ThinkFast: May 31, 2006

Out of the loop: White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said yesterday that President Bush learned of the reported Haditha massacre after the press did. Bush found out “[w]hen a Time reporter first made the call,” said Snow. Time reported the events in March, nearly four months after they took place.

“Climate researchers at Purdue University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology separately reported new evidence yesterday supporting the idea that global warming is causing stronger hurricanes.”

City and state officials in hurricane-prone areas are pushing a “save-yourselves approach”¦ after government agencies were overwhelmed by pleas for help after last year’s storms.” Officials say that “only the elderly, the poor and the disabled should count on the government to help them escape a hurricane or endure its immediate aftermath.”

“The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families announced Tuesday that it had secured more than twice the number of signatures it needed to refer the abortion ban passed by the 2006 Legislature to a vote of the people this fall.” The group gathered 37,846 signatures — “more than double the 16,728 they needed to get.”


The Pentagon’s latest quarterly status report on Iraq, published yesterday, “shows an increase in the overall average number of attacks, from fewer than 500 per week last year to more than 600 per week in the most recent quarter.” “On average, nearly 80 Iraqis were killed or wounded every day…up from the previous quarter’s 60 per day.”

Afghanistan’s parliament approved a nonbinding motion calling for the government to prosecute U.S. soldiers responsible for a deadly road crash that sparked the worst riots in Kabul in years. USA Today writes, “The riots revealed a disturbing truth: At a time when the United States has enough trouble in Iraq, Afghanistan is increasingly beginning to resemble that war.”

The United States is “ready to meet with Iran and other nations for talks on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions if the Islamic republic gives up uranium enrichment.” Diplomats, however, said Washington would only join talks if Russia and China agreed to back U.N. sanctions against Iran “if it remains defiant.”

The FDA official who revealed that Merck’s Vioxx medication “caused 140,000 heart attacks and strokes testified that co-workers at his agency tried to damage his reputation.”

Rep. Bob Ney’s (R-OH) former chief of staff, Neil Volz, testified yesterday that “Ney was a champion on Capitol Hill for Jack Abramoff and his clients before the lobbyist was disgraced.” Volz admitted to conspiring with Ney to underreport the cost of a 2002 golfing trip to Scotland.


And finally: Another pork-filled bill? In Taiwan’s parliament yesterday, “deputies attacked a woman colleague for snatching and trying to eat a proposal on opening direct transport links with China in a bid to stop a vote on the issue.” The woman “later spat out the document and tore it up after opposition lawmakers failed to get her to cough it up by pulling her hair.” What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.