TPM News

Support for the Iranian exile group Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, among some former U.S. government officials is a product of their "own illusions," an Iranian studies expert tells TPM.

"I think part of it is wishful thinking, and [the MEK's] very active PR campaign to represent themselves," Ahmad Sadri, a professor of Islamic World Studies and Sociology at Lake Forest College in Illinois, said in a phone interview. "They are saying to the world 'we are whatever you want us to be.'"

As TPM has reported, the MEK has a history of support in Washington, and a number of prominent U.S. national security experts and former government officials have recently taken up the MEK cause, which includes getting the MEK removed from the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. The MEK was put on the terror list in 1997, in a move that has been described as a nod to Iran's then reformist president.

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As Rep. Peter King (R-NY) gears up this month for controversial hearings on the radicalization of the American Muslim community, a moderate Muslim organization is hosting a forum intended to air a discussion on how Muslim-Americans can work with law enforcement.

Haris Tarin of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) told TPM that while the event isn't specifically tied to King's hearings, his organization believed the briefing would be timely given the national conversation that has been happening about Muslim-Americans and law enforcement.

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The Huffington Post is soon to be under new management, as will most of the news sites under AOL's purview, including Engadget, TechCrunch, and more: In a Super Bowl eve shocker, HuffPo and AOL jointly announced that AOL will be acquiring the Huffington Post for $365 million cash some time in the first or second quarter of 2011. Arianna Huffington, who has led the mega-aggregator site as it has ballooned to reach an audience of more than 25 million visitors per month, will become the editor-in-chief of a new thing called the Huffington Post Media Network, which will encompass "all Huffington Post and AOL content, including Engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone, MapQuest, Black Voices, PopEater, AOL Music, AOL Latino, AutoBlog, Patch, StyleList, and more."

That's right: MapQuest is about to become super liberal.

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ElBaradei: 'The Process Is Opaque' Appearing on Meet The Press, Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei criticized the Egyptian government's handling of the current political crisis: "I should start by saying I have not been part of the negotiation. I have not been invited to take part in, in the negotiation or dialogue. But I've been following what is going on. I can tell you, David, that there is still a huge lack of confidence between the government and the demonstrators. There's a good deal of fear that, that the government would--will retrench and then come back, you know, again to, to--with vengeance, if you like. The process is opaque. Nobody knows who is talking to whom at this stage. The process is managed by the outgoing regime without involvement of the new opposition, if you like, or the rest of the people."

ElBaradei: Peace With Israel 'Rock Solid' But We Also Want Palestinian STate Also during his appearance on Meet The Press, ElBaradei was asked about concerns that Egypt's peace treaty with Israel was not rock solid. "Well I think, I think everybody saying it is rock solid," said ElBaradei, "but, but, but everybody also saying that, at the same breath, that whether Egypt is a democracy, whether Egypt is a dictatorship everybody in Egypt, everybody in the Arab world will want to see an independent Palestinian state, David. I don't think anybody disagree with that. That has nothing to do with the peace treaty between Egypt and, and Israel, which is, as you said, has been concluded, and I assume that Egypt will continue to respect it, you know?"

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Obama: Government And Business Each Have Obligations In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama trumpeted his administration's support of incentives for research into clean energy and energy-efficiency, which he highlighted during his visit this past week to Penn State University. And he also said that government and business each have responsibilities.

"Our government has an obligation to make sure that America is the best place on Earth to do business - that we have the best schools, the best incentives to innovate, and the best infrastructure...But businesses have a responsibility, too. If we make America the best place to do business, businesses should make their mark in America. They should set up shop here, and hire our workers, and pay decent wages, and invest in the future of this nation. That's their obligation.

"And that's the message I'll be bringing to American business leaders at the Chamber of Commerce on Monday - that government and businesses have mutual responsibilities; and that if we fulfill these obligations together, it benefits us all. Our workers will succeed. Our nation will prosper. And America will win the future in this century just like we did in the last."

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Sarah Palin's apparent attempt to trademark her name has just run into a legal obstacle -- specifically, she didn't sign the papers.

Reuters reports:

Applications to trademark the names Sarah Palin and Bristol Palin, both for "motivational speaking services," were filed on November 5 by the Palins' longtime family attorney, Thomas Van Flein, but were quickly slapped down by a trademark examiner.

"Registration is refused because the applied-for mark, SARAH PALIN, consists of a name identifying a particular living individual whose consent to register the mark is not of record," the patent agency said in an office action.

