TPM News

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's 42-year grip on power is slipping and, believing that he will soon be ousted or killed, Jon Stewart rushed last night to name everyone Qaddafi looks like while he still time left to do so.

"We have like a hundred of these, and I gotta try to get them out," Stewart said. "We don't know how long this guy's gonna last."

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Koch Industries executives are reacting to the prank call pulled on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) this week, where a blogger got through to the governor by posing as David Koch. In an interview with National Review Online, Koch Industries executive vice president Richard Fink says the Koch brothers will not "back off."

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Hundreds of people have contacted the law firm and military advocacy group associated with a federal lawsuit which accuses the Pentagon of not doing enough to prevent the rape and sexual harassment of members of the Armed Services.

"Our phones have been ringing off the hook for the last week," Anuradha Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), told TPM in an interview this week. "I feel like it's the first time literally in military history where survivors have had a strong sense of institutional support -- and by institutional I mean a legitimate law firm and advocacy organization supporting the cause."

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Shocking news...

A new report shows Congress in 2010 was the most divided it has been in nearly 30 years.

National Journal's annual congressional vote ranking survey shows the House and Senate hit "a new peak of polarization."

Yeah, you read that right: the year that saw the rise of the tea party and the end of the epic health care debate turned out to be one of the most partisan in history. Who woulda thunk it?

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MADISON, WI -- The Wisconsin State Assembly has just passed Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill, including its controversial provisions to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for public employee unions as well as many other provisions to weaken union organizing.

After much buildup in the 61-hour debate -- of Republicans wanting things to be over, and Democrats railing against Republicans who they said would cut off debate -- at about 1 AM Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Kramer (R) announced that he would hear a voice vote for a roll call on final passage. Immediately, the majority Republicans shouted their ayes, and the Democrats were booing, as they tried to be recognized to demand a separate motion to cut off debate.

Then Kramer called the vote. Within seconds, the digital vote system on the wall announced 51 ayes and 17 nays, and voting was suddenly closed. With a total of 96 members, that got to a majority for the bill but left 28 members who hadn't had a chance yet to vote.

At that point, the Democrats got up, chanting "Shame! Shame! Shame!" and similar exclamations, as the Republicans filed out of the room.

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MADISON, WI -- Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) just finished a press conference early this evening, in which he continued to warn about the specter of layoffs of government workers if his budget does not pass, and called upon the absent state Senate Democrats to return to the state. Predictably, he continued to face questions over the biggest story of the last two days: His phone call with blogger Ian Murphy, who was posing as Republican financier David Koch.

Walker took five questions in total. The first two questions were both about the "Koch" call, followed by three questions about the budget bill itself and his efforts to end collective bargaining for public sector workers.

In his initial speech, Walker said he had spoken to a small businessman in Wisconsin, who was concerned about the strife going on in the state, and who asked why Walker did not simply take the deal of the increased contributions by public employees to their health care and pensions.

"You look at what's happened at the local level over the past two weeks with this measure...actions speak louder than words," Walker said. "Over the past few weeks we've seen in cities and counties and schools in a rush to pass contracts that don't have a 5 percent and 12 percent contributions. In fact, what I've seen, they have no additional contributions for pensions and health care costs for government employees. In fact, in some cases they've rammed through contracts that have an increase in the salaries."

Walker also spoke of the concern that he said he had for state workers. He said he wanted to avoid layoffs that would hurt people's families, and in response to workers' concerns would strengthen civil service protections on issues of grievances, terminations and discipline etc.

"We've also got to give those workers the right to choose," Walker said -- restating his point from yesterday's press conference that he would give workers the ability to save about $1,000 per year by not paying dues to a union.

But a great deal of interest still focused on Walker's statements on the recorded prank phone call released yesterday morning.

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The mysterious poll of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal making the rounds today was commissioned by the Franklin Center For Government and Public Integrity, a conservative not for profit based in North Dakota and Virginia that was founded by a former Republican operative.

The Franklin Center also has ties to the some of the groups that organized a pro-Walker rally last weekend in Madison, including the Tea Party training group American Majority.

"BREAKING: Poll Shows 71% of Wisconsinites Think Walker's Budget Changes are 'Fair'," said the release from the Franklin Center. Local and national news outlets cited it, including MSNBC (watch below). But no one, it seems, asked where the poll came from.

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Anti-government uprisings have spread from an initial revolution in Tunisia to countries across the region, including Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and Yemen. Could the revolutionary fervor be migrating outside of the Arab world as well?

In Cameroon, activists used the recent Mideast turmoil to rally protestors this week against President Paul Biya, who was ruled the African nation with total authority for the last 28 years. Opposition groups charge that he has rigged elections to keep himself in power and human rights groups, including Amnesty International, accuse authorities of stifling political dissent with extreme violence.

"We want to take charge of our destiny like the people in Egypt and Tunisia did," Kah Walla, an opposition candidate for president in Cameroon working to organize demonstrations, told CNN on Wednesday.

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