ThinkFast: November 15, 2010

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"ThinkFast: November 15, 2010"

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the U.S. “must reduce the visibility and intensity of its military operations, especially night raids that fuel anti-American sentiment.” “The time has come to reduce military operations,” said Karzai in an interview with the Washington Post.

Later this week, the U.S. will present NATO allies with a plan that would end the American combat mission in Afghanistan by 2014. The plan, which the New York Times calls “the most concrete vision for transition in Afghanistan” since President Obama took office, calls for the transfer of security duties to the Afghans over the next 18 to 24 months.

President Obama won’t support a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts for top earners, senior White House adviser David Axelrod said yesterday, though he wouldn’t say if the White House would agree to a temporary extension. Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) offered a compromise proposal to let the tax cuts expire for those making more than $1 million.

CEO paychecks continue to rise, despite a sluggish economic recovery. Over the past year, compensation for CEOs of the country’s largest publicly traded companies rose 3 percent to a median of $7.23 million. Meanwhile, compensation for all officers of the 65 biggest companies rose even more, jumping by 13.4 percent.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s $600 billion plan to spark inflation in the U.S. economy “is already showing signs of succeeding.” Despite being maligned by conservatives, the Fed’s “quantitative easing” plan is appears to working in the the market for bond options, which are associated with inflation.

Gov. Rick Perry’s (R-TX) plan to opt out of Medicaid is alarming Texas healthcare providers who say “the potential loss of billions of federal dollars could drastically undercut efforts to provide healthcare for the poor.” The Texas Medical Association said that unless the state comes up with a better plan for Texas’s 3.1 million beneficiaries, the opt out “will ultimately end up backfiring and costing more in the long run.”

The Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc returned to the Iraqi parliament Saturday, two days after walking out on the session that named Iraq’s top three leaders. Garnering the most seats in the elections, the Iraqiya could’ve jeopardized the political deal by walking out but Iraqiya not only returned but agreed to “participate in a government led by Shiite incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.”

The U.S. has offered 20 F-35 fighter planes and various security guarantees to the Israeli government in return for a 90-day extension of its settlement freeze in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently presenting the proposal to his cabinet.

And finally: Former President Clinton will make a cameo appearance as himself in the movie Hangover II. Clinton was “spotted on the set in Thailand yesterday,” TMZ reports, and, “we’ve now confirmed he did indeed shoot a cameo.”

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