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Mitt Romney ripped the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court on Tuesday for striking down a California initiative that banned gay marriage in the state after a brief period in which it was legal. 

“Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage," Romney said. "This decision does not end this fight, and I expect it to go to the Supreme Court. That prospect underscores the vital importance of this election and the movement to preserve our values. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices.” 

While opposing gay marriage and condemning judges is a no-brainer in the GOP primary, Romney still faces pressure from his right flank on the issue. Rival Newt Gingrich has gone even farther by pledging to abolish the Ninth Circuit entirely. 

Tuesday night sees GOP caucus contests in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota. And it would seem the Romney campaign's internal polling suggests things aren't looking too great for the GOP frontrunner in any of them. His team is scrambling to submerge expectations to ocean-floor depths, sending out a memo downplaying the contests' importance and stressing that the March 6 Super Tuesday states should be the real test of Romney's momentum.

According to the memo, by Romney political director Rich Beeson, "we expect our opponents to notch a few wins" over the course of the race, but the campaign plans to win with its superior resources over the long haul. It also stressed that the caucuses Tuesday in Minnesota and Colorado don't immediately award any delegates and the Missouri primary doesn't award delegates period (Gingrich isn't on the ballot either). The basic gist of the message: ignore everything that happens in February no matter what.

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In the photo below, Michelle Obama participates in a tug of war with Jimmy Fallon in the Blue Room of the White House during a "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" taping for the second anniversary of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative, on January 25th.

 

(Photo credit: SIPA USA/Kennedy/White House/Sipa Press/Newscom)

A CBS News spokesperson has responded to TPM's inquiry into investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson receiving the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media award at CPAC this year. Here's CBS' statement:

"CBS News journalists are regularly honored by a broad spectrum of organizations for their outstanding original reporting."

Accuracy in Media is a conservative watchdog group. Other recipients of the award include Tucker Carlson and Andrew Breitbart.

Updated 11:32 am, Tuesday, Feb. 7

Google is launching a new series of semiannual talks on cutting-edge technological research problems called "Solve For X," the company announced Monday night.

The first set of talks -- involving "fifty scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world" -- were already held on February 1 through 3rd at the CordeValle Resort in San Martin, CA, co-hosted by Google Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt, but the company kept the lid on them until now.

Solve For X's other co-hosts included Astro Teller and Megan Smith, Google's director of new projects and vice president of new business development, respectively.

As Teller and Smith wrote in the blog post announcing the new series on Monday night:

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The Associated Press reports that Komen Foundation vice-President Karen Handel has quit the cancer charity. 

As soon as news broke a week ago that the organization would cease to fund Planned Parenthood, media reports centered on the former politician as a potential source for the decision. Handel, who was hired in April of 2011 after an unsuccessful run for Governor of Georgia, had campaigned saying she would cut state money to Planned Parenthood. A report from the Huffington Post Monday cited sources within Susan G. Komen for the Cure naming Handel as the force behind the decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.

Handel's resignation came in a letter delivered to Komen officials Tuesday morning. In the letter, Handel defended the decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. Though she acknowledged she played a role in the decision, Handel's letter stresses that Planned Parenthood has been a point of concern to Komen officials for years and that the decision went through all the proper channels including being vetted by the organization's board:

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Karen Handel, who resigned from the Komen Foundation Tuesday morning over her role in the decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, went on Fox News Tuesday afternoon to discuss the controversy. Speaking with host Megyn Kelly, Handel defended the initial decision by the foundation to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, saying it was about the mission, not politics.

"The only group that made this political is Planned Parenthood," Handel said. However, Handel continued to explain that the Komen Foundation had been under pressure from pro-life groups over their association with Planned Parenthood, including pressure because of the Congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood. "It's no secret, Megyn, Komen and other organizations funding Planned Parenthood had been under pressure long before my time that had been going on, the pressure around the controversy...There is this kind of controversy, Komen was doing its best to move to more central ground. I was asked to look at options. I looked at it and I did." 

By "controversey," Handel seems to be referring to the Congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood led by Rep. Cliff Stearns as well as investigations on the state level. However, Rep. Stearns's investigation was launched after Handel arrived at Komen, and Handel did say Komen had been under pressure for a long time. Ongoing pressure from pro-life groups over association with Planned Parenthood because they provide abortions has certainly been going on for years. 

The website http://karenhandelkomen.com has posted the following letter, which appears to be the resignation document from the controversial Komen Vice President, Karen Handel.

February 7, 2012

The Honorable Nancy Brinker

CEO, Susan G. Komen for the Cure VIA EMAIL

5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250

Dallas, Texas 75244

Dear Ambassador Brinker:

Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been the recognized leader for more 30 years in the fight against breast cancer here in the US - and increasingly around the world.

As you know, I have always kept Komen's mission and the women we serve as my highest priority - as they have been for the entire organization, the Komen Affiliates, our many supporters and donors, and the entire community of breast cancer survivors. I have carried out my responsibilities faithfully and in line with the Board's objectives and the direction provided by you and Liz.

We can all agree that this is a challenging and deeply unsettling situation for all involved in the fight against breast cancer. However, Komen's decision to change its granting strategy and exit the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its grants was fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization. At the November Board meeting, the Board received a detailed review of the new model and related criteria. As you will recall, the Board specifically discussed various issues, including the need to protect our mission by ensuring we were not distracted or negatively affected by any other organization's real or perceived challenges. No objections were made to moving forward.

I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen's future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone's political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen's mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy. I believe that Komen, like any other nonprofit organization, has the right and the responsibility to set criteria and highest standards for how and to whom it grants.

What was a thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision - one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact - has unfortunately been turned into something about politics. This is entirely untrue. This development should sadden us all greatly.

Just as Komen's best interests and the fight against breast cancer have always been foremost in every aspect of my work, so too are these my priorities in coming to the decision to resign effective immediately. While I appreciate your raising a possible severance package, I respectfully decline. It is my most sincere hope that Komen is allowed to now refocus its attention and energies on its mission.

Sincerely,

Karen Handel

Amid raging controversy over the Obama administration's contraception regulation, a new poll finds strong support for the policy that requires employers to ensure access to birth control without copays in their health care plans.

Fifty-five percent of Americans agreed that "employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost," according to a Public Religion Research Institute survey released Tuesday. Forty percent disagreed.

Perhaps more remarkable is that 58 percent of Catholics -- the community that's most vocal in their opposition -- supported the statement, the poll found.

Studies also show that an overwhelming majority of American women across faiths have used contraception.

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