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ThinkFast: May 7, 2007

“The rebuilding effort in tornado-ravaged Greensburg, KS, likely will be hampered because some much-needed equipment is in Iraq, said that state’s governor. Governor Kathleen Sebelius said much of the National Guard equipment usually positioned around the state to respond to emergencies is gone.”

“All of us believe that in the next 90 days, you’ll probably see an increase in American casualties,” Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the Army’s Task Force Marne, said yesterday. Eight American soldiers were killed in roadside bomb attacks Sunday, one of the highest single-day death tolls this year.

“Gasoline prices have surged to a record nationwide average of $3.07 per gallon, nearly 20 cents higher than two weeks earlier,” analysts say. “The previous record was $3.03 per gallon on Aug. 11, 2006.”

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), “a Bush loyalist and ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee,” says he has lobbied the White House to stop using the term “war on terror.” “Language is important…and I think the ‘war on terror’ is a terrible idea,” Hoekstra said, arguing that it “elevates mass murderers to the status of a standing army.”

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“The weekend blitz of tornadoes in Kansas and the Plains puts 2007 on track to be one of the busiest and deadliest tornado years in a decade, severe-storms meteorologists said Sunday. ‘Even if the year stopped right now, it would be the deadliest year we’ve had since 1999,’ said Greg Forbes, severe-weather expert for The Weather Channel.”

“The Army is fixing the doors of every armored Humvee in combat in Iraq because they can jam shut during an attack and trap soldiers inside, Pentagon records and interviews show.”

“Abandoning the business lobby’s traditional resistance to healthcare reform, a new coalition of 36 major companies plans to launch a political campaign today calling for medical insurance to be expanded to everyone along lines Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing for California.”

“Some of the most celebrated levee repairs by the Army Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina are already showing signs of serious flaws,” one expert says, warning that heavy storms may cause “tear-on-the-dotted-line levees.”

Over the past year, as the Afghan government “has sought to counter growing public dissatisfaction, it has tried to impose more controls over the news media… Parliament is now considering amendments that the critics warn could undo many of the gains made since the fall of the Taliban.”

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And finally: Last week, a “top secret memo” posted online from Paul Wolfowitz to World Bank staff warned employees not to visit TradeSports.com, where there is active betting on the likelihood of a Wolfowitz resignation. The respected French daily Le Monde put up a link to the memo — with the headline “Paul Wolfowitz wants to prevent World Bank employees from betting on his resignation” — and a translation of the memo. A few hours later, Le Monde posted an “Oops” note on its site after someone pointed out the “memo” was a spoof.