ThinkFast: December 1, 2006

As the world commemorates AIDS Day, leading Christian conservatives are pushing Congress to cut U.S. support for President Bush’s AIDS initiative. They are angry over the program’s promotion of condoms and its perceived lack of support for faith-based programs.

“Under heavy pressure from Democrats, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said the agency is abandoning its plans to relax rules forcing companies to annually report their toxic releases.” Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) plan to “introduce a bill next week to block the rest of the planned changes to the Toxics Release Inventory.”

The Bush administration is considering “whether to abandon U.S. reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents and instead give priority to Shiites and Kurds.” The proposal, written by outgoing State Department counselor Philip D. Zelikow, “has met serious resistance from both U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and military commanders in Iraq.”

In the first revision to the U.S. citizenship test in 20 years, immigrants “will be assessed on their grasp of the nation’s ideals.” But civil rights advocates note that some of the questions are “just off the wall,” “unusual,” or “odd.” One sample question requires applicants to know the amount of the federal minimum wage ($5.15/hour).


Exxon wants its tax cuts. “Proposals by congressional Democrats to eliminate oil industry tax breaks and subsidies would set a bad example overseas and discourage new industry investments, Exxon Mobil’s top executive said Thursday.”

The White House opposes plans by European nations to require airlines to curb greenhouse gases, saying it would unfairly disadvantage U.S. carriers. “We are strongly opposed to the imposition of a tax. We think this will violate trade rules,” said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the country “’cannot be made secure,’ according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.” The agency recommended an “optical-scan” paper ballot system.

“Without notifying the public, federal agents for the past four years have assigned millions of international travelers, including Americans, computer-generated scores rating the risk they pose of being terrorists. … [C]ivil liberties lawyers, congressional aides and even law enforcement officers said they thought this system had been applied only to cargo.”

And finally: “The State Department uses diplomacy to connect and link the objectives and priorities of various countries.” Except on their website. “At the State Department’s ‘Web Site and E-Mail Addresses of Embassies,’ the following links are broken, expired or nonexistent: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Denmark, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Guatemala, Guinea, India, Italy, Korea, Macedonia, Malawi, Malta, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkmenistan and Uruguay.”

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