TPM News

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander of the Afghanistan War, said today the planned burning of Korans by a Florida church could put American troops in danger.

"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," Petraeus told the Wall Street Journal. "It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community."

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According to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Blackwater has created 31 shell companies in order to win military and CIA contracts without revealing its notorious name.

Chairman Carl Levin released a chart of the subsidiaries to the New York Times last week. According to the Times, at least three of the companies have been awarded secret contracts. One official said Blackwater, now called Xe Services, and its subsidiaries have been paid $600 million in classified government deals since 2001.

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Jerry Brown, the Democratic nominee for Governor of California and an almost unbelievably long-term fixture in the state's political scene, has told nervous supporters for weeks now that when the time comes, he'll roll out his full-scale plan to battle Republican nominee/billionaire Meg Whitman. Today, it seems, was the day he was waiting for.

Brown launched his first TV ad of the contest, a feel-good spot that hearkens back to Brown's term as governor in the 1970s and early '80s. Brown has said that even the insider-weary electorate of 2010 will want to return California's top job to someone with (more than a little) experience after ultimate outsider Arnold Schwarzenegger's term at the helm.

Polls have not borne that theory out so far, though. Whitman, running basically alone on TV until now, has steadily built momentum through the summer and is now running neck-and-neck with her Democratic opponent. The TPM Poll Average for the race shows Whitman ahead 44.8-43.8.

But to hear Brown tell it, he's just putting his strategy into play now. And the new TV ad premiering today, his campaign says, is the first step on the road to Brown's triumphant return to the governor's office he left in 1983.

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Hundreds of Afghans demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul today against a Florida church's plan to burn Korans on Sept. 11, shouting "Death to America" and "Long live Islam."

The AP reports that members of parliament and religious leaders spoke at the rally, where protesters called for the death of President Obama and burned Rev. Terry Jones in effigy.

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Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says that the toughest part of being a progressive-leaning politician these days is dealing with progressives themselves. Ironically, Blair says, activists on the left often assist their right-wing opponents by piling on the pols who lean their way rather than defending them against a conservative onslaught that he says is "vicious" and begins from "the word 'go.'" Blair says the politics of the day can leave ostensibly left-leaning leaders like President Obama "in an isolated position," with right-wing opponents eager to destroy them and the activist left (more often than not) happy to help.

"I love my own politics and progressives and all the rest of it," Blair told ABC's Christiane Amanpour in an unaired portion of his This Week interview from Sunday. "But if we have a weakness as a class, when the right get after us and attack our progressive leaders, instead of defending them we tend to say, 'Yeah, well, really we've got a lot of complaints about them, too.'"

Blair said that the tendency of the left to pile on rather than defend its own leaders can leave their politicians alone to face the right wing attack machine, which Blair says is merciless. "It doesn't matter how well intentioned you think you are," Blair said of the right. "They're going to go for you completely."

"And then the interesting thing is, the progressives say, 'Hey you're not being progressive enough! Why don't you do more for us?'" Blair added. "And so you can end up in quite an isolated position if you're not careful."

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When Sen. John Ensign's housemates on C Street found out about his affair with the wife of an aide, they burst into his room and woke him up to stage an intervention.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), a fellow C-streeter, had found out about the affair weeks earlier and confronted Ensign, according to the New Yorker, which is out with a long story about Ensign (R-NV), the C-Street House, and the Fellowship.

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As anti-Muslim sentiment appears to be on the rise throughout the country, with high-profile protests against mosque construction and a handful of violent episodes against Muslims, Muslim groups are pushing back.

Last Monday, a group of young Muslim professionals from the D.C. area launched My Faith My Voice, a web site that encourages fellow Muslims to upload their own PSAs explaining that although they are Muslim, they're not terrorists.

"When we see our loyalty as Americans questioned, that's something we take very seriously," the group's lawyer, Hassan Ahmad, told TPM. "The point of the campaign is one of bridge building, reassurance, an invitation to listen to who we actually are ... that Americans of other faiths will lend an ear and listen."

