TPM News

FLORENCE, SC -- Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is in a tough spot. On the one hand, polls are showing her unlikely presidential candidacy is catching on, at least in Iowa, and she needs to keep that momentum going by expanding her base of support among the various Republican groups here. On the other, Bachmann needs to keep stoking the tea party fire that's gotten her as far as it has.

Speaking to a small audience of true believers and curious visitors in the Palmetto State Thursday, Bachmann made it clear that she's putting her emphasis on the latter goal. In her stump speech, Bachmann offered up an unambiguous call for the dismantling of the federal Department of Education as well as the legislation that created it, which she called "unconstitutional." (She said she'd eliminate the EPA, too, a common refrain among Republicans these days.)

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The chairman of the congressional campaign of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) is asking the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to authorize the use of $2,200 in campaign funds to pay for security improvements to the family home where she's recovering from her injuries.

Security updates recommended by Capitol Police include improving the home's exterior lighting and locks and the installation of a duress alarm button.

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Now that Libya's rebels are declaring they will capture Tripoli by the end of August, the country's long-time leader, Muammar Qaddafi, must be pondering his future.

There are whispers and rumors that he may be preparing to flee to Tunisia, but the problem he faces there is that the country is about to become a member of the International Criminal Court. That's the same International Criminal Court that has filed warrants against him and his son, Saif al-Islam, and obliges its members to arrest them should they cross their borders.

As such, Qaddafi's mind may be turning to the rebels' earlier offer: that he could cede power and live out the rest of his days in Libya.

But there's a hitch: those same ICC warrants also make it hard for him to stay in his home country. If the rebels formally take control of Libya then they will be obliged to turn him over to the court.

Technically there's only one way out, and it's deeply unsatisfactory for all concerned.

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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) has been firing back at Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who named her as an example of how the Democratic Party has created what he called a "21-century plantation" over black voters, with appointed African-American leaders to act as "overseers" -- the men who committed the day-to-day atrocities of ruling over slaves in the antebellum South.

"I think it's so odd," said Waters, in one such appearance on Hardball, shaking her head. "No, I think that's odd, and it doesn't make good sense. And I don't think that it even deserves a response.

Waters then dished out a response: "Did I tell you his brother was here today?"

She explained to Matthews that West, who is originally from Atlanta, has a brother who went to the Congressional Black Caucus's jobs fair and town hall event in that city.

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The Ohio labor and progressive-backed political group that is behind the referendum to repeal Gov. John Kasich's new law, which would weaken collective bargaining rights for public unions, has a response to his offer on Wednesday for compromise: We'll sit down and talk -- after you repeal the bill in its entirety.

"We are asking you for a fresh start, and that fresh start must begin with a full repeal of Senate Bill 5," the group declared in a letter released Thursday, with emphasis in the original.

"A complete repeal of Senate Bill 5 would go a long way toward creating an environment for compromise, restoring trust in government by the electorate and setting the table for meaningful negotiations about creating jobs, rebuilding Ohio's economy and moving the state forward."

As such, it seems as if the most likely scenario is that the bill will not be repealed, and the referendum will go forward this November -- with the bill's opponents currently ahead in the race.

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AT&T's killing their $10/1,000 text plan. Now, you'll have to choose between $20 for unlimited, or forgo a plan and pay $0.20 per message.

AT&T calls this "streamlining." We call it what it is: an outrageous, gigantic scam

Get ready to have your mind blown.

It's important to note, before considering anything SMS, that text messages are essentially free. Not for you, of course, but for companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. Unlike uploading a video to YouTube from your phone, which eats mobile bandwidth, text messages ride the same itsy bitsy communication channel your handset uses to check in with local towers to make sure it's turned on. Each text hitches a ride on an infinitesimally small data packet, chugging through traffic that would've been there anyway. For AT&T, it's basically a freebie--160 bytes of data. A trifle. Compared to the rest of what they're transmitting, AT&T's texts are like amoebas on the back of a tyrannosaurus.
For you, it's quite the opposite. For you, text messages cost money. A lot of money. How much money? Well that all depends. Starting next week, the only texting options for new AT&T subscribers will be a $20/month unlimited buffet, or paying per text, which is insane.

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While robot cars on the open road move forward in prototype form, a new system of pod cars with dedicated tracks is now in operation at London's Heathrow Airport. The firm behind the pods is also pushing the technology elsewhere, including potentially near San Jose's airport.

The new system, in trials since April and entering regular service this summer, connects Heathrow's Terminal 5 with two stations in a parking area about 1.2 miles away.

So far, the transport pods have received positive reviews from passengers who find the ride smooth and easy.

Passengers board at a computer-controlled terminal where they select their destination. A pod (with a capacity for six people going to the same place) then arrives behind adjacent glass doors, and the driverless coach whisks them off along dedicated pathways toward their destinations.

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