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Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) has admitted to breaking anti-nepotism rules by awarding Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to her grandchildren and to the children of her aides.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Johnson improperly awarded the scholarships (which are funded by donations, not taxpayer money) to two grandchildren, two grand-nephews and to her district director's two children. Between 2005 and 2008, she awarded a total of 15 scholarships to the six students. She told the News that no single award was more than $1,200 and that if there were more "very worthy applicants in my district," she might not have given the scholarships to her relatives. She also apparently broke the rules by awarding scholarships to students outside of her district.

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So what should we make of the public spat now occurring between Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and his former Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, who was fired this past Friday as a result of the errors that resulted int he state losing $400 million in Race to the Top money? Christie's side say that he was misled by Schundler's description of the events -- and Schundler says he never told them what they say he did. Let's review the known events that have occurred up to now.

There is no dispute that New Jersey committed an error in its application for the multi-billion dollar program, which awards grant money to states that compete on the basis of their actions on education reform. The question, then, is who made the error, and what did Christie really know about the process?

In early June, Christie overruled an application that Schundler had formulated from a deal with the state teachers union, on the grounds that the deal had been too favorable to the union and went against his own education agenda. "I made the choice to be bold," Christie said, "not only because I want it to be successful but it's because that's what I agree with."

Then last week, it was revealed that because of an error in the new application, which included budget numbers for the wrong years, New Jersey was docked just enough points to lose out on $400 million in federal funds. (Even worse, the Star Ledger reported that the original draft that Schundler and the union agreed to contained the correct information.)

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Former Dick Cheney aide David Addington is headed to the conservative Heritage foundation. Addington will serve, according to the Daily Caller as vice president for domestic and economic policy studies -- but he's most famous for advocating vast Presidential powers. Under Cheney, he allegedly helped to shape an infamous Justice Department memo sanctioning torture in some cases, and was a key architect of the previous administration's warrantless surveillance program

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Last week former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, who co-chairs the White House's fiscal commission, drew a storm of criticism for comparing Social Security to a "cow with 310 million tits." But Titgate isn't really about language. It's about both Simpson himself -- who has long viewed Social Security as a bloated program for spoiled old people -- and about the commission as a whole. Comprised of nine tax-averse Republicans and nine Democrats, many of whom have expressed support for Social Security changes in the past, the commission will almost certainly be biased toward benefit cuts, and away from raising taxes, when it presents its report on December 1. Below, the cast of characters who will be making the calls.

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Trekking through the state on his bus tour this week, Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey offered up a playful remark on his thoughts about gun policy. "My idea of gun control is steady aim," Toomey said Tuesday in York County.

A prominent Pennsylvania gun control group didn't appreciate that.

CeaseFirePA hammered Toomey for the comment, which it called "disrespectful and disappointing for a candidate who seeks to represent Pennsylvania in the Senate."

The group also noted that 22 law enforcement officers have been killed in the state over the last decade, and that 46 municipalities have passed lost or stolen handgun reporting laws in the last year-and-a-half.

"Pat Toomey's remark show he doesn't get it--gun violence affects us all," CeaseFirePA executive director Joe Grace said in a statement Thursday.

"His remark is insensitive to victims of gun violence in Pennsylvania--and to family members, friends and colleagues of persons who've been shot and killed. Given the gun violence directed at our police officers in Pennsylvania, it also seems like Mr. Toomey isn't paying attention to this important public safety issue. That's not acceptable."

Toomey's campaign didn't immediately comment Thursday evening.

The original version of the story appears here: is a non-partisan, political news Web site, providing insider reporting and commentary on Pennsylvania's big 2010 elections.

A board member of Germany's central bank told the German paper Welt am Sontag that "all Jews share a certain gene." As you might imagine, everyone is feeling just great about a powerful German just sharing his opinion about Jews.

Ha, whoops! Totally kidding. No, everyone is feeling uncomfortable, about this situation. Thilo Sarrazin, who serves on the board of Bundesbank, and has one of those names where you can just tell he's got some seriously wacky opinions about race, recently wrote a book called Deutschland schafft sich ab (translation: "Germany does away with itself"). And, well, it sounds like a doozy:

In the book he claims the country is on the road to ruin because of the influx of immigrants from the Middle East which would overwhelm the indigenous population and create a nation of 'dunces'.

In particular he singles out Muslims for failing to integrate and having low IQs....
'Muslims immigrants don't integrate as well as other immigrant groups across Europe. The reasons for this are apparently not based on their ethnicity, but are rooted in their culture of Islam,' he told Welt am Sonntag.

In that same interview, he said "All Jews share a certain gene. Basques have particular genes, that distinguishes them from others." Which is, well, maybe not a specifically anti-Semitic statement! But public figures may be well served to just, you know, avoid making sweeping pseudo-scientific statements about race or ethnicity. Especially if, say, you are a public figure in a country that participated in a rather well-known recent genocide. Just a thought!

[Daily Mail; pic via AP]

The original version of the story appears here:

Gawker dishes the nation's most current and cutting gossip across media, entertainment, technology, and business. Founded in 2002 and namechecked frequently in mainstream publications, the site is essential reading for those who want big media hypocrisy debunked and faux-sincerity exposed, all with a healthy dose of snark.

Democrats are sounding increasingly confident they can work out a bipartisan legislative fix to get around a judge's order halting all stem cell research, but in an election year where everything matters, are moderate Republicans really going to go along with the majority party? And might that cost one GOPer his Senate bid?

The two clearest examples are Republican Senate candidates Rep. Mark Kirk (IL) and Rep. Mike Castle (DE), who Democrats told TPM last week they expect to continue to support embryonic stem cell research as they have before.

But Castle is locked in a tough and nasty fight with Christine O'Donnell, a tea party favorite who is looking to become the next conservative insurgent to topple the establishment's pick. With the O'Donnell campaign targeting evangelical voters in advance of a Sept. 14 primary that could have fewer than 50,000 voters, this could be the issue to turn the race.

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Fresh off of his "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Glenn Beck said on Fox News Sunday that he regrets saying that President Obama has "a deep-seated hatred for white people" last July, but chalked it up to a misunderstanding: "I didn't understand really his theology. His viewpoints come from liberation theology. That I think is what at the gut level I was sensing, and I miscast it as racism."

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Aides to President George W. Bush weren't troubled by the threat, due to a tech glitch, of losing millions of emails -- the preservation of which is required by federal law.

According to a new report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Vice President Cheney and others ignored warnings that, with no viable archive system in place, emails could be lost as the White House switched to the Microsoft Exchange email system in 2002. White House Counsel Harriet Miers even rejected a 2005 plan to restore the emails, according to the report.

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