TPM News

CNN reports:

Seven states filed a lawsuit Thursday against the federal government requirement that religious employers offer health insurance coverage that includes contraceptives and other birth control services.

Attorneys general from Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Florida and Texas filed the lawsuit, along with private plaintiffs including Pius X Catholic High School, Catholic Social Services, The Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America and private citizens Stacy Molai and Sister Mary Catherine.

TPM looked into this case earlier in the week, and experts told us that, barring a departure from judicial precedent, the lawsuits are not likely to go very far.

The Washington Examiner reports:

Gov. Scott Walker, in a Thursday telephone interview with the Washington Examiner, said he did not plan on endorsing any candidate before Wisconsin's April 3rd Republican Presidential primary.

Walker, who faces a likely recall election by June, said, “I’m not focused on anything other than the recall, just because that alone keeps me pretty occupied."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is now blogging for the Huffington Post. The two posts he has contributed were both adapted from editorials he wrote for Russian newspapers, Politico's Dylan Byers reports

Byers asked HuffPost's communications team whether the site would let someone like Syrian President Bashar al Assad or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad contribute. 

"Each request would be evaluated individually," HuffPo communications Vice President Mario Ruiz told me.

The Virginia state Senate voted Thursday to postpone a decision on the controversial ultrasound bill that had passed out of Committee earlier today. The latest version, which requires women to undergo a transabdominal ultrasound before they can get an abortion, will likely be taken up tomorrow. The Senate also voted to send a bill back to Committee that would have defined "personhood" as beginning at the moment of conception, which effectively kills the bill until 2013. 

Last night's Republican presidential debate -- the 20th of the election cycle -- drew 4.7 million viewers. To compare: 7.6 million viewers watched an ABC debate in December, and an NBC debate in January had 7.1 million viewers. 

CNN's Republican presidential debate on Wednesday is the last one currently scheduled.

Via The New York Times.

The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, who appeared on stage with President Obama when he sang earlier this week, called the president's crooning "courageous."

The AP reports:

"I thought he was courageous, because there was some element of reluctance," Jagger said, adding that "it was a hard moment for the president to get out of."

 

The White House on Thursday released a report outlining the Obama Administration's goals for protecting consumer privacy as more and more of our personal lives end up online.

"Never has privacy been more important than today, in the age of the Internet, the World Wide Web and smart phones," President Obama wrote in a statement at the beginning of the report.

The report calls upon Congress to pass a "Consumer Privacy of Bill of Rights," going on to outline just what the White House wants to see in such legislation -- 7 tenets, to be specific: Individual control, transparency, respect for context, security, access and accuracy, focused collection and accountability.

As for who should enforce the bill, the report is abundantly clear that the Administration wants to "strengthen" the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and give it the primary responsibility, and power, to watch the companies watching us.

The report also calls upon industry leaders to implement their own practices in line with the "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights," saying that the FTC will be watching, and that the agency will not hesitate to take action against companies found to be violating consumer privacy.

Read More →

The new Rasmussen poll of Montana shows Democratic Sen. Jon Tester narrowly trailing his Republican opponent, Congressman Denny Rehberg.

The numbers: Rehberg 47%, Tester 44%. The survey of likely voters was conducted on February 22, and has a ±4.5% margin of error.

Tester was one of the Democrats' key pickups to gain the majority in the 2006 wave election, defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Conrad Burns by a one-point margin.

The TPM Poll Average currently gives Rehberg a lead of 48.3%-43.1%.

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