ThinkFast: November 24, 2010

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"ThinkFast: November 24, 2010"

The United States and South Korea will hold joint military exercises in response to the North Korean shelling of a South Korean island yesterday that left several people dead. The “exercise will include sending the aircraft carrier George Washington and a number of accompanying ships into the region.”

The “biggest Wall Street banks are pushing the U.S. Treasury Department to exclude foreign exchange derivatives from new regulations” contained in the recently-passed Wall Street reform law. The banks argue that the $42 trillion worth of foreign exchange derivatives played no part in the recent financial crisis.

“A new Pentagon report on the Afghan war through September said the reach of the insurgency was growing and the Taliban dominate more territory,” as NATO struggles to demonstrate progress. The report finds that the number of Taliban attacks increased 70 percent since 2009.

According to a new poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans support the new full-body security-screening machines at airports. While half believe enhanced pat-down searches go too far, most polled “say they put higher priority on combating terrorism than protecting personal privacy.”

Israeli officials say their hands are off the proverbial trigger with Iran, and that the country is stepping back from an immediate confrontation over the Iranian nuclear program, due to both technical difficulties encountered by Iran and pressure from the U.S. government. Politico reports the news “represents a success for the Obama administration, which has sought to convince Israel that it should give sanctions a chance to work.”

Yesterday, the Justice Department filed to appeal a court ruling that overturned the dismissal of Air Force Major Margaret Witt for a DADT violation. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September that Witt be reinstated “because her dismissal advanced no legitimate military goals and thus violated her constitutional rights,” but the DOJ had until yesterday to appeal.

In her new book, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin “repeatedly questions” President Obama’s patriotism, “saying at one point that some people believe America is a fundamentally unjust and unequal country. ‘Barack Obama seems to believe this, too,'” Palin writes.

The infamous color-coded terror alert system may soon be no more, according to the AP. Sources said Homeland Security officials are proposing getting rid of the eight-year-old system, in favor of one that’s “more descriptive and not as colorful.”

And finally: President Obama will pardon Apple and Cider today, two California-born turkeys who will be spared from the dinner table. The turkey pardon has become a traditional part of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, and after the event, the turkeys “will head to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens for a Christmas display and then to live out their days in a specially built enclosure.”

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