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ThinkFast: September 1, 2010

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) conceded defeat in her primary race against tea party-backed Joe Miller last night, after a count of absentee ballots made it clear she would fall short. “It’s been a long week,” Murkowski told reporters. “I don’t see a scenario where we could win.” Miller moves on to face Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams in the general election.

In an address from the Oval Office last night, President Obama claimed no victory but said it was “time to turn the page” on the war in Iraq. The president also emphasized the dire state of the U.S. economy, and linked it in part to the war. “We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas,” Obama said. For a trip down memory lane, visit our Iraq War Timeline here.

“The 10 banks that received the most bailout aid during the financial crisis spent over $16 million on lobbying efforts in the first half of 2010,” as Congress was focused on debating its financial reform bill. The spending was 26 percent higher than over the same period in time in 2009.

Deploring the suspected arson at the site of the future Murfreesboro, TN mosque, Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) said, “I would ask everybody to remember this is a country whose deepest origins are in religious freedom.” The governor asked his state’s residents “to please have great respect for anyone’s religious preferences and their rights to practice those in the United States.”

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Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus said yesterday that the Taliban is expanding its presence across the country even as U.S. and coalition forces close in on insurgent strongholds. “Levels of attacks have gone up and that’s a manifestation of us increasing our resources substantially and taking away safe havens,” he said, “And when the enemy’s safe havens are threatened they fight back.”

Bomb attacks in Afghanistan killed 21 U.S. servicemembers within a 48-hour period, in what may be the deadliest year yet for American forces. Petraeus warned that the fighting will “get harder before it gets easier.”

The first face-to-face talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders since 2008 will begin today, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with President Obama in the White House. Expectations are low, but U.S. officials are hopeful they can at least get the two sides to agree to a second round of talks next month.

The Obama administration yesterday “formally challenged a court order barring the federal government from funding human embryonic stem cell research.” The Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth “to suspend a temporary injunction he issued last week blocking the funding and filed a notice of plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.”

And finally: Former House Speaker and current FreedomWorks chief Dick Armey told the Texas Tribune that he’s not interested in being the leader of the tea party movement because he’s too busy caring for his goats. When asked if he would step up to lead the movement, Armey replied, “Oh, no, no, no, no. I’ve got 34 goats that depend on me daily. I couldn’t be away that long.”

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