ThinkFast: September 18, 2006

A portrait of sectarian violence in Baghdad. “A wrong turn, a detour, an untoward stare, a pointed finger, an anonymous denunciation, a nod of the head – these can, and do, lead regularly to death.”

Top House conservatives reportedly want Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who pled guilty last week in connection with the Abramoff scandal, to resign from Congress immediately. Ney “hasn’t taken the hint.”

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, applicants who applied for reconstruction jobs “didn’t need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.” Pentagon officials “posed blunt questions” to candidates like whether they voted for George W. Bush in 2000, and whether they supported Roe v. Wade.

At least 255,000 people have died in Darfur since the genocide began in 2003, researchers report in the journal Science, “though they believe the actual number may be much higher.” Tens of thousands marked the “Global Day for Darfur” yesterday in four dozen cities worldwide.

Thomas W. O’Connell, the Pentagon’s top special operations policy-maker, “is quitting in a move that several Bush administration sources say is the first negative fallout from a major reorganization of advisers in the office of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.”

A far-right party “which openly espouses xenophobic and neo-Nazi views…made further inroads in Germany’s economically fragile east” in yesterday’s elections.

Project BioShield, the $5.6 billion program to expand medical stockpiles in case of a biological attack, “has largely failed to deliver.” Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) calls it a “torturous labyrinth of federal fiefdoms into which billions disappear.”

The U.S. continues to rank 16th among industrialized nations for broadband internet development and penetration, and customers in countries like Japan and South Korea “enjoy broadband speeds that are hundreds of times faster” as standard U.S. speeds.

And finally: Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) argued last week that the South could have won the Civil War if the Confederates had just had better intelligence. Sources told Roll Call that Chambliss said, “We need better intelligence. If we had better intelligence in the Civil War we’d be quoting Jefferson Davis, not Lincoln.”

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