ThinkFast: October 17, 2008

Yesterday, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights released its scorecard for the 110th Congress, assessing how lawmakers voted on civil rights issues. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) received a civil rights score of 22 percent; Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) received a 100 percent.

The EPA and OSHA have some of “the most restrictive policies in the federal government on releasing scientific information to the press and public,” according to a report card issued today by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The report card, which was based on surveys filled out by 739 researchers, gave the EPA a “D” and OSHA a “F.” The CDC was the only agency to receive an “A.”

“Autumn temperatures in the Arctic are at record levels, the Arctic Ocean is getting warmer and less salty as sea ice melts, and reindeer herds appear to be declining,” a new report compiled by 46 scientists in 10 countries finds.

“It’s politically fashionable to rant against government spending and demand fiscal responsibility,” Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes. “But right now, increased government spending is just what the doctor ordered, and concerns about the budget deficit should be put on hold.” He suggests increased investment in infrastructure, extended unemployment benefits, and emergency aid to state/local governments.


18 days to go: John McCain holds rallies in Miami and Melbourne, Florida, and Sarah Palin is in West Chester, OH, and Noblesville, IN. Barack Obama holds a rally in Roanoke, VA. Joe Biden campaigns in Mesilla, NM, and Henderson, NV.Oil prices dropped below $70 a barrel for the first time in 14 months.“The decline in oil prices came after a government report showed domestic crude oil stockpiles rose more than expected as Americans use less oil, in part because they are driving less.”

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schlosser, a top general in charge of U.S. ground troops in Afghanistan, told 60 Minutes this week that “the enemy has increased by up to 30 percent in the last year and he is seeking re-enforcements.” “I’ll tell you that they are doing more complex activities which concerns me greatly,” Schlosser told CBS News correspondent Lara Logan.

Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) office is charging news organizations $15 million for her e-mails. When the AP asked for state e-mails sent to Todd Palin, the governor’s office “said it would take up to six hours of a programmer’s time to assemble the e-mail of just a single state employee, then another two hours for ‘security’ checks, and finally five hours to search the e-mail for whatever word or topic the requestor is seeking.”

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) took the stand yesterday and “immediately denied charges that he lied on financial disclosure forms to conceal gifts and extensive home renovations he received from a business executive.” Stevens’s trial may conclude this afternoon, “with closing arguments scheduled for Monday.”

And finally: On Monday, politics and Gossip Girl finally came together. During the show, rich Manhattan socialites Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf visited Yale and reminisced over the time that Blair tackled Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) daughter at a football game because she was wearing a Harvard sweatshirt. Schumer wasn’t watching the show but was reportedly impressed. “It took a couple tries to explain to him the significance, but then he thought it was, like, totally awesome,” said the senator’s spokesman.

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