ThinkFast: September 4, 2007

Bush’s arrival in Sydney was marked by protests. “An established anti-war group called the Stop Bush Coalition called a small ‘unwelcoming ceremony’ in Sydney to kick off a series of protests culminating in a march by up to 20,000 people on Saturday.” Authorities have locked down the city in the biggest security operation in Australian history.

“President Bush’s success rating in the Democratic-controlled House has fallen this year to a half-century low, and he prevailed on only 14 percent of the 76 roll call votes on which he took a clear position. The previous low for any president was in 1995, when Bill Clinton won just 26 percent of the time during the first year after Republicans took control of the House.”

An exchange of letters from 2003, released yesterday by former Iraq envoy Paul Bremer, reveal that Bush was told in advance of a plan to “dissolve Saddam’s military and intelligence structures.” The letters contradict claims by Bush “that American policy had been ‘to keep the army intact’ but that it ‘didn’t happen.’”

“A warm summer has produced a record melt of the polar ice cap, leaving the Northwest Passage clear enough for a sailboat to pass and prompting nations of the far north to assert claims over the Arctic Ocean seabed.” “This melt is unprecedented, and it’s speeding up,” said Trudy Wohlleben, senior ice forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service.


Just before leaving for its August recess, the House of Representatives approved a little-noticed amendment to its energy bill “that would allow members of Congress to lease only environmentally friendly cars.” The House energy bill would require all federal agencies to buy only low greenhouse-gas emitting vehicles for their fleets.

North Korea’s foreign ministry said yesterday that the Bush administration had decided to remove the country from its list of states sponsoring terrorism. But Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said today, “No, they haven’t been taken off the terrorism list.”

“Newly released documents regarding crimes committed by United States soldiers against civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan detail a pattern of troops failing to understand and follow the rules that govern interrogations and deadly actions.” The documents, which were obtained by the ACLU, “show repeated examples of troops believing they were within the law when they killed local citizens.”

“World Bank President Robert Zoellick is an improvement over his predecessor Paul Wolfowitz, said Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, a prominent advocate for aid to developing countries.” Sachs said he’s waiting to hear Zoellick’s agenda. “The main thing is, less ideology, more practical, measurable results,” he said.

And finally: A Capitol Hill aide politely declined to make his boss available for an interview for the “Better Know a District” segment on the Colbert Report. Roll Call reports, “The Colbert producer made a valiant effort to persuade [the aide] to change his mind. ‘We’re gonna get all 355 of you,’ the producer countered. ‘Um,’ the aide said. ‘I think you’re going to be about 80 short.’”

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