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ThinkFast: July 16, 2010

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing to discuss BP’s role in securing the release of the Libyan terrorist Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who was convicted for his role in the 1988 airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said BP should freeze its operations in Libya because it “should not be allowed to profit on this deal at the expense of the victims of terrorism.”

Transocean has already spent $110,000 on a lobbying firm it hired after its Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, tapping “veteran Congressional denizens” to influence Congress on “energy legislation, mobile drilling units and offshore drilling.” “Unlike BP, Transocean did not have a major lobbying presence in Washington, D.C., prior to the spill.”

Yesterday, the U.S. Army “reported a record number of suicides in a single month among active duty, Guard and Reserve troops, despite an aggressive program of counseling, training and education aimed at suicide prevention.” In June, there were 32 soldiers who are believed to have committed suicide, and suicides “for the first half of the year are up 12 percent over 2009.”

Judge Jay Bybee, who approved detainee torture under President Bush, told the House Judiciary Committee that “the Central Intelligence Agency never sought approval for some practices detainees later said had been used on them, including dousing them with cold water to keep them awake.” “I have regrets because of the notoriety that this has brought me,” Bybee said when asked if there was anything he regretted.

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“Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay $550 million to settle federal claims that it misled investors in a subprime mortgage product as the housing market began to collapse.” The settlement with the SEC “would rank among the largest in the 76-year history of the” agency, but “represent only a small financial dent for Goldman, which reported $13.39 billion in profit last year.”

The Senate yesterday passed a sweeping overhaul of the financial industry’s regulatory structure, setting the bill up for the President’s signature next week. The bill subjects more financial companies to government oversight, “regulates many derivatives contracts, and creates a panel to detect risks to the financial system along with a consumer protection regulator.”

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) has joined the chorus of Republicans already calling for repeal of the recently-passed financial overhaul bill. “Oh, I’d love for it to be repealed,” said Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee, which played a key role in writing the bill. “We’ll talk again after November.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, March, April, May, and June set high temperature records, “making 2010 the warmest year worldwide since record-keeping began in 1880.” “It’s part of an overall trend,” said the NOAA’s Jay Lawrimore. “Global temperatures…have been rising for the last 100-plus years. Much of the increase is due to increases in greenhouse gases,” he said.

Two suicide bombings struck the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan yesterday, killing 26 injuring at least 300 outside a mosque. The first bomb went off “during Thursday evening prayers,” and “[m]inutes later, after a significant crowd of helpers and onlookers had gathered, a second bomber blew himself, spreading greater carnage.”

And finally: The Old Spice Guy has some advice for President Obama on how to win back female support.

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