"Please note this refusal will be withdrawn if applicant provides written consent from the individual identified in the applied-for mark," the patent office said.


You mean her ghost-writer couldn't have signed it for her?

1||NASA has recently been talking to Las Vegas based Bigelow Aerospace about producing a new module for the International Space Station based on a simple, space-saving concept: the balloon. The photo above shows a configuration of three Bigelow modules that can house up to a crew of six.||Bigelow Aerospace&& 2||Bigelow modules could be used as part of mission to Mars. The modules are deflated and stored during launch saving valuable cargo space. Once in orbit, the modules expand.||Bigelow Aerospace&& 3||A cross-section of an inflatable space module.||flickr/jedibfa&& 4||By 2017, Bigelow Aerospace hopes to have Space Station Bravo operational.||Bigelow Aerospace&& 5||Nasa has been experimenting with inflatable space satellites since its founding. Echo I, pictured above, was launched in 1960. It passively reflected telephone, radio, and television signals.||NASA&& 6||Echo II, a larger version of Echo I, was launched January 25, 1964. It had a diameter of 135 feet.||NASA&& 7||PAGEOS (Passive Geodetic Earth Orbiting Satellite) was launched in 1966. It helped provide more accurate geolocation of Earth objects. It had a volume of 524,000 cubic feet and was coated with vapour deposited aluminium.||NASA&& 8||In 1997, scientists at Johnson Space Center in Houston came up with the idea of using an inflatable craft for use as a living module for the new ISS or for future missions to Mars. The scientists called the concept "TransHab."||NASA&& 9||A diagram of Transhab's levels from a 2000 Nasa document.||NASA&& 10||Two photos of a Transhab prototype. On the left is Transhab deflated a folded. On the right, expanded as it would be in space. From a 2000 Nasa document.||NASA&& 11||The International Space Station in front of the Caspian Sea.||NASA&&

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the Tea Party star and possible presidential candidate who bypassed the GOP leadership and offered her own budget plan, has now dropped a very controversial part of her plan to deal with the deficits: Cuts to veterans' benefits.

In a statement posted on her Web site, Bachmann writes:

"One point on my discussion list was a $4.5 billion proposal that would affect payments made to our veterans. That discussion point has received a lot of attention and I have decided to remove it from consideration. The problem of government spending must be solved, but not on the backs of our nation's war heroes. I have always been a proud supporter of the United States military and I continue to stand with our veterans. In the months ahead I look forward to working with our Veterans Service Organizations to ensure that we fulfill our commitments to those who sacrificed so much in their brave service for our country."

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A fun nugget buried in this story about Rep. Ann Buerkle's (R-NY) first town hall meeting as an elected member of Congress. Constituents repeatedly asked a puzzled Buerkle about her health benefits. She couldn't figure out why. But her staff sure could.

Buerkle, who voted to repeal the health care reform act, was twice asked about the health insurance she receives as a government employee. At first she said she couldn't understand why people were so interested in her health insurance, and that taxpayers didn't pay anything for it. She later corrected herself after being handed a note from a staffer. Like most employees, she pays for a portion of her insurance and her employer, the government, pays the rest, she said.

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The controversy over "forcible rape" may be over, but now there's a new Republican-sponsored abortion bill in the House that pro-choice folks say may be worse: this time around, the new language would allow hospitals to let a pregnant woman die rather than perform the abortion that would save her life.

The bill, known currently as H.R. 358 or the "Protect Life Act," would amend the 2010 health care reform law that would modify the way Obamacare deals with abortion coverage. Much of its language is modeled on the so-called Stupak Amendment, an anti-abortion provision pro-life Democrats attempted to insert into the reform law during the health care debate last year. But critics say a new language inserted into the bill just this week would go far beyond Stupak, allowing hospitals that receive federal funds but are opposed to abortions to turn away women in need of emergency pregnancy termination to save their lives.

The sponsor of H.R. 358, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) is a vocal member of the House's anti-abortion wing. A member of the bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus and a co-sponsor of H.R 3 -- the bill that added "forcible rape" to the lexicon this week -- Pitts is no stranger to the abortion debate. But pro-choice advocates say his new law goes farther than any other bill has in encroaching on the rights of women to obtain an abortion when their health is at stake. They say the bill is giant leap away from accepted law, and one they haven't heard many in the pro-life community openly discuss before.

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