TPM News

by John Sullivan, Special to ProPublica

As engineers in Japan struggle to bring quake-damaged reactors under control, attention is turning to U.S. nuclear plants and their ability to withstand natural disasters.

Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who has spent years pushing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission toward stricter enforcement of its safety rules, has called for a reassessment. Several U.S. reactors lie on or near fault lines, and Markey wants to beef up standards for new and existing plants.

Read More →

As they've watched him take on the collective bargaining rights of union workers in Ohio, voters in the state have given Gov. John Kasich's (R) first months in office the lowest rating of any Buckeye State governor in a long time.

A bit of background: Kasich won a squeaker of a race over incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland (D) back in November. The final result was 49% to 47%. Kasich pulled off the win thanks to the support of independents, which Strickland had won with 69% support in 2006. Last November, independents broke for Kaisich 52%-39%.

Now, it seems many of these supporters are less than thrilled. A new poll of Ohio adults from the University of Cincinnati finds just 40% of respondents approving of the job Kasich has done since January when he was sworn in. Forty-seven percent say they disapprove.

Among independents the split is even worse for Kasich.

Read More →

The Democratic National Committee is responding to online reports that DNC chairman Tim Kaine said he would run for Senate in Virginia, where he was previously governor and where Dem Sen. Jim Webb is retiring -- saying instead that it is "already widely known" that Kaine is "increasingly likely" to make the race.

Earlier on Monday, Larry Sabato tweeted that Kaine had told a class at the University of Richmond, where he teaches a class on law and leadership, that he would run for Senate.

"In response to a student's question, Governor Kaine told his law school class today what is already widely known which is that he is increasingly likely to run," said DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse, in a statement.

"However, no final decision will be made or announced until the governor has had a final round of consultations with folks about how he can best serve the President, the people and the causes he cares about; he is assured that the Democratic Party will be in good hands should he choose to make the race and leave the DNC; he has the support that would be necessary to mount a successful campaign and he completes commitments for travel and fundraising he has made to the Party and the President through at least the end of the month."

Faced with a situation they don't really know anything about (i.e. nuclear meltdowns) all the cable nets are doing a pretty good job of packing their lineups with nuclear physicists, engineers and others who know how to explain it. This stands in stark contrast to how they handle other situations they don't really know anything about, such as turmoil in the arab world, and so on.

Barring an unexpected turn of events, Congress will avoid a government shutdown again this week, by passing stopgap legislation to keep the government funded for another three weeks. But patience is wearing thin across Washington -- in the Republican and Democratic conferences on the Hill, and at the White House, where officials are frustrated about having to run the government on piecemeal, inefficient budgets.

The House will vote Tuesday on yet another "continuing resolution," which cuts several billion more in spending from the government's current operating budget. It will likely pass both the House and the Senate, but it's not clear they'll be able to pass another, if they don't bridge the budget impasse by early April.

"We may not be able to fully resolve this and meet next week's deadline for the continuing resolution, which means that there may be potentially one more short-term extension," President Obama said at a Friday press conference. "[W]e can't keep on running the government based on two-week extensions."

Read More →

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), a stalwart of the House's progressive wing and the self-proclaimed Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, told reporters Monday that President Obama should be thanking his lucky stars the Republicans can't seem to rustle up someone credible to take him on.

Pointing to the numerous ways Obama has disappointed his wing of the Democratic party since taking office, Conyers suggested Obama might have a hard time of it in 2012 if the Republicans came up with someone suitable.

Read More →

After reviewing widely circulated claims that James O'Keefe misled viewers in his sting operation on NPR, a spokeswoman for the news organization condemned the "inappropriately edited" video yesterday. Nonetheless, NPR maintains that the executive caught on tape, Ron Schiller, still behaved inappropriately.

In an interview with NPR's own media reporter David Folkenflik, NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm said that O'Keefe's Project Veritas "inappropriately edited the videos with an intent to discredit" the news organization. But she said that Schiller still made "egregious statements."

Read More →

CNBC host Larry Kudlow apologized Friday for a startling remark made after the devastating earthquake in Japan.

"The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that," Kudlow said.

Kudlow tweeted his apology later on Friday:

I did not mean to say human toll in Japan less important than economic toll. Talking about markets. I flubbed the line. Sincere apology.

