ThinkFast: March 25, 2008


What was supposed to have marked the countdown to China’s Olympics “began Monday with a statement against China’s human-rights policies and crackdown in Tibet.” Protests are “bound to follow” the Olympic torch “throughout its 85,000-mile journey.”

“To thunderous applause from fellow lawmakers,” Pakistan’s new prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani — a “loyalist” of Benazir Bhutto –on Monday “released the judges detained by President Pervez Musharraf when he imposed emergency rule last year.”

The contractors who breached the passport files of Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ) “were part of a private workforce that has increasingly assumed responsibility for processing the sensitive documents.” “From 2001 to 2007, 40 to 45 percent of the workers handling passports were contractors, but now 60 percent of the 4,400 passport employees work for private firms, State Department officials said yesterday.”

A majority of Americans are opposed to the federal government helping out banks that made bad loans or homeowners who borrowed more than they could afford,” a new Fox 5/The Washington Times/Rasmussen poll finds. 61 percent of Americans surveyed said they opposed “moves by the Federal Reserve Board and other federal agencies” to provide “assistance to investment banks and a troubled mortgage industry.”

“As the mortgage crisis continues to unfold,” the FBI says incidents of suspicious financial activity reported by banks has skyrocketed, “jumping from 28,000 cases in 2005 to 48,000 last year. Among the factors fueling this two-year, 71 percent increase is a spike in scams targeting citizens facing foreclosure, one of which is known as the ‘home foreclosure rescue scam.'”

Yesterday, just two U.S. newspapers — The Rocky Mountain News in Denver and the Daily News in New York — devoted their entire front pages to honoring the 4,000 men and women killed in Iraq, according to an analysis by Huffington Post. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post left the milestone off their front pages.

Consumers worldwide “face rising food prices in what analysts call a perfect storm of conditions,” due to “changes in the global economy, including higher oil prices, lower food reserves and growing consumer demand in China and India.” Consumers still face at least 10 years of more expensive food, according to predictions.

The Bush administration is now stating that it plans to model its long-term agreement with Iraq on one that the United States already has with Afghanistan. The Afghanistan agreement, reached in 2005, states that the United States will “[c]onsult with respect to taking appropriate measures in the event that Afghanistan perceives that its territorial integrity, independence, or security is threatened or at risk.”

A cease-fire critical to the improved security situation in Iraq appeared to unravel Monday when a militia loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr began shutting down neighborhoods in west Baghdad and issuing demands of the central government.” At the same time, the Iraqi government “launched a crackdown” on the city of Basra while facing “warnings by Sadr’s followers that they’ll fight government forces if any Sadrists are detained.”

And finally: Politico looks at Capitol Hill’s “top jocks.” Included in this list is Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), who has been practicing tae-kwon-do since the age of 12 and is currently a second-degree black belt. There’s also Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), who “bikes anywhere from 25 to 100 miles” once a week. Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) is the “the great-grandson and namesake of the renowned Philadelphia Athletics manager and owner,” and naturally, still loves baseball.

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