TPM News

The man with alleged ties to the white supremacist movement suspected of planting a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. parade is questioning whether the device he's accused of leaving in a backpack can really be called a "weapon of mass destruction."

Kevin Harpham's attorneys wrote late last month that none of the four definitions of a "weapon of mass destruction" in federal law referenced an "improvised explosive device."

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There are few signs that Minnesota's state government shutdown -- now dragging on into its second week -- will let up anytime soon.

So a nonpartisan panel has offered an alternative, hoping cooler heads will prevail. The panel -- composed of former Vice President Walter Mondale, former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and other business leaders and academics -- believes that "everyone in Minnesota needs to contribute to the budget solution," according to a budget blueprint released Friday.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has made one thing clear, publicly and behind the scenes, in high-stakes debt discussions: Her caucus won't support Social Security benefit cuts, and Republicans better listen closely, because they need Democratic votes to increase the borrowing limit.

But she may be powerless to stop one increasingly discussed plan to lower Social Security's cost of living adjustment, which would escalate cuts to the program over time. Though in public, and more frequently through surrogates, she agitates against the change, it's an idea that has bipartisan support -- and so a likely candidate in any final debt deal.

At her weekly press conference Friday, Pelosi explained how a measure like this might pass muster -- or might not.

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After fobbing off a Senate Judiciary subcommittee by telling its leaders that it's more appropriate for company lawyers to testify, Google has finally agreed to make its former chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt available for a hearing in September about online competition.

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, made the announcement Friday afternoon.

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Faced with mounting personal injury claims, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc. is pushing hard for survivors of the Deepwater Horizon disaster to submit to physical and mental exams before their cases can be heard in court. The drilling giant, who owned the rig, has preselected doctors and scheduled appointments for 15 of its former employees who say they sustained psychological and physical injuries from the April 20, 2010 explosion that killed 11 members of the 126-person crew.

The motion takes a brusque tone with the employees' refusal thus far to comply with previous urgings from Transocean.

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Michele Bachmann has a response to comments from a Tim Pawlenty adviser, former Congressman Vin Weber, who listed Bachmann having "sex appeal" as among her advantages in the race, and then apologized: Thanks!

As Jim Geraghty of National Review reports, Bachmann was asked about the comments Thursday night, in an interview with conservative talk-radio host Scott Hennen.

As it turns out, Bachmann was a good sport about the whole flap. "Well listen, I'm 55 years old, I've given birth to five kids and I've raised 23 foster kids," Bachmann said, "so that sounds like good news to me!"

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Wisconsin Democrats face the next hurdle in the state Senate recalls on Wednesday, with primaries being held in the races to go up against six Republican incumbents -- and they'll have to beat the fake Democrats before they can take on the real Republicans.

Soon after the recall elections were triggered, Republicans declared a strategy to plant fake candidates in the Democratic primaries -- which they have called "protest candidates" -- in order to delay the general elections from July to August, while the GOP incumbents run unopposed. Also, it turns out the whole scheme will cost local governments throughout the state over $400,000.

Now, Greg Sargent has obtained a flyer being distributed by a group called "Patriot Advisers," 18th District race against GOP incumbent Randy Hopper -- encouraging conservatives to go vote in the open Democratic primary, for Republican plant John Buckstaff against real Dem Jessica King.

On the one hand, it's possible to look at this as a dirty trick. On the other hand, how could the Dems ever hope to take on the real Republicans if they can't drub the fake Dems first?

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a leading advocate of shrinking entitlement spending and the architect of the plan to privatize Medicare, spent Wednesday evening sipping $350 wine with two like-minded conservative economists at the swanky Capitol Hill eatery Bistro Bis.

It was the same night reports started trickling out about President Obama pressing Congressional leaders to consider changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for GOP support for targeted tax increases.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Hey Big Spenders: What Else Could Wealthy Candidates Buy With All That Campaign Cash?]

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A Colorado man who allegedly threatened to shoot up Sen. Michael Bennet's office back in January has written a rambling eight-page letter to a federal judge asking for a new lawyer and demanding to be treated just like Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson.

In the letter, John Troy Davis -- who allegedly claimed in phone calls to Bennet's office that he is a schizophrenic -- says he wants to become famous by becoming a preacher.

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LiveWire

Clinton Postpones Trip To Charlotte

In a statement released Friday evening, Hillary Clinton's campaign announced that the Democratic nominee…