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ThinkFast: November 22, 2010

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"ThinkFast: November 22, 2010"

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North Korea earlier this month showed a visiting American scientist, Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford professor who previously directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory, “a vast new facility it secretly and rapidly built to enrich uranium.” Hecker said he was “stunned” by the facility’s sophistication, where he saw “hundreds and hundreds” of centrifuges and an “ultra-modern control room.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned yesterday of “significant consequences” if the Senate fails to ratify the START nuclear arms treaty, and rejected Republican stall tactics. “Despite what anybody says, I, as secretary of Defense, and the entire uniformed leadership of the American military believe that this treaty is in our national security interest,” Gates said.

At the NATO Summit last weekend, European allies signaled “growing alarm” over the possible failure of the Senate to ratify the New START treaty this year. Not only would its failure jeopardize Russian cooperation in Afghanistan and Iran, but would complicate U.S. plans to help reduce thousands of smaller Russian nuclear weapons that are “much more even dangerous” to Europe than long-range weapons.

Gates will release the military’s DADT report Nov. 30, one day earlier than planned, the Pentagon said Sunday. With the Senate slated to vote again on the repeal after the Thanksgiving recess, Gates ordered his staff to be ready a day sooner to allow for Senate hearings and “to support Congress’s wish to consider repeal before they adjourn” in December.

Billionaire Warren Buffet told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour during an interview scheduled to be aired next week that taxes on the richest Americans should be dramatically raised. “I think that people at the high end — people like myself — should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we’ve ever had it,” said Buffet.

A new study from the British University of Exeter finds that carbon emissions worldwide dropped 1.3 percent from 2008 to 2009, largely as a result of the economic recession. The study also “projects that if the economic recovery proceeds as expected, global fossil fuel emissions will increase by more than 3% in 2010.”

Faced with enormous budget shortfalls and balanced budget requirements, some states are now considering what was once unthinkable: dropping out of Medicaid. Officials in half a dozen states have floated the idea recently, according to the Wall Street Journal, and have even produced detailed studies examining the risks — though even proponents don’t expect any state to actually follow through.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush said she hopes former Alaska governor Sarah Palin will “stay” in Alaska, suggesting she does not want Palin to run for president. In an interview with CNN’s Larry King set to air tonight, Bush says, “I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful. And I think she’s very happy in Alaska — and I hope she’ll stay there.”

And finally: Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) doesn’t understand why presumptive House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) cries so much. In an interview with the New York Times Magazine published yesterday, Pelosi said, “He is known to cry. He cries sometimes when we’re having a debate on bills. If I cry, it’s about the personal loss of a friend or something like that. But when it comes to politics — no, I don’t cry.”

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