TPM News

Updated 2:59 p.m., Tuesday Sept. 6

Things have gone from bad to worse at TechCrunch.

It was bad enough that TechCrunch founder and editor Michael Arrington was reported to be stepping down to lead a $20 million tech-startup venture capital fund, the CrunchFund, raising questions over potential conflicts-of-interest between TechCrunch's ongoing coverage of tech startups that may or may not receive funding from the CrunchFund.

But now, TechCrunch has all-but declared war on The New York Times over an error-ridden column that recalls the numerous previous occasions wherein TechCrunch writers have reviewed companies or products in which Arrington was an investor.

More critically, TechCrunch writers have been taking repeated pot-shots at their blog's corporate parent AOL, with one, M.G. Siegler, openly stating on the website this morning that AOL's decision on how to handle the fallout of the CrunchFund controversy will determine the fate of TechCrunch going forward.

The events mark the latest, and perhaps most high-profile struggle AOL has faced in trying to successfully turn around its business model to become a successful, next generation online media company.

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Sprint on Tuesday upped the ante in its opposition to AT&T's merger with T-Mobile when it filed an antitrust suit to stop the deal from being consummated.

The suit is separate from the one filed by the U.S. Justice Department last Wednesday.

Sprint's vice president of litigation had strong words for the proposed merger, calling it "illegal."

"Sprint opposes AT&T's proposed takeover of T-Mobile," Susan Z. Haller, Sprint's vice president of litigation said in a press statement. "With today's legal action, we are continuing that advocacy on behalf of consumers and competition, and expect to contribute our expertise and resources in proving that the proposed transaction is illegal."

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A new poll in Massachusetts find that Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) remains ahead in his race for re-election in 2012 -- but is well under 50 percent against former White House adviser Elizabeth Warren, a precarious spot for a Republican in this usually deep-blue state.

The new survey was sponsored by Boston's NPR station, and conducted by polling firm MassINC. The numbers: Brown 44%, Warren 35%. In match-ups against other Democrats, Brown led City Year co-founder Alan Khazei by 45%-30%, led Dem activist Bob Massie by 45%-29%, and led Newton Mayor Seti Warren 46%-28%.

In a positive sign for Brown, his favorable rating is a solid 54%, to only 25% unfavorable. On the other hand, Elizabeth Warren is at only 17%-13% favorable, with 24% undecided and a 44% plurality having never heard of her -- and Brown is nevertheless unable to reach 50% support in this Dem state.

The poll was conducted from August 30 to September 1, and has a ±4.4% margin of error.

The first day back from summer break in Washington brought fresh evidence that the race for 2012 will be a competitive one, and the President is on shaky ground. Three new polls from NBC/Wall Street Journal, ABC/Washington Post and Politico/George Washington University all had one major message: President Obama's approval ratings are at their lowest levels, but people still like him. And the jury is still out on who can actually beat him.

NBC trumpeted the headline "President 'is no longer the favorite to win re-election,' Democratic pollster says," and then cited numbers that are similar to many seen in August. Obama's general approval rating in the NBC/WSJ poll is underwater at 44 percent against 51 percent disapproval. On the economy it's more bleak, at 37 approval versus 59 percent disapproval. ABC/WaPo showed similar numbers as did Politico/GWU.

We have also seen similar numbers over the last month, in the Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls, in CNN surveys and in Quinnipiac. The question at this point is not if the President will see tough challenge, but given the economic numbers, how is it that he is still ahead of his potential GOP rivals?

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Former News International executives on Tuesday undermined James Murdoch's claim that he was unaware of phone hacking at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid.

Tom Crone, formerly News of the World's legal manager, told a House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that he is "certain" James Murdoch knew of an email that implicated several reporters in phone hacking, the Guardian reports.

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Mitt Romney is set to deliver a detailed address on how he plans to turn around the economy this afternoon, but he offered up a preview in USA Today this morning.

"Tomorrow, I will introduce a plan consisting of 59 specific proposals -- including 10 concrete actions I will take on my first day in office -- to turn around America's economy," Romney wrote. "Each proposal is rooted in the conservative premise that government itself cannot create jobs. At best, government can provide a framework in which economic growth can occur. All too often, however, government gets in the way. The past three years of unparalleled government expansion have retaught that lesson all too well."

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The first big Democratic name has entered the open Senate race in Wisconsin, with Rep. Tammy Baldwin declaring her candidacy Tuesday to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl in this high-profile swing state.

Baldwin announced her candidacy, which has been much expected since Kohl announced his retirement in May, with a YouTube video posted Tuesday morning.

Baldwin was first elected to the House in 1998, after serving in the state Assembly, and became the first openly gay candidate elected to Congress as a non-incumbent -- and if elected to the Senate, she would become the first openly gay senator at all. After an initial close re-election race in 2000, she has won landslides for her House seat ever since.

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How silly of us all to never realize that the butyl methyl sulfide molecule is not a liquid, but a motor. Thankfully, some clearheaded chemists at Tufts University were able to make us see this compound's true nature.
According to the BBC, by running an electric current through the molecule, the entire structure spins along its sulfur atom:

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