ThinkFast: March 16, 2006

Halliburton “failed to protect the water supply it is paid to purify for U.S. soldiers throughout Iraq, in one instance missing contamination that could have caused ‘mass sickness or death,’ an internal company report concluded.”

$39,000: The amount in donations Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) accepted last year from people in the U.S. Virgin Islands, more than twice as much as he received from residents of his home state.

House conservatives initially said their ethics package would include a “permanent ban on privately funded travel, ending lobbyist-paid meals, and doubling the duration of the so-called revolving door ban on members and staff to two years.” The package introduced yesterday “does not do any of the three,” but is still facing an uphill battle among conservatives.

“Seniors and disabled Americans enrolled in Medicare’s new prescription drug program face more coverage disruptions in two weeks” as the special 90-day transition period comes to an end. Health experts warned of a “repeat of problems first encountered in January,” but this time “more intense, because people are going to be really without their medicines.”

The U.N. General Assembly yesterday “overwhelmingly approved” a much-improved new Human Rights Council, despite opposition from human rights luminaries like U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and Cuba.

The Wall Street Journal asks, “What do super-investor Warren Buffett, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and labor boss Gerald McEntee have in common?” Answer: “They all believe executive compensation in the U.S. has gotten out of hand.” (They’re right.)

The Department of Homeland Security received an F on cyber security for the third straight year, at a time when “assaults against government information systems” have skyrocketed.

A top Army intelligence commander, Col. Thomas Pappas, testified in court yesterday that he approved the use of military dogs during the interrogation of a detainee at Abu Ghraib on at least one occasion, “a rare acknowledgment that soldiers may have received permission from superiors to employ harsh techniques.”

Bush nominated Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach to serve as the new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray immediately blocked any vote on his nomination until the drug agency decides whether to allow over-the-counter sales of Plan B, something the FDA promised to do a year ago.

And finally: Jessica Simpson is worried that President Bush will damage her credibility. “Concerned about politicizing her favorite charity,” Operation Smile, singer-actress Jessica Simpson yesterday “turned down an invitation to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush.”