TPM News

In an interview on Israeli TV, President Obama said that his middle name -- "Hussein" -- was one cause of distrust that some Israelis feel toward him.

"Some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion," the president said.

On the other hand, he also pointed out, his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's middle name is "Israel."

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Not recently, of course, as Lindsay Lohan was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Tuesday and will have to report for her sentence on July 20. But whereas most politicians have to live down photographs with far less photogenic felons -- Jack Abramoff and George W. Bush come to mind -- Florida Senate candidate Jeff Greene will only have to live down several recently-surfaced pictures of him hanging out over New Years with Lindsay Lohan.

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A group of marine scientists just got back from a science-type voyage with a bunch of totally bizarre, creepily beautiful new species. Wanna see 'em?

You want to know what is cool? The ocean, that's what's cool. A six-week trip in the Atlantic turned up tons of new species, some of which may be "close to the missing link in evolution between backboned and invertebrate animals," and all of which look like the kind of thing you encounter on serious psychotropics. Here are ten of them, beautifully photographed by David Shale. We named them all, to encourage you to be friendly!

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Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee for Senate in Nevada against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has very quickly reversed herself on comments she made on a radio show yesterday, in which she slammed the $20 billion escrow account that BP negotiated with the Obama administration to pay damage claims resulting from the Gulf oil spill. Angle's reversal -- she now says her description of the account as a "slush fund" was "incorrect" -- provides a further data point that while bashing the fund may play well with some on the right, it is also politically untouchable with the wider electorate.

Angle released this statement:

Setting the record straight about BP and the Obama Administration

There's been some confusion this morning regarding my position on BP and the oil spill.

Having had some time to think about it, the caller and I shouldn't have used the term "slush fund"; that was incorrect.

My position is that the creation of this fund to compensate victims was an important first step-- BP caused this disaster and they should pay for it. But there are multiple parties at fault here and there should be a thorough investigation. We need to look into the actions, (or inactions) of the Administration and why the regulatory agency in charge of oversight was asleep at the wheel while BP was cutting corners. Every party involved should be held fully accountable.

Angle's rapid walk-back on this mirrors the same path followed by Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who apologized to BP for the creation of the fund. Barton was forced by GOP leadership to retract his statements that same day. Of course, the curious thing here is that Barton's comments happened three weeks ago -- so Angle really should have had enough time to learn from this prior example.

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It's all starting to make sense. In continuing to deny that he assigned his former aide, Brent Furer to be his point man on women's issues after Furer was charged with domestic violence, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) now says it's all a big misunderstanding. Furer's job, it turns out, had nothing to do with women at all.

If, like Vitter, you don't count abortion as a woman's issue, that is.

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The new Rasmussen poll of the Illinois Senate race shows Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias taking a narrow lead over Republican Rep. Mark Kirk -- or rather, it shows Kirk falling behind Giannoulias, in a race where both candidates are unpopular.

The numbers: Giannoulias 40%, Kirk 39%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. In the previous poll from a month ago, Kirk led by 42%-39%. The TPM Poll Average gives Kirk a narrow edges of 41.3%-38.9% in a two-way race, not including third-party candidates that could potentially pick up significant protest votes.

Both candidates have suffered from stories that have seriously hurt them with the public. In Giannoulias's case, it's the failure of his family's bank, and for Kirk it's his long history of making false statements about his military service. In this new poll Giannoulias's favorable rating is at only 43%, with 46% unfavorable -- and Kirk is at an even worse 39%-48%.

We told you yesterday about a 2007 document that shows that the National Marine Fisheries Service drastically underestimated the size of a potential oil spill and its effect on endangered species like sea turtles when they signed off on lease sales for drilling sites in the Gulf. A Fisheries official now tells TPMmuckraker that, once the leak is resolved the agency will revisit the opinion.

The agency is charged with enforcing the Endangered Species Act, and part of its mandate is to consult with other federal agencies on whether a proposal -- in this case, opening more of the Gulf to oil and gas drilling -- will jeopardize the existence of protected species.

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