ThinkFast: February 20, 2008


A new Brookings Institution report warns “that widening gaps in higher education between rich and poor, whites and minorities, could soon lead to a downturn in opportunities for the poorest families.” The report also found that economic mobility “has not changed significantly over the last three decades.”

Despite the defeat of President Pervez Musharraf’s party in the Pakistani parliamentary elections, the Bush administration is still trying to “construct a coalition that will keep Mr. Musharraf in power as president.” Officials admit that Musharraf “remains the administration’s preferred Pakistani leader.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency misspent millions of dollars it received from selling used travel trailers,” according to a draft report by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security. “Instead of buying more trailers,” FEMA paid for “sport utility vehicles, travel expenses and purchase card accounts.”

Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has threatened to lift a six-month cease-fire widely credited with helping reduce violence in Iraq. The cease fire was declared in August and is due to expire at this month’s end.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) won the Wisconsin Democratic primary and the Hawaii caucuses decisively last night. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also scored easy victories over former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in Wisconsin and Washington.

Oil closed “above $100 a barrel Tuesday for the first time in history — a surprise price surge that leaves experts and motorists wondering if there’s no limit.” U.S. gas prices could average “$3.75 a gallon by Memorial Day — more than 50 cents higher than the record $3.227 set on May 24.”

In “a radical change to its financial aid program,” Stanford University will announce today that it will no longer charge tuition to students whose families earn less than $100,000 a year.

Yesterday, about 1,000 students from Prairie View A&M University in Texas marched more than seven miles from campus to the Waller County courthouse on the first day of early voting to bring attention to county voting problems. “The students organized the Tuesday rally to convince lawmakers to allow early voting on campus, since other county voting centers are long distances away from the Prairie View.”

Brent Wilkes, “a California defense contractor and prominent GOP campaign contributor,” was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison yesterday for lavishing former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) “with money, prostitutes and other bribes in exchange for nearly $90 million in work from the Pentagon.”

And finally: Stephen Colbert’s “portrait” has been hanging over the restrooms in the National Portrait Gallery for more than a month now. Some of the feedback: “He’s an amazing person.” “Colbert is essential to our existence.” The Gallery has decided to extend the display life of Colbert’s portrait until April Fool’s Day.

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