ThinkFast: October 30, 2008


New data from insurance companies and online brokers show that “women pay much more than men of the same age for individual insurance policies providing identical coverage.” At times, a woman’s insurance can “cost hundreds of dollars a year more than a man’s.”

$14.83 billion: Exxon Mobil’s third quarter profits, shattering “its own record for the biggest profit from operations by a U.S. corporation.”

0.3 percent: The amount by which the U.S. economy shrank in the third quarter. “The figure, the last major piece of economic data before the presidential election, follows a 2.8 percent growth rate the prior quarter.”

According to Democratic aides, there is “a good chance” that Sen. Joseph Lieberman will lose his only committee chairmanship next year” on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, perhaps replacing it with a subcommittee gavel.

Seventy-six Nobel Prize laureates in science endorsed Barack Obama yesterday — the largest number to ever express support for a presidential candidate — “citing his commitment to improving U.S. competitiveness by boosting science, technology, education and research.” The scientists also “criticized the Bush administration for damaging scientific development.”

Five days to go: Barack Obama will hold a rally in Sarasota, FL, and then travel to events in Virginia Beach, VA and Columbia, MO. Joe Biden will hold rallies in Arnold, MO, Williamsport, PA, and Allentown, PA. John McCain barnstorms across Ohio, and Sarah Palin will attend events in Missouri and Pennsylvania.

A new ethics complaint has been filed against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, accusing her of “abusing her power by charging the state when her children traveled with her.” Last week, the AP reported “that Palin charged the state more than $21,000 for her three daughters’ commercial flights, including events where they weren’t invited, and later ordered their expense forms amended to specify official state business.”

The CIA is allowed to “hide statements from imprisoned suspected terrorists that the agency tortured them in its set of secret prisons,” a federal judge ruled yesterday. Judge Royce Lamberth issued his ruling without reviewing the CIA’s claims that revealing such accusations of torture would jeopardize national security.

The Iraqi government demanded changes yesterday to the long-delayed security pact with the U.S., requesting amendments that “would ban American troops from using Iraqi territory to carry out attacks on other countries, further limit when the troops would have immunity from Iraqi laws and allow inspections of American arms shipments.” Recently, the U.S. launched an attack from Iraq into Syria.

The Bush administration is “discussing a plan that could help up to three million homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages to stay in their homes,” sources told the New York Times. “Under the plan, the government would agree to shoulder half of the losses on home loans if mortgage companies agreed to lower borrowers’ monthly payments for at least five years.”

As studies warn of the sharply rising cost of college, John McCain says he “would take a bully pulpit approach to student aid” as President, trying to “jawbone and publicly try to coax colleges to slow their rate of tuition increases.” Though McCain touts Pell Grants, he “has not proposed any new money for the Pell program.”

And finally: Does Sarah Palin make you sit “a little straighter on the couch“? Do you find her smile “so sparkling it [is] almost mesmerizing”? Then we’ve found the calendar for you. Anchorage-based photographer Judy Patrick has created a 2009 Sarah Palin calendar, filled with “dozens of original portraits and candid shots of the Alaska governor on the job and with her family.” The calendar, which initially has a 30,000 print run, costs $15.95 and can be found at www.sarahcalendar.com.