ThinkFast: May 4, 2006

Public diplomacy to improve the image of the United States in the Muslim world is “not working.” A new Government Accountability (GAO) report finds that the Bush administration continues to lack “an interagency communication strategy to guide governmentwide public diplomacy activities.”

$6.89 billion: The first quarter profits of Royal Dutch Shell, the world’s third-largest oil company.

Former Homeland Security IG Clark Kent Ervin on former Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson’s lack of response to airport security: “[H]e asked few if any questions, appearing to be totally unfazed by the whole thing”¦I could only wonder why the man in charge of border and transportation security seemed so blase about how easy it had been to sneak guns, knives and bombs past airport screeners.”

Mary Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney and a senior campaign adviser for Bush, said she nearly quit the campaign over the gay marriage issue: “I struggled with my decision to stay on the 2004 campaign,” she said. “I didn’t want to be there. No one banned me from being there. But I didn’t want to stand up and cheer.”


The Zacarias Moussaoui trial reveals a central contradiction in the Bush administration’s fight against terrorism — “bit players often have been put on trial, while those thought to have orchestrated the plots have been held in secret for questioning.”

A GAO report finds efficient customer service to be sorely lacking from the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. The report concluded that “Medicare’s telephone operators frequently give callers false or incomplete information”¦that call waiting times lasted from a few minutes to almost an hour, and the government Web site was so confusing that some people gave up before completing the process.”

Japan’s Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga said the country is planning to withdraw troops from Iraq and will do so when British and Australian forces begin to withdraw their forces.

Today, a group of senators will call on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to stop stalling on the House-passed stem cell legislation (H.R. 810). This legislation is backed by a majority of the public and would expand stem cell research beyond the few stem cell lines currently approved.

Yesterday, the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget for the United States unveiled a new report at the Center for American Progress. The report said, “Congress should cut $62 billion out of Cold War weapons programs and shift most of that money to homeland security, efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and diplomatic measures that better address current national security needs.”


And finally: Sometimes, the apples fall far from the tree. An election on the central committee of the Erie County Democratic Party ended in a tie. The incumbent, William Crawford, has two voting age sons but they didn’t bother to vote. One of his sons lives at home, the other in a house across the street.

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