ThinkFast: August 13, 2007

“A chance discovery at Rome’s busy Fiumicino Airport led anti-Mafia investigators to a huge black-market transaction in which Iraqi and Italian partners haggled over shipping more than 100,000 Russian-made automatic weapons into Iraq.” Iraqi government officials were involved in the deal, apparently without the knowledge of the U.S. Baghdad command.

According to new court documents, former Rep. Bob Ney’s (R-OH) chief of staff Will Heaton was secretly recording conversations with his boss in order to facilitate a federal investigation. “Heaton taped numerous phone calls and wore a hidden wire to a 2 1/2 -hour, face-to-face meeting with Ney that provided ‘exceptionally important’ help to the FBI’s investigation of Abramoff.”

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Roll Call reports that a fight has been averted over Bush’s recess appointments. “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has quietly shelved plans to hold the Senate in pro forma session this month after the White House agreed to refrain from making any executive appointments during the Senators’ August break.”

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) said he is drawing up legislation to strengthen subprime mortgage lending standards amid a credit crunch that has shaken financial markets around the world. “Clearly, the brokers need to be regulated,” he said.

A committee of British members of Parliament warned the escalation in Iraq is likely to fail. A report by the Commons foreign affairs committee delivered a pessimistic verdict on Washington’s bid to restore peace by committing 30,000 extra troops. “It is too early to provide a definitive assessment of the US ‘surge’ but it does not look likely to succeed,” the MPs concluded.

The number of truck bombs and other large al-Qaeda-style attacks in Iraq have declined nearly 50% since the United States started increasing troop levels in Iraq about six months ago. The number of daily attacks, however, have reached new highs.

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“Deutsche Bank AG, Germany’s biggest bank, said it hired former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as a consultant for its securities unit. Greenspan, 81, will provide ‘advice and insight’ to the company’s corporate and investment banking unit and its clients, the Frankfurt-based bank said today.”

To avert an FCC violation, NBC announced that it will not run Law & Order if Fred Thompson announces his presidential run. “If Fred Thompson formally announces his intention to run for president, NBC will not schedule any further repeats of ‘Law & Order’ featuring Mr. Thompson beyond those already scheduled,” which conclude on Sept. 1, NBC said in a statement.

And finally: Sen. Charles Grassley asked a couple of anti-war activists from the “Iraq summer” campaign who were tracking him if they planned on trailing him all day. When they answered in the affirmative, Grassley surprised the two by suggesting that they all go out for burgers afterward. “Grassley made good on his word, and the unlikely party adjourned to Sue’s Roadside Caf©” where they had a “cordial, down-home conversation about Iraq.” AAEI spokesman Jeremy Funk said, “I think he figured that … if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em — for burgers.”

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