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ThinkFast: July 19, 2006

The Bush administration has reportedly “giv[en] Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hezbollah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon,” the Guardian reports.

Fighting has intensified, as Israeli ground forces undertook a cross-border raid into southern Lebanon and Hezbollah fired hundreds of rockets into northern Israel. Meanwhile, an “emerging humanitarian crisis in southern Lebanon” was exacerbated when a food processing plant and a milk factory were bombed.

Former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, who later worked as a lobbyist on gambling issues with “close associate” Jack Abramoff, suffered an “embarrassing defeat in his effort to win the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in Georgia on Tuesday.”

“More than 14,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq in the first half of this year,” a U.N. report says. Civilian deaths are on “an upward trend,” reflecting the fact that “killings, kidnappings and torture remain widespread” in the war-torn country.

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President Bush’s faith-based initiativelacks adequate safeguards against religious discrimination and has yet to measure the performance of the groups, a new Congressional report says.”

“2050: The last gorilla.” The great ape “is threatened with extinction by the mid-21st century if poaching and destruction of its habitat continue at the current rate, the United Nations has warned.”

“Former Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief Norman Pearlstine is to join elite private equity firm the Carlyle Group as a senior advisor,” indicating “greater involvement by Carlyle in deals involving publishing and media.”

A new Government Accountability Office report found that because of “poor training, lax oversight and rampant confusion,” the “Homeland Security Department wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars last year on iPods, dog booties, beer-making equipment and designer jackets.”

The World Bank website contains many pictures of Paul Wolfowitz in markets, schools and clinics, nearly always surrounded by smiling children. “Isn’t it amazing how these opportunities just seem to present themselves wherever he goes? Not really. It turns out they’re planned well in advance and tightly scripted.”

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And finally: Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) “abruptly called off” his planned Casino Night fundraiser “amid much grumbling over the fact that the fundraiser coincided with a markup of his off-reservation gaming bill,” and concerns about Pombo’s close ties to disgraced former gaming lobbyist Jack Abramoff. According to a Pombo spokesman, the event will be put off “indefinitely.”

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