ThinkFast: December 1, 2008

Later today, President-elect Barack Obama will name some members of his national security team. The appointments will reportedly mark “a sweeping shift of priorities and resources” by greatly expanding a “corps of diplomats and aid workers that, in the vision of the incoming Obama administration, would be engaged in projects around the world aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states.”

In naming Susan Rice his ambassador to the United Nations today, President-elect Obama will pick “a prominent and forceful advocate of stronger action, including military force if necessary, to stop mass killings like those in the Darfur region of Sudan in recent years.” Obama will also restore the U.N. ambassadorship to a Cabinet-level position, as it was under President Clinton.

On the 20th anniversary of World Aids Day, governments across the globe are pledging “to step up the fight against HIV” and combat the stigma associated with the disease. Obama will deliver taped remarks to the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health.

NPR reporter Ivan Watson and three members of NPR’s Iraqi staff “narrowly escaped an apparent assassination attempt in Baghdad on Sunday after a hidden ‘sticky’ bomb exploded underneath their parked, armored BMW.”


“When the Iraqi government ratified an agreement last week setting new terms for a continued American presence in Iraq, private contractors working for the Pentagon faced the inevitability that they would be stripped of their immunity from Iraqi law.” Some experts said that contractors would be forced to rely much more on Iraqi employees, rather than on Americans.

The 110th Congress passed only about 3.3 percent of all the bills introduced, the lowest success rate since 1976. A full 32 percent “did nothing more than rename a federal building,” up from the 25 percent of legislation representing ceremonial bills from the 109th Congress.

The European Space Agency has identified new rifts on an Antarctic ice shelf that “could lead to it breaking away from the Antarctic Peninsula.” The ice shelf had “been stable for most of the past century before it began retreating in the 1990s.”

The UN continues climate change talks in a new summit that begins today in Poznan, Poland. Delegates from 190 countries will discuss “[p]roposals for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol treaty…with a final agreement planned to be signed in Copenhagen a year from now.”

Tanta, the blogging pseudonym of a popular and admirer financial blogger Doris Dungey, passed away Sunday morning. Thanks in large part to Tanta’s contributions, the blog Calculated Risk became “a crucial source of prescient analysis as the housing market at first faltered, then collapsed and finally spawned a full-blown credit crisis.”


And finally: Jonathan Lifschutz, a Long Island supporter of Barack Obama, says he has been forced to hide his OBAMA vanity license plates inside his car because people keep trying to steal them. He said “would-be thieves tried prying off the plates and he even caught one man red-handed. He jokes the Empire State plates one day will be a collector’s item — in someone else’s house. So he’s taken them off his car and put his old plates back on.”

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