ThinkFast: October 24, 2006


53. America’s ranking on Reporters Without Borders’s global press freedom index, dropping from 17th place in 2002. “Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of ‘national security’ to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his ‘war on terrorism.'”

“Several governments around the world have tried to rebut criticism of how they handle detainees by claiming they are only following the U.S. example in the war on terror,” U.N. anti-torture chief Manfred Nowak said yesterday.

19 percent. Number of Americans who believe the United States is winning the war in Iraq, an all-time low. Fifty-four percent of Americans believe the U.S. economy is getting worse.

The natural world is being degraded “at a rate unprecedented in human history,” and if current consumption levels continue, “two planets would be needed to meet global demand by 2050.” The new report by the World Wildlife Fund also found that the world’s species have declined by 30 percent since 1970.

The House ethics committee “spent more than six hours Monday grilling” Scott Palmer, “Hastert’s chief of staff for more than 20 years.” “Kirk Fordham, Foley’s former chief of staff, said he alerted Palmer several years ago to his concerns about Foley’s friendships with pages.”

“The FBI and Justice Department appear to be expanding their probe into the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal in hopes of nabbing another member of Congress and aides,” U.S. News reports.

House International Relations Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL) has written a letter to Donald Rumsfeld saying “that the U.S.-supported poppy eradication program in Afghanistan is a failure,” and that “record opium poppy harvests show efforts to target farmers are not working.”

Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, who gained infamy as the man who orchestrated one of the largest corporate frauds in history, has been sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.” Skilling will also “fork over $45 million in restitution should he lose his appeal.”

And finally: Wyoming Libertarian congressional candidate Thomas Rankin said Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY) threatened to slap him after a televised debate. “Barbara walked over to me and said, ‘If you weren’t sitting in that chair, I’d slap you across the face.’ That’s quote-unquote,” Rankin said. Rankin has multiple sclerosis and uses an electric wheelchair.

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