"ThinkFast AM: June 5, 2006"
“The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans ‘humiliating and degrading treatment,’ “¦ a step that would mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.” The State Department “fiercely opposes” the decision “and has been pushing for the Pentagon and White House to reconsider.”
Though President Bush has publicly embraced the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, “he never seemed to care enough to press the matter,” according to Newsweek. Says one “old friend” of Bush’s: “I think it was purely political. I don’t think he gives a s**t about it. He never talks about this stuff.”
$50 million: Amount outside interests have paid since 2000 to shuttle Members of Congress and their staffs around the world. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) took one of the most expensive trips — more than $20,000 “for a one-day trip from Washington to Hidalgo, Texas, to accept an award as The BorderFest Border Texan of the Year.”
“The world’s deserts are under threat as never before, with global warming making lack of water an even bigger problem for the parched regions,” according to a new United Nations report. Rainfall could drop by 20 percent by the end of the century “due to human-induced climate change.”
New research published in the journal Science is also showing that the “world’s tropical zones are growing, threatening to drive the world’s great deserts into southern Europe and other heavily populated areas.”
Iraq’s sectarian violence continues. “Gunmen wearing police uniforms raided bus stations in central Baghdad, abducting at least 50 people, including drivers and passengers preparing to travel outside Iraq.” Elsewhere, “masked gunmen stopped two minivans carrying students north of Baghdad, ordered the passengers off, separated Shiites from Sunni Arabs, and killed the 21 Shiites ‘in the name of Islam.’”
“In the three years since Americans gained federal protection for their private medical information, the Bush administration has received thousands of complaints alleging violations but has not imposed a single civil fine and has prosecuted just two criminal cases.”
Progress in battling HIV/AIDS in the United States has “slowed to a crawl” since the epidemic first began 25 years ago. There have been no major treatment discoveries “for almost 10 years, when the drug cocktails were first introduced,” and the creation of a cure or vaccine, “is not close to becoming a reality.”
The American Bar Association’s board of governors voted unanimously this weekend “to investigate whether President Bush has exceeded his constitutional authority in reserving the right to ignore more than 750 laws that have been enacted since he took office.”
And finally: Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is hosting more than 200 mayors at the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting. “I want everyone going home…saying Oscar Goodman is the coolest mayor who ever lived,” Goodman said, adding that critics who thought the corporate-funded party was unethical were “haters,” “misanthropes” and “complainers.”
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