ThinkFast: September 11, 2008

On the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, new data “from a public health registry that tracks the health effects of 9/11 suggest that as many as 70,000 people may have developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the terrorist attacks.” Approximately 3,800 to 12,600 may have developed asthma after being exposed to heavy pollution that day.

“Deaths among those working the nation’s oil and gas fields have risen at an alarming rate,” the AP reports today. Illustrating the “soaring cost of America’s unquenchable thirst for energy,” at least 598 workers died on the job between 2002 and 2007 as the number of deaths per year has risen by around 70 percent.

In July, President Bush approved secret orders “that for the first time allow American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government.” The New York Times writes that the legal basis for the operations remain “unclear,” and the Pakistani army has said it “would defend the country’s sovereignty ‘at all costs.”

An Iraqi plan to award six no-bid contracts to Western oil companies has been withdrawn. Iraq’s oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani said this week that the talks “had dragged on for so long that the companies could not now fulfill the work” within the one year time frame of the deals. The companies confirmed on Wednesday that the deals had been canceled.”


On the trail: Today, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL) will both be at Ground Zero and then participating in a ServiceNation presidential forum in New York. McCain will also be in Shanksville, PA, where the hijacked United Airlines airplane crashed on 9/11.

“Workers with professional degrees, such as doctors and lawyers, were the only educational group to see their inflation-adjusted earnings increase over the most recent economic expansion, adding to the concern that the economy has benefited higher-earning Americans at the expense of others.”

The United States is “running out of time” in Afghanistan, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday. “I’m not convinced we’re winning in Afghanistan,” said Mullen before quickly adding that he’s “convinced we can.”

A Colorado meatpacking company fired about 100 Muslim workers “who walked off the job last week in protest of the firm’s refusal to give them time to pray during the holy month of Ramadan.” Supervisors had originally granted permission for prayer breaks, but “non-Muslim employees protested,” and on Friday the company refused to grant break time. The union that represents the employees said it would challenge the firing.

A new report from the Homeland Security Department’s Office of Inspector General has found that “the government wasted millions of dollars on four no-bid contracts it handed out for Hurricane Katrina work, including paying $20 million for a camp for evacuees that was never inspected and proved to be unusable.” Investigators say the U.S. government has wasted nearly $1 billion in the recovery effort.


And finally: Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was burning up Washington, DC, yesterday. First, he stopped by the Center for American Progress for an event on music education, where he and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) performed “I Saw Her Standing There.” Huckabee was on bass, while Crowley handled guitar and vocals. Later in the day, Huckabee was named “Funniest Celebrity in Washington” at the annual stand-up comedy competition at DC Improv. Watch his performance here.

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