TPM News

Rick Perry has been out on the stump walking back a couple of things lately. Turns out he's just trying to save Social Security, not eliminate it as his book suggests. Oh, and, that whole HPV vaccine thing was just a big mistake, not the defensible move it was before Perry jumped in the race.

But there's one thing Perry is not backing down from: President Obama's White House is a socialist experiment, intent on making all of America its guinea pigs.

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Mitt Romney's campaign is accusing Rick Perry of waffling on Afghanistan, saying the Texas governor is having it both ways on whether the US should withdraw.

In an e-mail blast to reporters entitled "RICK'S REVERSAL ON AFGHANISTAN," the Romney team highlighted quotes from Perry in Monday's debate in which he appeared to lean towards exiting the country.

"I think the entire conversation about, how do we deliver our aid to those countries, and is it best spent with 100,000 military who have the target on their back in Afghanistan, I don't think so at this particular point in time," he said. "I think the best way for us to be able to impact that country is to make a transition to where that country's military is going to be taking care of their people, bring our young men and women home, and continue to help them build the infrastructure that we need, whether it's schools for young women like yourself or otherwise."

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Two separate but related Republican efforts are increasing the odds that the government will shut down at the end of September, despite repeated assurances from both GOP and Democratic leaders that neither party has an appetite for another round of brinksmanship.

In a Thursday letter, over 50 House Republicans, led by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), pushed Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to make steep cuts to discretionary spending in the next fiscal year, reneging on the agreement the parties struck to resolve the debt limit standoff. That legislation set a cap on discretionary spending at $1.043 trillion and both Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) are committed to funding the government at that level for the coming year.

But many House conservatives want to go lower, and if they defect then House Democrats will have to pitch in to make sure it passes and avert a shut down.

There's just one problem.

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Merger interference isn't keeping AT&T down.

The nation's second largest mobile wireless provider will launch its long-awaited 4G LTE network on Sunday, September 18, in five cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, according to an announcement made Thursday by AT&T CFO John Stevens at the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch media conference.

By the end of the year, it plans to add another five markets, covering a total 70 million subscribers, according to Connected Planet.

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Is Research In Motion dying? Its finances and sales certainly don't look healthy. The Canadian maker of the ubiquitous Blackberry device on Thursday reported lower shipments than expected of its flagship product, as well its PlayBook tablet.

That contributed to a dramatic decline in profits by 59 percent to $329 million for the second quarter of 2011, down from $797 million for the same period a year earlier. The numbers come from its second quarter earnings report ending August 27. The report was issued after the U.S. markets closed Thursday.

Shares of the company dropped sharply in after-hours trading by 18.75 percent to $24.06.

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Maxim Healthcare Services agreed to a wide-ranging Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with federal and state authorities on charges that the company participated in a conspiracy to commit health care fraud, the Department of Justice announced this week. The criminal complaint against Maxim details how the company allegedly defrauded Medicaid and Veterans Affairs programs through false billings from 2003 to 2009.

As a private health care service provider, Maxim primarily provides home health care services and medical staffing to hospitals and assisted living facilities. As part of the DPA, Maxim signed a Statement of Facts agreeing with the allegations made in the complaint - the text of which suggests the extent of the company's fraud may have affected the quality of care it provided.

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NASA has discovered something incredible in our galaxy, but far, far away: a planet orbiting two stars at once, much like Tatooine, Luke Skywalker's desert homeworld in "Star Wars."

"This discovery provides confirmation of a new class of planetary systems that could harbor life. Given that most stars in our galaxy are part of a binary system, this means that the opportunities for life are much broader than if planets form only around single stars," said Kepler principal investigator William Borucki in a news release posted on NASA's website. "This milestone discovery confirms a theory that scientists have had for decades but could not be proven until now."

If you could stand on the planet, Kepler 16b, you would see a "dynamic range of sunsets," according to Laurance Doyle, a participating scientist on the Kepler team and lead author at the SETI Institute. Scroll down for video of the miraculous planet.

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The White House has had just about enough of the post-bankruptcy bashing of its support for Solyndra and clean energy writ large.

Two weeks after the Freemont, Ca. solar company declared bankruptcy and laid off all 1,100 employees, despite a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, and just a day after a House hearing on the loan guarantee process, the Obama administration is finally hitting back at the claims that Solyndra was actually the most visibile indicator of a failing green-jobs initiative on The White House Blog.

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