ThinkFast: February 25, 2008


“A year after a scandal erupted over the long-term treatment of soldiers at the hospital, the Army has turned to Disney for help. ‘Service, Disney Style‘ is newly required for all military and other government employees at Walter Reed.”

More and more economists foresee the country falling into a recession, according to the latest survey by the National Association for Business Economics. “The group said in a report being released Monday that 45 percent of the economists on its forecasting panel expect a recession this year.”

Yesterday, a suicide bomber attacked a large group of Shiite pilgrims heading to the southern Iraqi city of Karbala to commemorate the death of one of the religion’s major figures, Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. At least 56 pilgrims died in that attack, while two other roadside bombs targeting pilgrims went off in eastern Baghdad wounding four.

The Bush administration announced on Saturday that “wiretaps will resume under the current law ‘at least for now,'” as “telecommunications companies have agreed to cooperate ‘for the time being’ with spy agencies’ wiretaps.”

Last week, Talking Points Memo was awarded a George Polk Award for its coverage of the firing of eight United States attorneys. The New York Times writes the award signified for many that “anyone can assume the mantle of reporting on the pressing issues affecting the nation and the world, with the imprimatur of a mainstream media outlet or not.”

The number of troops and their families “seeking help from a Pentagon employee-assistance hotline — often linked to war deployments — has grown 40% every year since 2004.” The calls, which provide “confidential sessions with a licensed therapist,” underscore concerns “that more and longer combat tours strain troops and their families.

Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard public policy lecturer Linda Bilmes write, “We have attempted to identify how much we have been spending — and how much we will, in the end, likely have to spend” for the Iraq war. They conclude: “The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion.”

Women’s lives in Afghanistan are “worse than ever.” A new report finds that violent attacks against women “are at epidemic proportions with 87 per cent of females complaining of such abuse — half of it sexual. More than 60 per cent of marriages are forced.”

Following plans by Stanford and Harvard to dramatically cut tuition for poorer students, Brown University announced today it will eliminate tuition for students whose parents earn less than $60,000.

And finally: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney may not have won the GOP nomination for president, but he did win a Chicago Dental Society poll for “best smile.” Forty-five percent of dentists thought preferred Romney’s pearly whites over all the other presidential candidates. On the Democratic side, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and former senator John Edwards “were neck and neck at 38 percent and 36 percent of the vote.” Coming in last? Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), with just six percent of the vote.

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