TPM News

Only once since 1944 has Ohio voted for a losing presidential candidate, and if the 2012 election were held today, President Obama would be breathing easy, as a new PPP poll of registered voters shows him building on his lead over a slate of potential Republican challengers.

On Wednesday, PPP released poll results showing that as voters rapidly soured on Republican Gov. John Kasich -- who has pushed to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights -- they were simultaneously sounding much more positive about reelecting Sen. Sherrod Brown. Now, it appears that same Democratic bump has buoyed Obama's reelection odds as well.

In December, Obama led four Republican challengers by between one and seven points; he now leads them all by at least six.

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Add Rudy Giuliani to the list of Republicans who are slamming Mitt Romney for his signature achievement -- universal healthcare in Massachusetts -- and its striking resemblance to President Obama's healthcare reform, with both of them based on an individual mandate to purchase private health insurance, plus subsidies for people with lower incomes.

"It's clear the Massachusetts health care plan was a mistake and Mitt should basically say that and explain how he would act differently now," Giuliani told the New Hampshire Union Leader's John DiStaso.

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Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) thinks the House bill to defund NPR is completely ridiculous. And he thinks the Republicans who rushed it to the floor Thursday are wasting everyone's time.

The way he expressed his feelings to the nation? A sarcastic, mocking rant on the House floor.

"What a relief. I'm glad we got the economy back going. I'm so glad we secured our nuclear power plants. So glad Americans are going back to work," he said. "We discovered a target we can all agree on...it's Click And Clack."

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1||March 17, 2011: The massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan last week has spawned a second crisis, as the nation now struggles to prevent the leakage of radiation from a quake-damaged nuclear plant.



Low levels of radiation have been detected near the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, prompting the government to begin checking residents in nearby areas for signs of exposure. ||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

2||This picture, taken in 2008, shows what the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant looked like before the earthquake struck. ||KYODO/Xinhua/Newscom&&

3||The earthquake knocked the cooling system at the plant -- pictured from an aerial view here -- offline. || DigitalGlobe&&

4||With the cooling system down, and with no way to vent the mounting pressure inside the reactors, two hydrogen explosions rocked the plant, the first on Saturday, and another on Monday. The explosions damaged the containment structures around Reactor No. 1 and Reactor No. 3., circled here in red. ||DigitalGlobe&&

5||Then on Tuesday, two more explosions shook the plant, one of which destroyed the containment structure around Reactor No. 4. You can see a close-up video of the damage here. ||DigitalGlobe&&

6||Japan has raced to cool the fuel rods at the plant to prevent a nuclear meltdown, using helicopters to spray water on the plant. ||nhk/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

7||With fears growing about the potential spread of radiation, people have begun panic-buying on some areas. Food racks at a store in Tokyo were practically picked clean. ||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

8||Concerns about irradiated food even spread to China. Policemen in China's Anhui province corralled a crowd outside a salt company on Thursday. ||YI FAN/FEATURECHINA/Newscom&&

9||Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan addressed the nation on Tuesday, urging people to evacuate areas near the plant. ||Kyodo/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

10||In an unprecedented event, Emperor Akihito gave a live televised address to the nation, seeking to allay growing concerns about the scope of the nuclear crisis. ||SIPA/SIPA/Newscom&&

11||People in protective gear checked residents in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture for radiation exposure on Tuesday. ||AFLO/Newscom&&

12||||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

13||Medical personnel have also checked radiation levels in other areas, including Nihon-Matsu, Fukushima prefecture, which is about 40 miles from the damaged plant. ||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

14||The United States has sent radiological gear and cases of bottled water, among other supplies, to aid in the Japanese relief effort. || USMC/AFLO/Newscom&&

15||||Kyodo/Newscom&&

Branded as a revelatory scoop uncovering previously unknown donations from George Soros to NPR, James O'Keefe's latest sting on NPR was debunked as a non-story within hours of its release.

The news that O'Keefe purports to "break" -- that Soros had previously donated to the public broadcaster via grants from Soros' Open Society Institute -- had, in fact, long been publicly known through tax records and even press releases.

"We believe that journalism is a pillar of an open and democratic society and a critical tool for transparency and accountability," a spokeswoman for OSI, Laura Silber, told TPM after sending over a list of previous grants to NPR and affiliates. "A free and independent press serves as a watchdog of both government and the private sector. NPR, which is a respected national news organization, provides an excellent vehicle for regional and national analyses of the most critical issues facing our country."

The new audio recording features NPR director of institutional giving Betsy Liley talking with one of O'Keefe's actors, a member of a phony Muslim group claiming to want to donate $5 million to NPR. In their conversation, Liley discusses donations from George Soros, noting that after conservative attacks on him intensified he asked that his name not be mentioned on the air as a sponsor.

"George Soros and the Open Society Institute gave us $1.8 million, and they have decided not to use on-air credits because of what's happening in Congress," Liley says.

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Congressional supporters and opponents of U.S. military intervention in Libya on Capitol Hill are calling on President Obama to clearly define U.S. interests in the Arab country as well as the type of air strikes and other options the administration is pushing in an attempt to prevent Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi from prevailing against rebel forces. In hearings Thursday, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Sens. John Kerry (D-Ma) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), respectively, expressed opposite views on imposing a no-fly zone in Libya. Kerry views it as vital to the success of opposition forces; Lugar thinks it would be too costly. But both want the President to step in and use the bully pulpit to clearly articulate his views on the increasingly violent clash.

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Two ex-leaders of the Oakland County Democratic Party are facing nine felony charges for allegedly committing voter fraud when attempting to get fake tea party candidates on Michigan ballots last November, as a way to pry support away from Republican candidates.

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