ThinkFast: February 12, 2008

A Department of Veterans Affairs analysis finds that “National Guard and Reserve troops who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan make up more than half of veterans who committed suicide after returning home from those wars.” In 2006, the Army’s suicide rate was 17.3 per 100,000 troops, “the highest level in 26 years of record-keeping.”

According to a Rand Corp. report, the U.S. military is seriously deficient in meeting “the threat of Islamist insurgencies.” The report states that “U.S. military intervention and occupation in the Muslim world” is “at best inadequate, at worst counter-productive, and, on the whole, infeasible.”

“As home prices fall and banks tighten lending standards, people with good, or prime, credit histories are falling behind on their payments for home loans, auto loans and credit cards at a quickening pace, according to industry data and economists.”

Six major U.S. banks — Bank of America, Citigroup, Countrywide Financial, JP Morgan Chase, Washington Mutual, and Wells Fargo — have announced that they will be taking part in “Project Lifeline,” which will give homeowners an extra 30 days to renegotiate their mortgage payments.


Two CBS journalists have gone missing in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the network said in statement yesterday. Iraqi police say “the abductees were a reporter and a translator, and that they were taken away in what appeared to be official police vehicles.” “All efforts are under way to find them,” said CBS in a statement.

“Virgin CEO Richard Branson offered Monday to set up an ‘environmental war room’ to lead the world’s efforts to find a fix for global warming,” a “tool for the U.N.” to push out good ideas and calculate each nation’s costs.

Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who went to jail in 2007 for corruption charges connected to Jack Abramoff, “may soon be moved from his federal prison in Morgantown, W.Va., to a ‘halfway house,’” according to his attorney. “Ney’s overall projected release date is Aug. 16, 2008.”

Due to a backlog of immigration cases, “the Bush administration will grant permanent residency to tens of thousands of legal U.S. immigrants without first completing required background checks against the FBI’s investigative files.” Only immigrants “whose cases are otherwise complete but whose FBI checks have been pending for more than six months” will be affected.

The king penguin, which “rebounded from near-extinction over the last century, could be wiped out in coming decades due to global warming.”


And finally: Don’t get in the way of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV). Last week, the 90-year old senator “made quite a scene” as he “made his way from the Senate Chamber to the elevators after a vote.” Walking with “two canes and an entourage of staffers,” Byrd yelled, “Make way for liberty!” Roll Call reports, “With that, the elevator doors opened, and ‘liberty’ disappeared.”

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