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Stephen Colbert's Super PAC is not impressed with big money groups "pandering" to Iowans with pro-Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) ads featuring cheap "cornography" ahead of this weekend's straw poll in Ames.

Colbert's PAC -- "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow" -- believes Iowans deserve better. And featuring a gratuitiousy buttery cob of corn, Colbert promises his PAC is "going to give it to ya."

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The U.S. Defense Advance Research Project Agency provided more details about its aborted hypersonic mission Thursday after the craft lost contact with the agency and prematurely plunged into the Pacific Ocean.

The agency said that it had managed to collect "more than nine minutes of data" before "an anomaly caused loss of signal. Initial indications are that the aircraft impacted the Pacific Ocean along the planned flight path."

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Two campaign-finance watchdogs want the Federal Election Commission and Department of Justice to crack down on the so-called phantom companies that are sprouting up apparently for the sole purpose of allowing anonymous million-dollar donations to the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future Super PAC.

The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 have filed complaints with the FEC and DOJ calling for an investigation into the activities of two companies that appear to have been used to funnel funds to a Super PAC created by former Romney campaign staffers. The complaints come on the heels of a another the two groups filed against the first phantom company, W Spann LLC, was discovered to have masked the true identity of a $1 million mystery donor to Restore Our Future.

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Facebook on Thursday launched zip-code ad targeting to its already detailed arsenal of advertising tools. The move will help both local and national politicos to more finely-tune their ads for campaigns at critical moments.

Political campaigns of all stripes have already been using Facebook and its targeted ads to successfully advertise campaigns and candidates.

Facebook started rolling out its zip code component on Wednesday, and it's still being gradually made available all over the United States. The process will be complete by the end of the week, said Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes. For now it's going to be limited to the U.S.

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This story was updated at 4:40 p.m. to include text from Huelskamp's letter

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), a Tea Party-backed freshman who voted against the final debt limit bill, recently asked to hear from the Congressional Budget Office about the impact of government spending on economic growth. It's an article of faith on the right that vastly shrinking government will unleash the forces of private enterprise, and faced with CBO's opposing view, Huelskamp wanted to know the answer to two questions:

1). What current federal departments, agencies, programs, or portions thereof do not contribute to economic growth?

2). In the programs that CBO believes do contribute to economic growth, what level of spending cuts would amount to a level you believe would be significant enough to "probably slow the economic recovery"?

But if the newly elected member of the Budget Committee was hoping the non-partisan CBO would buy into his premise, he'll be sorely disappointed.

In a response letter Thursday, CBO-chief Doug Elmendorf gives Huelskamp a layman's lesson in Keynesian economics: Under current economic circumstances, new federal spending would help economic growth, and current and future cuts could stymie it, particularly if they hit key government investment.

"When demand for goods and services falls short of the economy's ability to produce them, as is the case currently, increasing government spending can increase aggregate demand and thereby narrow the gap between the economy's actual and potential levels of output," Elmendorf writes.

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By Nikki Gordon-Bloom

As electric vehicles become more widely available, we've heard some pretty large horror stories detailing that the world's supply of lithium - used in most modern electric car battery packs - is running out almost as quickly as the world's oil supply.

But a recent research project has concluded that isn't the case, estimating that there's enough lithium in the world to meet the world's demand for electric car batteries until the year 2100.

Co-authored by two University of Michigan professors and two researchers from Ford, the report examined various scenarios in order to predict global demand for the alkali metal over the next 90 years, including use in frits and glass, lubricating grease, air conditioning, portable batteries and traction batteries for plug-in cars.

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On Thursday morning TPM reported on President Obama's relative strength in Colorado, a swing state with changing demographics that seems to be unimpressed by the GOP field of candidates for President. Now new data from Public Policy Polling (D) shows that the trends are the same in North Carolina, a state that went Democratic for the first time since 1976 in the last presidential election.

Obama doesn't retain massive popularity in the state: his job approval rating is only 46% against 50%, which is below our TPM Poll Average. But despite the recent dip in approval, he remains a more appealing option than candidates from the GOP field. The only matchup within the margin of error is against former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, whom Obama outpaces 46 - 43. The President is well ahead of the rest: up in the matchups against Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) 50 - 40, businessman Herman Cain 50 - 37, former AK Gov. Sarah Palin 52 - 39, and Tex. Gov. Rick Perry 48 - 40, fairly strong considering the speculation that as a southern governor Perry could perform very well below the Mason-Dixon line.

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More than two months since the first leak was discovered, U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips announced Tuesday it was resuming its efforts to clean up the series of oil slicks spilled into China's Bohai Sea.

The spill, which contaminated about 460 square miles, came from two leaks on a well field run by Conoco in partnership with a state-run corporation. The problem was detected on June 4 but went officially unreported for a month, after a blog leaked the news on June 21, according to the Guardian. The Chinese government initially downplayed the extent of the accident, but confirmed the spill on July 6, announcing that the water quality in the affected area had fallen to the lowest of its four categories.

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Supporters of Michele Bachmann are launching an independent Super PAC to help elect her president, making her the third Republican candidate with the backing of an organization that can accept unlimited donations.

Founder Bob Harris told CNN on Thursday that the new organization Keep Conservatives United will run ads in Iowa playing up Bachmann's record in Congress while also lobbing attacks at Rick Perry, who is expected to enter the race soon.

"Bachmann has the guts to fight the Washington establishment and Rick Perry is just a spoiler," Harris told CNN. "I think his record is not what people think it is."

Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with the candidates, but can accept unlimited donations, including from corporations. Mitt Romney supporters have raised over $12 million so far for the Super PAC Restore Our Future, which made headlines this month after one donor, former Bain Capital executive Ed Conard, contributed $1 million indirectly through a mysterious corporation that closed within months. Perry backers have already launched multiple competing Super PACs that are currently battling for his supporters' favor.

The roster's now complete. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has named her picks to the deficit Super Committee, and they're a familiar bunch: Reps Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

Each of the three has served at her behest on different fiscal working groups in the recent past. All are loyal members, current or former, of her leadership team, all with fairly liberal voting records.

But here are a few caveats...

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