ThinkFast: December 2, 2009

In announcing his 18-month escalation strategy for Afghanistan, President Obama underscored his view that “Islamist extremism in the region remains an enduring threat to the security of Americans.” Obama revealed, “In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) offered a cautious response to President Obama’s speech last night, saying in a statement that “Congress will now have an opportunity to fully examine this strategy.” Offering no explicit praise for Obama’s proposal, Pelosi noted that “President Obama inherited a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan because the Bush Administration did not have a plan to get the job done.”

In a written statement, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged “all our allies to unite behind President Obama’s strategy.” “Britain will continue to play its full part in persuading other countries to offer troops to the Afghanistan campaign,” said Brown. “A vital next stage is the London conference on Afghanistan on 28 January, to which all 43 coalition nations will be invited.”

Democrats are “divided” on how to fund the new Afghanistan strategy, which will cost at least $30 billion more. “Key leaders rejected a proposal from liberal members to impose a ‘war tax,'” but “they offered no plan of their own.”

Phil Jones, the director of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), has decided to temporarily step down following a scandal over climate change research revealed in illegally-hacked emails. “What is most important is that CRU continues its world leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible,” Jones said in a statement.

Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) announced yesterday evening that he will retire at the end of his term, making him the second Blue Dog Democrat to announce retirement in two weeks. Tanner said in a statement that he was considering retiring two years ago but decided to remain so he could continue to be the chairman of the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that Iran will be looking to decrease its cooperation with the IAEA after the U.N. nuclear watchdog issued a resolution critical of Iran last week. He also criticized Russia for supporting the resolution. “Russia made a mistake,” Ahmadinejad said.

Israel “criticized a proposed statement by the European Union recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.” While Europe has consistently recognized Palestinian claims on Jerusalem, European officials said “a direct call for a division of the city would take that policy a step further.”

The D.C. Council voted 11-2 to approve marriage equality yesterday. There will be a second vote next month, “at which point it will be sent to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty for his signature.” In New York, the state Senate is poised to vote — possibly today — on same-sex marriage legislation.

And finally: Happy holidays, from Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), who yesterday released this year’s version of her infamous holiday card.

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