ThinkFast: August 16, 2010

The United Nations warned Monday that up to 3.5 million children in Pakistan were at risk from water-borne diseases due to the ravaging floods. The World Health Organization said it is preparing to deal with tens of thousands of potential cholera cases. UN chief Ban Ki-Moon called the disaster the worst he has ever witnessed.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) suggested yesterday that the GOP will try to make an election issue of the debate surrounding the new Islamic Center in lower Manhattan. In Florida, Democrats are criticizing the project. Alex Sink, the candidate for governor, said 9/11 families “are opposed to this project and I share their view.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said on ABC yesterday that all of the Bush tax cuts should be extended, including those for the wealthiest Americans. “Let’s leave tax policy as it is,” he said on the network. “Let’s not fiddle anymore.”

Americans for Prosperity, the lobbyist-run group that helped coordinate the Tea Parties, is launching a $4.1 million ad campaign “in 11 states and two dozen of the most competitive congressional races” today, “slamming ‘wasteful federal spending.'” The ads target 24 House seats, where all but one are held by Democrats; 17 are “incumbents seeking reelection.”

On Sunday in Arizona, hundreds of Tea Party activists converged in a desolate area near the Mexican border to demand tougher immigration restrictions. Several conservative lawmakers, talk-radio hosts, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio spoke at the rally — and, according to the New York Times, organizers had to urge participants to leave firearms in their cars.

“The Obama Administration has paid out less than a third of the nearly $230 billion allocated to big infrastructure projects in the economic-stimulus program,” raising ire from conservative critics of the program. “More people believe that Elvis Presley is alive than [that] the stimulus created jobs,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who called for the stimulus to be rolled back.

According to Japanese government figures released today, China surpassed Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States. China’s economy, valued at $1.33 trillion, “underscores China’s growing clout and bolsters forecasts that China will pass the United States as the world’s biggest economy as early as 2030.”

In a “blow to Israeli shares,” Harvard University notified the SEC on Friday that it had sold all its holdings in Israeli companies during the second quarter of 2010. The Harvard Management Company, which maintains holdings in Chinese and Brazilian stocks, offered no reason for the sale.

On Meet the Press Sunday, Gen. David Petraeus cited shortcomings in Bush administration strategy in Afghanistan, saying that after assuming command there, he “realized that we did not have the organizations that are required for the conduct and the comprehensive civil/military counterinsurgency campaign.” Petraeus cited a failure to integrate Afghan leaders into the allied military structure.

And finally: At the Arizona Diamondbacks’ game against the Washington Nationals in D.C. yesterday, two women protesting Arizona’s new anti-immigration law “were apprehended by security officials after running on the field at Nationals Park.” They “jumped onto the field from seats in the lower deck and unfurled a sign reading ‘Boycott Arizona’” before being “corralled by stadium security officials in right-center field.” Watch it here.

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