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In what he dubbed the crowning achievement of his life's work, Nevada Independent American Party attorney general candidate Joel Hansen filed last week what he said is the most comprehensive lawsuit against the health care law signed by President Barack Obama earlier this year.

Unlike separate suits filed by Virginia and a joint suit by several states that Hansen contends are too focused on the 10th Amendment, Hansen's suit alleges the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act violates a plethora of amendments: the First, the Third through Fifth, the Ninth, 10th and 13th.

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First, right-wingers reported Mexican drug cartels had invaded Laredo, Texas -- nevermind that law enforcement says it never happened. Now, Arizona Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is lending the stamp of authority to the idea that the cartels are conquering parts of the red, white and blue -- nevermind that other law enforcement says that's not true.

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1||The first Labor Day in America was held on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, as a project of the Central Labor Union. By 1894, 23 states and the federal government recognized it as an official holiday dedicated to the contributions workers make to the country. What follows are examples of some of the many workers who continue to shape our society.

Here, in August 2008, CWA and UAW members listen to Mayor Tom Barrett in Milwaukee talk about new Obama ads for Harley Davidson. ||Andrea Gage for aflcio on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

2|| A firefighter outside of a station near the former World Trade Center site.||Kenneth Lu (ToastyKen) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

3||A teacher in Nashville, Georgia, poses with two of her students. || Judy Baxter (Old Show Woman) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed&&

4||Butchers watch a procession outside of Biancardi Meats in the Bronx. || Chris Goldberg (ChrisGoldNY) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed&&

5||A customer service rep poses at her desk. ||Phil Dowsing / eco-photography on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

6||Walter, a plumber, spends part of the year at McMurdo Station on Antarctica, which houses the United States Antarctic science facility. ||Eli Duke (elisfanclub) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

7|| ||Christiana Care on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

8||A construction worker directs traffic in San Francisco. ||Steve (cop4cbt) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

9||Diana, a bartender, surveys the crowd in Albany, California. ||Jeremy Brooks on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

10||An EMT waits for a call on the New Jersey Shore. ||Steve Hardy (rockmixer) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

11||A baker poses with her wares at the Boudin Bakery in San Francisco. ||Wally Gobetz (wallyg) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

12||A caterer serves a guest a beer in Salt Lake City. ||Ben Ostrowsky (sylvar) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

13||Two employees of the Central Park Conservancy try to cool off after helping someone retrieve something mistakenly thrown away. ||Kasey D. (sgt fun) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

14||A woman speaks at the opening of an exhibit on Houston janitors. ||Houston Janitors on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

15||A cold farmhand at the Winter 2009 Ice Harvest on the Howell Living Farm in Lambertville, New Jersey. ||istolethetv on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

16||Gem miner Terry Ledford, top, and farm owner Renn Adams stand in the hole where the Carolina Emperor emerald was discovered in Hiddenite, North Carolina. ||Jeff Willhelm/MCT/Newscom &&

17|| ||Arthur (NYCArthur) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

18|| ||James McCauley (nukeit1) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

19||A lab tech poses with a Petri dish containing agar, used to grow bacteria. ||ClearRiver Advertising & Marketing on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

20||A farmhand at Cherry Hill Orchard. || Dick Jensen (L-T-L) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

21||Coworkers at a steakhouse in Georgia. ||Judy Baxter (Old Shoe Woman) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

22|| Brooklyn, New York. ||Lou Bueno (Lab2112) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

23|| ||Alan Cleaver (alancleaver_2000) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

24||U.S. Environmental Services workers move oil absorbent pads into a warehouse at a pollution control staging area in Venice, Louisiana, in April. ||U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley (uscgd8) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&

25||Jen Johnson at the Customer Service desk at the Glenwood Library in Howard County, Maryland. ||Beth Tribe (mlibrarianus) on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed &&