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Initial jobless claims came in today at 500,000, which as a 12,000 increase from the previous week's level, and substantially worse than the 475,000 expected by consensus.

What does this mean? Whereas before jobless claims were merely 'stubbornly high', and not declining meaningfully, now they've clearly gotten worse, as shown below in a chart from Waverly Advisors. What this means is that even if things start to get better, and jobless claims improve, it's fair to say they will remain pretty ugly through year's end. Waverly Advisors:

We continue to anticipate overall unemployment levels to remain sticky near current levels into year-end as softening growth expectations weigh on corporate investment decisions. Anecdotal reports of demand for highly skilled labor appears to have a regional skew that may mute any near-term impact on national averages. Meanwhile it is obvious that job loss and creation will be a primary narrative focus for midterm elections. These converging factors suggest continued downward pressure on consumer sentiment for the foreseeable future.

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News Corp's $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association was one of the largest single donations to any American political party this campaign season.

The company, headed by chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, owns the Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Fox Business Network and more than two dozen local television stations.

In a statement, News Corp. said it "believes in the power of free markets, and the RGA's pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical time for our economy."

But it's not the only news company that has delved into financing campaigns.

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Birther extraordinaire Orly Taitz is still trying to have the Supreme Court reverse a $20,000 fine imposed on her by a lower judge, even after the court denied her appeal earlier this week.

Taitz has filed a "motion for reconsideration" with the court, according to documents posted on her web site, claiming that she has new evidence that President Obama is not an American citizen.

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To the Tea Party, a vote for Delaware Senate hopeful Mike Castle (R) is a vote for a Democrat. Literally. Conservatives there are warning fellow tea partiers that if Castle gets elected, he'll pull an Arlen Specter and switch parties when the going gets tough. So they're endorsing his primary rival, Christine O'Donnell, instead.

"We are confident Christine O'Donnell will beat Mike Castle in the upcoming primary," , Delaware Vice President of the Independence Hall Tea Party PAC. "Christine is a strong grassroots favorite. While her opponent has the support of establishment types, Christine has the support of the people."

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Sharron Angle further explained her position on Social Security while speaking to reporters on Wednesday -- and said that she hasn't really changed from her previously stated view that the program should be "transitioned out."

Politico reports:

Addressing reporters after her speech, Angle was asked about her old campaign website, which called for a Social Security system that is "transitioned out." Her website no longer carries that language, a fact she's emphasized in the past, including during the primary, when she said the country needs to "phase Medicare and Social Security out in favor of something privatized."

"It's not really a change - a change in language perhaps, but not a change in direction," she said Wednesday. "The change is just because Harry Reid has so distorted and misinterpreted my words that I've had to explain those words, the words are really the explanation of a policy I've had from the beginning."

She said the policy is to "pay back" senior citizens for the money they've put into the system. Going forward, she would give people the option of leaving that "Social Security-type system and go to something more personalized," she said.

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Rep. John Hall (D-NY) said in a statement yesterday that he opposes building the proposed Cordoba House Muslim community center so close to Ground Zero: "I think honoring those killed on Sept. 11 and showing sensitivity to their families, it would be best if the center were built at a different location."

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A new Rasmussen poll of the Nevada gubernatorial race shows Republican nominee Brian Sandoval with a double-digit lead over Democratic nominee Rory Reid.

The latest survey finds Sandoval ahead 15 points, 55%-40%, when "leaners" are included in the results. On respondents' initial preference, Sandoval holds a 16-point lead, 52%-36%. A July 27 Rasmussen poll produced a slightly narrower 10-point advantage for the Republican candidate. In that survey, which did not include "leaners", Sandoval led Reid, 50%-40%. The Democrat has yet to poll within single digits of Sandoval.

The TPM Poll Average has Sandoval ahead in the contest, 52.5%-37.2%. The margin of error for the latest Rasmussen poll is ±4.0 percentage points.

For more on the race, check out TPMDC's full coverage here.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) is slamming conservative opposition to the Muslim community center project near Ground Zero in New York City -- the city where he formerly resided for many years -- calling the attacks against it "one of the most disgraceful things that I've heard."

Franken made the remarks during an appearance in Springfield, Illinois, the State Journal-Register reports, at an event for Democratic county chairmen. Franken also alluded to the unfamiliarity with New York City that many people actually have in regard to this story. "I don't know how many of you have been to New York, but if a building is two blocks away from anything, you can't see it," said Franken.

Franken got in a joke, as well: "It's a community center. They're going to have a gym. They're going to have point guards. Muslim point guards."

On a more serious note, he also added: "They (Republicans) do this every two years. They try to find a wedge issue, and they try to work it."

An influential Muslim GOP donor is at the end of her tether, and tells TPM she may eventually have to leave the Republican party over its opposition to the Cordoba House project and other anti-Muslim positions.

"I don't know if I'll be a Republican a year from now," says Seeme Hasan, who chairs the Hasan Family Foundation in Colorado, and has close ties to the Republican party leadership. Hasan's frustration with the GOP was evident, and not just over their public opposition to the construction of a Muslim cultural center in lower Manhattan. "Every time a Muslim person becomes famous, they are viciously attacked," Hasan said.

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