ThinkFast: April 2, 2010

“Employment in the U.S. increased in March by the most in three years, and the unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent as companies gained confidence the economic recovery will be sustained.” According to the Labor Department, the economy added 162,000 jobs. The figures include the government’s hiring of 48,000 temporary workers for the Census. Private employers “added 123,000 jobs, the most since May 2007.”

The Environmental Protection Agency issued tough new water quality guidelines yesterday “that could curtail some of the most contentious coal mining techniques used across Appalachia.” EPA administrator Lisa Jackson cited science on the effects of mountaintop removal mining for the move but clarified that this “is not about ending coal mining. This is about ending coal mining pollution.”

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) angrily condemned former staffer Peter Roberson for becoming a financial industry lobbyist and barred his staff from talking to him. “When Mr. Roberson was hired, it never occurred to me that he would jump so quickly from the committee staff to an industry that was being affected by the committee’s legislation,” said Frank.

The Obama administration unveiled new fuel-economy regulations yesterday that will make conventional 2016 model year cars about 34 percent “more fuel efficient on average than last year’s models.” The Environmental Protection Agency said the new regulations, first proposed last fall, will save a typical driver about $3,000 in fuel costs over the life of a vehicle.


Scott Roeder was sentenced yesterday to life in prison — with no possibility of parole for 50 years — for the murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller. “During the hearing, Roeder interrupted lawyers and the judge” and “compared his plight to that of Jesus Christ.” It was the maximum sentence allowed under Kansas law.

Army Secretary John McHugh reversed course yesterday and said there’s no “guarantee that gay soldiers who revealed their sexual orientation to him” as part of the Pentagon’s review of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will keep their jobs. McHugh said he misspoke earlier this week when he said Defense Secretary Robert Gates had placed a de facto moratorium on discharges related to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Eighty-three percent of Americans in a new CNN/Opinion Research poll released today do not believe the Census is an invasion of privacy. However, the poll also found that only 67 percent of Americans think the Census is “somewhat” or “very” accurate.

Yesterday, the Justice Department “filed a civil suit against defense contractor Kellogg Brown & Root Inc., alleging that the firm provided false statements in charging the government for the unauthorized use of private security guards in Iraq.” The lawsuit claims that KBR “was not permitted to charge the Army for security services under the terms of its contract but repeatedly did so anyway.”

The New York Times reports that Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) “sought financial backing for a troubled Nevada energy company in 2008, and at the same time he urged the company to hire his mistress’s husband.” Ensign’s “dealings with P2SA are at the center of a federal criminal inquiry into his efforts to line up lobbying work for Doug Hampton, a former top aide whose wife had an affair with the senator.”

And finally: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia bet against health care reform’s passage…and lost.

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