ThinkFast: January 29, 2010

U.S. gross domestic product grew 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to an estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The figure surpassed the 4.8 percent rise that economists were expecting. It’s the the best performance since the third quarter of 2003.

48 million Americans watched President Obama’s State of the Union address, “a better than average audience” compared to recent speeches. Fox News led the cable networks, while Fox led broadcast outlets. Only two recent addresses had larger audiences.

Facing “mounting pressure from New York politicians concerned about costs and security,” the Obama administration is now considering moving the trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed out of New York. The White House still believes a civilian trial can be held “successfully and securely” in the U.S, but left the decision for an possible alternative site to the Justice Department.

President Obama will “appear before roughly 130 House GOP lawmakers at their annual three-day retreat held in Maryland this weekend.” “We’re eager for the president to come to our retreat tomorrow. We’re going to have an honest conversation about America’s priorities and trying to find ways to find some common ground,” House Minority Leader John Boehner told a press conference yesterday.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates will unveil the Pentagon’s plan to prepare for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday. “The Defense Department leadership is actively working on an implementation plan,” a Pentagon spokesperson said yesterday.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair defended his support for and advocacy of the invasion of Iraq by invoking the terrorist attacks of 9/11. “We thought” Saddam Hussein “was a risk, but it was worth trying to contain it,” Blair told an official inquiry into the conflict. “The crucial thing after Sept. 11 is that the calculus of risk changed.” Blair added that he “didn’t want America to feel it had no option but to do it alone.”

The Republican National Committee’s resolutions panel “strongly backed” an alternative to the so-called purity test yesterday, which chairman Michael Steele “strongly opposed.” The new measure would “require party officials to determine whether GOP candidates ‘wholeheartedly’ adhere” to the party platform.

The California Senate voted 22-14 yesterday to approve a bill that would create a single-payer health care system in the state. “If it’s not to be done at the national level, let us take the lead,” said state Sen. Christine Kehoe (D). It is expected to be vetoed by the Governor.

The Senate voted along party lines yesterday to raise the debt ceiling to $14.294 trillion from the current $12.394 trillion. The “$1.9 trillion increase is expected to cover the Treasury’s projected borrowing needs through at least early 2011,” and the bill now goes to the House for a vote.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said yesterday at a conference on the country’s war strategy that reaching out to Taliban leaders would be the centerpiece of his plan to end the war in Afghanistan. While the move could “aggravate frictions” with the U.S. and NATO, Karzai said, “We must reach out to all of our countrymen, especially our disenchanted brothers.”

And finally: Colbert 2012?

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