ThinkFast: March 23, 2007

“The U.S. military’s faulty war plans and insufficient troops in Iraq left thousands and possibly millions of tons of conventional munitions unsecured or in the hands of insurgent groups after the 2003 invasion — allowing widespread looting of weapons and explosives used to make roadside bombs that cause the bulk of U.S. casualties,” according to a Government Accountability Office report released yesterday.

New emails show that “two months before Bud Cummins was fired as U.S. attorney in Little Rock,” Rove protege Tim Griffin “was maneuvering with the Justice Department to take” Cummins’ place. “Some of the thousands of pages of e-mails released this week underscore the extraordinary planning and effort, at the highest levels of the Justice Department and White House, to secure Griffin a job.” “The evidence runs contrary to assurances from Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales that no such move had been planned.”

Another ousted U.S. prosecutor speaks out. Former Michigan U.S. Attorney Margaret Chiara “said in an interview that a senior Justice Department official had told her that her resignation was necessary to create a slot for ‘an individual they wanted to advance.’ The identity of the likely replacement was not disclosed, she said.”

“Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie was wounded in a suicide bombing inside his Baghdad compound,” CNN reports, making this the “second assassination attempt on a senior member of the U.S.-backed government in a month.”


“After more than 30 years of strict federal protection, the Yellowstone population of grizzly bears is being removed from the endangered species list by the Bush administration.” Groups dedicated to protecting the grizzlies criticized the move, “warning that climate change is reducing a vital food source and human population growth is increasing the chances of lethal run-ins.”

State regulators in California have issued a $1 million fine to the state’s largest health insurance provider, Blue Cross of California, after an investigation found the company “systematically dropped policyholders after they became sick or pregnant.” The company “used computer programs and a dedicated department to cancel the policies.”

Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) yesterday signed a state minimum wage increase. “The move makes Kentucky the 31st state to raise its minimum wage above the federal one.”

“Rising sea levels and melting polar ice-sheets are at upper limits of projections, leaving some human population centers already unable to cope, top world scientists say as they analyze latest satellite data.”

“A total of 3,196 active-duty soldiers deserted the Army last year, or 853 more than previously reported, according to revised figures from the Army.” “Some Army officers link the recent uptick in annual desertion rates to the toll of wartime deployments and point to the increasing percentage of troops who are on their second or third tours in Iraq or Afghanistan.”


And finally: He must really be a fan of wax museums. Freshman lawmaker Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) told attendees at a welcome reception “late at night” at the Capitol “he’ll sometimes go over to the statue of fellow Granite Stater Daniel Webster in Statuary Hall and chat him up.” “We have conversations,” Hodes said, “although he wouldn’t reveal what about.”

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