TPM News


By Nikki Gordon-Bloom

As electric vehicles become more widely available, we've heard some pretty large horror stories detailing that the world's supply of lithium - used in most modern electric car battery packs - is running out almost as quickly as the world's oil supply.

But a recent research project has concluded that isn't the case, estimating that there's enough lithium in the world to meet the world's demand for electric car batteries until the year 2100.

Co-authored by two University of Michigan professors and two researchers from Ford, the report examined various scenarios in order to predict global demand for the alkali metal over the next 90 years, including use in frits and glass, lubricating grease, air conditioning, portable batteries and traction batteries for plug-in cars.

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On Thursday morning TPM reported on President Obama's relative strength in Colorado, a swing state with changing demographics that seems to be unimpressed by the GOP field of candidates for President. Now new data from Public Policy Polling (D) shows that the trends are the same in North Carolina, a state that went Democratic for the first time since 1976 in the last presidential election.

Obama doesn't retain massive popularity in the state: his job approval rating is only 46% against 50%, which is below our TPM Poll Average. But despite the recent dip in approval, he remains a more appealing option than candidates from the GOP field. The only matchup within the margin of error is against former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, whom Obama outpaces 46 - 43. The President is well ahead of the rest: up in the matchups against Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) 50 - 40, businessman Herman Cain 50 - 37, former AK Gov. Sarah Palin 52 - 39, and Tex. Gov. Rick Perry 48 - 40, fairly strong considering the speculation that as a southern governor Perry could perform very well below the Mason-Dixon line.

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More than two months since the first leak was discovered, U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips announced Tuesday it was resuming its efforts to clean up the series of oil slicks spilled into China's Bohai Sea.

The spill, which contaminated about 460 square miles, came from two leaks on a well field run by Conoco in partnership with a state-run corporation. The problem was detected on June 4 but went officially unreported for a month, after a blog leaked the news on June 21, according to the Guardian. The Chinese government initially downplayed the extent of the accident, but confirmed the spill on July 6, announcing that the water quality in the affected area had fallen to the lowest of its four categories.

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Supporters of Michele Bachmann are launching an independent Super PAC to help elect her president, making her the third Republican candidate with the backing of an organization that can accept unlimited donations.

Founder Bob Harris told CNN on Thursday that the new organization Keep Conservatives United will run ads in Iowa playing up Bachmann's record in Congress while also lobbing attacks at Rick Perry, who is expected to enter the race soon.

"Bachmann has the guts to fight the Washington establishment and Rick Perry is just a spoiler," Harris told CNN. "I think his record is not what people think it is."

Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with the candidates, but can accept unlimited donations, including from corporations. Mitt Romney supporters have raised over $12 million so far for the Super PAC Restore Our Future, which made headlines this month after one donor, former Bain Capital executive Ed Conard, contributed $1 million indirectly through a mysterious corporation that closed within months. Perry backers have already launched multiple competing Super PACs that are currently battling for his supporters' favor.

The roster's now complete. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has named her picks to the deficit Super Committee, and they're a familiar bunch: Reps Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

Each of the three has served at her behest on different fiscal working groups in the recent past. All are loyal members, current or former, of her leadership team, all with fairly liberal voting records.

But here are a few caveats...

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Mitt Romney told an Iowa crowd on Thursday that the country should not raise taxes to shore up Medicare and Social Security because "corporations are people" too.

Responding to a question from an audience member as to why Social Security should be included in deficit talks when it doesn't add to the deficit, Romney drifted into a defense of corporate rights.

"Corporations are people, my friend," he said. "Of course they are."

After receiving jeers from the audience over the quote, he elaborated: "Everything corporations earn goes to people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? People's pockets. Human beings, my friend."

Romney went on to suggest raising the retirement age rather than increasing taxes on business in order to fix entitlement programs' shortfalls.

A video of the key quote below:

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In a new column published on Wednesday at Human Events, Newt Gingrich calls for the United States to respond strongly to the expected move by the Palestinians to seek statehood at the United Nations in September -- by threatening to cut off American funding to the U.N.

Gingrich writes:

The United States has the leverage to prevent this diplomatic disaster if the Obama Administration wants to use it: we are by far the largest donor to the U.N., financing roughly a quarter of its entire budget.

We should be willing to say that if the U.N. is going to circumvent negotiations and declare the territory of one of its own members an independent state, we aren't going to pay for it. We can keep our $7.6 billion a year.

We don't need to fund a corrupt institution to beat up on our allies.

Gingrich explains that back in 1989, the administration of President George H.W. Bush used the same approach with the U.N. to prevent the extension of statehood to the Palestinians.

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The U.S. Defense Advance Research Projects Agency on Thursday launched the second of its hypersonic flight tests, and promptly lost contact with it. The test is part of a long-term project to create a craft that can travel across the globe in an hour.

The unmanned craft, called the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2,) launched at around eight in the morning West Coast time from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The plan was to launch the vehicle on an Air Force Minotaur IV rocket and to guide it to the edge of space, before the plane separates and travels at the speed of 13,000 miles per hour (about 20 times the speed of sound) on its way back to Earth, where it'll fall into the ocean.

DARPA said in a statement that the goal of this mission is to fine-tune technical challenges in aerodynamics, aerothermal effects, navigation and control. Engineers adjusted the vehicle's center of gravity, changed some of the dynamics of the flight, and included a system to better control the flight flaps to try and maintain better stability during flight.

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