ThinkFast: May 25, 2010

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"ThinkFast: May 25, 2010"

“The federal agency responsible for regulating U.S. offshore oil drilling repeatedly ignored warnings from government scientists about environmental risks in its push to approve energy exploration activities quickly,” the Washington Post reports. Separately, an inspector general report found that regulators “allowed industry officials several years ago to fill in their own inspection reports.”

76 percent: Americans who disapprove of the way BP has handled the oil spill. A slight majority — 51 percent — also disapprove of Obama’s performance in the disaster, and support for “increased drilling for oil and natural gas offshore in U.S. waters” has fallen dramatically. Already, 316 birds have been found dead on the Gulf Coast, with another 41 found alive but “oiled.”

“President Obama, the Pentagon and leading lawmakers reached agreement Monday on legislative language and a time frame for repealing” Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Congress could “take up the measure as soon as this week.” The White House issued a statement in support of the deal, which would repeal the law this year but delay implementation until after the Pentagon’s review of the policy is certified.

Gen. David Petraeus issued a secret directive last fall that “authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces.” One of the goals of the directive, the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order, may be to “prepare the environment” for “future attacks.”

For the first time ever, more U.S. troops are deployed in Afghanistan than are deployed in Iraq. Ninety-four thousand are currently serving in Afghanistan while 92,000 are in Iraq. The U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan has tripled under Obama.

The Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to uphold a lower court’s ban on political parties from raising soft money — unlimited donations from corporations, unions or others. The GOP wants to reverse the ban in time for the midterm elections, arguing that the precedent set by the Court’s Citizens United decision should apply in this case.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged “unequivocal” support for South Korea yesterday, and the White House demanded North Korea stop its “belligerent and threatening behavior” in the escalating dispute between the two countries. Seoul has “cut off trade” with the North in response to the March 26 sinking of a South Korean warship.

The FBI and the Senate Sergeant at Arms have found a surge in threats against lawmakers this year, Politico reports, while the Capitol Police have been forced to “dramatically increase their security efforts.” Those making threats tend to own guns, have some history with mental illness, and have recently undergone major life stress like losing their job.

Preliminary FBI figures for 2009 show that violent crime in the U.S. has declined for the third consecutive year, including a 7.2 percent reduction in homicides. Violent crime rose in 2005 and 2006 after years of decline causing concerns that focusing on terrorism “was draining resources away from traditional crime fighting.”

And finally: In a misfire in her neverending battle with the “lamestream media,” former Alaska governor Sarah Palin accidentally attacks a satirical article.

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