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Nine years after Sept. 11, 2001, America saw perhaps its worst outbreak of Islamophobia since the attacks. Experts wagered it came from the aimless fear and the anger people feel in times of economic crisis, exploited by certain politicians looking to give their party an advantage in the midterms and turned toward American Muslims.

Such an outbreak was possible in the days and months after Sept. 11's attacks. It never really materialized, experts say, in part because President George W. Bush stood up and told the nervous country that Islam is a religion of peace, and that American was not at war with Muslims.

He made no such appeal this year, and President Obama's pleas fell on deaf ears or, more accurately, ears that believe Obama himself is secretly, and sinisterly, Muslim.

Without further ado, then, is This Year in Islamophobia:

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Immigration groups eager to see reform might not have been happy with Rep. Lamar Smith's (R-TX) proposal to expand the E-Verify program, but they're unlikely to be any more pleased with the White House's response to it. President Obama has previously expressed support for the program, and the White House today left open the possibility of working to achieve Smith's vision.

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Gov.-elect Terry Branstad (R-IA), who will be leading the critical first presidential caucus state, is not commenting on the hot-button issue of whether the state Supreme Court justices who legalized same sex marriage in his state should be impeached -- after he'd previously urged the legislature in strong terms to pass a constitutional amendment undoing the decision.

This past November, Iowa voters removed three state Supreme Court justices who had faced up-or-down retention elections, and who were heavily targeted by conservatives for their role in the unanimous 2009 ruling that legalized same marriage in the state. Now, as we've reported, some of the incoming Republican legislators would like to impeach the remaining four justices.

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The feuding on the right continues over the gay conservative group GOProud, with two more social conservative groups announcing that they won't attend the big Conservative Political Action Conference this February -- in part because the gay group is participating.

As the right-wing World Net Daily reports:

"We've been very involved in CPAC for over a decade and have managed a couple of popular sessions. However, we will no longer be involved with CPAC because of the organization's financial mismanagement and movement away from conservative principles," said Tom McClusky, senior vice president for FRC Action.

"CWA [Concerned Women for America] has decided not to participate in part because of GOProud," CWA President Penny Nance told WND. [Ed. note: Penny Nance's title is chief executive officer of CWA. Another individual, Wendy Wright, holds the title of president.]

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The Orlando Sentinel reports that, as the result of Congress extending the 2010 budget until March, NASA must continue paying millions every month for the Ares I rocket program essentially ended by President Obama when he signed a new NASA plan in October.

That's one small clause for Congress, one giant bill for taxpayer-kind.

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Groups opposed to the open service of gay and lesbian members of the military will continue to fear-monger about gay and straight service members showering together to sexualize the open service issue, Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United told TPM in an interview.

"I see that as being a talking point to just raise fears and draw attention to their general opposition to the issue and that's not something that I think will go away anytime soon," Chlapowski said.

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USA Today is out with another report critical of the actions of federal prosecutors. The newspaper found that, in at least 48 of the 201 cases since 1997 in which federal courts found that prosecutors violated laws or ethics rules, defendants were convicted but were given shorter sentences because of that misconduct.

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by Sasha Chavkin ProPublica, Dec. 28, 2010, 12:33 p.m.

After the blowout of the Deepwater Horizon well triggered the largest oil spill in United States history, BP vowed to "Make it Right [1]" for Gulf Coast residents affected by the spill. One of the central pieces of BP's program to make amends was to create a claims system -- as required under federal law -- to compensate individuals and businesses that lost money as a result of the spill.

ProPublica has examined the claims process closely to see whether BP and the government are delivering on their promises to the Gulf residents. Although nearly $3 billion has been paid out to date, there have also been chronic delays and a lack of transparency about payment decisions that have caused frustration and in many cases serious economic hardship to claimants.

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