TPM News

After years of letting his congregation believe he'd once been a Navy SEAL, a Pennsylvania pastor's tale has come undone.

Last week, The Patriot-News newspaper, based in Harrisburg, reached out to former SEALs living in midstate Pennsylvania, hoping for some local perspective on the U.S. commando operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Rev. Jim Moats, of Newville, obliged, and was featured in a story that ran in Saturday's edition. But it turns out Moats was never a SEAL, and the guilt-ridden pastor went to the paper's office on Sunday to fess up.

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Now you see her, now you don't.

A Hasidic newspaper published a doctored version of the now-famous photo of President Obama and top advisors in the situation room as the bin Laden raid unfolded, editing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another woman out of the image entirely.

The newspaper, Der Tzitung, erased both Clinton and Director of Counterterrorism Audrey Tomason from the iconic image, leaving two conspicuous blank spaces in the photo that ran in their Friday edition last week. According to Jewish Week, the Brooklyn-based paper removed the two women because of an editorial policy stipulating that they "will not intentionally include any images of women in the paper because it could be considered sexually suggestive."

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A new poll from Public Policy Polling (D), commissioned by Daily Kos, finds that Democrats could potentially win the May 24 special election for NY-26, the House seat vacated by GOP Rep. Chris Lee. He resigned after sexually suggestive pictures and e-mails of his were made public. The reason the Dems could win: A split in the conservative vote between the official Republican nominee and a wealthy frequent candidate running on the "Tea Party" line.

The numbers: Democratic Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul 35%, Republican state Rep. Jane Corwin 31%, Tea Party businessman Jack Davis 24%, and Green Party candidate Ian Murphy (the same person who conducted the infamous 20-minute prank call with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, with Murphy posing as Republican financier David Koch) at 2%.

The TPM Poll Average gives Corwin 33.5%, Hochul 33%, Davis 23.5%, and Murphy 1.5%.

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White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama stands by his decision to order a covert assault-team raid to cross into a Pakistani city and kill Osama bin Laden without telling Pakistani officials.

"We obviously take statements and concerns of the Pakistani government very seriously," Carney told reporters at a briefing. "We also do not apologize for the actions that we took. [The President] said back in the [2008] campaign...if this is the only way we can do it, to do it unilaterally, he would take that chance and we did it. It is beyond a doubt in his mind, that he had the right and the imperative to do it."

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As NPR reports, a Florida bill would bar doctors -- in particular pediatricians -- from asking their patients if they own guns. Gov. Rick Scott (R) is expected to sign the bill this week, which would make Florida the first state with such a law.

Scott's office would not release a timeline on when the governor plans to sign the bill. But Scott's press secretary, Lane Wright, told TPM "it's likely he will support it."

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If Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) hoped making his state the first to defund Planned Parenthood clinics would give a boost to his presidential ambitions, it appears he may have been right.

Speaking with reporters after a tea party meeting about the debt ceiling on Monday morning, Iowa social conservative star Bob Vander Plaats said that Daniels' decision to sign the bill ending taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood in Indiana puts the concerns over Daniels' talk of a social issue "truce" to rest.

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Allies of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been arrested and charged with being "magicians," as part of a continuing feud between the president and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Several dozen people close to Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei have been arrested in the past few days and charged with sorcery and "invoking djinns (spirits)," The Guardian reports. Another man arrested, Abbas Ghaffari, was described by a news site in Iran as "a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds."

The feud stems from Ahmadinejad's unprecedented refusal to back the Ayatollah's decision to reinstate Iran's intelligence chief.

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The U.S. Senate will return to full strength on Monday when Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) is sworn in to replace Sen. John Ensign, who resigned last week after the fallout from a sex scandal and resulting ethics investigations continued to cloud his tenure.

After polls showed his popularity plummeting and the odds of retaining his seat next year dwindling, Ensign announced early this year that he would not seek reelection in 2012. Then in late April, as his political standing worsened and as a Senate ethics investigation dragged on, Ensign decided to end his term even sooner, saying he would resign on May 3.

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The two sides of the debate over whether the tea party is at heart a socially conservative movement or a fiscally conservative one smashed together Monday morning at a press conference in Washington, where a tea party leader told reporters he'd be willing to accept a bump in the debt ceiling if Republicans promise to put an end to "military effeminization."

Speakers from the Cato Institute's Dan Mitchell to a man dressed as George Washington to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) -- who sent a written statement that was read aloud -- told a small crowd of reporters that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his GOP leadership team were ignoring their tea party mandate by supporting an increase in the federal debt limit. They called on Republicans in the House to attach strict spending riders onto any deal they make with an Obama administration desperate to avoid government default.

For Bachmann, no less than the "complete defunding of Obamacare" would do. For others, a total spending freeze and a small, short-term limit increase was acceptable, provided it came with guarantees of deep spending cuts. For Tea Party Founding Fathers chairman William Temple, a reinstatement of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and keeping women out of combat roles would also be acceptable.

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