TPM News

The Madison Capital Times reports that in the latest development in the controversy over the state's new Voter-ID law, recently passed by state Republicans, a memo written by a state Department of Transportation official instructs employees at the Division of Motor Vehicles not to directly offer applicants the option of a free photo identification card -- but only to assist if people directly ask for it.

The option of free photo identification is necessary in order to prevent the law from clearly becoming a poll tax -- a tax or fee required in order to vote, which was made unconstitutional under the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1964. Unless applicants check the appropriate box on the DMV's new forms, there will be a fee of $28.

The memo written by Steve Krieser, executive secretary at the Department of Transportation, instructs DMV employees: "While you should certainly help customers who come in asking for a free ID to check the appropriate box, you should refrain from offering the free version to customers who do not ask for it."

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Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) became the latest Republican to announce he would be skipping the president’s jobs speech on Thursday night. He tweeted to his constituents that he would ‘listen to President’s speech carefully’ but that he had ‘family and friends coming over for the big game,’ referring to the highly anticipated opening game of the NFL season between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints.

Vitter made a similar choice to tea party-favorite Rep. Joe Walsh, who announced earlier this week that he didn’t want to be a ‘prop’ in a speech he claimed was more about the president’s reelection than creating jobs.

In his personal blog this afternoon, former V.P. Al Gore expressed his disappointment in Obama’s recent environmental concessions to the GOP. Environmentalists had been pushing the president to lower the levels of pollution now permitted under laws dating to the Bush administration; levels the EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson says are ‘not legally defensible.’

Gore accuses the president of bowing to ‘pressure from polluters who did not want to bear the cost of implementing new restrictions on their harmful pollution’ and warns that the ‘result of the White House’s action will be increased medical bills for seniors with lung disease, more children developing asthma, and the continued degradation of our air quality.’

Jon Stewart is back from vacation, and he's not too happy with the news coverage he missed during his time away.

Last week, President Obama proposed a jobs speech to take place before a joint session of Congress on the same night as a GOP presidential primary debate. A minor tiff broke out between Republicans and the president, and the White House agreed to reschedule. Sounds simple enough, right?

"Non-crisis averted," Stewart said. "It's the first installment of what I hope will be many in our new segment, 'Tales of Reasonable Accommodation.'"

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Diamonds may be forever but sapphire is the name of the game when it comes to the next generation of super-efficient electrical conducting wires.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have developed a new superconductor made of fibers spun from sapphire crystals, which can transmit about 40 times more electricity than a copper wire of comparable size.

The new wire has the potential to push the price of renewable energy down by making it more economical to transmit electricity over long distances.

"Sources such as wind turbines or solar panels are usually located in remote places such as deserts or offshore lines, and you need an efficient way to deliver the current," explained Dr. Boaz Almog of the TAU School of Physics and Astronomy in a state

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What do the Firefighters Legislative Action Group in California, the Council on American-Islamic Relations California Political Action Committee, the National Organization of Republican Armenians and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party have in common? All were clients of -- and thus, potential victims -- of arrested Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee.

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Candidates in the special election to replace Anthony Weiner debated twice on Tuesday, butting heads over spending, taxes, and Israel. The race between Republican Bob Turner and Democrat Dave Weprin is turning out to be surprisingly competitive despite the district's leftward lean, thanks in part to a series of recent stumbles by Weprin.

Republican Bob Turner offered up a memorable line at a candidates forum on Tuesday when asked if there were any tax breaks he'd consider eliminating if elected to Congress. "As a Republican, I never met a loophole I didn't like," he said, according to the New York Times. "I really don't know."

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Hey, if a hurricane hits another part of the country, that's not your problem, right? Apparently, that view is more widely held than one might think.

In the days before Hurricane Irene ravaged the east coast, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) floated the idea that disaster aid from the federal government should be offset with spending cuts in a similar way to the GOP demands on the debt ceiling deal. The idea, though pretty consistent orthodoxy from Cantor, was loudly criticized, but Cantor doubled down. And a new poll out on Wednesday from Rasmussen shows a surprising amount of support for that very position.

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