ThinkFast: May 17, 2010

BP achieved “some success” in containing the gushing oil spill yesterday, using “a milelong pipe to capture some of the oil and divert it to a drill ship on the surface some 5,000 feet above the wellhead.” The tube is just a “stopgap measure” until the well can be completely sealed. Scientists are now saying that they found “giant plumes of oil in the deep waters,” including one “10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates “has vowed to impose fiscal austerity at the Pentagon, but his biggest challenge may be persuading Congress to go along.” Lawmakers from both parties “are poised to override Gates and fund” two weapons systems, the C-17 cargo plane and an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, that he has “been trying to cut from next year’s budget.”

This Senate is expected to vote this week to pass a Wall Street reform bill that hews closely to the Obama administration’s initial blueprint. “I’m hesitant to talk about it being done, because it’s not,” said Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT). But, he allowed, “we are on the cusp of doing something pretty significant.”

Four Hispanic House Republicans told Roll Call that “the GOP must tread cautiously on immigration so as not to reverse the gains the party has begun to make with Hispanic voters on other issues.” “Part of the reason we have done so poorly with Hispanics was that there are a number of people who really went out of their way not to solve these issues but to stir them up,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) said.


Federal prosecutors are investigating possible “willful criminal activity” at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia where 29 miners died in April. The criminal probe is looking into alleged violations of federal mine safety law from 2007 to 2010, and involves “directors, officers and agents” of a subsidiary of Massey Energy Co.

“Outside political groups have spent three times as much on political advertisements for the 2010 midterm elections as they had at the same point in 2006,” according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. Spending has already reached $62 million for the 2010 cycle, “largely the result of the proliferation of conservative advocacy groups in the last year.”

In a deal reached with Brazil and Turkey, Iran has agreed to ship most of its enriched uranium abroad and would receive medium-enriched fuel rods for its medical reactors in return. The agreement is nearly identical to the U.N.-drafted plan backed by the U.S. and its allies and could “deflate a U.S.-led push for tougher sanctions” on Iran.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told a group of rabbis that the White House has “screwed up the messaging” about its support for Israel since the President took office and it will take “more than one month to make up for 14 months.” National Security Council official Dennis Ross said he hoped that the rabbis “had seen the manifestations of the change” in the White House’s tone since they first met a month ago.

And finally: Were you interested in purchasing right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh’s New York City penthouse, but the $13.95 million price tag was too steep? Well, you’re in luck! Seems like no one was interested the first time around, so now he’s dropped the price to $12.95 million.

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