ThinkFast AM: June 15, 2006

The Pentagon reports the U.S. military death toll in Iraq has reached 2,500.

From 2000-2005, the 10 members of the House Ethics Committee and their aides “accepted about 400 such trips valued at nearly $1 million,” according to a new Center for Public Integrity Report. (The lawmakers spent the majority of the money.)

President Bush today “will create the world’s largest marine protected area,” a wildlife-rich collection of reefs and atolls that “will be larger than all of America’s national parks combined.” The decision “is a turnaround for the administration, which five years ago considered stripping more limited protections from the area.”

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) has been investigating “why FDA officials approved the sale of the antibiotic Ketek even after the government learned safety tests on the drug had been forged.” Yesterday federal health officials refused to give the senator information on the drug. “I smell a cover-up,” said Grassley.

Emergency medical care in the United States is on the verge of collapse, with the nation’s declining number of emergency rooms dangerously overcrowded and often unable to provide the expertise needed to treat seriously ill people in a safe and efficient manner,” three new reports from the Institute of Medicine show.

“To me, the administration does not act like there’s a war going on,” Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (R-MD) said yesterday. “The Congress certainly doesn’t act like there’s a war going on. If you’re raising money to keep the majority, if you’re thinking about gay marriage, if you’re doing all this other peripheral stuff, what does that say to the guy who’s about ready to drive over a land mine?”

Yesterday, the Senate voted unanimously to “force President George W. Bush to submit a budget for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars instead of financing them in emergency bills that are pushed through Congress with minimal scrutiny.”

George Washington University’s National Security Archive is suing the CIA over its “recent practice of charging Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) fees to journalists pursuing news.” Though journalists are supposed to be charged only copying fees, the CIA last year began charging additional fees if it felt the journalist’s request was “not newsworthy enough.”

And finally: A landmark victory for all American potbellied pig owners. The Colorado Springs City Council “has voted to allow potbellied pigs within the city limits in a 5-4 decision that came after a woman challenged a century-old swine ban in one of the state’s biggest cities.” Chrystal McEntee, who fought for the change said, “I’m going to go home and celebrate with my family.”

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