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Defying a government ban on rallies, hundreds of demonstrators once again took to the streets of Tehran today to protest the results of last month's presidential election. Protesters were also marking the 10th anniversary of violent student demonstrations in which one student was killed.

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Reports indicated that riot police were out in full force and fired in the air to disperse the protesters.

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See TPM photo galleries of the June protests in Iran here.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office just told TPMDC that the senator will file for cloture on the nomination of Robert Groves, whom President Obama tapped to be director of the Census Bureau on April 2.

Groves, the 60-year-old director of the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, sailed through confirmation hearings in mid-May, but shortly thereafter, anonymous Republican senators held up his nomination, preventing a confirmation vote and leaving the bureau without a director. Earlier today Roll Call (sub. req.) reported that those holds were placed by Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and David Vitter (R-LA).

The census, performed every ten years by Constitutional mandate, is not merely an exercise in demography: The populations of states and counties are used to determine Congressional reapportionment and redistricting, which will happen again before the 2012 election cycle. Moreover, state population totals affect the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to states for highway construction and renovation, Medicaid, and education, among other expenditures.

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In case you thought health care drama was limited to the Senate, just remember that there are spoilers in the House as well:

Conservative Democrats in the House are rebelling against their party leaders and trying to put the brakes on the push to pass a health care overhaul by August. The fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition plans to present a letter to House Democratic leaders Thursday raising concerns about costs and other issues and asking for more time, members of the group tell The Associated Press.


The Blue Dogs, I'm told, are meeting with leadership tonight to express their concerns over speed and scope of reform efforts, and are suggesting that a majority of their 52-member caucus would vote against the current draft proposal without significant changes.

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) isn't taking being called a hypocrite lightly. In response to Sen. Arlen Specter's attack on his voting record, Sestak--who plans to challenge Specter in the 2010 Pennsylvania Senate primary--is setting the record straight. And he's not pulling any punches: "We've learned today that Arlen Specter can abandon his party, but he just can't quit making Republican swift-boat attacks on the integrity of Democrats who served in our military.

"Let's be clear," Sestak said, "I voted for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama while Arlen Specter was voting for George Bush and Bob Dole and John McCain. My question to Arlen Specter is this: do you regret voting for George Bush and John McCain? Why should Democrats support someone like you who actively campaigned - as recently as last year - for politicians with values like George W. Bush?"

Specter accused Sestak of not taking an active interest in politics, citing the fact that Sestak didn't become a Democrat until 2006. But Sestak says that's all about being a military officer.

"Like Colin Powell (who was also registered as an Independent while he served), I believe that military officers should be nonpartisan," Sestak said. "The military depends on cohesion and unity, and the defense of this nation must never be political. I'm proud that I was an Independent during my 35 years in the Navy, and I was proud to register as a Democrat as soon as I retired from active duty. "

You can read the full statement below the fold. But one things clear--Specter better be cautious about attacking Sestak on any grounds that leave him an opening to pivot back to his military service record.

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The campaign of Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) announced last week that they'd be holding a big campaign event with President Obama on July 16 -- and it now turns out that they're moving to a bigger venue, after too many people tried to sign up.

Here's a new Web video from campaign manager Maggie Moran, announcing the switch:



The previous venue had been Voorhees Mall on the Rutgers University campus. The new location, the PNC Bank Arts Center, has a seating capacity of 17,500. This is still just a fraction of the more than 50,000 people who tried to sign up on the Web site. People who had signed up and couldn't get on the list will be on a preferred reservation list for future events. In fact, Moran said, there will be many more opportunities to see Barack or Michelle Obama.

President Obama and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tour earthquake-damaged areas of L'Aquila, Italy at the G8 summit on Wednesday, July 8. The damage is leftover from a 6.3-magnitude quake that struck the town in early April. See TPM's gallery of the initial devastation here.

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President Obama arrives at the main conference hall in L'Aquila on Thursday, June 9, day two of the G8 summit, for the talks between the G8 countries, G5 countries and Egypt.


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The main conference hall. From left to right: UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, President Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso.


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From left to right: Italian Equality Minister Isabella Rauti (also the wife of Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno), First Lady Michelle Obama, Italian Minister of Education Maria Stella Gelmini and Italian Minister for Equal Opportunity Mara Carfagna on the Caffarelli terrace at the Campidoglio palace in Rome.


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Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno and his wife Isabella Rauti host a luncheon for the First Ladies on the Caffarelli Terrace.


