TPM News

Updated: 11:11 am ET, Wednesday, December 21

It's not just U.S. regulators that Facebook has spent the last part of 2011 worrying about: The world's largest social network -- which has European headquarters located in Dublin, Ireland -- was also being audited by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner's office from October to December and could have potentially faced a fine of up to 100,000 euros (about $130,000) if found guilty of violating European data law.

But now that audit has concluded and the final, extremely detailed report was published on Wednesday by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, it turns out Facebook has managed to avoid being fined by agreeing to make changes to its user privacy settings, privacy policies, targeted advertising and make further disclosures to users about its practices.

Furthermore, Facebook wasn't found to be in violation of any specific European laws, although it could be in greater compliance with them.

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Just days ago, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said he opposed renewing the payroll tax cut on any basis and has voted against both GOP and consensus legislation to do so.

That was before the conservative editors of the Wall Street Journal stepped into the middle of the brawl and pointed out the obvious -- the infighting is killing the GOP. Wednesday morning, on CNBC, he called on House Republicans to hold their noses accept the two month Senate compromise.

"Both Republicans and Democrats have agreed that this is going to happen and probably the best thing to happen now is just to get it over with -- one more policy blunder-- but just get it over with and move on because now it's been framed as a tax increase which it's not," he said.

"I know what's going to happen and I agree with the editorial this morning in the Wall Street Journal," Corker went on. "Probably the best thing to do at this point is just get this behind us and move on and hopefully figure out a way to deal with the real issues that our country needs to deal with."

On the same day that Rick Perry releases a TV spot making heavy use of his wife, Mitt Romney also comes out with an ad featuring his own wife singing her husband’s praises.

Watch below:

The Wall Street Journal reports that Newt Gingrich is urging House Republicans to give in, and go along with the White House and Democratic Senate on the payroll tax-cut extension. Gingrich does make clear that this is a calculation of the political realities — as a man who previously faced a Democratic president in government standoffs — while still siding with the GOP’s position in principle:

“Incumbent presidents have enormous advantages. And I think what Republicans ought to do is what’s right for America. They ought to do it calmly and pleasantly and happily,” Mr. Gingrich said when asked about the clash between President Barack Obama and House Republicans over extension of the payroll tax cut.

Mr. Gingrich made it clear he favored a one-year extension of the two-percentage point payroll tax cut, which expires Jan. 1, not the two-month extension that passed the Senate with bipartisan support. He called the Senate bill “an absurd dereliction of duty.”

On Tuesday, Sam Stein reported on a mysterious robocall calling on voters across the country to draft Hillary Clinton to run for president next year.

Wednesday, TPM reader M.S. from Wheaton, Maryland shared the version of the call he received on his answering machine Tuesday. You can listen to it below:

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The Rick Perry campaign has released a new 30-second TV ad which it says will air on national cable TV, and in Iowa in particular.

The spot is titled “American Story” and features the candidate’s wife, Anita Perry, recounting their “old-fashioned American story” of being childhood sweethearts who had to wait for marriage until his air force service was over.

Watch below:

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) didn't break any rules when he accepted $60,000 -- far over the $5,000 limit -- in donations to his legal fund from entities that were controlled by the same family, the House Ethics Committee found this week. But they're making sure that other members can't exploit the same loophole in the future.

Young, according to the House Ethics Committee's report, received the donations in an envelope from fishing buddy Gary Chouest, who is president of a marine transportation company.

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Julian Zapata Espinoza (AKA “Piolin") has been extradited from Mexico and appeared in federal court in D.C. on Wednesday to ‘face charges for his alleged participation in the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Jaime Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila on Feb. 15, 2011, in Mexico,’ the Justice Department announced. From a release:

On April 19, 2011, a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a four-count indictment against Zapata Espinoza, charging him with one count of murder of an officer or employee of the United States, for the murder of ICE Special Agent Zapata; one count of attempted murder of an officer or employee of the United States and one count of attempted murder of an internationally protected person, both for the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Avila; and one count of using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.

Espinoza next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 25.