TPM News

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said today that the issue of Israeli settlements should not become a roadblock to peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

"No one should allow the issue of settlements to distract from the goal of a lasting peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab world," Emanuel told a conference of the Jewish Federations of North America, CNN reports.

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In a scrum with reporters just now, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) was asked how strong his commitment to filibustering any health care reform public option really is. Asked if he saw any "wiggle room" on his pledge -- say, a trigger for example -- Lieberman said he'll stand firm.

"I don't feel like wiggling," he said.

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The Texas prosecutor appointed by Governor Rick Perry to chair a state forensics commission won't say when, if ever, his panel will hear from an arson expert who had been scheduled to testify about a flawed arson investigation that may have led to the death of an innocent man.

Asked, during a state Senate hearing, about when the Texas Forensic Science Commission would hear from nationally recognized expert Craig Beyler, John Bradley declined to give a specific answer.

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Seems like everyone is hopping on the pressure Sen. Blanche Lincoln train, with the vulnerable senator getting targeted from the left and the right.

Lincoln (D-AR) is the subject of a new ActBlue push dubbed Campaign For Health Care Choice, where 822 people have raised $32,247 so far.

Blue America is organizing the drive and charges Lincoln, a key vote on the health care plan pending in the Senate, "is refusing to commit to a quality public plan to keep the insurance companies honest."

They are using the money to run this ad statewide in Arkansas:

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The White House issued the following statement from President Obama following his nomination of Dr. Rajiv Shah to the post of Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Here's the full text:

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Sen. Al Franken's (D-MN) wife Franni has been taking an active role in his Senate office and in Minnesota politics, the Star-Tribune reports in a new profile of her -- and could be making some very unlikely friends along the way:

Franni Franken has also begun to explore the political side as well as the policy and will co-host a fundraiser this month for Tarryl Clark, a state senator seeking the DFL endorsement in a race to unseat Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann.

But when Franken found herself this summer sitting on an airplane next to Bachmann, the two bonded unexpectedly over a love of good deals and spent the plane ride swapping local bargain spots.

The 13 servicemen and women killed last week at Fort Hood, Texas, were honored today with a memorial service at the base.

President Obama addressed the crowd, telling the friends and family of those killed, "Your loved ones endure through the life of our nation."

"Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched," he said. "Their life's work is our security, and the freedom that we too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - that is their legacy."

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Yesterday, the conservative author of the new book Muslim Mafia, the foreword of which was penned by Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), explicitly called for a "professional and legal backlash against the Muslim community and their leaders" in response to the Fort Hood shootings.

So last night, we called Myrick's office to see if she had a response to Dave Gaubatz's remarks, given that his book, with her foreword, was released just last month. Since then, Myrick and three other House Republicans have cited the book as the source of their calls for a probe of Muslim intern "spies" in Congress.

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After an hour-long lunch with the Senate Democratic caucus, former President Bill Clinton found himself surrounded by dozens of reporters, and summarized his message as one of the urgency of action. "The worst thing to do is nothing," Clinton said of the party's health care reform push. "We can do so much better."

As they emerged from the lunch one by one, a number of senators echoed this rendering.

"His message was very simply it is so important that this be done, that there are so many people, I think 30 percent of the population he said at one point or another, don't have any health care coverage," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told TPMDC, "and so the ability to fix the problem is really upon us."

"He made clear that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity," she added, noting that Clinton did not directly address the politically divisive policy aspects of reform--abortion, the public option--in his presentation.

To members who are facing tough re-election races next year (such as fellow Arkansas native Blanche Lincoln) Clinton's message was equally simple: "You're going to do it, and then people are going to begin to see that none of the bad things that people are talking about will come to pass, essentially," Feinstein said.

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Former President Bill Clinton had a message for the Democratic caucus after he met this afternoon with Senate Democrats about health care.

TPMDC's Brian Beutler reports that Clinton shared his message to the caucus with reporters after the meeting: "The worst thing to do is nothing...We can do so much better."