ThinkFast: May 20, 2011

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"ThinkFast: May 20, 2011"

As President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu meet today at the White House, their sometimes-fraught relationship faces “a turning point” following Obama’s speech yesterday in which he said Israel’s 1967 borders should be the starting point of any peace deal with the Palestinians. Netanyahu complained that Israel should “expect” more from the U.S.

An “Israeli government committee on Thursday approved the construction of more than 1,500 settler homes in east Jerusalem,” a stunning move that was made shortly before the arrival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the United States. “The prime minister is sacrificing relations with the US for the sake of his loyalty to settlers,” said Israeli lobby group Peace Now.

U.S. operations in Libya hit the 60-day mark today, which means that Obama’s authority to carry out the intervention has technically expired under the 1973 War Powers Act. The law requires the president to now obtain congressional approval to continue operation, but “the deadline has stirred little sense of urgency on Capitol Hill” and it’s unclear whether Congress will pressure the administration to comply.

For the first time ever in a Gallup poll, a majority of Americans say they support same-sex marriage legalization. It’s the third national survey in two months to show majority support for marriage equality.

Outside, or non-party, organizations reported spending about $305 million in the 2010 elections, more than four times the amount such entities paid out in the midterm elections in 2006. Those outside organizations that do not disclose their donors told the FEC they spent $137 million in the 2010 cycle — 25 times the 2006 level.

The nation has seven million fewer jobs today than it did when the Great Recession began in December 2007, “by far the worst performance of job generation following any of the dozen recessions since the 1930s,” USA Today reports. Although the recession officially ended in June 2009, job creation continues to be painfully slow, as experts say this downturn has been particularly unkind to job-seekers.

A group of House Democrats led by Reps. Keith Ellison (MN), Brad Miller (NC), and Carolyn Maloney (NY) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter calling on President Obama to make a recess appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) said that there is no “alternative” to a recess appointment.

Yesterday, congressional leaders reached bipartisan agreement on an extension of certain Patriot Act provisions. “The sections allow investigators to get ‘roving wiretap’ court orders…to get orders allowing them to seize ‘any tangible things’ relevant to a security investigation…and to get national-security wiretap orders against noncitizen suspects.”

And finally: The Centers for Disease Control released its the first official “instructions on coping with a zombie apocalypse” yesterday, which includes tips on how to prepare to zombie attack and how to kill the undead — “You can’t kill zombies by shooting them in their unbeating hearts — you have to go for the head,” the normally-staid New York Times reported on the normally-staid CDC guidelines. The zombie plan is an effort to “make the agency’s annual ‘It’s Hurricane Season Again’ press release a little sexier.”

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