ThinkFast: August 15, 2006

When President Bush visits Salt Lake City later this month, Mayor Rocky Anderson will be greeting him with a bullhorn at a protest rally. Anderson said it would be “cowardly” and “unpatriotic” to stay silent. “I don’t respect people who see things headed in the wrong direction and because of their high sense of deference or because of their membership in the [national] culture of obedience they keep their mouths shut.”

726: The number of service members discharged last year under the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, up 11 percent from the year before. The Fort Leonard Wood, MO, base discharged 60 people, the highest number in the nation.

Data from more than 50 climate models have revealed a direct link between rises in global temperature and damage to ecosystems. “Rising temperatures will increase the risk of forest fires, droughts and flooding over the next two centuries.” An April 2005 Homeland Security report found “the percentage of shoes subjected to explosives inspection should be significantly increased.” Machines used at most airports to scan hand-held luggage “have not been upgraded to detect explosives since the report was issued.”

$3.03: The new record-high price of gas per gallon in the U.S. at the end of last week, according to the Lundberg industry survey.

“About 300 U.S. soldiers who just weeks ago returned home to Alaska after a year in Iraq are being ordered back to try to help bolster security in Baghdad,” provoking “anger and disappointment” among some of the soldiers’ families.

Low condom use is fueling Southern Africa’s AIDS pandemic, according to a report by the Southern African Development Community. The report “urged regional leaders — often accused of moving too slowly against the AIDS crisis — to encourage condom use and the reduction of the number of concurrent sexual partners.”

And finally: “Americans are more familiar with the Seven Dwarfs, the Three Stooges and Superman than with current events and world leaders, according to yet another poll that reveals our trite side.” 77 percent of Americans could identity two of the Seven Dwarfs, but only 24 percent could name two Supreme Court justices. (Respondents were most familiar with Sleepy and Clarence Thomas.)