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The First Ladies with Mayor Alemanno and his wife Isabella in front of the statue of Emperor Marco Aurelio.


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The First Ladies visit the historic city center of L'Aquila on the second day of the G8 Summit. Pictured here on the far right is Gursharaan Kaur, wife of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


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Michelle Obama in L'Aquila.


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G5 and G8 leaders pose for a photo on Thursday. From left to right: Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Brazilian President Lula da Silva, and President Obama.

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Brazilian President Lula da Silva gifted the G5 leaders with his country's soccer jerseys at their press conference on Thursday. From left to right: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Lula da Silva, South African President Jacob Zuma and Chinese State Counselor Dai Bingguo. Lula also gave President Obama one of the jerseys.


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World leaders pose with the "Junior 8" on Thursday in L'Aquila. The Junior 8 Summit, or J8, is an annual forum where young people from around the world meet to share their concerns and recommendations on how to solve global issues with G8 leaders and the world community.


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From left to right: German Chancellor Merkel, French President Sarkozy, Italian PM Berlusconi, Japanese PM Taro Aso, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.


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President Obama confers with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso at a G8 working dinner.


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Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi (R) greets President Obama as he arrives for a round table session.


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Japanese PM Taro Aso, President Obama, and German Chancellor Merkel.


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President Obama, French President Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Merkel.


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President Obama and French President Sarkozy.


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TPMDC's update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:

  • Health Care: The marathon mark-up of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee's health care reform bill continued. Meanwhile, with the idea of capping the health insurance tax exclusion now on ice, a Finance Committee staffer unveiled some of the other funding schemes the panel is considering.


  • Climate Change: Looks like the Senate action on climate change legislation has been pushed back to September.


  • Nominations: The Senate Judiciary Committee released the witness list for Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing. The hearing will begin on Monday, stretching on for days. And the GOP has invited a few doozies to testify.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL), whose appointment to the Senate by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was embroiled in controversy, will not run for a full term in 2010.

Burris reportedly only raised $20,000 in the past quarter, making it impossible for him to run a real campaign. Polls also showed consistently that he would lose the Democratic primary, and if he were nominated he would lose the general election.

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is running for the Democratic nomination, and has raised a decent amount of money. It's also expected that businessman Chris Kennedy, a son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, could get in.

A source told the Sun-Times that Burris was concerned about how people will remember him, after all the controversy that has happened: "After 20 years in government service, Burris didn't want the last four months in office to be that legacy."

After taking heat from Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) for weeks, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) is fighting back. "Congressman Sestak is a flagrant hypocrite in challenging my being a real Democrat when he did not register as a Democrat until 2006 just in time to run for Congress," Specter said in a statement today. "His lame excuse for avoiding party affiliation, because he was in the service, is undercut by his documented disinterest in the political process."

According to the website pa2010.com, the Specter campaign has been building up to the charge for days. "Specter's campaign," they report, "pointed out Sestak's registration history, first in a message to supporters Monday, later in follow-up messages to a reporter and again in a fierce statement against Sestak Thursday."

The attack is based on the allegation that, until recently, Sestak often did not vote in major elections, and didn't register as a Democrat until 2006. It's hard to say whether it'll stick, but it does seem to indicate that, with a primary challenge all certain, Specter's getting riled.

Whatever the merits of Specter's statement, it certainly more reasonable than the attacks Sestak's old rival levied against him in 2006. In that race, Republican Curt Weldon hit Sestak--a navy admiral--for having not lived in the district for years and years. Gee, I wonder why that might've been.

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who is now the Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey, has made it official: He does not want Sarah Palin coming to campaign for him -- and he doesn't think it would help him.

"This is about New Jersey issues and New Jersey, and I don't think having Governor Palin here would do me, or frankly the state, a whole lot of good in the sense that we need to talk and focus on what the New Jersey issues are," Christie said during a radio interview.

He's not above having outside help coming in, though, but of a different sort: "I hope Mayor Giuliani will continue to be supportive and be here and work with me, but other than that, I think the people of New Jersey have to hear from me and that's the person they'll be electing."

The state Republican Party chairman had previously made similar comments, though not quite as blunt. It would be hard to assume that this is related to Palin's latest round of controversy from her resignation as Governor of Alaska. New Jersey is a socially-liberal state that simply doesn't have much room in it for politicians from the Christian Right. So Christie probably had the same attitude even before the recent news.

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