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ThinkFast: October 15, 2009

By ThinkProgress  

"ThinkFast: October 15, 2009"

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President Obama is in New Orleans today, “his first post-inauguration visit” to the city. Obama will be there for approximately four hours and will visit “the only school to reopen in the Lower 9th Ward since Katrina, conduct a town hall at the University of New Orleans” with Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), and “grab a to-go lunch order from Dooky Chase.”

BBC’s Newsnight program reported that the “Obama administration had already told the UK government it would soon announce a substantial increase to its military forces in Afghanistan.” The White House immediately disputed the report. The administration is still considering sending fewer troops than requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said yesterday that “he’s not ready yet to support sending additional troops to Afghanistan.” “Afghanistan has not been a successful venue for many great powers in the past,” Hoyer told reporters, adding that he had “reservations” about whether the Afghan government “can create confidence within its people.”

Most of the Arctic sea ice will be gone in a decade, according to newly released data. The Arctic Ocean will be “an open sea.” One researcher explains, “This could lead to flooding affecting one-quarter of the world’s population, substantial increases in greenhouse gas emissions from massive carbon pools and extreme global weather changes.”

The Pentagon is fighting to secure the funding for its propaganda arm, the Information Operations program. The office requested $361.4 million more than it actually needed earlier in the year. “I just don’t like the idea that the military is in the propaganda business,” Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) told the press. “I don’t like it.”

“Almost nine months after the Obama administration took power, more than half of the 33 highest-level Treasury Department posts are still vacant.” “Eight nominees are awaiting confirmation hearings before the Senate” while the administration still needs to “select or formally nominate candidates to nine more top-level positions.” “It’s a major concern,” said congressional expert Norm Ornstein.

President Obama will push Congress to provide $250 payments to 57 million veterans, seniors, and disabled people next year, in an effort to offset the impact of there being no cost-of-living increase in Social Security payments. “These payments will provide aid to more than 50 million people in the coming year, relief that will not only make a difference for them, but for our economy as a whole,” Obama said.

Three of the five members of the Nobel Committee reportedly had objections to the Peace Prize being awarded to President Obama. The Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang reported that it had “spoken to a number of sources who confirmed the impression that a majority of the Nobel committee, at first, had not decided to give the peace prize to Barack Obama.”

And finally: President Bush finally has a Blackberry. Twitter founder Biz Stone revealed the news and posted a picture of himself with the former president, writing, “[W]ill tweets be next?” Unfortunately for Twitter users who have enjoyed following former Bushies like Karl Rove, Dana Perino, and Tony Fratto, the former president “has no plans of tweeting.”

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