TPM News

By Bengt Halvorson

No question about it, Portland, Oregon, is an early-adopter market for electric vehicles, and one of the leading EV markets in the U.S.

The Rose City, as it's nicknamed, is already home to the first -- and only, with the Vacaville, California charger down--publicly accessible Level 3 quick-charging station in the U.S., allowing more than 500 volts DC and up to 125 Amps, and capable of charging the 2011 Nissan Leaf from 20 percent capacity up to 80 percent in just under 30 minutes.

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President Obama openly acknowledged underestimating the length and magnitude of the worst recession since the Great Depression in a response to a question during his Twitter town hall.

Always a tough question to answer, Obama was asked what mistakes he made in handling the economic crisis and what he would have done differently looking back on his first months in office.

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Facebook pulled the wraps off its "awesome" product launch Wednesday, showcasing a new video chat feature that allows users to call anyone in their network without the recipient of the call having to install video software.

When unveiling the service Wednesday morning at Facebook's Palo Alto Headquarters, CEO Mark Zuckerberg placed the emphasis on the ease of use of the new feature -- so easy he said, that even grandparents can use it to initiate calls to their grandchildren online.

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Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann is surging in the New Hampshire primary according to multiple polls, the strongest sign yet that she may be a credible contender for the Republican nomination.

According to Democratic pollster PPP, Bachmann is polling at 18% among Republican voters, second only to Romney at 25%. Not only that, non-candidate Sarah Palin is third at 11%, suggesting Bachmann may have more socially conservative and Tea Party votes up for grabs. The rest of the field are in single digits: Ron Paul at 9%, Rick Perry and Herman Cain each at 7% Jon Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty at 6%, and Newt Gingrich at 4%.

Bachmann has gained 14 points in PPP's polling over the last three months and other polls confirm heavy movement as well, even if she's farther back from Romney. A University of New Hampshire poll and a Suffolk University poll each showed her gaining 8% since her debate performance in the state, but they peg her total support at 12% and 11% respectively, versus 35% and 36% for Romney.

For Romney, who governed nearby Massachusetts and vacations in the state, New Hampshire is a crucial firewall that he's counting on to protect him from a potentially surging opponent coming out of the Iowa caucuses. Bachmann has become a top-tier contender in Iowa, where she was born, but the state's socially conservative GOP has raised questions about whether she could appeal to more moderate races. If she keeps up her momentum in New Hampshire, that conventional wisdom could be turned on its ear and the path to victory for Romney may be that much harder.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) is pushing a bill that would protect pilots from "agency overreach" by the Federal Aviation Administration, in response to his own experience at the mercy of the FAA after he "scared the crap out of" airport workers last year when he landed his Cessna on a closed runway.

"I was never fully appreciative of the feeling of desperation until it happened to me," he said.

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The Wisconsin recalls targeting six incumbents are moving full speed ahead -- with plenty of cash coming in. In fact, two GOP incumbents alone, Alberta Darling and Dan Kapanke, have raised more money this year than all Democratic candidates combined in the various races. At the same time, though, the Dems are headed into the home stretch of the August 9 elections with more total cash on hand than the Republicans.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, the Republicans were able to raise more money in part due to a longer fundraising and campaigning period for themselves -- as the incumbents, they could solicit donations as soon as recall petitions were being circulated against them. The challengers, however, had to wait until the elections themselves were triggered, and then declare their candidacies.

In total, the six individual Republicans raised $2,446,405.23, compared to $1,565,147 raised by their six Democratic challengers. However, due to the fact that the Republicans have been campaigning and spending money already, in total they have $892,455.42 on hand, going into the final month of the campaign, compared to $949,185 on hand by the six Dems.

Financial data has not yet been filed for the recall elections targeting three incumbent Democrats, as those elections are being held a week later than those of the GOP incumbents.

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Ken Melson, the embattled acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), told Congressional investigators that he became "sick to his stomach" after learning details of the troubled anti-gun-trafficking program called Fast and Furious.

Melson on Tuesday testified for the first time before investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform and Senate Judiciary Committees, which have been pummeling the administration with questions about controversial tactics to stop the flow of weapons from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels. Melson, who appeared in a private meeting before the panel with his own personal counsel rather than Justice Department attorneys, said DOJ officials had prevented him from cooperating with Congress' investigations thus far.

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The Democrats' vote-counter in the House of Representatives says the GOP will need his help to raise the national debt limit -- but they won't get it if they don't put everything on the table, including tax revenues.

"Speaker Boehner needed Democratic votes to pass keeping government running, even at minimal levels," Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters at his weekly Capitol briefing, in response to a question from TPM. "So my presumption is [Senator] Schumer is right."

Schumer was the first Democratic leader to argue that the GOP can't raise the debt limit without agreeing to new tax revenues -- something they've thus far refused. Hoyer says he won't pitch in Democratic votes unless Republicans relent.

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