ThinkFast: October 23, 2007


In two new reports, the State Department is “sharply” criticized “for poor coordination, communication, oversight and accountability involving armed security companies like Blackwater USA,” including an audit that shows “the department cannot say ‘specifically what it received’ for most of the $1.2 billion it” paid to one company.

Tuition and fees at public and private universities have risen this year at more than double the rate of inflation, with prices increasing faster at public institutions, the College Board said in reports released yesterday.” As a result, students and families are being forced to borrow more, driving up the use of private loans.

“With hundreds of thousands of families facing foreclosure in recent months, lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at protecting consumers against predatory mortgages.” The bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Mel Watt (D-NC) and Brad Miller (D-NC) is “an update from similar legislation filed in 2005.”

After being attacked by the right wing, the Frost family refuses to back down from the fight for children’s health insurance. Yesterday, Graeme Frost’s mother, Bonnie Frost, “stood before a microphone at a Baltimore church, in a peasant shirt and clogs, to make a quiet appeal for broader health coverage in Maryland.”

Senate Judiciary Committee members accused the White House of allowing the Intelligence Committee to review warrantless surveillance documents “in return for agreeing that telecommunications companies should get immunity from lawsuits.” “There is no excuse for the administration to grant access only to those inclined to agree with it,” the Washington Post writes.

President Bush’s “weakened approval ratings” have forced him to take a “much more personal role in opposing Congress.” Bush “has made 46 veto threats during the first nine and a half months of 2007, compared to 28 such threats” during his first six years. TP’s Amanda Terkel also notes, “In his first six years, Bush vetoed just one bill. In less than one year under this new Congress, Bush has been forced to issue three.”

New poll finds that in “a 12-month period during which the Taliban insurgency spread in Afghanistan and violence rose in the country’s major cities, Afghans grew increasingly concerned about security and more people came to regard it as the most serious issue facing the nation.”

Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Washington plan to join California’s lawsuit “suing the EPA for stalling on a decision about whether to let California and 11 other states force car makers to produce cleaner vehicles.

And finally: Montgomery Blair Sibley, the lawyer for DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey, yesterday told a DC court that his client is a victim of the U.S. attorney scandal. Sibley’s exhibits included a blog post from War and Piece and an article from Legal Times, none of which even mentioned Palfrey. Sibley also quoted Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who once said that the Justice Department was “corrupted by political influence.” Leahy’s office later called Sibley “awfully wacky.”

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