ThinkFast: July 11, 2008

In “a troubling sign of global warming,” European scientists say that a large plate of floating ice shelf attached to Antarctica appears to be breaking up. The European Space Agency said yesterday that satellite images show that Wilkins Ice Shelf is “hanging by its last thread,” which could “put the remainder of the ice shelf at risk.”

“The Bush administration has decided not to take any new steps to regulate greenhouse gas emissions before the president leaves office, despite pressure from the Supreme Court and broad accord among senior federal officials that new regulation is appropriate now.” The EPA will announce today that it will instead “seek months of further public comment on the threat posed by global warming.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her fellow House Democratic leaders “took a hard line Thursday against opening up restricted areas to oil production.” She “said the government must first press oil companies to explore the federal land they have already leased.”

A secret report by the International Red Cross concluded last year that the CIA’s interrogation methods for high-level detainees “constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes, according to a new book by New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer. The report found that the methods used on al Qaeda figure Abu Zubaydah were “categorically” torture.

On the trail today: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will hold a women-only forum in Hudson, WI. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will attend a town hall meeting in Dayton, OH, at Stivers High school.

A day after top McCain economic adviser Phil Gramm dismissed the nation’s struggles as a “mental recession,” John McCain ventured to an auto-parts supplier in a hard-hit Detroit suburb to express sympathy for those affected by the state’s economic malaise. His “message landed with a thud, as workers sat in stony silence.”

A defense analyst at the London-based International Institute For Strategic Studies said yesterday that “an Iranian photograph showing a cluster of missile launches was apparently altered to add a fourth missile lifting off from a desert range.” “There’s no doubt the photo was doctored,” the analyst said.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey rejected calls to appoint a special counsel to investigate administration officials who approved the use of torture. In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), Mukasey said opening a criminal investigation would be “seriously short-sighted” and that government officials acted in “good faith” when they sought legal opinions.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which “own or guarantee roughly half of the nation’s $12 trillion mortgage market,” saw their stock plummet yesterday to their lowest level in 17 years. Lawmakers declared the companies “too big for the government to allow them to fail,” while the White House is mulling a government takeover.

Yesterday, the White House renewed its promise to veto legislation that would block payment cuts to doctors treating Medicare patients. This threat comes despite bipartisan support for the bill, which overwhelmingly passed the Senate on Wednesday when Ted Kennedy (D-MA) returned to cast his vote.

And finally: Fox News needs a geography lesson. On Wednesday, Fox News reported on Iran’s missile tests. The graphic that Fox used to identify the Strait of Hormuz, however, “put the strait in the wrong location, and misspelled ‘strait.’” (The graphic spelled it “Straites of Hormuz.”) As Huffington Post notes, “For good measure, the Fox reporter also mispronounced ‘Hormuz.’” Watch the video here.

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