TPM News

Yesterday, The Daily Beast reported that the National Security Agency is aware that the FSB -- the post-Soviet KGB -- is closely monitoring Wikileaks, though the U.S. has no "direct evidence" that the Russians are behind the days-long denial-of-service attacks that have brought down the Wikileaks website over and over again.

But why would the Russians care that much? In part, because Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said that between the leaked cables and other information he got separately, high-level corrupt Russian officials should be worried. And some observers think that Assange's efforts to expose corruption in Russia could be more harmful to his site and himself than exposing America's secrets have been. One law enforcement source told The Daily Beast, "The Russians play by different rules," adding that they would be "ruthless" in their attempts to stop him.

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San Diego County officials announced last night that they will torch a home "bomb factory" because the huge cache of explosives proved too dangerous to remove manually.

Last week, the San Diego Sheriff's Department suspended its investigation of the Escondido home of George Djura Jakubec due to dangerous conditions, resulting from at least nine pounds of explosives found in the home.

Jakubec pleaded not guilty last Monday to "12 felony counts of possessing destructive devices and 14 counts of possessing ingredients to make destructive devices, along with two bank robbery charges," according to KGTV news in San Diego.

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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who first picked up her seat for the Democrats in 2006, now has her first official challenger for 2012, with former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman announcing her run.

Steelman was previously elected Treasurer in 2004, then lost the 2008 Republican primary for governor, in which the party establishment had supported her opponent. She has reportedly√ā¬†been encouraged to run by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Steelman sounded some Tea Party-style notes in her announcement, saying in part that her campaign is about "stopping the Washington elites from making America more like a European country instead of recognizing that people still flock to America because they know they can build a better life for their families."

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Stephen Colbert stepped out of character during his Thanksgiving break to answer questions from reddit.com users, explaining the frustrations of being in character, the insecurities of being a novice actor and his view of the mainstream media.

Colbert agreed to answer questions after users of the social bookmarking reached a fundraising goal of $500,000 for DonorsChoose, a charity organization that allows people to donate to public schools.

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While White House and congressional negotiators meet to break the tax cut gridlock, and the Senate is frozen in place under a blanket Republican filibuster threat, House Democrats will press ahead with a vote tomorrow morning to extend tax cuts on middle-income alone.

At his weekly press availability, House Majority Leaders Steny Hoyer (D-MD) predicted that the measure would face still resistance from the GOP, but would not interfere with broader compromise negotiations.

"What we have agreement on is being held hostage by what we do not have agreement on -- that is the taxes for the wealthiest Americans," Hoyer said. "One of the things that was discussed yesterday with the president was that where we can find common ground, we ought to move on it. We ought to move forward."

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Yesterday's highly anticipated release of the Pentagon study testing military views on a possible repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell served, as most expected, to bolster the case for supporters of repealing the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military. But so far, it has done little to stifle the continuing opposition to the ban from some quarters in Congress.

Even before the report came out, ban supporters like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) dismissed it as nothing but a political exercise aimed at giving cover to President Obama and his allies in the gay and lesbian community.

So far, those on the fence about repealing DADT haven't said whether the report has changed their mind one way or the other. But Democratic supporters of repeal -- led in the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid -- have made it clear they view the report as the beginning of the end of the argument on DADT.

"The report is just common sense," Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill yesterday. "It's been shown time and time again that having gays in the military does not hurt the military, it improves the military and adds to recruitment possibilities."

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With the Bush tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, Democrats and Republicans are squaring off in Washington over how best to handle the issue-- extend the middle-class tax cuts while allowing the cuts for the wealthy to expire, or extend the tax cuts for all Americans, regardless of income.

And as the divide in Washington has become more clear, two new national polls suggest the American public is also split. Both polls, however, show a plurality of Americans don't want tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to be extended.

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