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ThinkFast: November 21, 2008

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"ThinkFast: November 21, 2008"

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President-elect Obama will reportedly nominate Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state after Thanksgiving and may tap ret. Gen. Jim Jones as his National Security Adviser. Obama is “getting foreign policy advice from an unlikely source: Republican Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser in the first Bush administration.”

Obama will not immediately move to repeal the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which bans openly gay individuals from serving. Obama reportedly “first wants to confer with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his new political appointees at the Pentagon to reach a consensus and then present legislation to Congress.”

Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed last night while speaking at the Federalist Society’s annual gathering. Mukasey, who spent the night in the hospital for observation, is alert and “in good spirits,” according to a Justice Department spokesperson. An individual who witnessed Mukasey’s collapse said he was “visibly shaking and perhaps slurring his words before he fell to the floor.”

Big Oil is “firing up” its efforts to push for more domestic oil development. The American Petroleum Institute is “preparing a multimillion-dollar campaign” that will include an education program called American’s Energy Forum and “a wide array of advertising and lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.”

The Bush administration is finalizing changes to the Endangered Species Act ensuring that agencies would not have to take global warming into account when assessing risks to plants and animals. John Kostyak of the National Wildlife Federation said the rule, for example, would “block federal officials from considering a carbon cap” to preserve polar bear’s habitat.

A new report by the National Intelligence Council finds that U.S. military, economic, and political dominance will fade over the next few decades. It predicts that China, India and Russia will increasingly gain influence, “the dollar may no longer be the world’s major currency, and food and water shortages will fuel conflict.”

Verizon Wireless said last night that a number of its employees have “accessed and viewed” Obama’s personal cellphone account without authorization. The company refused to say how many employees accessed the information, but said that all of them “were immediately put on leave with pay” and are now facing potential disciplinary proceedings.

Nobel-prize-winning economist Paul Krugman notes a “disturbing parallel” between 2008 and 1929: “the emergence of a power vacuum at the height of the crisis.” With a “standoff” between Congress and the lame-duck administration, Krugman writes, “nothing is happening on the policy front that is remotely commensurate with the scale of the economic crisis. And it’s scary to think how much more can go wrong before Inauguration Day.”

And finally: This week, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) took part in the political tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey. Palin then gave a press conference at Triple D Farms in Wasilla. However, as she spoke, “just a few feet behind her, one of the men working on the farm proceeded to feed a turkey into a bucket. The man stops periodically to watch the state’s governor speak, all the while the poor turkey jerks around as the machine does its gruesome work.” Watch it here.

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