ThinkFast: September 26, 2006

“In a new sign of mounting strain from the war in Iraq,” the Pentagon said that 3,800 U.S. soldiers will be staying in Iraq about six weeks beyond their one-year combat tours. Rumsfeld flew to the tiny nation of Montenegro “with hopes of tapping a new source of troops for Iraq and Afghanistan.”

6: The United States’ position on the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness rankings, a fall from first last year. “The U.S. lost its position as the world’s most competitive economy to Switzerland as budget and trade deficits prompted a slide.”

The Earth’s temperature “has climbed to levels not seen in thousands of years, warming that has begun to affect plants and animals,” the National Academy of Sciences reported. “This evidence implies that we are getting close to dangerous levels of human-made pollution,” NASA’s James Hansen said.

“Americans clearly want a system that guarantees health care for everyone,” concludes a new report by the Citizens Health Care Working Group. The group was created by Congress and is composed of 15 members, including Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.

At yesterday’s Democratic Policy Committee hearing on Iraq planning, retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste, the former commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, said the administration’s “plan allowed the insurgency to take root and metastasize to where it is today.” He and retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton declared that Rumsfeld must go. “He knows everything, except ‘how to win,'” Batiste said. Click here to see highlights of the hearing.

Larry J. Sabato, “one of Virginia’s most-quoted political science professors and a classmate of Allen’s in the early 1970s,” yesterday confirmed that he heard Allen use a racial slur to refer to blacks, a charge the senator has denied.

The African Union will add 4,000 troops to its mission in Darfur, bringing the number of police and soldiers to 11,000. Sudan has refused to allow a U.N. peacekeeping force into the region. Approximately 200,000 people have died since violence flared in 2003.

Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki expressed optimism yesterday that negotiations would resolve the dangerous impasse over his country’s nuclear program. “We do believe that the issue is once again on track now based on negotiations. All the parties should help and support.”

And finally: No rock, paper, scissors? A coin flip decided the primary race for Alaska House of Representatives yesterday. Deadlocked in a 767-767 tie, incumbent Rep. Carl Moses and challenger Bryce Edgmon watched nervously as a “gold-and-silver commemorative coin spun through the air” and “landed on a sea otter pelt – tails up – giving” Edgmon the spot on the ballot.

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.