ThinkFast: April 26, 2006

Early yesterday, it was reported that a “coalition of industry groups [was] mounting an aggressive lobbying campaign” to persuade conservatives on the House Homeland Security Committee “to oppose an amendment that would require all cargo to be scanned at foreign ports before being shipped to the United States.” By yesterday afternoon, conservatives had fallen in line and announced their opposition to 100 percent screening.

European Parliament investigators report that the CIA has conducted more than 1,000 undeclared flights over European territory since 2001a clear violation of an international treaty. Media reports have claimed that the CIA has used international flights to transport terror suspects.

The AFL-CIO’s annual “Death On The Job” report shows that the number who died from workplace injuries increased for the first time in 10 years last year.

Days before Cover the Uninsured Week begins, a new report from the Commonwealth Fund finds that our broken health care system “is increasingly becoming an all-American problem.” According to the report, “the percentage of working-age Americans with moderate to middle incomes who lacked health insurance for at least part of the year rose to 41 percent in 2005, a dramatic increase from the 28 percent in 2001 without coverage.”

President Bush’s latest efforts to lower gas prices “at best are likely to shave a few cents per gallon off the cost of gasoline,” administration officials admit. Said one oil consultant, Bush’s proposals are “more or less like prescribing aspirin to take care of prostate cancer.”

Meanwhile, “GOP negotiators have decided to knock out provisions in a major tax bill that would force the oil companies to pay” some $5 billion in taxes over five years “primarily by changing arcane accounting rules that have allowed oil companies to substantially lower their tax bills.”

Action, finally, on genocide: The U.N. Security Council yesterday imposed travel and financial sanctions against four Sudanese accused of coordinating the mass murder in Darfur. Thanks to U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, the list was whittled down to four from eight, only one of whom “is a Sudanese government official, and a mid-level official at that.”

Army officials will file criminal charges against Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, the military intelligence officer “who was the second-in-charge of interrogation operations” at Abu Ghraib prison. Jordan will be highest-ranking Army officer tried thus far over the abuses.

A sign of the times: “Some California drivers are resorting to desperate measures to beat the surge in gas prices at the pump – deliberately running dry on the state’s freeways and simply waiting for rescue.”

Hector Barreto resigned from the Small Business Administration after a tenure which included distributing 9/11 economic disaster recovery loans to businesses that said “they neither wanted nor knew they were receiving money earmarked for terror victims.” SBA also came under fire for its slow response to the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.

And finally, Sports Club/LA fitness instructor Glenn Makl, who famously “put his foot in his mouth” by reciting Bushisms to a spin class taken by First Twins Jenna and Barbara, will be back on the job at 6:15 am tomorrow. “It’s a safe bet that Jenna and Barbara Bush won’t be there,” Roll Call reports.

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