ThinkFast: September 27, 2006

“Congress is on the verge of barring the construction of permanent bases for U.S. forces in Iraq.” The ban, which was inserted into the annual defense spending bill, won House approval last night with the passage of the defense appropriations bill.

Bush terrorism adviser Fran Townsend acknowledged yesterday that a second intelligence estimate on Iraq exists, and will be released in January 2007. Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), ranking member on the intel committee, said yesterday the White House is deliberately withholding the second NIE until after November’s elections.

Since 2000, “workers’ health insurance premiums have risen a total of 84 percent, while their wages have increased 20 percent and inflation has risen 18 percent.”

The journal Nature reports that Bush administration officials “blocked release of a report that suggests global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of hurricanes,” the third such cover-up accusation in the last two weeks.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai tried to persuade oil-giant Chevron to invest in Afghanistan. “The rules are simple: Just come and look for oil, and then we’ll see what we can do with you,” Karzai said. “Are security threats a factor? No. You won’t even know about them until you turn on CNN.” Meanwhile, attacks in Afghanistan are growing more frequent and lethal.

“Three Senate Democrats proposed emergency legislation on Tuesday to reimburse states for printing paper ballots in case of problems with electronic voting machines on Nov. 7,” but “Republican leadership aides were skeptical about [its] prospects.”

The House yesterday passed a bill making it a federal crime to accompany a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion without parental consent. “This law will put those teenagers at risk who live in abusive and dysfunctional homes and would not dare disclose a pregnancy to a parent for fear of further abuse,” noted the Center for Reproductive Rights.

$1.4 million: The amount Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has spent on the CIA leak investigation. The relatively low cost “establishes him as remarkably frugal in the ranks of recent special investigators.” (Ken Starr spent $71.5 million over eight years.)

And finally: Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) was “diggin’ la vida loca” during pop star Ricky Martin’s testimony to the House International Relations Committee on human trafficking. “Let me just say that while my wife of 56 years considers you devastatingly handsome, I think your true beauty lies inside,” Lantos said.

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