ThinkFast: April 16, 2009

More than a half the country’s voting-age population used the Internet to get political news or get involved in the political process in 2008, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. “Nearly one in five (18%) internet users posted their thoughts, comments or questions about the campaign on an online forum such as a blog or social networking site.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano responded to criticism of a leaked DHS report on right-wing extremism, saying that “we are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not — nor will we ever — monitor ideology or political beliefs.” In TV interviews today, she said “these are routine reports” that were “begun months ago, in fact, in preparation before this new administration took office.”

The Obama administration has abolished an office “responsible for coordinating Defense Department information campaigns overseas.” Military and civilian critics said DOD’s office for support to public diplomacy “overstepped its mandate during the final years of the Bush administration by trying to organize information operations that violated Pentagon guidelines for accuracy and transparency.”

President Obama and his wife, Michelle, earned $2.73 million last year and paid $855,323 in federal taxes, “an amount that would be higher by about $102,000 if his budget plan were in effect.”


Foreclosure filings spiked in March, according to RealtyTrac. The 341,180 filings nationally was “the highest monthly total since RealtyTrac began collecting this data in 2005. “The spike in filings probably was related to the expiration of several foreclosure moratoriums across the country,” according to a RealtyTrac spokesperson.

Responding to Al Gore’s campaign against “clean coal,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he “would prefer to say let’s try to develop technologies that can get a large fraction of the carbon dioxide out of coal.” Previously, Chu said that “coal is my wost nightmare.”

“Sixty-three percent of Minnesota voters said they believe Norm Coleman should concede the race to Democrat Al Franken,” a new poll by Public Policy Polling finds. Nearly as many, 59 percent, said they want Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) to sign the certificate declaring Franken the winner.

A suicide bomber killed at least 16 Iraqi soldiers outside of Baghdad today while wounding 50 more. The attack “took place at the joint base shared by Iraqi soldiers and U.S. troops in the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Habbaniyah, about 45 miles west of Baghdad.” The U.S. military has not said if any U.S. soldiers were at or near the scene of the blast.

Two Army mental health researchers have said that “the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs are overemphasizing mild traumatic brain injury [TBI] among combat troops at the expense of other medical problems” — such as PTSD — that are going untreated. The researchers say symptoms blamed on TBI after troops return home likely are due to depression, PTSD or substance abuse.


And finally: Rep. Ron Paul (R) is Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest victim. Paul described his “interview” with Cohen’s latest character, Bruno, in a hotel bathroom. “I was expecting an interview on Austrian economics. So, that didn’t turn out that way,” Paul told ABC Radio’s Curtis Sliwa. “But, by the time he started pulling his pants down,” Paul said, “I ran out of the room.”

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