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ThinkFast: December 14, 2007

Roughly half the Hispanics polled in a new Pew survey “said the heightened attention to immigration had had a directly negative impact on them, in some cases making it harder for them to find jobs or housing.” The number who “had a personal experience of discrimination in the past five years” increased by 10 percent since 2002.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has “called baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, players union leader Donald Fehr and former Sen. George Mitchell — who wrote the bombshell report on steroid use — to testify on Dec. 18.”

The Senate passed a “pared-down” energy bill on Thursday “after the oil industry and utilities succeeded in stripping out” $13 billion in tax increases on oil companies “and a requirement that utilities nationwide produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.”

Complaints from current and former employees about “overspending and mismanagement” by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction have “prompted four government probes into” the office, “including an investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors into the agency’s financial practices and claims of e-mail monitoring.”

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As he did over Thanksgiving, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is considering “keeping the Senate in session during the Christmas-New Year’s break” in order to prevent President Bush from making recess appointments.“South Korea brought home 195 army medics and engineers Friday from Afghanistan, ending its five-year deployment to help rebuild the war-ravaged country at Washington’s request … Separately, South Korea plans to extend its military presence in Iraq for another year after downsizing the number of troops 600 by the end of the month.”

Congressional Democrats criticized the “National Labor Relations Board Thursday, saying its recent decisions had favored employers over workers.” Sixty-one board decisions issued in September “made it harder for unions to organize workers and harder for illegally fired employees to collect back pay.”

“The U.S. military paid a Florida company nearly $32 million to build barracks and offices for Iraqi army units even though nothing was ever built, Pentagon investigators reported.”

And finally: FEMA’s #1, taking the top spot in this year’s Top Ten PR Blunders List by San Francisco’s Fineman PR after it “’truly fumbled’ when it had staffers play reporters at a phony news conference to hail the agency’s efforts during the recent California wildfires.”