ThinkFast: August 14, 2008

Days after it was revealed that American Airlines was charging troops extra baggage fees on their way to war zones, the company “announced Thursday that it will eliminate fees for a third piece of checked luggage for active military personnel on their way to the war in Iraq or anywhere in the U.S.”

During a forum last week, Ed Tinsley, a conservative House candidate in New Mexico, accused his opponent — Harry Teague (D) — of wanting to cut the throats of American troops in Iraq. “How can I call my two nephews over there right now…and tell them I’m running against a guy that will cut your throat — that will cut the bottom out of your funding,” Tinsley said. (Watch the video here.)

“Americans scaled back their driving during June by almost 5 percent in response to soaring fuel costs,” the Department of Transportation reported yesterday. “U.S. motorists drove 12.2 billion fewer miles in June compared to a year earlier, marking the eighth month in a row that travel declined in the face of record gas prices.”

According to new Census Bureau projections, “ethnic and racial minorities will comprise a majority of the nation’s population” by 2042. Four years ago, Census officials “had projected the shift would come in 2050.”

On the trail today: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is due in Aspen “to speak about the economy, then bring his campaign’s best fundraisers and top brass together behind closed doors with some of the men thought to be on his vice presidential short list.” Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is vacationing in Hawaii.

“Under fire for being a technophobe, John McCain will unveil a technology agenda that bundles previously announced pro-business proposals with continued support for a hands-off approach to regulation.”

When John McCain investigated Jack Abramoff three years ago, Abramoff’s old firm, Greenberg Traurig, hired McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann — who also advised McCain in 2000 — “for advice on handling the Senate investigation.”

The first filings of a “new ethics law requiring lobbyists to detail their campaign giving” show that “more than three-fourths of the federally registered lobbyists making campaign contributions in excess of $25,000 this year have showered money mainly on one political party or the other.” The documents, however, do not capture “all the ways lobbyists can help politicians raise money.”

Prominent labor groups have asked the Federal Election Commission for an “investigation into whether Wal-Mart Stores Inc. violated federal election laws by telling employees that electing Democrats would lead to passage of legislation making it easier to unionize companies.” The groups “say such statements amount to advocating the defeat of Sen. Barack Obama” this November.

The Bush administration is urging Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to “step down voluntarily rather than prolong an ongoing political crisis and face impeachment,” according to high-ranking Pakistani government officials and Western diplomats who spoke to CBS News. Officials say the U.S. is seeking “an orderly transition of power” in order to “build close ties with Musharraf’s successor.”

And finally: The National Archives is releasing documents today showing that chef Julia Child, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, and Chicago White Sox catcher Moe Berg all “served in an international spy ring managed by the Office of Strategic Services, an early version of the CIA created in World War II by President Franklin Roosevelt.” The papers contain the names of 24,000 spies who “studied military plans, created propaganda, infiltrated enemy ranks and stirred resistance among foreign troops.”

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