Wednesday, January 30, 2008

ThinkFast: January 30, 2008


“Rep. Don Young (R-A”), who is under FBI investigation and faces a tough reelection fight, opened a legal defense fund earlier this month, according to House filings. The House ethics committee approved the defense fund Jan. 9, but it has not reported taking any donations yet, and Young spokesman Mike Anderson would not say if anyone had written checks.”

The FBI is investigating 14 companies related to the subprime mortgage crisis for “accounting fraud, securitization of loans and insider trading, among other areas.” The agency “is looking into allegations of fraud in various stages of the mortgage process, from companies that bundled the loans into securities to the banks that ended up holding them.”

In a letter to Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), Attorney General Mike Mukasey again dodged the issue of waterboarding. “I understand the strong interest in this question, but I do not think it would be responsible for me, as attorney general, to provide an answer,” he said.

Some Methodists “are mounting a last-ditch effort to block” the placement of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, museum and policy institute at Southern Methodist University by forcing a vote at “a regional church conference in July.”

“Economic and employment opportunities are much on the minds of black voters during this presidential campaign season.” Ronald Walters, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, notes “there is something of a permanent recession in the black community.”

Nearly five years after the invasion of Iraq, allied countries have paid just 16 percent of “what they pledged to help rebuild the war-torn country,” according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The biggest shortfalls in pledges are from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Weapons the U.S. provides to Iraqi security forces may still be ending up in the hands of terrorists, insurgents and criminals,” Defense Department Inspector General Claude Kicklighter told Congress yesterday. A GAO report in July said the Pentagon could not account for 110,000 rifles and 80,000 pistols meant for Iraqi troops.

The U.S. military “is funding the construction of Islamic schools, or madrassas, in the east of Afghanistan in an attempt to stem the tide of young people going to radical religious schools in Pakistan.”

According to a report from ret. Gen. James Jones and Thomas Pickering, “Afghanistan risks sliding into a failed state and becoming the ‘forgotten war’ because of deteriorating international support and a growing violent insurgency.”

And finally: Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) explains his kiss to the President.Joe Lieberman got a kiss from the president, so I thought I’d give him one back,” said Shays. He later added, “I said some words of encouragement to the president as he walked by and he pulled me close and whispered something very thoughtful and kind in return.”

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