ThinkFast: July 6, 2007


Global warming is radically changing the face of Mount Everest, the sons of the men who first reached its summit 54 years ago said.” The sons of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay say “their fathers would no longer recognise the world’s highest mountain,” noting the base camp is now 132 feet lower than it was 53 years ago.

Triple-digit temperatures are expected to set records in parts of the West. Forecasters predicted a high of 107 in Boise, ID, and 125 in Baker, CA. Residents in some states were warned “that outdoor activities could be dangerous except during the cooler early morning hours.”

Eighteen people died in Baghdad “after a car bomb blew up outside a photo shop here as members of a wedding party waited Thursday night for the newlyweds to get their pictures taken.”

“The bald eagle may be soaring back from near-extinction, but hundreds of other imperiled species are foundering, as the federal agency charged with protecting them has sunk into legal, bureaucratic and political turmoil.”

Nearly half of the National Hurricane Center’s employees urged the Bush administration to replace their boss. “The staff of the National Hurricane Center would like nothing more than to return its focus to its primary mission of protecting life and property from hazardous tropical weather,” they wrote, “and leave the political arena it now finds itself in.”

After a concerted lobbying effort by property developers, mine owners and farm groups, the Bush administration scaled back proposed guidelines for enforcing a key Supreme Court ruling governing protected wetlands and streams. “There are definitely waters that will not be protected because of this latest guidance,” said Navis Bermudez, a water policy analyst at the Sierra Club.

“An exodus of highly trained mid- and upper-level firefighters” from the U.S. Forest Service has left “swaths” of flammable national forests protected by little more than luck. “On any given day, about 40 of 271 U.S. Forest Service engines remain in firehouses rather than on patrol, idled by a shortage of supervisors.”

The New York Times writes, “There is no better measure of the power of the health care issue than this: Sixteen months before Election Day, presidential candidates in both parties are promising to overhaul the system and cover more — if not all — of the 44.8 million people without insurance.”

“Impeachment center” opens in Los Angeles. “A storefront ‘impeachment headquarters‘ emblazoned with American flags opened July 4 with a mission to remove President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. … The center is sponsored by Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, Westside Greens, Santa Monica Democratic Club and the Los Angeles Greens.”

And finally: Today is President Bush’s birthday. The Houston Chronicle’s Julie Mason writes that Bush’s 61 years old physique is showing the demands of the office. “For Bush, his cumulative burden, with perhaps the Iraq war being most prominent — takes a heavy toll that is showing on his face and also in his demeanor, which is less jokey and more testy than previously. Some days, Bush looks exhausted.”