ThinkFast: October 29, 2010

Halliburton and BP knew that the Deepwater Horizon rig was facing serious structural problems before the April 20 blowout, according to the presidential commission investigating the accident. The commission staff determined that Halliburton conducted tests indicating that the cement at the rig was not up to industry standards, but did not take action.

According to the Pentagon’s DADT survey findings reported yesterday, a majority of service members “would not object to serving and living alongside openly gay troops.” The survey’s results will be included in the Pentagon’s report for President Obama on December 1 regarding how the military would end the DADT policy.

The EPA has again delayed a decision on whether to adopt tougher smog standards, a proposal that was opposed by oil refiners, manufacturers, and some Democrats running for office. The decision, scheduled for Sunday, has been put off indefinitely, and an EPA spokesman said the department was “working to ensure we get it right.” Unemployment claims dropped sharply last week, by 21,000 claims — the biggest drop in unemployment claims in any week since July.

Court documents unsealed yesterday in the case surrounding naturalized U.S. citizen Farooque Ahmed’s plan to bomb Washington, DC Metro stations revealed that the tip that led to his arrest came from a source in the Muslim community. However, the Justice Department refused to give details of the tipster’s identity.  Yesterday, the government announced it had spent a record $80.1 billion on intelligence activities in the last year, an increase of nearly 7 percent over the previous year. In its first disclosure of both the civilian intelligence agencies and military budgets, the Defense Department said “no program details will be released.”


Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo said this week that President Obama is a greater threat to the U.S. than al-Qaida. Speaking with voters in a local coffee shop, Tancredo said, “It’s not al-Qaida, it’s the guy sitting in the White House.” Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin opened the door slightly to a run for president in 2012, telling Entertainment Tonight that she would put her hat in the ring “if there’s nobody else to do it.” She said she’ll take a “real close look at the lay of the land” to see “whether there are already candidates out there who can do the job and I’ll get to be their biggest supporter and biggest helpmate if they will have me.”

And finally: Early yesterday morning while Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was driving, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called him with an urgent message: “You shouldn’t be on the phone while you are driving.” Actually, LaHood — who has launched a major campaign to urge people not to use cell phones while driving — was calling to say that Chaffetz’ district had been awarded a $500,000 federal grant for an airport, but he would only deliver the news after Chaffetz put in his hands free Bluetooth device.