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ThinkFast: August 25, 2010

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is “at risk of becoming the third Senate incumbent ousted in a primary this cycle” after a bitter fight against attorney Joe Miller, who has the backing of several tea party groups and former Gov. Sarah Palin. As of this morning, Miller had a 3,000 vote lead, with 77 percent of precincts reporting. Meanwhile, despite being outspent 5-to-1, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) claimed the Democratic nomination for Florida’s open Senate seat over billionaire Jeff Greene, while in Arizona, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is likely to retain his seat after beating ultra-conservative primary challenger J.D. Hayworth.

Yesterday, Alaskan voters approved Ballot Measure 2, a new law requiring doctors to notify parents if a child aged 17 years or younger is to receive an abortion. The “fiercely contested” law imposes felony charges on doctors who fail to comply and “marks the first time Alaska voters confronted the abortion issue at the polls.”

Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson derides the “toxic” nature of the tea parties. He argues that the ideology of tea partiers is “clearly incompatible with some conservative and Republican beliefs,” and warns Republicans that they are “building a majority on an unstable, slightly cracked foundation.”

Writing in the Financial Times, John Podesta and Robert Greenstein argue against extending the Bush tax cuts “for the top 2 percent of earners, whose average annual income is $800,000.” They note that “a few centrist Democrats are joining the conservative stampede,” and conclude, “We cannot afford to let blind ideology and rabid partisanship threaten sensible economic policy.”

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CIA analysts have said that the most urgent threat to U.S. security is al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, not the core group based in Pakistan. The assessment has prompted Obama administration officials to urge an escalation of U.S. military operations there. “We are looking to draw on all of the capabilities at our disposal,” said one unnamed official.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered an “impassioned defense” of the proposed Park 51 Islamic community center last night at a fast-breaking Iftaar dinner at the governor’s mansion. “How big should the ‘no-mosque zone’ around the World Trade Center be?” he asked of the mosque’s critics. “There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it too, be moved?”

Dozens of people were killed in coordinated car bomb attacks against police forces across Iraq today. “There may be a state, there may be a government. But what can that state do? What can they do with all the terrorists? Are they supposed to set up a checkpoint in every house?” asked one survivor of the attacks.

The National Association of Realtors said yesterday that July housing sales plummeted 25.5 percent below last year’s level “as buyers lost the spur of a government tax credit.” The news “surprised nearly every analyst and put the volume of single-family home sales at the lowest level since 1995.”

The Justice Department said Tuesday that it will appeal a federal judge’s order temporarily halting embryonic stem cell research this week. While current projects can keep previous government funding, 22 projects slated to receive $54 million in September “will be stopped in their tracks.”

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Some family members of 9/11 victims will rally today in support of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York City. “Their group, called September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, will also be joined by at least 40 religious and civic organizations, and is expected to announce the creation of a coalition called New York Neighbors for American Values” to promote religious tolerance.

And finally: Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) iconic 55-foot limousine from his 2008 presidential campaign is getting an upgrade from a famed car designer, who will stretch it to 105 feet, making it the world’s longest car. The limo — a companion to Paul’s blimp — “was painted with stars, stripes and slogans including ‘Ron Paul Revolution,’” but was heavily damaged by an electrical fire after the campaign.

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