ThinkFast: March 10, 2006

The New Yorker examines religious right activists who oppose childhood vaccination for Human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervix cancer, because it “removes a disincentive to having sex.” Some conservatives “have even stated that they would feel similarly about an H.I.V. vaccine.”

More than 250 medical experts have signed a letter in the medical journal The Lancet condemning the violent force-feeding of Guantanamo detainees. The letter says “doctors who used restraints and force-feeding should be punished by their professional bodies.”

37: President Bush’s approval rating, tied for his lowest ever in an AP-Ipsos poll. The survey also found “[m]ore and more people, particularly Republicans, …question his character and no longer consider him a strong leader against terrorism.”

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor lashed out at conservative leaders — like Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). O’Connor said right-wing verbal attacks on the courts threaten the American constitutional system.


A second Indian tribal chief represented by Jack Abramoff scored a “White House lunch date and a meeting with the President” in 2001 just days after the tribe paid Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform $25,000 at Abramoff’s direction.War profiteer: A federal jury found that Custer Battles, a private security firm, had bilked the U.S.-led interim government in Iraq out of millions of dollars. The company was found to have used shell companies, faked invoices and even stolen forklifts in a scheme to defraud the now-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority.

The good news: Employers added 243,000 jobs in February, the most in three months.

The bad news: the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week, to 303,000, the highest level this year. Economists had expected claims to dip to 290,000 from the 294,000 initially reported for the week that ended Feb. 25.

The U.S. trade deficit ballooned to a record $68.5bn in January. “We’re hollowing the economy out,” says Charles McMillion, an economist at MBG Information Services. “It’s having enormous negative consequences for families and individuals.”

And finally: Rush Limbaugh suggests Dubai Ports World sell their operations to Wal-Mart. “Wal-Mart could do it, too. They’ve shown ability to manage and move large amounts of goods with security and a good health care program for the employees.”