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ThinkFast: April 29, 2008

Three years before Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was arguing for a 100 year presence in Iraq, he told MSNBC, “I would hope that we could bring them all home.” “I think one of our big problems has been the fact that many Iraqis resent American military presence,” McCain said. “[A]s soon as we can reduce our visibility as much as possible, the better I think it is going to be.”

Yesterday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) threatened to subpoena Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington and former Justice Department officials John Ashcroft and John Yoo, all of whom have refused to testify at a hearing on interrogation policies.

Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan come home to find that the GI Bill is “quite different from the comprehensive benefits that once covered all the costs of an education” after World War II. Veterans’ advocates say “[t]he current GI benefit covers just half the national average cost for tuition, room and board” and “falls dramatically short.”

Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, took the witness stand for accused terrorist Salim Ahmen Hamdan to “declare under oath that he felt undue pressure to hurry cases along so that the Bush administration could claim before political elections that the system was working.” Davis also said former Gitmo inmate David Hicks should never have been charged.

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While some people marry for love, companionship, or even status, a poll released today finds a new reason: health insurance. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 7 percent of Americans say that “they or someone in their household decided to marry in the last year so they could get healthcare benefits via their spouse.”

“Home foreclosure filings jumped 23 percent in the first quarter…and more than doubled from a year a earlier,” according to new RealtyTrac data. “One of every 194 households received a notice of default, auction sale or bank repossession between January and March, for the seventh straight quarter of rising foreclosure activity.”

A UNICEF report says the world’s poorest children are the most vulnerable to global warming. “The report said climate change could add 40,000–160,000 extra child deaths a year in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa through lower economic growth” and that “if temperatures rose by two degrees…up to 200 million people globally would face hunger.”

In remarks in Kansas City, Colin Powell said that “the military was being stretched and a lot was being asked of the all-volunteer force at a time when the entire country isn’t committed to war,” the AP reports. “I think it would be hard to respond to another crisis if it was like these two,” Powell said.

CIA Director Michael Hayden said yesterday that the “suspected Syrian reactor bombed by Israel had the capacity to produce enough nuclear material to fuel one to two weapons a year.” “The plutonium reactor was within weeks or months of completion when it was destroyed in an air strike last Sept. 6.” After one year of operation “it could have produced enough material for at least one weapon.”

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And finally: Some lawmakers just aren’t up on the latest celebrity gossip. At the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) was shocked at all the screaming fans, thinking they were there to greet politicians. “I thought, ‘Wow, those are some serious political junkies,’” she said. She soon realized that the fans were there to greet the Jonas Brothers, not the lawmakers. “I don’t even know who they are,” Klobuchar marveled.

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.