TPM News

A new survey of Massachusetts from Public Policy Polling (D) has a stunning result -- with Republican Sen. Scott Brown narrowly trailing former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren, who officially launched her campaign last week and has been enjoying a round of positive press coverage.

The numbers: Warren 46%, Brown 44%. In the previous PPP numbers from June, Brown led the lesser-known Warren by 47%-32%.

The survey of registered voters was conducted from September 16-18, and has a ±3.5% margin of error.

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Perhaps file this one under wishful thinking: Attorney General Eric Holder told the European Parliament on Tuesday that the Obama administration is hoping to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay before the 2012 election.

The Obama administration, Holder said, wants to close the facility "as quickly as possible, recognizing that we will face substantial pressure."

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Al Jazeera's top executive on Tuesday announced he's stepping down after eight years at the helm of the Middle Eastern network.

Wadah Khanfar, who served as the network's director general, praised Al Jazeera's growth amid challenging circumstances.

"Al Jazeera gained the trust of its audience through consistently speaking truth to power, and channeling peoples' aspirations for dignity and freedom," Khanfar writes in his resignation letter. "Our audience quickly saw that Al Jazeera was of them and their world - it was not a foreign imposition nor did it seek to impose a partisan agenda. We were trusted to be objective and to be the voice of the voiceless."

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Newt Gingrich will roll out his new platform later this month -- calling it the "21st Century Contract with America," and declaring that it will be so much greater than his original "Contract With America" from the 1994 elections for the House of Representatives.

Gingrich told a Council Bluffs audience that his new platform "will be 10 times deeper and more comprehensive than 1994," the Des Moines Register reports. "Because the truth is, while we changed the system some...we didn't fundamentally change the underlying system."

Gingrich also declared that his ideas will be "very big, and they're exactly what Abraham Lincoln would have campaigned on."

He will unveil the platform on September 29 in Des Moines.

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The FBI's William Gawthrop, the analyst-turned-trainer-turned-analyst who was responsible for the "one time only" anti-Muslim counterterrorism training session for 37 agents earlier this year, gave another presentation in June to dozens of law enforcement officials at a public-privately sponsored session in New York City, Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman report for Wired.

At his presentation, in which Gawthrop said he was speaking in his capacity as a private citizen and not as an FBI analyst, he said the U.S. wastes "a lot of analytic effort talking about the type of weapon, the timing, the tactics. All of that is irrelevant ... if you have an Islamic motivation for actions."

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Funding for the federal government runs out at the end of the month and Congress is set to adjourn for recess at the end of the week. That means the House and Senate have to come to terms in a matter of days over legislation to keep the lights on.

There's just one problem: they disagree about how much to re-up FEMA's disaster fund. House Republicans want to provide FEMA with $1 billion in emergency funds (fully offset by cutting a program to incentivize the production of hybrid vehicles) and $2.65 billion as a down payment of sorts on FEMA's annual disaster funding. The Senate passed stand-alone legislation last week to provide FEMA nearly $7 billion.

On the Senate floor Tuesday morning, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he will keep pushing the issue.

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The TouchPad firesale was the first sign of the inevitable decline of Hewlett-Packard's WebOS division, but now there's an even starker indicator: The company has begun laying off workers at its WebOS Division en masse, according to a report from All Things D.

HP plans to lay off up to 525 employees, All Things D reports, though an HP spokesperson wouldn't confirm the actual number. The layoffs aren't exactly a surprise, as the company had announced that it was killing WebOS support entirely on August 18 as the initial phase of an all-out corporate restructuring. The company counted 324,000 employees as of October 2010 employees according to its most recent filing.

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Bill O'Reilly isn't buying President Obama's push for the wealthiest Americans to pay their "fair share." In fact, "it's really starting to annoy" him.

"I just think the whole thing is bogus," O'Reilly said on his show Monday. And worse, Democrats just want to "take from people who have," he said. "They believe that's moral and that's right."

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Scientists are looking into the biofuel potential of exotic bacteria called extremophiles, which are found in - where else - extreme environments including Antarctic glacial ice and boiling-hot undersea vents or hot springs.

Scientists at the University of Georgia in Athens are gathering together on Monday and Tuesday to explore the topic at a symposium called "Extremophiles: Key to Bioenergy?"

Bacteria can create biofuel simply by digesting nutrients. They are behind the emission of methane gas, which can be captured from sewage treatment plants or landfills and used as renewable biogas. The U.S. EPA and Department of Agriculture also recently partnered in a new program to promote the widespread use of biogas capture from animal waste at dairies and other livestock operations.

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