WEDNESDAY’S MINI-REPORT…. Today’s edition of quick hits:
* On hold in the Gulf: “The government ordered BP to postpone a critical test on the runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico until scientists could determine whether the test on the new containment cap would not put damaging pressure on the well that could ultimately jeopardize the plugging of the leak. As of late Wednesday afternoon, BP officials and government scientists, including Energy Secretary Stephen Chu were meeting to discuss the test procedures, and how best to minimize any risks.”
* By another account, government officials are “conferring Wednesday with BP executives and engineers about whether, and how, to proceed with the all-important ‘integrity test’ that could temporarily shut down the well and could potentially throttle the flow permanently.”
* A devastating day in Afghanistan: “Eight American troops were killed in a series of attacks in southern Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday as Taliban militants pushed back against an effort to secure the volatile region.”
* Stimulus facts are stubborn things: “White House economists praised the government’s $787 billion stimulus program as a success on Wednesday, saying it had saved or created 2.5 million to 3.6 million jobs since it was signed a year ago…. The White House also estimated that gross domestic product, a measure of overall economic output, was 2.7 to 3.2 percent higher than it would have been without the stimulus. The new estimate is in line with projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.”
* On a related note, Larry Summers is making the economic case for extended unemployment benefits.
* Right off the bat, 41 million Americans will benefit from this: “From counseling for kids who struggle with their weight, to cancer screenings for their parents, preventive health care will soon be available at no out-of-pocket cost under consumer rules the Obama administration unveiled Wednesday. That means no copays, deductibles or coinsurance for people whose health insurance plans are covered by the new requirements.”
* Indeed, the list of changes that benefit consumers from the Affordable Care Act is surprisingly long.
* The White House unveiled the “first formal national HIV/AIDS strategy, a plan that aims to reduce the number of new cases by 25 percent in the next five years, officials said.”
* Encouraging ruling: “A federal judge on Wednesday blocked a new Nebraska law requiring mental health screenings for women seeking abortions because the measure could have made it impossible to get an abortion in the state.”
* Dems hoped to convince Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to break from the GOP on a bipartisan campaign finance reform bill. That’s not going to happen.
* Matt Miller wonders why “America’s business ingrates” are so irrationally hostile to the Obama administration.
* Telling the truth about cheating in higher ed.
* And in Mason City, Iowa, the North Iowa Tea Party purchased a billboard this week equating President Obama with Hitler and Lenin, declaring, “Radical Leaders Prey on the Fearful & Naive.” The head of the right-wing group, responding to outraged responses, told the AP, “The purpose of the billboard was to draw attention to the socialism. It seems to have been lost in the visuals.” The display is now being taken down, but it’s a nevertheless a reminder of the seriousness of thought Tea Partiers bring to the table.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.