TPM News

Press outlets around the world were bowled over last week by an especially lite news item: The announcement that researchers at several California universities and HRL Laboratories managed to create the world's lightest material, "metallic micro lattice," which has a density of 0.9 mg per cubic centimeter, about 100 times lighter than styrofoam. Their breakthrough is described in a paper published in the journal Science (paywall).

Metallic mirco lattice is 99.99 percent air, yet is actually a metal that can balance atop the head of a dandelion without crushing it, and exhibits complete elastic recovery from being compressed with greater than 50 percent strain, as seen in this incredible video.

Read More →

Students at the University of California-Davis are rallying after police on Friday pepper sprayed a group of sitting protesters. UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi is expected to attend the gathering. Here are a few pictures, via Keith Branam (@kbradnam).

UC Davis Protest 1

UC Davis Protest 2

Wisconsin Democrats, after last week's official launch of the campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker, made a major show of strength over the weekend.

United Wisconsin, the group managing the recall, announced on Saturday that during the first four days of the effort -- from Tuesday through Friday -- they had brought in 105,000 signatures, nearly a fifth of the threshold they must legally meet: 540,208 signatures in a 60-day window.

There are, of course, two important caveats: First, after months of build-up to the recall campaign, it is natural that there would be an initial rush to sign in the first few days. Second, the Dems will have to gather even more than 540,208 signatures in real terms -- for a buffer that campaigns routinely collect in order to protect against signatures being disqualified over one imperfection or another.

Read More →

Texas Governor Rick Perry is wasting no time in blaming the deficit super committee’s failure on President Obama. Even though the result is not quite yet official, the campaign has already released the following statement:

"Ultimately, responsibility for this failure lays at President Obama's feet. The whole reason a supercommittee was created was because the President wasn't willing to lead, wasn't willing to even put on paper his plans for cutting spending. It's amazing to what lengths he will go to avoid making tough decisions. And who pays the price for Washington's failure? The American people and our military personnel, who will now be subjected to a half trillion dollars in national defense cuts?

"The President and Congress should work through the Thanksgiving holidays, work through weekends and recesses to cut federal spending, undo the damage being done to our military personnel and fix the budget mess. Our military gets the job done in life-threatening conditions every day, it's time the President and Congress get serious about cutting federal spending and balancing the federal budget.

"The supercommittee's failure is the perfect illustration of how Washington is broken and needs to be seriously overhauled. As President, I will demand a complete overhaul of Washington, D.C. starting with a Balanced Budget Amendment, a part-time citizen Congress, and major tax and spending cuts to jump-start our economy and create good American jobs. We can fix the system with my flat tax and serious reforms cutting taxes to a flat 20 percent, ending earmarks and corporate tax loopholes, and balancing the federal budget by 2020."

A small plurality, 44 percent of Americans, say that Republicans in Congress are more responsible for the failure of the Super Committee to come to a deal on future debt reduction. 38 percent say President Obama and the Democrats are to blame. Three weeks ago, Quinnipiac polling showed 46 percent said the GOP was at fault, versus 36 percent who said Democrats, so the difference between the two parties has lessened slightly. But no matter who Americans blame more, they never thought a deal would actually get made, according to the data.

From Quinnipiac:

"American voters are way ahead of the politicians. They knew the Super Committee had little chance of success. Watch for those job approval ratings to sink even lower, although the data indicate that at least for now voters hold the Republicans a bit more responsible," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

At a House Natural Resources Committee hearing last week, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) snapped at Dr. Douglas Brinkley, a professor at Rice University. Young, who fervently advocates oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, took offense at some of Brinkley’s remarks.

“[I]t’s always been called the Arctic Refuge until the oil lobby started calling it ANWR because it sounds like ANWR’s the dot or some country in the Middle East,” said Dr. Brinkley. “Do you want to drill ANWR? Yes. Do you want to molest Eisenhower’s great wildlife reserve? No. So it’s the way the issues frame.”

And then the following exchange:

Don Young: “I — I will tell you: If you ever want to see an exercise in futility, it’s this hearing. And I call it garbage, Dr. Rice, that comes from the mouth — ”

Brinkley: “Dr. Brinkley. Rice is a university.”

Young: “Well, OK…[I’ll] call you anything I want while you sat in that chair.”

Brinkley: “Pardon?”

Young: “You just be quiet, you just be quiet."

Brinkley: “You don’t own me. I pay your salary.”

Young has been Alaska’s sole congressperson since 1973.

Newt Gingrich is speaking in New Hampshire this morning, where the AP reports he's rolling out just the latest plan in the GOP field to fundamentally change Social Security forever.

Gingrich "wants younger workers to have another option and wants to end the expectation that Social Security is the only safety net for older workers," the AP's Phil Elliot reports. The Gingrich plan "would also let the markets determine how much money workers who choose private accounts would get each month."

Read More →

Two police officers involved in a pepper-spraying incident at the University of California-Davis have been placed on leave, and over the weekend, the university's faculty association called for the chancellor's resignation.

But Chancellor Linda Katehi told ABC's Good Morning America on Monday that she's staying put. "I really feel confident at this point the university needs me," she told GMA (video here). "There are so many critical issues to be addressed and we really need to start the healing process and move forward."

On Friday, a police officer was captured on video casually pepper spraying a group of sitting protesters. The incident occurred after "Occupy" protesters were asked to take down their tents from the university's lawn.

Read More →