the prisoner.

D.C. Mayor Vince Gray and six city council members were among 41 protesters arrested on Capitol Hill yesterday. Gray and the others were protesting the recent budget deal, which eliminated D.C.’s ability to spend its tax money on abortions and a needle exchange program to fight HIV. “We needed to make a statement,” Gray said.

Pro-choice groups have “seen an unprecedented surge in activism” in recent weeks, with online gifts to Planned Parenthood jumping by 500 percent since Republicans targeted the women’s health provider in budget cuts. Meanwhile, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s email activist list grew by 1,000 subscribers per day at the height of the budget debate.

“Student loan debt outpaced credit card debt for the first time last year and is likely to top a trillion dollars this year,” according to data compiled by FinAid.org. Last year, students who took out loans graduated with an average of $24,000 debt and default rates are rising, particularly for students at for-profit colleges.

Pakistan is demanding to the United States that it “sharply cut” CIA activities — such as drone strikes — in the country, signaling a shift in relations between the two countries. The Pakistani request also asks for the termination of private contractors hired by American intelligence officials operating in the country.

And finally: The war between TV personalities Donald Trump and Bill Cosby is heating up, with Trump slamming Cosby yesterday as dishonest and full of hate. Cosby has criticized Trump for his obsession with the birther myth, and Tump is not amused. “Hatred was pouring out of his eyes,” Trump said yesterday on The View about Cosby’s comments.

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