ThinkFast: May 22, 2007

Iraq’s military is drawing up plans on how to respond if the U.S. military withdraws its forces. “The army plans on the basis of a worst-case scenario so as not to allow any security vacuum,” Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obeidi said. “There are meetings with political leaders on how we can deal with a sudden pullout.”

$3.22 per gallon: The average price for regular unleaded gasoline, matching the record set in 1981. “Gasoline prices have rocketed $1.05 a gallon since the beginning of February and are up 33 cents from a year ago.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) discussed the possibility of switching parties, adding, “I hope the moment doesn’t come that I feel so separated.” Asked what actions might cause such a break, he invoked Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous 1964 definition of pornography: “I’ll know it when I see it.”

Lt. Gen. William Boykin, “who led the Pentagon’s effort to hunt down Osama bin Laden and once likened the war on terror to a Christian struggle against Satan,” is retiring.


“At least 27 American citizens, including five U.S. servicemen and 22 private businessmen and contractors, are being held hostage by militant groups worldwide. … Nineteen of the Americans held hostage are in Iraq.”

The New York Times writes, “As more and more workers who inhaled the dust at ground zero fall ill, it has become increasingly clear that much of the problem can be traced to the Giuliani administration’s failure to insist that all emergency personnel and construction workers at the site wear respirators.”

At least 11 species of butterflies are “making their earliest recorded appearances this spring” in Great Britain, “in what will be seen as the most remarkable demonstration yet of the effects of climate change on Britain’s wildlife.” A new report also finds that “rates of carbon dioxide emission from industrial sources increased from 2000 to 2004 ‘at a rate that is over three times the rate during the 1990s.’”

“Despite a grueling pre-recess schedule, Senate Democrats may still press forward with plans to hold an unprecedented no-confidence vote at the end of this week on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. But a crowded legislative calendar, plus likely opposition from Republicans, could thwart their plans and delay a vote until after Memorial Day.”

And finally: Even lawmakers need distractions. During a House debate on Thursday, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO) was “waxing eloquent” on the “motion to recommit on the defense authorization bill.” Sitting right behind Skelton was Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who nodded off “for several minutes in full view of the cameras.” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was also caught “signing letters on his official stationery” during yesterday’s immigration debate.

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