Read More →

A public employee union leader in Wisconsin has declared that organized labor will dedicate its efforts to recalling state Senate Republicans this year, and recalling Gov. Walker next year, in response to Walker's newly-passed bill curtailing public employee unions. He says they are not talking about strikes.

Rich Abelson, executive director of AFSCME Council 48 in Milwaukee, appeared Friday on the local public affairs show UpFront with Mike Gousha, with guest host Kent Wainscott.

"Obviously this was a very disappointing loss for us, with regards to the collective bargaining changes that were made. However, it's not the end of our fight," said Abelson. "We have -- we're a union. What we do is we represent workers at the workplace, give them a voice, and we will continue to do so. It is our mission, it is what we believe, it is who we are.

"And now it's time to redirect those efforts, it is time to take back the Wisconsin Senate. We are very much engaged in the recall efforts that are taking place with the eight Republican senators. We think a significant number of those are gonna be successful recalls, we think by summer we will have changed the face of the Wisconsin Senate."

Read More →

1||March 14, 2011: In the wake of the largest earthquake to strike Japan in recorded history, the island nation now faces a humanitarian crisis. The tsunami triggered by the massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake washed away neighborhoods, claiming thousands of lives and causing widespread devastation.



Debris floating in a bay in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture completely blotted the water from view. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

2||The force of the earthquake bent a section of train track in Fukushima, Japan. ||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

3||Waves up to 30 feet tall slammed coastal towns, completely leveling buildings. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

4||Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said it was the worst crisis to befall Japan since World War II. ||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

5||Cars and trucks were swept into a heap in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. ||pa9/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

6||In Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, a large fishing boat lay flipped over on its side. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

7||Several nuclear reactors were damaged by the earthquake, prompting fears of a potential nuclear meltdown. This picture, taken in 2008, shows the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station. ||KYODO/Xinhua/Newscom&&

8||The cooling system was knocked offline at the Fukushima plant, causing a buildup of pressure and, ultimately, the explosion of one of the reactors. These still images from Japanese television station NHK show the plant before (below) and after (above) the explosion. ||NHK/CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom&&

9||Television footage showed smoke billowing from the plant following the explosion. There have been two hydrogen explosions at the plant, sparking fresh concerns about possible radiation leaks. ||CNN&&

10||At least 10,000 people have been confirmed killed in the disaster, with the death toll rapidly rising, and tens of thousands of people still missing. ||CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom&&

11||Houses in Kamaichi, Iwate, Japan were reduced to heaps of rubble. ||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

12||The 8.9 magnitude earthquake was the fifth largest in the past century. ||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

13||||Kyodo/Newscom&&

14||The tsunami swept away passenger trains in Shinchi, Fukushima Prefecture. ||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

15||||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

16||A few homes stood surrounded by the wreakge in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture. ||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

17|||Kyodo/Newscom&&

18||||Kyodo/Newscom&&

19||In some places, the tsunami waves reached as far as three miles inland. ||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

20||A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force trooper sifted through the wreckage at the Sendai Airport. ||Natsuki Sakai/ABACAUSA.COM/Newscom&&

21||||Liu Xingzhe/FEATURECHINA/Newscom&&

22||||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

23||||KAM KA/CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom&&

24||A woman walked through the remains of a neighborhood in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture. ||KAM KA/CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom&&

25||Japanese troops conducted a search and rescue operation in Miyagi Prefecture. ||Natsuki Sakai/AFLO/Newscom&&

26||Waves pushed vehicles into a pile at the Sendai Airport. ||Natsuki Sakai/AFLO/Newscom&&

27||The tsunami flooded the Sendai Airport, washing away planes and vehicles and splintering structures. ||Natsuki Sakai/AFLO/Newscom&&

28||||Natsuki Sakai/AFLO/Newscom&&

29||||FOREST LU/FEATURECHINA/Newscom&&

30||||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

31||Black smoke rose over Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture one day after the earthquake hit. The quake sparked widespread fires across the region. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

32||||FOREST LU/FEATURECHINA/Newscom&&

33||||FOREST LU/FEATURECHINA/Newscom&&

34||||Kyodo/Newscom&&

35||||Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

36||||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

LiveWire