Morning Briefing: August 12, 2011

The U.S. Postal Service is proposing a 20 percent cut in its workforce, which may lead to layoffs of 120,000 employees. The service is also considering pulling out of the federal health care and pension plans, as it continues to struggle with financial woes.

The New York Times reports that a slew of independent analysts dispute CIA claims that zero civilians have died in its drone strikes in northwest Pakistan since May 2010. For example, the United Kingdom-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has documented the deaths of at least 45 civilians in 10 air strikes over the past year and says that at least 160 children have died in the strikes since they began in Pakistan.

Mike Huckabee declared Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign announcement in South Carolina on the same day as the Ames straw poll a “tactical blunder” because it takes attention away from events in Iowa. Huckabee said in a Fox News interview that Iowans will see Perry’s kick-off as “dissing their big event.”

Fact-checking the GOP candidates in Iowa last night, the Associated Press found that “the first big debate of the primary season brought viewers a flurry of claims and counterclaims, not all built on solid ground.” The AP found that Rep. Michele Bachmann misunderstood the individual mandate as “unconstitutional” and misrepresented Tim Pawlenty’s remarks. Both Mitt Romney pretended that he had a clear position in the debt ceiling deal and Rick Santorum conflated spending and revenue to declare that the economic problem “is in spending, not taxes.”

After winning supporters as an advisor to the newly-formed Consumer Protection Finance Bureau, Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren is prepping for a run at the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, according to multiple Democratic sources. She will spend the “next few weeks listening to residents across Massachusetts [and] calling activists, party leaders and elected officials” before formally announcing her decision after Labor Day.

Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, vehemently rejects the “pernicious conspiracy theory” that Sharia is infiltrating American courts. “If the hysteria over Sharia law continues to percolate through our political and social discourse, there is bound to be unintended consequences,” he adds.

In the special election to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the Republican candidate in the race – Bob Turner – is airing a television ad that preys on 2010’s “Ground Zero mosque” controversy. Turner accuses his Democratic opponent David Weprin of being among those who “want to commemorate the tragedy by building a mosque on Ground Zero.”

And finally: Last night, former rapper Vanilla Ice asked Twitter to “stop, collaborate and listen” to his crack political analysis of the GOP presidential debate. Though “not that big into politics,” Ice tweeted he “was impressed with Cain in the debate ? But not really convinced yet by anyone ??? 15 months to go ???” Clearly having more question (marks) than answers, the ’80s icon concluded (or asked), “I just wish someone could fix this mess of economy ???”

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