ThinkFast: January 21, 2009

President Obama “instructed military prosecutors late Tuesday to seek a 120-day suspension of legal proceedings involving detainees” at Guantanamo Bay. The motion called for the suspension so that the Obama administration can “review the military commissions process, generally, and the cases currently pending before military commissions, specifically.”

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 4 percent of its value yesterday, falling below 8,000, while Nasdaq and the S&P; 500-stock index both plunged more than 5 percent.” The drop came “as fresh evidence mounted that the industry’s problems are larger than previously understood, larger than the response so far mustered by the government and perhaps larger than the resources remaining in its rescue program.”

The housing crisis “is likely to deepen further this year, with no broad recovery until at least 2010, according to a consensus of building-industry economists.” Single-family-housing starts have dropped nearly 75 percent from their peak in 2005.

Yesterday, just hours after Obama was sworn in, the Senate approved seven of his nominees, including Steven Chu as Energy Secretary and Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security Secretary. The nomination of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State — being held up by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) — will be voted on today.


As one of his first acts in office, Obama ordered a freeze on new or proposed regulations by the Bush administration at all government agencies and departments. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel issued a memo declaring that “no proposed or final regulation should be sent to the Office of Federal Register for publication unless and until” it is approved by the new administration.Israeli troops completed their withdrawal from Gaza early this morning, redeploying to “the perimeter of the war-battered enclave, where more than 1,300 Palestinians died in the Israeli campaign against Hamas.” Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, also died during the 22-day offensive.

Doctors reported that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) was “feeling well” after suffering a seizure yesterday and being taken to the hospital. “Medical experts said a seizure in a brain cancer patient was not unusual and ordinarily had no serious consequences,” and a hospital spokeswoman said Kennedy was “awake and answering questions.” He is set to be released this morning.

Obama is “strongly considering” appointing former Sen. George Mitchell (D-ME) as U.S. envoy to the Middle East. In a 2001 report on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Mitchell called for “Israelis to freeze construction of new settlements and stop shooting at unarmed demonstrators, and Palestinians to prevent attacks and punish those who perpetrated them.”

Professor Neal Katyal of Georgetown University, who successfully argued the landmark detainee rights case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld before the Supreme Court, will serve as Obama’s deputy solicitor general, the Legal Times blog reports.

And finally: Yesterday while their parents were out dancing at the inaugural balls, daughters Malia and Sasha had some of their friends over to watch Disney movies and participate in a scavenger hunt, in which they “ran around their new home, learning about this history of the White House.” ABC News reports that at the end of the game, “they opened a door to discover their favorite musical performers: Kevin, Joe, and Nick Jonas — the pop boy band sensation who first exploded on the Disney Channel and also appeared earlier this week at the Kids’ Inaugural Concert.”

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