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ThinkFast: October 28, 2009

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"ThinkFast: October 28, 2009"

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Recovery Act

A USA Today analysis finds that the stimulus is working and is having “a significant impact on the economy.” A survey of 33 states and Puerto Rico found that 338,000 jobs have been created or saved so far this year.

$1.25 million: Amount former Alaska governor Sarah Palin received as a retainer for her book “Going Rogue,” which will be out on Nov. 17.

“The deaths today of eight more American troops in Afghanistan have made October the deadliest month ever for U.S. forces in what is already the deadliest year for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the war started in 2001,” reports ABC News. Fifty-five U.S. servicemembers have died this month, bringing the 2009 total to 280.

President Obama’s top advisers “are focusing on a strategy for Afghanistan aimed at protecting about 10 top population centers.” The strategy will “would stop short of an all-out assault on the Taliban while still seeking to nurture long-term stability.” But now, “the debate is no longer over whether to send more troops, but how many more will be needed.”

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s illegal drug trade, gets regular payments from the CIA, “and has for much of the past eight years.” The ties to Karzai have “have created deep divisions within the Obama administration” and complicate relations with President Hamid Karzai who has long been portrayed as an American puppet.

The Washington Times reports that President Obama has “quietly rewarded scores of top Democratic donors with VIP access to the White House, private briefings with administration advisers and invitations to important speeches and town-hall meetings.” “This administration has across the board set the toughest ethics standards in history,” White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said in response.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly has less than 200 votes for a robust public option. “An internal count circulated by members and aides on Tuesday showed 47 Democrats were prepared to vote against a plan that would reimburse doctors at a rate five percent higher than Medicare.”

President Obama will sign new legislation today that will add gays to the list of groups covered by federal hate crimes law. The new provision, named after slain gay student Matthew Shepard, will cover people who were attacked because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender.

In a blow to President Obama’s environmental agenda, Great Lakes shippers and livestock interests won a major fight in the climate change battle yesterday. The House voted to effectively bar the EPA from mandating the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions generated by cattle and hog producers; 13 Great Lakes steamships also won exemptions from a rule to require lower-sulfur fuel.

And finally: Apparently, if you dress like Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Col. Sanders, you can get in anywhere. An actor wearing “the fast food icon’s familiar white suit and black bow tie” was able to “gain access to the restricted areas ” of the U.N. headquarters in New York and even met Ali Treki, president of the U.N. General Assembly. KFC is “lobbying” the U.N. for “the fictional Grilled Nation to be accepted as a member state” as part of its campaign promoting its new menu. Officials attributed the fake Sanders gaining so much access to a “lapse in security.”

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