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Americans can't seem go anywhere without talking about politics these days. Whether they were texting or tweeting, talking or typing, one in four Americans used a cell phone for some purpose related to the elections this year, according to a Pew Internet poll released today.

According to the survey, 26% of all Americans used a mobile phone to learn or communicate about the midterm elections. Of the entire U.S. population, 82% own a cell phone, according to the poll.

In general, the results reinforce what was already widely known -- that cell phones have become extremely versatile devices that are permeating more and more facets of daily life. But on a deeper level, the results show that mobile phones are emerging as a new frontier in politics, whether for reading the news, tracking campaigns or even donating to candidates.

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The U.S. House's first Muslim congressman is totally fine with Rep. Peter King's planned hearings on radicalization -- as long as they doesn't focus on Muslims alone.

"It is legitimate to want to know what converts a [peaceful] citizen to somebody who would want to kill their fellow Americans," Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) told TPM in a phone interview Wednesday. "I think that's a fair question, and I don't think we know enough about it."

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One of the lame duck's biggest surprises was how reliably Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted with Democrats. Her "yes" votes on DREAM and DADT repeal arguably put her to the left of Democrats Jon Tester and Joe Manchin -- during the lame duck, at least.

As she darted out of the Senate chamber Wednesday afternoon TPM asked her if those votes would've been harder to cast if she'd never been primaried and was still a member of GOP leadership.

"Nah," she said, as the elevator doors closed.

So I guess that answers that.

The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority has granted preliminary approval for a creationist theme park to get up to $37 million in tax incentives, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

The theme park -- dubbed Ark Encounter -- is backed by both Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) and Answers in Genesis, a Christian organization that also built a similar attraction, the Creation Museum.

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This year's lame duck Congress has been described as the most productive since World War II, with the passage of a tax cuts deal, a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, ratification of the new START treaty, and the passage of a bill to provide health care to 9/11 first responders.

But despite the Democrats' legislative victories, and even some bipartisan support, many top Republicans this week have been offering up the lame duck session itself as the latest sacrifice on the "Party of No" altar...

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1||December 17, 2010: President Barack Obama reads "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" and his new children's book, "Of Thee I Sing," to a group of Long Branch Elementary School students in Arlington, Virginia. Obama wrote the book before he took office in 2009.

Here are more pictures of storytime with the president.||newscom/Washington Pool/SIPA&&

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7||After reading, Obama took questions from the approximately 90 students.||newscom/Olivier Douliery/UPI&&

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Several new details have emerged from the divisive secession ball held Monday in Charleston, South Carolina -- a gala dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the state's signing of the Ordinance of Secession.

About 120 protesters marched in opposition to the event, carrying signs of protest and singing "We Shall Overcome." South Carolina NAACP President Lonnie Randolph, who joined the protest, told TPM in a phone interview this week that he felt the need to speak out against the ball, calling the secession "the greatest act of terrorism" waged on America.

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In a crippling setback for Joe Miller, the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled against him in his opposition to Sen. Lisa Murkowski's apparent Senate win, saying there are "no remaining issues raised by Miller that prevent this election from being certified."

Miller's suit argued that it was against state law for misspelled write-in ballots to count as votes for Murkowski.

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By a vote of 206-60 Wednesday afternoon, the House of Representatives passed legislation to provide health care and compensation to emergency responders who have become ill as the result of their exposure to harmful inhalants after the September 11 terrorists attacks.

The legislation has taken an unwieldy path through Congress, and appeared dead at several different points because of broad GOP opposition.

Along the way, various Republicans opposed the bill's price tag, the way it was paid for and the fact that it provided first responders with prolonged access to a compensation fund that Republicans would like to see closed.

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