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ThinkFast: April 11, 2006

Colin Powell reminisced this weekend on the failures of the Iraq war effort and pinned the blame on fellow architect Donald Rumsfeld. Powell said, “We made some serious mistakes in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad. We didn’t have enough troops on the ground. We didn’t impose our will. And as a result, an insurgency got started, and…it got out of control.”

Retail gas prices across the country soared an average of almost 17 cents in just the past two weeks, according to a survey released Sunday. The weighted average for all three grades increased to $2.69 a gallon last Friday.

Newt Gingrich says U.S. forces should redeploy out of Iraq. “It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003.”

Two more miners died in a West Virginia accident last week, but the Do Nothing Congress still hasn’t acted on new mine safety legislation introduced on Feb. 1 after the Sago mine disaster.

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Moderate conservatives are frustrated “with President Bush for what they see as a muddled stand” on immigration. After a delicate compromise was struck on Friday, “White House officials had told them that Bush would appear on television early that afternoon to strongly back the deal.” Instead, Bush’s message “was to exhort senators ‘to work hard.’

“Breakdowns in key internal controls, a weak control environment, and ineffective oversight” of the State Department’s travel accounts “resulted in taxpayers paying tens of millions of dollars for unauthorized and improper premium-class travel and unused airline tickets.”

Army recruiting levels have dropped, netting “737 fewer new soldiers than at this point last year, when it went on to miss its annual recruiting goal for the first time since 1999.”

Atlantic Monthly updates its 2004 war game against Iran: “Everything that has changed since then increases the pressure on the United States to choose the ‘military option’ of a pre-emptive strike””and makes that option more ruinously self-defeating.”

“Government agencies paid inflated prices for goods and services” — between 17 and 42 percent too high — “in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in a system riddled with waste,” three government inspectors general testified yesterday.

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“If stock markets are any measure of a nation’s confidence, then the numbers at the nascent Iraq Stock Exchange show that faith in the country may be at its lowest ebb.” The exchange has “lost almost two-thirds of its value in the past year.”

And finally: “Cops” meets Congress. Florida State Senator Gary Siplin (D) jumped over a fence “with the ease of a schoolboy” to “avoid Channel 9’s cameras minutes after learning he was charged with two crimes.”

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