ThinkFast: August 25, 2006

After three years of excuses and delays,” the Food and Drug Administration has approved over-the-counter access to the Plan B emergency contraception, but has limited access to women ages 18 and older.

France has announced plans to commit 2,000 troops to a new international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. France helped initiate the Israel-Hezbollah cease-fire and initially faced criticism when President Jacques Chirac said he would send just 200 troops.

“The government awarded 70 percent of its contracts for Hurricane Katrina work without full competition, wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the process,” according to a new report from the House Committee on Government Reform’s minority office.

Approximately 60 percent of New Orleans businesses have still not reopened since Hurricane Katrina hit, according to a recent study by Louisiana State University.

California continues to lead on global warming. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced she will introduce legislation to cut carbon dioxide emissions to 70 percent below those of 1990, with the goal of keeping global temperature increases to only 1 or 2 degrees.

Colorado is joining a growing number of states and cities that have taken it upon themselves to fight global warming locally,” kicking off efforts to develop a statewide plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Arab and Muslim men saw their wages and weekly earnings drop by 10 percent after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” The largest decreases “occurred in locations that reported higher rates of ethnic and religious-based hate crimes.”

Federal investigators are looking into changes BP made to a 2002 report on its pipeline management after complaining the report was “unduly negative.” In one instance, a critical remark about BP’s corrosion-monitoring program was altered to “BP has demonstrated a clear commitment to corrosion control.”

And finally: Public corruptionblame it on the rain? A new study from economists at the West Virginia University finds “indirectly at least, the answer may be yes.” “States that experience more frequent and severe natural disasters attract larger quantities of FEMA disaster relief,” the authors concluded. “This relief creates a resource windfall that increases public corruption.”

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