TPM News

Since she entered the presidential contest, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has leaped up the polls and, wowed audiences, and dominated a nationally televised debate. She's taken a strong stand on the central political issue of the day -- the debt ceiling -- drawn a frontrunner's press attention.

Or, as Jon Huntsman puts it, she gets coverage because she's pretty.

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The Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) in Silver Spring, Maryland, quietly conducted a rapid-response exercise against two undisclosed bacterial and viral threats.

The study required a participating biotech company to synthesize drugs on short notice for two unknown biological warfare agents.

This exercise, which took place in June, was conducted in collaboration with the Joint Project Manager-Transformational Medical Technologies and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency--two government institutions specializing in countering weapons of mass destruction.

The exercise proved to the military officials that drugs to prevent a presumed new biowarfare threat could be synthesized within 18 days.

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Twitter just published a post acknowledging a significant funding round led by DST Global.
It's reportedly an $800 million deal, which skyrockets Twitter to an $8 billion valuation. Kara Swisher of All Things Digital says Twitter will use half of the money to cash out investors and employees.
Twitter says it will use the money to hire more people and continue to improve the product.

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Updated: August 1, 2011, 4:40PM

Is the Koch-backed conservative group Americans For Prosperity up to no good in the Wisconsin state Senate recalls?

As Politico reports, mailers have now turned up from Americans For Prosperity Wisconsin, addressed to voters in two of the Republican-held recall districts, where the elections will be held on August 9. The mailers ask recipients to fill out an absentee ballot application, and send it in -- by August 11, after Election Day for the majority of these races.



"These are people who are our 1's [solid Democrats] in the voterfile who we already knew," a Democratic source told Politico. "They ain't AFP members, that's for damn sure."

There are two other recall elections being held on August 16, targeting two Democratic incumbents, but they are both a distance away from the recipients of these particular mailers.

Furthermore, a close look at the mailer shows a continuation of irregularities that have already involved conservative groups and absentee ballots in the state.

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The Obama administration announced on Monday that health insurance plans must cover birth control with no copays, among other reproductive health care services, as preventative care for women. The requirement will apply to health care plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012. The announcement comes just a month after Health and Human Services released a recommendation that sought to expand preventative services for women under Obama's health care law.

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In the latest sign of just how politically difficult it's proving to mount an investigation into the alleged physical altercation at the Wisconsin Supreme Court -- in which liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has accused conservative Justice David Prosser of grabbing her neck in a chokehold -- Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has announced that he will ask a judge to appoint a special prosecutor, rather than make a decision on the matter himself.

The key point here is that the incident in the court occurred during an argument over the court's decision to uphold Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation, with Prosser in the court's 4-3 conservative majority and Bradley in the liberal minority. And for his part, Ozanne is a Democratic official, and more importantly he was the lead plaintiff seeking to have the law blocked on procedural grounds.

In his statement, Ozanne said that he does not think he or his office would be unfair in making a determination, but he wishes to avoid the appearance of a political conflict.

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The weeks-long slog toward the the very brink of economic disaster -- a slog that may still result in some very serious economic consequences -- was an example of Congress functioning exactly as it should, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says. So quit your whinin'.

Speaking on the Senate floor the morning after a deal was finally reached to raise the debt ceiling and pay bills Congress had already wracked up, Reid pushed back against "all kinds of pundits and commentators who talk about how the system is broken."

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President Obama admitted in a video message the debt deal is "far from satisfying," but he comforted supporters by suggesting they won't get rolled as badly the next time around.

Under the White House's agreement with Republican leaders, the bulk of its deficit reduction would be determined by a bipartisan commission that must either pass a second package in Congress this year or trigger automatic cuts to defense and Medicare. Obama said this group would be critically important to achieving Democrats' ultimate goal of higher taxes on the wealthy to help cover the budget gap.

"I've said from the beginning that the ultimate solution must be balanced. Big corporations and the wealthiest Americans shouldn't be exempt from kicking in," he said. "That's just fair."

He also hinted at some more bitter pills on entitlements, however, talking up the need "to make modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare so they're around for future generations."

Both of these issues would be tackled by the committee, he said.

"That's why the second part of this agreement is so important," he said. "It establishes a bipartisan committee of Congress to report back by November with a proposal to reduce the deficit even further, which will be put before the entire Congress for an up or down vote. No tricks, no games, no delays."

He concluded: "This chapter is over. But that work and that debate continues."

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