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ThinkFast: October 31, 2008

“The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment.” Some of the new rules, which are “among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era,” would ease controls on emissions of pollutants, relax drinking-water standards and lift restrictions on mountaintop coal mining.

The federal Bureau of Land Management “is reviving plans to sell oil and gas leases in pristine wilderness areas in eastern Utah that have long been protected from development.” “The proposed sale, which includes famous areas in the Nine Mile Canyon region, would take place Dec. 19, a month before President Bush leaves office.”

According to Justice Department and FAA records, “Attorney General Michael Mukasey has taken personal trips on government jets almost every weekend since he took office less than a year ago at a cost to taxpayers of more than $155,800.” Mukasey was out of Washington on personal trips “for almost half or more of February, May, July and September” and traveled home 45 times from Nov. 2007 to Sept. 2008.

“The next U.S. president will govern in an era of increasing international instability, including a heightened risk of terrorist attacks in the near future, long-term prospects of regional conflicts and diminished U.S. dominance across the globe,” Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said yesterday.

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Four days to go: John McCain will be campaigning in Ohio today, including a Columbus rally with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA). Sarah Palin will be holding rallies in York and Latrobe, PA. Barack Obama will be at rallies in Des Moines, IA, and Highland, IN. Joe Biden and his wife will be campaigning in Newark, DE before heading to Ohio.

Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who has endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said on Thursday that the Gov. Sarah Palin(R-AK) could only amount to an “adequate” commander in chief. “[O]f course not,” he said when asked whether Palin is prepared to take over in a crisis.

A study by the independent Tax Policy Center found that “those who make less than $250,000 a year would not see their taxes raised under Senator Barack Obama’s plans. Further, Mr. Obama would generally cut taxes more than Senator John McCain would for households with incomes less than $100,000 a year.” Families making the median income of roughly $50,000 would save nearly $300 more under Obama’s plan than under McCain’s.

Seventy-nine percent of the more than 2,500 immigrants interrogated in a 2004 operation to disrupt potential terrorist attacks were from Muslim-majority countries. The program, conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, questioned thousands but ultimately charged only one in five, mostly on immigration charges.

From July to September this year, Americans reduced their spending by “largest amount in 28 years.” Consumers reduced spending on “cars, furniture, household appliances, clothes and almost everything else,” while businesses reduced spending on “equipment and software” by 5.5 percent.

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“At least 7.5 million Americans owe more on their mortgages than their homes are currently worth,” according to a report released today by real estate research firm First American CoreLogic. Another 2.1 million people “stand right on the brink,” with their homes “worth less than 5 percent more than the mortgages they’re paying on them.”

And finally: Wait — is that Hillary Clinton on Family Feud? Oh, no, it’s Teresa Barnwell “who has traveled throughout the world as a Hillary Clinton look-alike for more than 15 years.” She and other “faux stars” will be appearing on the game show from Nov. 3–7.

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