TPM News

President Obama departs on Friday on a nine-day trip around the Pacific Rim, including Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia. The Asia trip is meant to emphasize the region’s growing economic influence.

It’s not just a new poll from CBS out this morning showing a Gingrich surge – it’s also a McClatchy-Marist poll showing Newt in second place nationally at 19 percent, behind Romney’s 23 percent. Herman Cain, dogged by nearly two weeks of coverage about past sexual harassment allegations is in third in the Marist poll at 17 percent.

Also, this detail from the poll:

Among the top tier, Gingrich has the most committed supporters. The poll found that 43 percent of his supporters said they are firmly committed to his candidacy. For Romney, that figure is 30 percent. For Cain, it is 31 percent.

Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist isn’t sweating the fact that Super Committee Republicans are weighing some form of tax revenue in their new proposal, The Hill reports.

Why? Because his anti-tax pledge remains sacrosanct as long as Democrats, in their plight to sink any deal, nullify those very same proposed tax increases, he says.

GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain was caught on camera on Thursday joking about Anita Hill, the woman who accused now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of similar sexual allegations.

Democratic and labor forces won the day in Ohio on Tuesday. Voters turned back SB 5, a law that stripped many collective bargaining rights from public employees, which Republican proponents argued was necessary to keep state and local budgets under control. Conservatives won on Issue 3, a symbolic health care vote on the individual insurance mandate coming in 2014, but it wasn't contested nor will have it have an effect on policy in the state. So with victory in hand, Dems celebrated in Columbus.

But was does the result portend for the election year ahead, in this key swing state?

Here's a rundown of the major political drivers in Ohio over the next year.

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Researchers at the University of Manchester in England and their colleagues in Berlin, Germany have discovered what they believe is the smallest fossil of a mite, or any insect for that matter, in a 3D scan of tree resin from the Baltic region. The fossilized mite is only 176 microns long, or 0.000176 meters long.

Even more incredible, the fossilized mite was caught hitchhiking aboard the body of a larger insect, a spider, marking the oldest display of "phoresy," when an organism uses another organism for transportation.

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If the reports of past sexual allegations against Herman Cain are dragging down his poll numbers it certainly isn’t happening quickly. While a new CBS News poll shows his national support among women taking a hit, he’s still GOP voters top choice at 18 percent nationally. But the real news might be the man directly behind him – Newt Gingrich, now tied with Mitt Romney at 15 percent.