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ThinkFast: February 19, 2009

By ThinkProgress on February 19, 2009 at 9:00 am

"ThinkFast: February 19, 2009"

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Senator Burris should consider resigning for the good of his state,” writes the New York Times editorial board, a day after the Washington Post called for Burris to step down. The Chicago Tribune today calls on Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL) to propose a special election to fill Burris’ seat, should it open.

Canadians are “abuzz” about Barack Obama’s visit today, his first foreign trip as president. According to the CBC, “People started gathering in front of Parliament Hill before sunrise” in anticipation of Obama’s touchdown at 10:30 a.m. ET in Ottawa. Afghanistan and the economy top the agenda for Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said yesterday that the U.S. “will have to keep about 60,000 troops in Afghanistan for at least the next three to four years to combat an increasingly violent insurgency.” McKiernan said that an additional 10,000 troops will be needed beyond the 17,000 President Obama ordered to Afghanistan this week.

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush last year told a Baghdad court yesterday he was coerced into making a false confession of making a terrorist training film. “I said this before the guards of the prime minister after I was beaten and after my body was devoured by electricity,” Muntazer al-Zaidi said. He said Bush’s “icy smile” “enraged” him. “I felt that this person is the killer of the people, the prime murderer,” he said.

A handful of Republican governors are considering turning down some money from the federal stimulus package,” which “opponents say puts conservative ideology ahead of the needs of constituents struggling” through the recession. Some governors, like Rick Perry of Texas and Mark Sanford of South Carolina, have opposed the stimulus, but eventually admitted they would take the money.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele says he is planning an “off the hook” PR offensive to attract younger voters, especially minorities, by applying conservative principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.” “[W]e need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets,” he explained.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they worry about becoming unemployed — almost double the percentage at this time last year,” a new AP-GfK poll finds. Additionally, 71 percent of those surveyed said that “they know someone — a friend or a relative — who has lost a job in the past six months because of the economy.”

In anticipation of President Obama lifting a Bush-era ban, officials at the National Institute of Health have begun “drafting guidelines they will need to start funding human embryonic stem cell research that has been off-limits for nearly eight years.” Researchers all over the country are “waiting with bated breath” for Obama to follow through on his campaign pledge, which adviser David Axelrod says will happen soon.

Yesterday a federal appeals court blocked the transfer to the U.S. of 17 Chinese Muslims who are currently being held at Guantanamo Bay but are no longer designated “enemy combatants.” The decision “reversed a lower court ruling that ordered the government to release the 17 Uighurs and resettle them with Uighur families in the Washington region.”

And finally: Washington, DC’s historic Mayflower Hotel attracted considerable attention last year, when it was revealed as the place that former New York governor Eliot Spitzer had his infamous tryst with an escort. The DC Examiner now reports that Spitzer’s dad, Bernard, is coincidentally “attempting to purchase the office building at 1615 L Street NW — which happens to overlook the Mayflower Hotel.” Bernard is allegedly “awaiting his lender’s approval on the building.”

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